Congrats on maybe even thinking about getting engaged! This is so exciting! In the age of rampant ghosting and zombie-ing, you somehow managed to find everlasting love. I'm quietly weeping tears of joy for you.
Now that we've established how happy I am for you, let's dive into the deets and make sure you have the best marriage proposal the world has seen since Monica pulled that switcheroo on Chandler circa 2000.
Below, 12 experts offer their best tips for planning a proposal so freaking good, your S.O. will cry. (Well, this is totally depending on the person you're proposing to and if they do cry, but a solid "yes" is a good sign too—with or without tears!).
1. Make sure the ring is all set way in advance.
While it may seem tempting to just run to the store and grab a ring the day before you pop the question, please —for the love of Lizzo— do not do that. You should be scanning their personal Pinterest page or asking their friends for guidance two to three months prior to the proposal, says Nicole Wegman, founder and CEO of Ring Concierge.
"If you don't know what their dream ring is, ask their best friend or sibling—someone who will keep it a secret," says Wegman, adding that you'll also want to make sure to get their ring size so they can slip it on comfortably as soon as you pop the question.
If you have zero idea what their ring size is, bring along a ring adjuster to the proposal. "Ring adjusters are inexpensive attachments that let them wear the ring comfortably after the proposal without worrying about it falling off," says Mary Frances Joseph, brand manager and spokesperson for Shane Co.
Oh, and definitely opt into the insurance coverage for the ring, says Wegman.
2. Hide the ring.
Part of what makes a proposal so special is the surprise of it all (duh). So, yeah, don't ruin it by keeping it in the pocket of your fave jeans or something. "To be sure your plan stays a surprise, consider asking a nearby family member or close friend to hold on to the ring until the proposal day comes close," suggests Joseph.
"Alternatively, try hiding it in something you won't be using for a while, like a suit jacket pocket, old pair of socks, or piece of luggage." Pro Tip: If you're prone to losing things, write in your Notes tab on your iPhone where you hid it... juuuust in case you forget.
3. Budget for the proposal as soon as you consider poppin' the question.
And yes, you should definitely open up a separate savings account for the proposal. Add some $$ every paycheck into that account for the proposal, in general—not just the ring, says Michele Velazquez, co-owner and proposal planner at proposal planning service The Heart Bandits.
"So many people only think about the engagement ring budget," Velazquez says. "They spend all their money on the ring but completely forget they have to find a way to propose as well. Budget for the actual proposal from the very beginning to avoid having to scrimp on the perfect idea."
4. If you're proposing to a woman, make sure her nails are in Insta-worthy shape.
Let's be real here, nobody wants a chipped mani and dumpy cuticles for their ring selfie that's about to accrue a record amount of Likes on Insta. Even if your partner isn't a regular at the nail salon, it's worth making sure that she treats herself. Ask one of her friends to take them "so it doesn't look suspicious," suggests Wegman.
5. Pick the right date.
I know, I know, I know: The idea of surprising her with a ring on her birthday sounds adorable in theory. But please do not give into this theory. Seriously, try to keep the day of your engagement unique—this is something that (hopefully) only happens once in your whole entire life.
"There are some days you probably want to avoid, such as your partner's birthday, your anniversary, or major holidays," explains Velazquez. "Those days are already special and a proposal day deserves its own special day." Say it louder for the people in the back.
6. Don't be basic (or do, if that's your thing).
As we speak, there are about a million and one versions of the same proposal on my Instagram feed alone. Do the world a favor and don't make it a million and two. "When thinking of the perfect way to propose, it's tempting to go on Instagram or other social media sites and find a beautiful proposal and just copy it," says Velazquez. "But creating a proposal idea that is original and unique will make your partner feel like it was truly designed for them."
Think about something that's specific to your relationship. Where you had your first date, where you kissed for the first time, the place you knew you loved them for the first time. You don't have to get super creative if that's totally not your thing, but make it special for your relationship.
7. Take the details into consideration.
It's one thing to have a good idea, but it's another to actually turn that idea into reality. "When you have your perfect proposal idea, the next step is to plan out the event," says Velazquez. "Determine where you will propose, what kind of decor and details you will have displayed, etc. The details are the most important thing and when done right, will make your partner think you have been planning this for months—even if you haven't been."
Having a hard time with the details? Try hiring a proposal planner: "A Proposal Planner will have access to connections and deals you might not be able to obtain," Velazquez explains.
8. Arrange for all your nearest and dearest to be nearby.
You should probably keep the actual proposal just between the two of you to avoid any awk moments à la Michael and Carol at the Diwali party. (Oh, and avoid public proposals at all costs too, mmkay?) But Wegman suggests having your family and friends nearby to celebrate with you after you get the "yes." Trust, you'll want to celebrate this moment with close friends and family.
9. Hire a photographer.
Yes, if you're ballin' on a budget, you can def ask a friend to be there to snap some pics. But if you don't have anyone in the family with a good artistic eye and an iPhone 11, you might want to invest in a photographer. "In the era of social media, nearly everyone wants photos of their proposal day," says Velazquez. "Hire a photographer or videographer to capture your special day. If you don't have the budget, ask a friend or even a person standing nearby. Your partner will appreciate it."
10. Wear something loose on the big day.
Don't worry—nobody is body shaming you here. The only reason Joseph suggests wearing something loose is to make sure there's no chance your partner spots the ring in your pocket. "Tight jeans are a dead giveaway as your significant other is bound to see the box in your back pocket," Joseph explains. "The best option is to wear a roomy jacket with generous pockets."
11. Forget traditional gender norms.
It's 2020, ya'll. If you want to ask your partner to marry you, do it. Forget the traditional fake news that a man has to ask a woman. Look at Lindsey Vonn! She just asked her boyfriend P.K. Subban to marry her after dating for two years. You can too. Seriously.
12. Enjoy it.
Okay, I know this list might have seemed a little daunting, but don't lose sight of the big picture. "It's easy to let the stress of planning the perfect proposal make you forget what's really important: You found your forever partner," says Velazquez. "Go into the proposal knowing that no matter what happens, that's all that really matters."