Love is in the air this time of year. Planning a romantic Valentine’s proposal? You’re not alone. According to a CNN poll, 10 percent of proposals happen on February 14: 6 million people expect to propose or be proposed to on Valentines Day.
Many of those proposals will take place in restaurants. Although you’ve seen it in movies, proposing at a fancy restaurant in real life often isn’t very romantic. You’re not alone but you’re not with friends and family either. Waiters hover and nosy strangers at the other tables eavesdrop. It’s easy to lose focus on the most important part of the proposal: the heartfelt statement of why you want to marry your beloved.
No worries: you can have a fancy dinner and propose in a more romantic way too! Here are five places to propose that are more romantic than a restaurant.
1. Repeat History
Begin the next chapter of your love story where the first one began: propose where you first met, where you had your first date or where you first said: “I love you.” Choosing a location with a personal meaning is the most romantic way to propose.
Whether it’s a café, art gallery, a theater or bar, going back to that special place will get you both thinking about your journey together and how you fell in love. It’s the perfect way to set a romantic mood for your proposal.
2. Get High
The perfect backdrop for your proposal is a beautiful view. Even if you don’t live by the Eiffel Tower or the Empire State Building, you can find a spot with a gorgeous vista near you: a tower, a bluff, or a balloon will give you the dramatic setting for the perfect proposal. If you can, get there ahead of time to set up a camera. You can catch a beautiful bit of scenery as well as a beautiful moment. You can even stage a photograph by asking a bystander to take a picture of you two in front of the view and then getting down on one knee with the ring. Do it for the gram.
3. Go Outside
Although it’s cold outside in most of the country this time of year, that doesn’t mean you shouldn't consider an outdoor proposal. In fact, it’s a great way to be alone in a beautiful place. A snowy walk in the woods or a sleigh ride is a great proposal setting. A scenic bridge, a deserted beach, or a beautiful park can all be a destination for a walk.
Bring along a thermos of hot chocolate or brandy and head out, bundled up in your warmest gear. You can set up lights in a tree, candles in the snow in a heart shape or spelling out “Marry Me?” that will make the setting magical.
4. Take a Trip
Choose a romantic place and plan a destination proposal. A sunny beach, scenic mountains or a romantic city like Venice or Paris will make your proposal an adventure. Carry the ring and wait for the perfect moment or enlist the concierge at your hotel or a local proposal planner to set up a surprise at your Airbnb. It will be a vacation and celebration of your love neither of you will forget.
5. Home is Where the Heart is
A restaurant is only the second most popular place to propose. The first is at home. Although you can just spontaneously get down on one knee in your messy kitchen or over pizza, with a little planning an at-home proposal can be as spectacular as any destination.
To make your proposal more romantic, you need candles or flowers (or both) in excess. Put them everywhere. In the bathtub, on the bed, on every surface. LED candles will last for hours unattended: you can even set them up in the morning or at lunch and they’ll be ready when you come home after dinner. You can also spell your proposal out in glow-in-the-dark stars on your ceiling: turn off the lights and wait for the gasp.
6. Perfecting Your Restaurant Proposal
Still want to propose in a restaurant? Here’s how to make sure it goes as planned. Make your reservations early and ask to speak to someone about your ideas. They will be able to advise you on the best way to propose at their restaurant— whether it's writing “Marry Me” on the dessert plate rim or going for a walk nearby before returning for champagne and dessert. Just don't hide the ring in food or champagne— you wouldn't want the proposal to be interrupted with a swallowed engagement ring!
Instead, give her a pendant, locket or charm engraved with the words “marry me.” Unlike that glass of champagne or chocolate mousse, she’ll be able to keep it forever.