More people will get engaged over the holiday season than any other time of year, and if your fiancé is one of the 30 percent of men planning to get down on bended knee, you may want to share this story with him.
Does he know that the ring shouldn’t be your only holiday gift? Is he aware that putting a small box under the tree could ruin the surprise? Or how he can embrace everything from seasonal décor to holiday sales to help set the stage? Yahoo Style checked in with Sarah Pease, founder of the website The Proposal Expert and a few blushing brides with real stories to share. Consider this your ultimate Holiday-Season Proposal Guide.
Do: Pop the Question Over the Holidays
If you plan on celebrating the holidays with your family (or families), you have a built-in engagement party right after you say yes!
“Celebrating your engagement with family and friends, whether they live close by or you’re traveling to be with them, is the best reason to get engaged over the Christmas break,” says Sarah.
True Story: One groom-to-be proposed to his future bride at a pre-holiday bash.
“For the first time in 12 years my girlfriends and I invited our boyfriends and husbands to join us at a Christmas party,” newlywed Meredith tells Yahoo Style. As the girls sat for their annual group photo, Josh jumped in to say a few words.
“As he was talking my friends started to pet me and I just knew he was going to propose,” Meredith remembers. The couple celebrated with their friends for a few hours and then visited her parents to share their exciting news.
Do: Take Advantage of In-store and Online Sales
Jewelers, just like every other retailer, will kick-off holiday sales right around now. Sarah advises that guys take advantage of discounts and deals on engagement rings, which can save them hundreds and even thousands of dollars.
Do: Embrace the Season
Take advantage of the holiday decorations all around you when planning your proposal. Even for guys on a budget there are plenty of inexpensive ways to create a memorable and even magical proposal. Sarah suggests renting out the local holiday lights display for 15 minutes privately and popping the question, or visiting your town’s local Christmas tree late one night when it’s quiet and the snow is falling, and hire some carolers to sing while you propose.
True Story: When Josh decided to propose to Shereen he decided to recreate an old family tradition of picking out their Christmas tree at a rural tree farm. Working with the staff at Summit Tree Farm, Josh decorated one tree with ornaments and the phrase “Marry Me,” and surprised Shereen as she walked through the rows and rows of trees.
Don’t: Be Just Another Stereotype
If you’re going to choose a location that is quite common, such as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree or Times Square’s Jumbotron on New Year’s Eve, at least make the moment as personal as possible. For example, if you’re going to pop the question on the ice skating rink at Rockefeller Center talk to the staff in advance about playing music that is special to you, have family and friends standing by the edge of the rink to celebrate after, or include photos of the two of you in some way.
“If you decide to choose a popular place make it as personalized as possible,” advises Sarah.
True story: David decided to propose to Kari during a trip to New York and when Kari mentioned she wanted to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree he knew exactly where he’d pop the question. Working with the rink, and local planner Fallon Carter Weddings, David arranged for the rink to play “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel and had several staff members skate around them holding large photos of the two of them. While thousands of tourists cheered, David got down on one knee and asked Kari to marry him.
Don’t: Put the Ring Under the Tree
“Unless it’s in a decoy box,” advises Sarah. “None of my clients have ever done this but I’m sure there’s some bonehead out there that’s just dropped the ring box under the tree beforehand and ruined the surprise.”
Don’t: Forget to Buy Her a Holiday Gift
While you may think that your proposal and the ring is a great holiday gift, it shouldn’t be the only item under the tree, especially if you’re not proposing on Christmas Day. “You’ve got to get your partner at least one other thing, even if it’s small or even a decoy, so she has a gift from you under the tree,” says Sarah.
Don’t: Forget to Get the Ring Insured
With all the money spent on an engagement ring, you would feel awful if it got lost or stolen, right? To protect yourself talk to your home owner’s insurance company about adding the ring to it, or better yet, buy an insurance plan with a company that specializes in jewelry insurance, guaranteeing you full reimbursement if it gets lost or stolen.
True Story: One unlucky bride decided not to wear her engagement ring while traveling because she thought it would be safer at home. Unfortunately, while they were away the couple’s apartment was broken into and the bride’s new engagement ring was stolen along with other valuables. Luckily the groom had gotten the ring insured with Lavalier so the full cost of the ring, over $20,000, was paid to him to purchase the same exact ring for his bride.
Don’t: Overshadow Another Big Family Announcement
If your sister is announcing her first pregnancy, or another relative’s milestone is going to be celebrated at your family’s holiday gathering you may want to wait to announce your exciting news. While you may be bursting at the seams to propose or announce that you’re engaged, it will be better to wait to celebrate a few days later, than try to eclipse someone else’s announcement.
Do: Make it Personal
Wherever you decide to propose, make it meaningful by selecting a location that is special to your relationship, including family and friends, or designing the proposal to include personal elements that reflect who you are as a couple.
True Story: When Tim was planning to propose to Brittany she was sure that he would pop the question over the Christmas holiday, but when Dec. 25 came and went she assumed that it just wasn’t the right time. Little did she know that Tim was planning a holiday-themed proposal for Jan. 5 —a few days after they celebrated their first anniversary.
“I just thought proposing on Christmas or on our anniversary was a little cliché,” Tim tells Yahoo Style. After church that Sunday, Tim took Brittany to lunch and then a garden center that allowed him to incorporate their love of the outdoors without having to worry about inclement weather interfering with his plans.
“It had the benefits of having an outdoor feeling indoors, with left over fake Christmas trees and a fake pond structure,” he explains. As they walked to the back of the store, Brittany was pleasantly surprised to see photos of her and Tim over the past year hanging off of the branches. They walked passed the trees and sat at a bench at the end where Tim got down on one knee and proposed.