What To Say When Proposing: The Ultimate Cheat Sheet

Man holding ring behind his back to surprise girlfriend with a marriage proposal

Figuring out what to say when proposing is no easy task. Should you be clever or romantic? Long-winded or to-the-point? Should you go in unrehearsed or practice a dozen times?

Wondering if that special someone will say yes or no is no longer the thing that brings you the most anxiety—you’re sweating just trying to put together the words to ask them!

Take a deep breath. You’ve come to the right place. We’ve got your ultimate cheat sheet for writing and delivering the perfect proposal. We’ll walk you through the writing process, give you tips on how to practice your proposal, and give you a few bits of inspiration to help along the way.

Let’s get started—your future partner is waiting!

How to prepare what you’ll say when proposing

The number one rule of figuring out what to say when proposing is to prepare in advance. Even if you’re going for a non-traditional approach or you’re proposing without a ring, the proposal speech is one thing you absolutely don’t want to mess up!

You may think you know everything you want to say, that it will just flow right from your heart, but that rarely turns out well. You might get nervous and clam up. You might ramble. You might forget all of the important things you’d thought you’d say.

By preparing your proposal in advance, you’ll be able to speak calmly and confidently, using exactly the right words to wow your special someone!

Start by writing everything down

Freewriting is a great first step in preparing your proposal. The concept is simple: grab a piece of paper (or sit down at the computer) and write. At this stage, don’t worry about how it sounds, if it’s grammatically correct, or if it’s romantic enough. The only purpose is to get your ideas out of your head and onto paper.

As you’re writing, think about the most important things you want to communicate to your future partner. You may want to reminisce about your past or look into your future together. Here are a few other ideas to help get the creative juices flowing:

  • Why you love them
  • Why you want to marry them
  • How they changed your life
  • When you first met
  • The moment you knew you loved them
  • Why you can’t live without them
  • Why you are perfect for each other
  • The hopes and dreams you have for your future together
  • A quote from their favorite romantic song or movie

Once you have all of your thoughts on paper, edit and organize them. You can’t include everything in your proposal, so only include your most impactful thoughts and save the others. Your future spouse will still love to hear them—maybe on a romantic date leading up to your wedding!

As the final step, go ahead and write out your full proposal, word for word. One easy way to organize your ideas is to go in chronological order. Start with the feelings you had when you first met and end with thoughts about your future together.

Practice, practice, practice!

Proposing while glancing down at a sheet of notes in your hand is not as romantic as looking into your partner’s eyes as you speak. You’ll need lots of practice for the flawless delivery of your proposal. Yes, it’ll feel weird, but it’s worth it!

If you have a trusted friend that knows both you and your special someone, you might consider practicing with them. But, you may not feel comfortable sharing the intimate details of your proposal with another person. If that’s the case, practice in front of a mirror. Either way, be sure to hold the wedding ring when you practice, too. You don’t want to be nervously fumbling with it on the big day!

You may come up with new ideas as you’re saying your proposal out loud or you might decide to cut a few things out. Don’t be afraid to keep adjusting until you get your proposal exactly the way you want it!

Keep it short and sweet

How long is it taking you to recite your proposal during practice? Getting to the right length is an important part of figuring out what to say when proposing.

You want your proposal to last about one or two minutes. If you’re hitting the four-minute mark, your partner may start to feel awkward and anxious. On the other hand, if you simply say, “Will you marry me?” and don’t back it up with some explanation of your feelings, your partner may be disappointed.

As you practice, beware of how fast you’re speaking. Rushing through might get you under two minutes, but your proposal will be much more meaningful if you slow down. Add an emotional pause or two, if it feels natural. Most importantly, speak from your heart.

Marriage proposal lines to inspire you

Are you missing that one line that will really make your proposal perfect? Check out these 15 marriage proposal lines for some inspiration!

  1. From the moment we met, I knew I’d end up here, asking you to spend the rest of your life with me.
  2. You’re the one I see myself growing old with.
  3. I promise to spend the rest of my life comforting you when you’re sad, celebrating with you when you’re happy, and working my hardest every day to give you the life you deserve.
  4. I am here tonight because of you, because of a love so deep and so rich that I can’t imagine my life without you in it.
  5. You’re my best friend, my soulmate, my everything.
  6. The joy that you’ve brought to my life is more amazing than anything I’ve felt before.
  7. Nothing compares to our love. I know it will carry us through all the ups and downs of this life—together.
  8. When I think about what makes me happy—absolutely, undeniably happy—it’s you. It’s always been you.
  9. When I look into your eyes, I see my future: a house filled with love and a lifetime of happiness.
  10. Our love is the kind that you never really have to think about. We don’t have to try too hard or convince ourselves of the reasons why we love each other. It’s simply there—the most important part of everything I do. 
  11. I never truly knew what love was until I met you.
  12. Before I met you, my heart was like a desert. I’d been burned so many times and I thought I’d feel like that forever, but your love made me alive again.
  13. I want to walk beside you forever. Take my hand and never let go.
  14. I’d be lost without you. You are my guiding light, my shelter in the storm.
  15. I could live this life over and over, one hundred times. But every time, I’d choose you.

The beginning of the rest of your life

Now that you have a handful of ideas about what to say when proposing, sit down and start writing. Use the tips we’ve given you here and, most importantly, let your heart lead the way. Best wishes on starting the rest of your life!