How to Include Family in Your Marriage Proposal

A newly engaged man and woman with the mother-in-law.

These days, social media is saturated with couples documenting stylistic proposals, from “marry me?” written out with small candles in a courtyard to mid-hike photo ops that turn into engagement ring pictures. The stress of how your boyfriend or girlfriend would like you to pop the question has grown with proposal trends constantly showing up online. Some go about uncovering the answer through espionage (asking their beloved’s close friends’ advice, sneaking onto their Pinterest board, posing undercover questions out of context, etc.), but I’ve always been an advocate for clear, upfront conversations surrounding proposal expectations between couples. As unromantic as that may sound at first blush, hear me out.

Whether your darling is a self-identified control freak or introvert (or anyone in between), both of you deserve equal control in your engagement. For the finer details, it may be best to discuss what they don’t want the proposal to look like (“please don’t ask me to marry you at a sporting event”), but it’s also important to hear them out on personnel inclusions. Some people want a proposal devoid of others and prefer to be in private for that moment. However, there are many who feel family should be there to bear witness and share in the joyous moment. If you’re looking to pop the question to a member of the latter group, here are some tips on how to include your beloved’s family (and yours!) into your marriage proposal.

Make Sure They’re on Board

After taking the hint from your spouse-to-be, the next stamp of approval you’ll need is from the participants themselves. Of course, this will vary based on who the family involved might be. For some, they’d like one or both parents involved, while others feel the whole clan (brothers and sisters, grandparents, nieces and nephews, etc.) should join in on the fun. Remember to consider the logistics, however, and don’t involve an unmanageable number of family members. The more people you involve, the more simplistic the proposal should be as not to tie up schedules and cause issues! Parents, siblings, and extended family may have to travel in order to attend, so give them plenty of time to do so—if it’s within your budget, it would also be a nice gesture to pay for transportation expenses.

Don’t Ask Too Much of Them

A newly engaged couple showing off the ring to family and friends.

Unless your beloved comes from a family of event planners or major performers, having them do something elaborate (take part in an organized parade, go undercover in a complicated ruse, and beyond) will merely put undue stress on them. Requesting they be present and jump out of hiding at an allotted time or something of the like should be all that’s requested of them. Additionally, as tempting as it may seem, don’t ask for too much logistical and organizational help, either. This proposal is for you and your sweetheart: no one else should be enlisted in the planning process (unless you’ve employed a paid professional).

Make Them a Reveal…

If your boyfriend or girlfriend isn’t expecting family to be around during the time of your proposal, the most popular way in which to involve them would be through an extra “reveal” following the actual popping of the question. Think of it as a famous singer bringing a special guest onstage during a concert; it’s an added bonus! Additional note: I firmly believe that prior to proposing, the proposer should be within 99% certainty that their sweetie will be saying an emphatic “yes!” (hence the aforementioned proposal expectations), so a family surprise will be a joyous and celebratory event.

…Or Plan it Around Them

So you’re looking to do something a bit more convenient? If you know your darling wants their family around for the proposal, why not get on bended knee during a family event? A family reunion, a holiday, or some other gathering that you receive a blessing to propose during—pop the question and your fiance(é) will be grateful their nearest and dearest were there to partake. If you’d rather not make the proposal into a CIA-level plot, just ensure you’re surrounded by loved ones for a special occasion for the event! (Please ask any birthday person if they would be alright with this beforehand.)

Thank Them Afterward

A man having coffee with his father-in-law.

A thank you note shouldn’t be disregarded, even in the modern era! Before all the thank yous you’ll send for wedding gifts, you should send your future in-laws (and any other family members involved) a nice email/letter/phone call of appreciation for taking part in the proposal. Believe me, it will garner some major points and set you off on a great track for wedding planning!

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