How to Make a “Mutual Proposal” or Non-Traditional Proposal Special

Person holding engagement ring and flower behind their back

Proposing to a significant other can be one of the most memorable and sweet moments in a relationship. Because this moment offers a chance to share why you want to commit to each other forever, sometimes neither person wants to be left out of the sharing and the planning of the big event. However, if you aren’t interested in sticking with the traditional man-on-bended-knee, or if your relationship isn’t heterosexual, you may want to consider options for a non-traditional or mutual proposal.

A mutual proposal is where both members of a couple essentially propose marriage to each other: they explain what the relationship means to them, they make a meaningful gesture in the vein of finding a romantic spot, and they give each other rings to signify their intention. The hardest part to pull off, clearly, is the fact that many traditional proposals are actually a surprise of some kind, even if the partner expects something soon. With mutual proposals, a bit more planning is helpful.

Follow these tips to make your mutual proposal a meaningful, comfortable, and exciting gesture you’ll remember throughout your relationship fondly.

Couple sitting on couch with dog in lap

Pre-Proposal Discussions

Most couples do talk, even vaguely, about engagement before they have a real proposal, so during such a conversation, a non-traditional proposal could be discussed. If you know that it would be important to you for each of you to propose, let your partner know ahead of time. Be warned that more traditional men may need a little while to get used to the idea of being proposed to by a woman, but you’ll be surprised how many people will come around to the idea. Who wants to turn down an expression of love and affection that shows how important and awesome they are to each other?

This discussion should include more than just the regular talks about whether or not you are both ready for marriage, however. You should also talk about order: does one person want to go first, or do you want to set a time, date, or location where you will both propose in the same afternoon or evening? By definition, a mutual proposal is less spontaneous than some other proposals, but you can leave a few things up to chance, like giving each other a window of time like an entire month when either of you could do a proposal.

Ring Shopping

Make sure that you both give each other adequate time to express what kind of rings you like and get each other’s sizes. This kind of shopping is even more fun when each of you are picking something out for each other, and gives you a chance to guess what the other person likes or would want. In some cases, this can be the only ring that you wear; men, for instance, rarely wear a wedding ring and an engagement ring, so doing a mutual proposal may also mean re-using that ring at the actual wedding ceremony.

Two woman looking at a ring

Enlisting the Help of Friends

Many people get a friend to help them pull off an elaborate marriage proposal, so make sure that you don’t double-dip from the same friend and ask them to be a part of too many preparations! If you do want someone present to photograph the proposals, consider having them on the same day at the same time, even if it means spoiling the surprise just a tad.

Your Plans Fit the Person, but Don’t Have to “Match”

If one of you is more understated than the other member in your partnership, it is completely fine if one person quietly asks you to marry them on a walk through the park while the other person throws a big party with friends and family. Rather than worrying that the proposals will seem “lopsided,” focus on making the proposals unique to the person who you are asking to marry you and to the union between you two.

Announce After Both, Not Just One

One extra hitch in the plan is that if you have two proposals, it is best to wait until after both are done to announce to the world that you are engaged. Waiting allows the second person to be a part of the excitement of sharing the good news fully, rather than also thinking of what they will do in the back of their minds. The second proposal may not follow for a substantial amount of time, so it is important to be patient and keep things quiet. Obviously, if you are less worried about this as a couple, there is no rule saying you cannot announce your engagement before the second proposal, just make sure you communicate about what you expect, since it isn’t an aspect of a traditional proposal!

By following these tips, you will be able to participate in an egalitarian tradition and ensure that both parties have fully thought through and are excited for the prospect of marriage. While traditional proposals are fine as well, a little preparation and discussion can help you and your partner both have the chance to surprise each other with demonstrations of affection and commitment.

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