Having a strong marriage is more important than being able to tell a great proposal story, but how you get engaged still matters—to you and your loved one, that is. When thinking about how to propose to your (fingers crossed!) future spouse, the only rule is to consider what she or he would like. If you don’t think they’d dig a fancy dinner or flash mob proposal, here are eight creative ways to pop the question.
1. MAKE A BOARD GAME.
To construct your own trivia board game, make handwritten cards, co-opt dice or timers from old board games, and include typed instructions for an authentic game experience. Take turns selecting cards, asking each other questions about your relationship and discussing your goals for the future. When your significant other draws the final card, it should read: “Will you marry me?”
2. COOK A MEAL WITH A SECRET ENDING.
To impress your beloved, propose at the end of a special home-cooked meal rather than at a restaurant. Plan a three-course meal based around his or her favorite foods, and order customized after-dinner mints or chocolate-coated candies that have been inscribed with your choice of words. Create a romantic ambience with candles and music, and offer your love the special mints or candies after dessert.
3. WRITE A SONG.
If your partner loves music, writing a song to convey your feelings can be a creative way to propose. You can perform the song in private or in front of a larger group of family and friends, but make sure you sing directly to your love. Alternatively, if you’re not confident in your musical skills, write a song that tells the story of you and your partner’s relationship, and get a musically inclined friend to perform it.
4. USE A BUNCH OF BOXES.
When proposing on your partner’s birthday or another holiday, wrap the engagement ring box and put it in a slighter larger box. Wrap that box and repeat until the ring is in a box that makes it look like you’re giving a much larger gift.
5. PLAN AHEAD.
One month before your planned proposal, get 30 pieces of paper and write one reason why you love your partner on each slip. Put them all in a jar, and give it to your significant other with the instructions to read one piece of paper each day. When the 30 days have passed, say that because of all those reasons, you want to spend the rest of your lives together.
6. CREATE A SCAVENGER HUNT.
Scavenger hunts are a creative way to propose because you can customize them based on where you are, what your girlfriend or boyfriend likes, and how much time you can devote to planning. Pick a few significant locations, get some friends and family involved, and write the clues. Depending on how tech-savvy you are, clues can be in the form of a video, audio recording, text message, or simply written on paper. You should be waiting to propose at the final location.
7. OUTFIT SOME HELP.
Get 15 t-shirts made, one with each letter in the phrase “Will you marry me?” Recruit 14 of your future fiance’s family, friends, and even pets to each wear one of the t-shirts (you should wear the shirt with the question mark). Find an excuse to get everyone together in the same room and line up to spell out the question.
8. FILM A PROPOSAL TRAILER.
Some people propose by creating a short film that highlights significant moments in their relationship, but a proposal shouldn’t be just a review of the past. Rather, a proposal should symbolize a couple’s future together, so create a marriage trailer that gives a preview of what’s to come. You can film yourself talking about how you envision your future life together and what your goals are. Screen the trailer at home or at a local theater.