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What To Say When You Propose

Speechless when it comes to what to say when you propose? We’ve got you covered.

couple getting engaged, man on bended knee, woman crying on a stunning city rooftop
Photo by Golden Hours Photography

The time is finally here! You’re ready to get down on one knee. You’ve got the ring, you hired a planner, and everything is in place. There’s only one detail left: What are you going to say when you propose???

This is the number one high-stress point for most of our clients. Once the pressure of the planning has been lifted from their shoulders, the only thing left to focus on is the actual on-bended-knee moment. And instead of having the perfect speech, they find themselves speechless!

It’s the climax you’ve been preparing for, so it’s only natural to put a TON of pressure on yourself to come up with the perfect words. Meaningful but not cheesy. Heartfelt but not sappy. Substantial but not rambling. Where do you even start?!

If you’re finding yourself feeling the pressure, don’t worry! That’s why we’re here. Let Chicago’s Proposal Planners™ walk you through how to get a plan in place for what exactly to say when you propose.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Let’s be honest, you probably have no idea what you’re going to say…yet. This likely is not something you’ve ever had to do before, so the nerves and stress are in full swing.

Maybe you’ve had to give public speeches before, whether it’s at a friend’s wedding or in front of your company, but this is completely different because it is a PRIVATE speech. 

Odds are, you and your girlfriend will be the only two people that will know what was said. Or, you may forget as soon as you put the ring on her finger.

That’s what we like to call the Proposal Fog- absolutely normal, but usually unexpected. Check out our blog post with everything you need to know about proposal fog.

Just because you may forget what you said, that doesn’t mean the words don’t matter.

The best proposals are the most personal ones. Having helped plan countless proposals, I can promise that it’s obvious whether his words are coming from the heart or coming from the Internet. 

Not only will it be unique in the way that it’s private, but it will also be one of the most emotional speeches you give in your life. 

Professing your love to someone is meant to be emotional, but that can make things a bit more stressful. 

“What if I leave something out?”

“What if it doesn’t come out right?” 

“How is it going to sound when I’m looking into her beautiful eyes?”

“What if I get too emotional and can’t make it through everything I want to say?”

All of these questions are likely floating around in your head, and rightfully so. This is really going to be one of the biggest speeches of your entire life.

This is your time to shine! Your time to express to the love of your life just how much she means to you.

But no pressure, right?

The key is tapping into that emotion, the sentimental memories, and starting the process from a heartfelt place. You’ll have an affectionately crafted speech written down in no time.

Once you find the perfect words, it doesn’t mean you have to memorize your speech word for word. In fact, when the moment comes, it’s better to have a couple of lines in mind, but then trust your heart and let it speak for you.

But, we’ll get to that. First, we need a starting point. (Pro Tip: using our What To Say Guide, found below, will give you the perfect starting point for finding what to say when you propose).

informative graphic about what to say when you propose

How to prepare for your proposal speech: Start from the beginning. 

As I mentioned above, you don’t want to copy and paste from Google. Sure, the internet is great for brainstorming and getting ideas flowing, but she’ll be able to tell how little you thought about these words when it starts sounding too generic.

It needs to be personal. Even more, you should want to make it personal. Sure, you can tell her you love her on any given day, but this day is more than that.

Your proposal day will be remembered for the rest of your lives.

This is the real start to your future together, confirmed by the ring on her left hand. You don’t want to start that new chapter on the foundation of someone else’s words or by taking the easy way out.

Women notice and appreciate the effort, and what you’re going to say when you propose isn’t a place to start slacking off. So how do you get started? How do you connect to the sentimental and heartfelt emotions when nerves and anxiety are all you can focus on?

First things first, prepare a time when she won’t be around so you have plenty of time and space to do this. The last thing you want is her asking what you’re doing and having to lie.

Or worse, her looking over your shoulder and seeing what you’re up to.

It doesn’t have to be anything formal–you can do this on your lunch break, while your girlfriend is at the gym, or any time you have when you know you’ll be alone.

Not having to worry about your girlfriend catching you in the act is one less stressor on your mind as you begin, so really make sure this is a time you can guarantee your girlfriend won’t be around.

Go back to the beginning of your love story and reconstruct the timeline, the moments, and the emotions that came with it.

What better way to prepare than taking a trip down memory lane?

Some of our clients go through the relationship and already have an ongoing journal of these moments on their phones. This is a great place to start to tap into the romantic, sentimental, and nostalgic feelings that you want to evoke during your proposal.

If you don’t have an ongoing journal, start by going into your phone and looking through all the pictures you have with and of her. Really take the time to remember those days- from the first date to the first kiss and all of the other milestones of your relationship.

If you’re not the one who typically takes the pictures and documents those moments, find a time to go through her phone (for example, when she’s in the shower or another time of day she will not have her phone on her AND she will not see you doing this… remember, it’s a surprise).

Write down your favorite memories.

Once you’ve gathered all of those memories, open up your notes app and just start typing. Think of this as a brain dump. It doesn’t have to connect, or even be full sentences. Look at the memories and pictures and decide which ones stand out to you and why.

Note your favorite memories. Things about her that make you smile. Funny moments you’d forgotten but seem to showcase your relationship.

Sometimes, physically writing it down goes a long way. Don’t be afraid to go old school and pull out a notepad and a pen and start writing.

I find just getting started–dumping all of your thoughts into a note or onto paper–is the best way to get out of your head. You’ll be able to see all of your ideas, thoughts, and memories in front of you.

From day one, whether you classify that as the day you first saw her, the day you first spoke to her, or the day you asked her to be your girlfriend, all the way until this moment.

By the time you finish, your entire love story should be on your phone (or that sheet of paper). Now, you have tons of inspiration right in front of you that stems from the memories that have led you here. All you have to do is condense it!

This is a great resource for you–but also incriminating evidence!

You need to be careful, especially when it comes to tech.

This is the absolute worst thing your girlfriend could find to ruin the entire surprise of the proposal.

Make sure to lock the note on your notes app. That way, if she by chance goes into your notes app, she can’t get into that specific note without your password.

If you physically write it out, make sure you keep that page somewhere safe. Perhaps in a book that you never touch and will remember. And no, your sock drawer is not a safe spot…

If you’re curious about other things you can do to ensure your proposal remains a surprise, take a look at our post about how tech can hurt you when planning your proposal

What to say when you propose: Our best tips to get the words flowing.

In case you couldn’t tell, the most important thing you can do when preparing the words for your proposal is to write them down. Write it all out. Whether it’s the timeline, some of your favorite memories, reasons you love her… Write. It. Down. But…


I know, it sounds wrong. What’s the point of writing it down if you’re not going to memorize or read it word for word?

The idea behind writing your points down is to remember what you want to say, but not to memorize. 

Writing everything down helps to get it out of your head. It helps to find a starting point. It even helps to write a final draft of exactly what you want to say. Writing things down scientifically helps you to remember them later.

That’s why it’s the most important step for prep. But one of the worst things you can do is memorize your proposal speech.

If you memorize your speech word for word, it will sound rehearsed rather than conversational. It sounds robotic rather than romantic.

Take yourself out of the mindset of typical speeches, because after all, this is far from any regular speech. It’s not a business proposal or a presentation; this is you telling her why you are asking her to marry you. 

Part of having your proposal speech sound heartfelt is actually being heartfelt. Unless you’re a trained actor, the only way to do this is to speak from the heart rather than your memory.

You’ll even end up making yourself MORE nervous if you have your speech memorized. What if you skip a line? What if you forget the end halfway through? It’s great to rehearse and read through what you’ve written, but not to memorize.

Ok, so you’ve got your ideas out of your head and into a note. Now what? How can you structure this mess into the most romantic tear-worthy speech you’ve ever heard?

Heads up: We’re not going to give you a script – you have to tailor this to your partner specifically, but we’ll help you out with some starting points for each section of your proposal speech.

Proposal Speech Starting Points

Start from the beginning: 

  • Do you have a cute story about the first time you met? 
  • Do you remember what you first thought when you saw them for the first time? 
  • What about your first date? 
  • First kiss? 

Remind her of where you started, and how far you’ve come. 

Tell her why you want to marry her:

  • Why do you want to spend the rest of your life with her? 
  • What are the things about her you just can’t live without? 
  • Is she your best friend? 
  • How do you see your future together? 

Nothing says I love you like saying I want to wake up next to you every morning.

Tell her how she makes you feel:

  • Does she make you feel like a thousand bucks? 
  • Like you could conquer the world?
  • How would you feel if she accepted your proposal? Like the happiest man in the world? 

Tell her honestly and specifically how you feel when you’re around her.

woman crying after getting engaged on a beautiful rooftop in Chicago
Photo By: Golden Hours Photography

Putting it all together.

Once you’ve prepared, gotten your thoughts down on paper, and brainstormed through the starting point prompts, it’s time to put it all together! Remember, these words are important, but that doesn’t mean they have to be lengthy.

You want to aim for about a minute or less when you’re planning what to say when you propose. You don’t want her to have to stand for upwards of five minutes while you recite everything you wrote down in the prep process.

Plus, once the nerves kick in, you won’t want to be making a long speech. Keeping the categories above in mind and thinking of one or two points for each category will help you to keep what you’re saying at a reasonable length and give you a map to follow for the structure.

As we mentioned earlier, you’re not memorizing this! When the moment comes and you’re feeling the adrenaline and nerves racing, you most likely won’t be able to remember everything you had planned to say. Keeping that map in mind will help to jog your memory in the moment.

Wrap it all up with a bow using those four little words. This sounds self-explanatory, but it’s so easy to forget to actually ask the question “will you marry me” in the midst of the proposal fog.

It’s really as simple as that.

  1. Start at the beginning
  2. Tell her why you want to marry her
  3. Tell her how she makes you feel
  4. Ask her “Will You Marry Me”

And Voila! You know exactly what to say when you propose!

If you feel like there’s more you want to include but don’t want a 10-minute proposal speech, keep reading! We have a few different ways of including more of these sentimental elements that don’t include a monologue.

Practice Makes Perfect.

Now that you what you’re going to say when you propose, the next most important step is to actually say it! Yes, I mean practice.

The words may sound perfect on paper, but you don’t want the first time speaking them to be in front of her.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to practice your proposal speech out loud! Practicing these words out loud will help you understand the flow and notice any spots that feel choppy or out of place.

Practice will also help with your confidence. There is nothing more nervewracking than saying this for the first time on bended knee! You can’t escape the nerves entirely, but if you’ve practiced you can rely on muscle memory to take over. You already know what it feels like to say it out loud, so starting won’t be as hard after some practice.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this, as long as it’s OUT LOUD.

You can say it into a mirror. You can record yourself and listen to it back. If you have a friend that you trust, you can say it to them! The more you practice, the more natural it’ll feel when you propose.

Too much to say but too little time? Don’t worry, you’ve got options.

Feeling like you have too much to say with too little time? That’s better than the other option… And, there are plenty of ways to tell her everything. 

Understanding that you only have a few moments for your speech, it’s important to narrow it down to the best, most important lines. If you find yourself wanting to say more, here are a couple of our favorite ways to do so:


Throughout the entire proposal, leave notecards for her to find and read as she’s on her way to you. She can keep these forever and have a way to look back at her proposal day. 

A Journal:

Whether you started it as your relationship started or wrote it all down the week before the proposal, a journal is a great way to remember what was said. Tell her about your love story, or any other things you have to say but didn’t have the time for during your actual speech. Again, this is something that can be held onto and looked back on forever. 

The first draft of your speech:

This may put you in a vulnerable-feeling position, but your first draft of your proposal speech is the raw, uncut version of your love for her. Sure, you polished it up and switched some lines around for your spotlight moment, but if you saved that first draft, I promise you it will be something she keeps forever.

Now, it’s up to you to find the perfect words to say to her when you pop the question.

Don’t forget that these are just launching points you can use to start jotting down some ideas. No matter what direction you decide to go in for your proposal, as long as it’s heartfelt, your partner is sure to love it.

Don’t stress or worry about memorizing a big long speech line for line. The most important thing about a proposal is that it’s true to you.

If you’re looking for some ideas to get the words flowing, download our guide to “What To Say When You Propose” here!

Vision's What To Say When You Propose guide downloadable info graphic

About Jenée Strickland

Visions Event Studio specializes in luxury events, including proposals and couture weddings. Jenée Strickland, owner, and lead visionnaire, has been an integral part of hundreds of weddings and proposals. Her job is a privilege; her work is a passion.

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