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Should I Propose Before or After Dinner? How to Propose a Girl at a Restaurant

A proposal takes planning, and one of the most important questions you can ask yourself is “should I propose before or after dinner?” Today, we’re tackling this tricky topic head on, helping you work out exactly when to propose in order to avoid awkwardness and stress. 

Should I propose before or after dinner?

It takes nerves of steel to propose. But doing so over dinner in a public restaurant requires even more courage. Come to think of it, the risk is immense! If she says “No”, there is the possibility of a host of strangers witnessing your public humiliation.

And it could get worse. You might even find yourself trending on Twitter, or Instagram, with the hashtag #HowNotToPropose or #ProposalGoneSouth.

Nonetheless, with proper planning, restaurants can offer a relaxed, romantic background for the perfect dinner proposal. Today, we’re taking a look at restaurant proposal ideas that can help you get to “I do”.

When to Propose During Dinner: Before vs. After

How to Prose in a Restaurant

  • Engagement ring:
  • Restaurant for the proposal: ✅
  • Meal courses and drinks:

The only item on the menu that leaves you breaking a sweat is the timing of your proposal. After all, knowing how not to propose is just as crucial.

Deciding whether to propose before or after dinner can be kinda tricky. Many guys won’t have the guts to stomach a rejection right at the onset of dinner. In such a case, taking the meal before proposing is a foregone conclusion.

On the other hand, some people may be too nervous as they prepare to propose. They can’t see themselves going through the motions of a six-course meal with all that anxiety bottled inside. They’d prefer to first pop the all-important question, then sit back, celebrate, and enjoy a blissful meal.

We’ll examine the pros and cons of proposing before or after dinner in greater detail so that you can choose wisely.

Proposing Before Dinner

How soon is too soon to propose once you’ve reached the restaurant? For some guys, it’s better to take bull by its horns than sit through an anxiety-filled evening dinner. If you’re that kind, you may consider proposing before dinner. With the proposal done (hoping she says “yes”), you can celebrate the great milestone and enjoy a fine meal together.

Furthermore, proposing before dinner creates room for you to enjoy the meal with friends and family. On the flip side, she may decline your proposal, and you’ve already invited friends and family to witness. It’s unlikely you’ll still be able to enjoy your dinner after that.

Proposing After Dinner

Some guys may not want to risk ruining an elaborately planned six-course dinner at an expensive restaurant. You may want to chill out to the tail end of dinner before  popping the question.

What’s more, the roller coaster of emotions after a proposal can be unprecedented. You or your partner may be too excited to genuinely enjoy the meal. If your proposal comes after dinner, you might even decide immediately thereafter to retire to a more intimate setting. There you can celebrate in private away from the gaze of uninvited strangers.

The obvious drawback to proposing after dinner is having to spend the whole evening tensed up. If you can’t contain the anxiety, you’re better off proposing before dinner.

So, Which Is it?

As you can see, the answer to the question, “Should I propose before or after dinner?”, is not that straightforward. Several issues may influence your final decision.

Your personality will play a big role here. Having a basic understanding of your partner would also be important. The nature of the meal for dinner too can determine whether it would be appropriate to propose before or after dinner. Whether you’re involving family and friends too can influence whether you’ll propose before or after dinner.

Let’s look at some more factors, then come back to the core question of precisely when to propose over dinner, shall we?

How to Plan a Proposal: 3 Major Steps to Getting it Right

How to Plan a Proposal at Dinner

While you ponder on how to propose to your girlfriend, it’s recommended that you make the following preliminary preparations for your special day.

1. Find out Your Partner’s Thoughts on Marriage

People get into relationships for different reasons. It should, therefore, never be assumed that all the parties involved want the relationship to graduate into a marriage. When ready to ‘pop the question’, it helps to prepare your partner indirectly for what’s coming.

Talk about a recent proposal by a friend and gauge your partner’s reactions. Solicit their views on marriage and what their plans are.

Navigating this stage successfully may not only set the stage for a successful proposal but a happy marriage. It can also help you figure out what to say when proposing.

2. Loop in the Parents

Okay, for some this sounds old school. But it demonstrates respect to the parents and your level of seriousness. That cannot be understated! It sets the bedrock of a good relationship with the in-laws after the proposal, and eventually after the wedding.

But how long before the proposal to ask father- and mother-in-law-to-be? Be conscientious, and ensure whatever span of time you choose shows consideration and respect your fiancée’s parents; it shouldn’t feel like an afterthought. There’s no hard and fast rules, but we definitely recommend at least a few weeks ahead of the proposal.

Share with the parents how you’re planning the proposal. Depending on your budget, you may involve them in preparations for the proposal dinner if you think it’s a great idea. Moreover, parents can also serve as good allies when planning a surprise proposal, as they know what is likely to work best–and what is likely to flop.

Finally, don’t forget to tell your own family if you haven’t already!

3. Get the Perfect Ring

A ring is the centerpiece of a marriage proposal. Don’t consider yourself ready for the proposal until you have purchased a suitable ring for your partner.

A good proposal should, therefore, never be spontaneous. Think through it. Take the time to plan for it by shopping around and saving up for the perfect ring.

You don’t have to break the bank for the perfect engagement ring. With good planning, you can save and land a glamorous ring. If you have been relating honestly with your partner, it’s possible that they already know your financial ability. Aim at impressing, nonetheless.

We’ll weigh in on a few tips for getting the perfect engagement ring later in this article. Read on to find out whether to propose before or after dinner.

How to Choose A Suitable Restaurant for a Dinner Proposal

Prepare to propose in the right restaurant

There are several ways to go about choosing the perfect restaurant for a dinner proposal.

You can choose a restaurant that holds special memories for both of you, perhaps where you had your first date or a regular haunt. This could be a brewing pot of nostalgic memories of your romantic rendezvous. Her favorite restaurant can also be a fine place to propose.

Essentially, a restaurant that speaks to your love journey can be a fantastic place to propose. The place that holds lots of treasured memories between the two of you does not necessarily have to be an expensive eatery. It might simply be the bistro along the street or a cool pizza place downtown. A restaurant that makes her favorite dish just the way she likes it would nail it for a dinner proposal.

Others prefer the setting for the proposal to be a grand gesture in and of itself. Does that sound like you? Then you’ll need to survey the best place to pull off a flawless engagement. Visit the place beforehand if possible, or peruse online reviews. Be sure to check out if their menu matches your partner’s tastes, and see if it matches your budget. Just be sure you’re conscious about what to wear to a dinner proposal in an upscale place.

It’s also a great idea to get suggestions from close confidants, friends, and family. They may prove a worthwhile resource in putting together a creative dinner proposal. 

How to Propose in a Restaurant

How to propose in a restaurant

Even the best proposals can fly into unexpected headwinds in the whimsical environment of a restaurant. Keep these factors in mind when planning a marriage proposal over dinner:

1. Plan with the Restaurant – They’ll Be Glad to Help

Restaurants of a certain caliber handle proposals regularly, and most will happily step in to help you seamlessly pull off the perfect proposal. They’ll offer numerous suggestions that are sure to spruce up your evening and make your proposal delightful. Some restaurants have in-house bands that can elevate the occasion with some romantic vibes to serenade your partner. It’s not a bad idea to request “your song” ahead of time to frame the moment.

They may recommend a special table in an area with perfect lighting and picturesque views–a perfect romantic backdrop. On top of that, it’ll also make your photos come out beautifully. (More on this below.)

Consult with the restaurant ahead of time and you’ll thank yourself later. They can be extremely helpful, from giving pointers on the ring presentation to the choice of meals and drinks for the evening. You’ll also find them handy in coordinating family and friends who might be coming over for the special evening.

2. Make Prior Arrangements for Photos

Good photos marking your proposal are priceless. After all, you only really get one chance to capture the moment.

It’s thus good advice to plan ahead of time when it comes to capturing the moment for all its worth. Restaurant staff will help propose the most scenic backdrops. It could be on the lawns, at the fireplace, or some particularly impressive natural or artistic background. You might also schedule a prior visit with the photographer and tap into their expertise as well.

Ask if the restaurant has an in-house photographer who can help take the photos. Don’t just count on some random guys across the table to do your shoot! You can ask trusted friend with a good eye; or better yet, hire a professional photographer to take the best photos (if your budget allows it).

3. Have Your Partner Well Dressed for the Proposal

While you’re doing your best to keep the proposal a surprise, be tactful to get your partner dressed to kill. Photos of such a special occasion will be remembered for a long time to come (hopefully).

Besides, your photos announcing such a momentous occasion can make quick rounds on social media. You’d want to have both of you looking sharp. If you’re in your best suit and tie while your partner shows dressed for the drive-thru, they may resent the resulting mismatch.

4. No! Don’t Hide the Ring in the Champagne Glass

How Not to Propose - Ring in champaign

You might be courting a disaster if you go to the extremes to have a unique and dramatic proposal. Hiding the ring inside the food, cake, or in a wine glass is a stunt you shouldn’t attempt. Ponder what would happen if your partner swallows the ring, cracks a tooth, or worse yet–chokes. Not how you want to remember your special moment, even if you know the Heimlich maneuver!

5. Carry a Handkerchief or Tissues

The uncontrollable emotions that come with a good proposal can lead to a flood of tears. Having a lot of tissues or nice handkerchief is a great idea if you know your spouse-to-be is likely to turn on the waterworks with glee.

6. Your Proposal Doesn’t Have to be Perfect

A proposal is something special. Do all you can to put your best foot forward and impress your partner. However, don’t get so hung up in your quest to deliver the perfect proposal that you freak out and self-sabotage.

Relax. A well-thought-out proposal will turn out just fine.

Thousands of proposals are similar in numerous ways. Nonetheless, the magical feeling that is the aftermath of any good proposal may have little to do with your oratory prowess. If you’re Shakespeare, the girl is justified to expect something a little more poetic than most men can pull off. But you’re probably not. And at the end of the day, it’s the thought that counts.

7. Be Ready for a “No”

Though rare, sometimes proposals end in a “no”.

Of course, you wouldn’t want to imagine that after all your preparations, it could well end up a bust. Having invested in a relationship, and having gone through the rigors of piecing together the perfect proposal, a rejection is the last thing on your mind.

Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. With this in mind, you’re better psychologically prepared to face any outcome of your proposal.

8. In Most Cases, Propose AFTER Dinner

So, to answer the core question of this article, we recommend you propose after dinner. There are a few reasons to consider, but the biggest one really is to hedge against a possible “no”. If it doesn’t go the way you plan, at least you can both make a swift exit from the public eye.

Additionally, a “yes” before dinner might ruin the meal! Yes, that might sound crazy or even trivial, but it’s more important than you might think. All of your carefully laid plans may fade to a blur in your minds following the big question. While that’s not a bad thing in and of itself, giving yourselves time to enjoy the staging and buildup of the proposal is more likely to frame it more vividly in your memory. Plus, the elation from a “yes” might prove so distracting

But, perhaps you can pop the question before desert and after-dinner drinks–that way you’ll still have something to share the buzz of a “yes” over!

The big exception to the “after” rule is if you are the super-nervous type. Your pre-proposal jitters might even give it away if you wait until the end of dinner, which could make for an awkward lead-up and spoil the mood.

How to Get the Perfect Engagement Ring for a Dinner Proposal

How to choose an engagement ring

After you’ve popped the question, you’ll be expected to unleash an engagement ring to match the occasion. We’ll help you get the perfect ring for your dinner proposal.

Know How Much to Spend on an Engagement Ring

Undoubtedly, a proposal can be costly. Therefore, you must decide upfront how much you’re willing to spend. Being spontaneous can lead you into unplanned debt and a financial fix.

Apart from the proposal, you have other financial obligations that compete for scarce resources. A budget, therefore, allows you to spend on the proposal while meeting your other financial obligations.

Being a special occasion (hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience) a little financial stretching may be expected to get the perfect ring.

FYI, the “spend two months salary” rule is completely bunk. It was created by marketing geniuses hired by diamond cartels, and doesn’t do anything to guarantee a meaningful proposal. It just guarantees that you have less money for your wedding and the life you will live together afterwards. The term “embarrassment of riches” can definitely apply, too, depending on the disposition of your spouse-to-be. Wrecking your finances over a token of your love wont impress anyone worth marrying.

Have a Plan for How to Measure Her Ring Size Ahead of Time

The last thing you want is an oversize or undersize ring. Sure, you can always take the ring back for resizing but this will be a sure way of souring your otherwise perfectly planned proposal. Here’s how to find her ring size without her knowing.

You can sneak out one of your partner’s rings secretly or ask one of their close friends to help you out. Knowing the ring size is important as it also determines the cost. It also helps you avoid the drama of trying to force a wrong-sized ring down on your partner’s finger. That can be quite a spectacle.

Go Window Shopping for Wedding Ring Ideas

Visit different jewelry stores to see the kind of rings they stock. Narrow down on the one(s) that have the most striking rings in your opinion.

When planning a surprise proposal, involve your partner’s close friend or a family member to help you decide on the ring that best suits your partner’s style.

You can also save a few bucks by visiting different jewelers for the best prices.

Select a Ring that Suits Your Partner

Rings come in all shapes, sizes, textures, and dazzles. Hopefully, your partner should be able to wear the engagement ring for the rest of their life. The ring should therefore reflect their taste, style, and personality.

Observing your partner’s jewelry can give you a clue as to their style and taste. Since it’s your partner who will be adorning this piece for the rest of their lives, let your style preferences take a back seat.

Consider the Quality of the Rock

Diamond cuts for engagement rings

The quality of a diamond engagement ring is determined using four critical components. They’re referred to as the 4Cs – cut, color, clarity, and carat. These factors determine the quality and price of an engagement ring.

  • Cut: It’s the most important consideration as it is the only quality not influenced by nature. It refers to the quality of a diamond’s cut and this determines how well the diamond interacts with light.
  • Color: The color of the diamond is determined by the D-to-Z scale. With D being a completely colorless diamond and Z being one with a slight yellow hue. Diamonds with less color could be more costly as they’re rarer.
  • Clarity: Refers to the number of natural imperfections or blemishes present in the diamond and how they affect its overall appearance. The grading scale used to rate the clarity of a diamond is referred to as GIA and it ranks diamonds from Flawless (FL) to Included (I).
  • Carat Weight: It’s a measure of the actual weight of a diamond. All diamonds differ in their appearance, such that there are no two diamonds that are completely alike. Carat weight, therefore, is used as the key quality that is used to rank diamonds. The higher the carat weight the more costly the diamond.

As beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, the ultimate consideration–over and above the 4Cs–should be what one thinks of the overall appearance of the diamond, and how it flatters the wearer-to-be.

Additionally, it also depends on how the diamond ‘sits in well’ with the other components of the ring. These components include:

  • The metal that makes up the ring band
  • The side stones
  • How the diamond appears under varied lighting conditions
  • The diamond with the most sparkle

Hot Take: It Doesn’t Have to Be a Diamond Ring

Yes, we’ve said the quiet part out loud. Diamonds are indeed forever in that they are materially harder than most other precious gems. However, they’re not really all that rare, and they do tend to lose a significant amount of value the moment you purchase them. 

The perceived scarcity is actually carefully manufactured by diamond cartels. Additionally, some people take issue with how diamonds are mined using slave labor or exploitative practices (called “blood diamonds”). Your sweetheart may be one of them.

Cubic zirconia is the classic faux diamond, but it might come across a little cheap. A better alternative is moissanite engagement rings, which (with only a handful of exceptions) only naturally occurs in a special type of meteorite in scarce quantities. It is also reflects light more brilliantly even than diamond, and is only barely less hard. 

Both diamonds and moissanite can be lab-grown. This is usually a more ethical and affordable than traditional cartel diamonds, and the results are usually as close to perfect as can be. They won’t tank in value the moment you buy them, either.

Other precious gems like rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and opals are truly more rare and scarce than diamonds, and may fit the personal aesthetic of your spouse-to-be better than the traditional clear, sparkly white gem.

Last Thoughts on Whether to Propose Before or After Dinner

There is no wrong or right answer on whether to propose before or after dinner. Proposing before or after dinner largely depends on your personality and the kind of dinner setting that you’ve chosen. But most people will prefer to propose after supper so as not to risk emotions of excitement coming in the way of a good meal.

Did you propose before or after dinner if at all you proposed in a restaurant? Kindly share with us how the experience was like and what tips you think would have made it even better.

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