Planning the perfect proposal can be a stressful, even nerve-wracking, experience. We all know how important this moment can be for couples looking to start their next chapter together, but the pressure of making it just right can end up with so many things going wrong.
The Desi Bride went behind the scenes and talked to South Asian grooms-to-be for a firsthand look into their stories and advice for those who are planning on popping the question soon.
First, let’s meet the gentlemen:
Vedang Singh is a product manager and met his wife while they were pursuing their MBA at Kellogg together. He created a DIY scrapbook with all of their special memories and infused it into a unique and heart-felt proposal.
A data consultant by trade and a dancer in his spare time, Chris Rajan met his fiancee at a dance studio. For their special moment, Chris planned out something more intimate: he set up a lantern display in his backyard, and asked his then-girlfriend to marry him under a light-filled night sky.
Mihir Sheth, a program manager at American Airlines, met his now-wife through Coffee Meets Bagel and had a spur-of-the-moment proposal during a ski trip getaway with his longtime girlfriend, Moni. Up in the mountains and secluded from others, Mihir was able to create an intimate moment, complete with a hand-cam recording of his genuine and low-key proposal.
Here are 10 tips these Desi grooms (or grooms-to-be) shared about crafting the perfect proposal.
Both Vedang and Chris agree - a proposal is only as good as the people behind it. Working by yourself behind the scenes to make sure everything from the ring to the venue is ready can be daunting, and almost impossible. Especially if you’re planning for an intricate proposal or a big celebration, it’s important to lean on friends, family, and your soon-to-be fiancee’s family as well.
Just think about it: for a successful proposal, you’re going to need to plan out of a venue, decorate it in secret, have a photographer ready, and possibly arrange for a post-proposal gathering with friends and family.
“Keeping those things under check and making sure all the nuts and bolts are working together was stressful,” Vedang says. “For me, what worked out really well was how our siblings and our friends leaned in to help out a lot.” Vedang’s friends got together with his wife’s siblings to decorate the venue for the proposal, and her siblings took the lead on the reservation for the post-proposal celebration. His wife’s mom actually called her to try to distract her and make sure her siblings got out of the venue in time for the proposal.
Despite proposing to his girlfriend at the time during an ongoing pandemic, Chris had a lot of help from his parents, who were there for the setup through the proposal. He successfully set up a gorgeous backyard lantern display, but it took more than one hand to get it done. “I don't know if I would have been able to complete it on time if it was just me,” Chris says.
Key Takeaway: Let your friends and family know that you’re planning to propose. Lean on them for managing certain aspects of your special moment-- like decor or venue reservations. At the end of the day, they love being able to share the special moment and help bring it to life.
What better way to start a new chapter of your life than to remind her of your story? Vedang took personal to a whole different level when he incorporated DIY into his intimate proposal. Using a variety of pictures and written memories, Vedang put together a scrapbook documenting the different “chapters” of his relationship with his girlfriend before getting down on one knee and asking her to marry him and start the next chapter with him. “I think she just turned two pages of the scrapbook and then she had tears rolling down her eyes,” Vedang says.
While a DIY scrapbook might not be the best proposal fit for every couple, it’s important to show her that you care and that you remember the intimate details of your relationship.
You can make your proposal personal by your venue selection as another example. Taking her to the place you first met might sound like a cliche, but it’s a sure way to set a romantic atmosphere for your special moment and a great way to show you value your relationship and history together.
Picking up on small details your significant other enjoys is another starting place when coming up with proposal ideas. Take it from Chris, who ended up going for a proposal idea based on a long-time desire of his partner’s to see a light festival. “There had been this lantern festival that we wanted to go to for a long time, the Chinese Lantern Festival,” Chris says. “And I think I saw a picture somewhere and I was like, ‘Oh, what if I try to create that in the backyard!’”
Focus on the two of you and make an effort to put together her favorite things, or something that speaks to you two as a couple.
Chris waited for his soon-to-be fiance at the end of a long hallway, and he joked that the stretch of the hall from the front door to the backyard gave him the clarity of mind he needed to find the right words to say to her to propose. “I had a moment to take a shower and get dressed,” Chris said. “ I think that's when the reality of it really sunk in for me.”
Waiting for his soon-to-be fiancee to arrive home, Chris said the minute of clarity helped him step back, take a breath to calm himself, and really be present in the moment. He said that while a proposal can feel like a lot of effort by the groom and for the bride, it’s important for the one who is proposing to let themselves enjoy the special feeling of starting a new chapter of life as well. “You want to make sure that you don't lose your chance to say something, or your chance to be present in that moment,” Chris said. “Make time for you yourself to fully take it in as well.”
“We had previously talked about it between ourselves. We both wanted something that wasn't heavily overproduced with a lot of like professional camera angles, and in front of like a massive crowd of people,” Mihir said. He and his wife-to-be knew that their proposal was something they both wanted to be intimate and unique to them, which is why he chose to propose during a solo weekend getaway that they both could enjoy. By talking to your partner beforehand, you can pick up on clues on what your significant other might want or even just ask them when you’re having a private conversation for that “hypothetical” moment one day.
Vedang, for one, said that he knew his wife wouldn’t enjoy a loud proposal with a large crowd. He did say that if you believe your wife would want that Bollywood proposal or a large party, then this is your moment, go for it! “It's just figuring out what your fiancee wants,” Vedang said. “Like I said, I think the first thing in my case was, she didn’t want a loud proposal with 25 people who come out of the closet and say, ‘Surprise!’ So it's like little things like those.”
While you don’t want to spoil the surprise of the moment and double-check every little detail with your spouse, you can always ask them general questions about how they imagine their perfect proposal night to go and put what you learn into practice
Vedang stayed up with his best man until 3 a.m. working on the scrapbook he would eventually use to propose. Chris, too, worked through the June heat and spent an entire day putting up the lights that would give his nighttime proposal a magical ambiance when his girlfriend arrived home. While “effort” might feel like something that stays behind the scenes, it’s actually the part of the proposal that shines through the most. When you put hard work into the finer details of the moment, whether that’s with the details of the decor or the thoughtful words you use to propose, she will notice it and love you for it.
“You can't take this moment back, it's a one-time thing,” Chris said. “And it starts the trajectory of a bunch of other things. So any bride will absolutely appreciate any sort of effort that the groom makes for this moment.”
Even if you are getting outside help for the decor and not going the DIY route, you can make sure yourself and your hard work come through in other details. Your bride-to-be will appreciate the thought and planning it takes to invite friends and family for a post-proposal celebration, and she will definitely appreciate your thoughtfulness when it comes to choosing the right words for your proposal.
Your proposal is a once-in-a-lifetime event and is a moment worth replaying. Whether you decide to hire a professional photographer, hide a GoPro in your AirBnB like Vedang, or hand-cam it yourself like Mihir, you should plan to capture the moment. Because for special occasions like this, memories simply aren't enough. And the reality is, with all of the emotion, both of you may forget what exactly happened in the moment.
As the one planning your proposal, it’s up to you to find a reliable and special way to get that perfect candid shot --- whether or not you want to make your proposal public.
“Don't worry about what's going to show up on Instagram or anything like that. Make sure it's an experience that you'll remember and cherish rather than making it public,” Mihir said.“I think way too many things are public. You end up comparing yours to somebody else's. So it just becomes this game of trying to beat everyone else. And then you kind of lose sight of the relationship that's the most meaningful.”
Mihir is right. Social media feed photos may feel like a priority in today’s digital world, but that doesn’t mean you need a professional photographer. If the authenticity of the moment is what you choose to prioritize, a post-proposal selfie like Mihir’s will be more than enough to preserve that moment for an entirety. Nonetheless, make an effort to record the moment in time so you can look back on it later. We promise your future wife will thank you for it!
While we can get caught up in planning the moment itself, the proposal is bigger than just asking her to marry you. It’s also about what comes afterward: the party, the people, and the place. Make sure to plan beyond just the question you’re posing, and think about how you’d like to celebrate as a couple afterward.
“We FaceTimed our parents and went for a mini celebration after she said yes, which was awesome,” Vedang said. “She didn't know her brother and sister had flown in. One of her friends even flew from a business trip in China just for the weekend. She was surprised and super happy about being able to share the moment with her siblings and friends.
While Vedang’s post-proposal plans involved celebrations, a night of going out, and partying, Chris opted for a smaller and more intimate affair. “I knew that having her family, her parents and her brothers, would be important. And so I arranged for them to be a call away and for them to come over right after the proposal was done. After we got to talk, I called my parents and her family back to the house, and we had a really small, intimate dinner,” Chris said.
Of course, you don’t need to immediately celebrate with anyone right after the proposal, either. In fact, being on a solo trip and deciding to spend the rest of your night with your partner can be a great way to settle into the latest phase of your lives together.
Key takeaway: Make sure you have a cohesive plan of before, during, and after the proposal
Although we’ve focused a lot on how to plan and strategize your dream proposal, sometimes the question of timing can throw us off balance. What if she is catching on to me, should I put it off? What if I don’t get another chance, should I just do it now? These questions may start infiltrating your mind, especially if you’re planning for a spur-of-the-moment gesture during a trip or getaway weekend, as many men do.
Chances are, carrying that ring 24/7 is giving you a huge amount of anxiety, and being spontaneous with your proposal is more than okay. When it comes to an “unplanned” proposal, your intuition knows better than your logical mind.
“I brought the ring with me on our trip because I knew I'd propose soon, but I didn't know exactly when. So it wasn’t fully planned out,” Mihir said. Initially, when Mihir reached the top of the mountain, he thought he would have to scrap his plan: the place was full of people, and not the ideal venue for popping the question. But as the day went on, he and his wife found themselves exploring different parts of the ski trail, trails not taken by most. Finally, they reached a secluded area with freshly fallen, powdery snow. “There was this log that had fallen down across the trail. I was like, ‘Oh, this is perfect!’ This is like the thing that we have to overcome right now. It was very metaphorical.”
In that romantic and yet spontaneous moment, he asked her to marry him and she said yes.
Key takeaway: If you’re not a huge planner, keep an eye out for the perfect opportunity for your surprise proposal. You might find it in a different place than what you originally expected. Sometimes the best wedding proposals are the most spontaneous ones.
“I was super nervous the day of the proposal. I remember we went out on a breakfast date before our friends arrived, as it was also our one-year anniversary. And like every five minutes I was just touching my pocket to make sure that the ring was there,” Vedang said, laughing about the experience.
Carrying around a several thousand dollar diamond can be nerve-wracking in itself, but it’s even more of an experience when you’re planning to ask one of the most monumental questions of your life. For Vedang, this anxiety meant spending the morning of his proposal with a racing heart and sweaty palms. “At the restaurant, I went to the restroom six times just to wash my face and not sweat,” he added.
The moment can seem pivotal and nerve-wracking, but Chris says that it’s fundamentally about being in the moment with your partner and asking them to take that daunting next step with you. Remembering that you and your significant other are on the same side can be a helpful way to calm your nerves just before the big moment. “I think when she walked up...It took me a while to even find the right words,” Chris said. “I was emotional too.”
Key takeaway: It’s going to be an emotional moment. Make sure you have a minute to clear your head before you say what you want to say.
Let’s be honest, every single proposal has already been done before. Even if you spend hours planning out a proposal, your goal shouldn’t be something that’s perfectly unique. It should be something that’s perfectly unique to you. From romantic getaways to a night under the stars, from a hike in the mountains to a quiet night at home, someone somewhere has definitely done it before you. But this fact shouldn’t make you shy away from an idea that you think will remain true and authentic to your and your future wife.
You are about to embark upon one of the most important chapters in a couple’s lifetime: marriage. Think about what that might mean for you and your significant other, and follow your heart.
To all those planning a wedding proposal or to those who will be planning a proposal in the future, we wish you the best of luck! When you are ready to wedding-plan, come visit The Desi Bride to find a curated list of vendors familiar with Desi weddings and make the wedding planning process just a little easier.
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