Marriage on your mind? She'll be telling the story of how you proposed to friends and strangers for the rest of her life, so put your own spin on one of these ideas to make sure it's memorable. (Hint: If you haven’t found the ring yet, check out our ring photo gallery.)
Best Public Marriage Proposal Ideas
1. Have a flair for the dramatic? Get in touch with the stage manager of an appropriately themed production and propose after the cast's curtain call.
2. Take out a full-page ad in a newspaper you know your girlfriend reads daily.
3. Arrange a surprise proposal with a street caricaturist. Have him sketch a picture of you two with word bubbles. Yours will read, "Will you marry me?" and hers will say, "Yes!"
4. Pay the divers at an aquarium to put on a proposal show inside their biggest fish tank. Give them a handwritten sign that says, "Will you marry me?" to hold up against the glass.
5. Send your girlfriend on a treasure hunt. Start with a clue at home; then send her on a tour of your favorite spots all over town. When she gets to the last hint, the prize should be you on one knee.
6. Go out for a night of dancing and ask the DJ or bandleader to pass you the mic so you can dedicate a song and propose on the dance floor.
7. Hire a skywriter to spell out your proposal for everyone around to see.
8. Flying anytime soon? Use the plane's loudspeaker system (of course, run your plan by the flight attendants first) and propose at 35,000 feet.
9. Movie buffs? Ask your neighborhood theater to run an ad featuring your proposal and make sure you get there in time for the previews.
10. Gather a bunch of your friends and family for a party. Have everyone in attendance put on a T-shirt bearing one of the letters in the phrase "Will you marry me?" When you walk into the room with your girlfriend, suggest a group picture and let the shirts speak for themselves.
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Best At-Home Marriage Proposal Ideas
11. For a simple surprise, after she goes to bed, go to her jewelry box and replace her everyday ring with the engagement ring. She'll be completely shocked in the morning when she goes to put on her regular ring.
12. Write her a love note with the proposal at the end of it. Tuck it into her favorite book or the one she happens to be reading at the moment, and when she finds the note, surprise her with the ring.
13. Turn off all the lights in your apartment and make a trail of candles that leads to a circle of votives positioned around the ring.
14. Slip the ring on her finger while she's sleeping and wake her with champagne and strawberries. At first, the gesture will simply seem romantic -- the real surprise comes when she notices her new piece of jewelry.
15. Tie a red-velvet ribbon from one spot in your home to another. Attach little notes recalling perfect moments in your relationship along the way. You wait at the last stop, ring in hand.
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Best Tech Marriage Proposal Ideas
16. Create your own podcast proposal and sneak it onto her iPod.
17. Upload a video of your proposal to YouTube (tell her you have a hysterical home movie to show her).
18. Steal her digital camera and head to her favorite local outdoor spot. Bring a friend with you and have posters made with the words "will," "you," "marry" and "me?" Have your friend photograph you holding each one in a different position. Then, let her know you borrowed her camera and ask her to upload the photos.
19. Take the scavenger hunt high-tech: Send your mate a text message leading her to a secret spot. Keep her engaged by text messaging her sweet nothings along the way (and directions, of course) as you lead her to you, on bended knee.
20. Create a web page declaring your love and intentions. Leave your sweetie a clue with the web address written on it -- don't say a word. After the proposal has been officially accepted (which, of course, it will be!), she can proudly send the page to friends and family.
21. Set up a live-stream channel (on Ustream.com) and invite all your friends and family to watch the proposal live from wherever you choose to propose!
Best Foodie Marriage Proposal Ideas
22. Make the box holding her ring a selection on the dessert tray at your favorite restaurant.
23. Put together a gift basket of yummy delicacies -- the best chocolate or coffee -- and hide the ring among the presents (in its box, so it doesn't get lost in the goodies).
24. Ask the pastry chef to write, "Will you marry me?" in chocolate sauce around the rim of her dessert plate.
25. Ask a baker to make a cake with the proposal written in frosting. Have him display it in the storefront and suggest a little window-shopping to your girlfriend.
26. Create a personalized fortune cookie with your own proposal message.
Most Playful Marriage Proposal Ideas
27. Create your own crossword puzzle and be prepared to help her work it out over breakfast.
28. Spell your proposal out in glow-in-the-dark star stickers on your ceiling. Get into bed, turn the lights off and wait for the inevitable gasp.
29. Spell out your proposal with refrigerator magnets.
30. Sneak into her office or classroom before she gets there and write your proposal on her desk or on the blackboard. Stay hiding in the coat closet or right outside the room until she arrives.
31. Get a ring size chart and ask your girlfriend to look up her size. When she accuses you of ruining the surprise that you're shopping for a ring, say, "Okay, try this one instead," and show her that you've already shopped for a ring.
32. Play hangman and have the phrase be "Marry me."
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Best Fall and Winter Marriage Proposal Ideas
33. During your annual Halloween prep, challenge her to a pumpkin-carving contest and carve the words "Marry me" into your pumpkin.
34. Write, "Will you marry me?" on the underside of a kite and take flight one warm, breezy afternoon.
35. Have a friend or family member set up a picnic -- complete with wine and cheese, of course -- for you in a park. Take your girlfriend for a hike on a route where you'll stumble upon this surprise proposal picnic.
36. Scratch your proposal into the frost on her car's windshield.
Best Spring and Summer Marriage Proposal Ideas
37. Propose in a flower or botanic garden when everything is in bloom.
38. Gather your families together for a barbecue and make it a family affair.
39. Go to the beach and casually build a sand castle (at a safe distance from the ocean!), and place the ring on the highest turret. Then invite her to admire your handiwork.
40. Make your own message in a bottle. On the night before a beach day you've planned, write a love poem on a piece of parchment paper, roll it into an antique bottle with a cork and bury it in a well-marked spot in the sand near your towels. Be sure you "find" the bottle as you dig together -- and have the ring at the ready.
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Most Thoughtful Marriage Proposal Ideas
41. If you're artistically inclined or just like to make things with your own two hands, integrate something you've made into the proposal. For example, if you have woodworking skills, present the ring in a special hand-carved jewelry box.
42. Buy a pet that she’s always wanted (bunny, kitten, puppy) and loosely tie the ring around its neck. Or substitute a stuffed animal -- still cute, but less maintenance!
43. Tell your girlfriend you want to make a time capsule together to bury and dig up years into the future. As you're gathering the items, say it wouldn't be complete without a picture of the moment you two got engaged! Have a camera ready to take that shot right after you present her with the ring.
44. Rent a Vespa scooter and invite your girlfriend for a ride, but remind her to be safe and wear a helmet. Hand her the helmet (with the ring box already in it), and then you can zip around town to celebrate!
45. Meet for a drink at a posh hotel bar. When it's time to go, casually mention that you've already reserved a room for the night. When you open the hotel room door, have roses, candles and champagne all set up -- everything for a perfect surprise proposal.
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Cheesy (but Hilarious) Proposal Ideas
46. Make a list of 10 reasons you'd like to marry your beloved. Read them to her in front of a crowd, have them delivered via singing telegram or send them written on individual note cards over the course of a day (or 10!), with the last card arriving by personal messenger (you!).
47. Want to really surprise your girlfriend? Cut out the bottom of a huge refrigerator box, wrap it with pretty paper and ribbon, and attach a card that says, "What's inside the box is a gift to last a lifetime." "Deliver" yourself to her office or front door.
48. Make her ring the surprise in a box of Cracker Jack.
49. Make her feel like a movie star and set your proposal to the scene of her favorite romantic movie. You could arrange your own Pretty Woman moment (the finale, of course): Rent a white limo and climb through the moonroof with flowers in hand to proclaim your love as you arrive at her place.
50. Another funny movie proposal? Steal from that famous Say Anything scene: Park yourself outside her house with a stereo blaring your favorite tune and propose on the front lawn.
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