Maybe you saw the ring. Maybe you’re already seeing whether venues are booked for 2023. Whatever the case, you’re ready to get married, and you were ready for the proposal to happen yesterday.
As the calendar hits proposal season — nearly 40% of marriage proposals happen between November and February, according to WeddingWire, with Christmas Day and Valentine’s Day usually vying for top spot for the most popular engagement day — you may be wondering whether it’s going to happen, or whether you should just do it yourself.
There are advantages to either. We spoke to people who’ve gone through proposal season and emerged on the other side. Take their advice, try their strategies — and please, stop trying to find the ring. When the time is right, you’ll see it.
On Waiting It Out
“I got proposed to on the Fourth of July. That’s actually my favorite holiday, but I remember feeling bitter when the holiday season that winter had passed with no ring. I had no doubt my now-husband and I were on the same page, but the waiting was really frustrating. My advice would be to relax, focus on the moment, and try not to project your proposal fantasies on your partner at this time of year. Instead, just build holiday memories with them and let yourself be surprised if it does happen. If it doesn’t, and you feel ready to make that commitment, sit down with them over coffee in January and talk about it. Yes, waiting on a proposal can be part of life, but you have a right to get in the driver’s seat of your own life, too.” — Jenny, 37, married for 10 years
“COVID definitely made everything complicated. And that made everything confusing: Is she not proposing because it’s COVID times or because she’s not that into me? That actually got me stuck in a holding pattern I wish I had addressed. We’re not together anymore, and during our breakup, I realized what vastly different pages we were on. I would be suspicious of anyone using external factors, like COVID, as an excuse. If you want to marry someone, you want to marry them no matter what is going on in the world.” — Beth, 32, single
“I had my hopes up every birthday and holiday that this would be the time my partner would propose. And when he did, which was on Christmas a year after I thought he would, I felt conflicted: Had he done it because I had pressured him, or was it because he had wanted to? Now, it’s fine, but I did feel like the way I was waiting — not that quietly — added some pressure and made me feel weird immediately after the engagement, when everyone was asking how it happened. Once we started wedding planning, I felt like we were back on the same page, but in retrospect, I wish I could have just enjoyed the early engagement weeks without the weird feelings.” — Meg, 34, married for six years
“I feel like there are so many signs that a proposal is going to happen. I saw my now-husband set up a lunch with my dad. I felt like he was taking calls in the other room more often. I felt like the dynamics of the relationship subtly shifted in the weeks leading up to the proposal. I felt like there was a little more secrecy — a little less feeling completely in tune. I know some people have felt that shift and assume a breakup is happening, but I feel when you’re in a solid place, you know that only good things are coming.” — Jess, 29, married for six years
“I made a joke right before it happened! I was like, ‘You’re being so nice to me — are you going to propose or something?’ And he was. I would say just lose the anticipation and enjoy the ride. Making jokes can be passive-aggressive unless that’s a big part of your relationship. If it’s not, have the uncomfortable ‘Is this happening?’ conversation so you have a rough timeline. When you know you’re both on the same page that the engagement is going to occur soon, you’re going to be ready for those moments without becoming insecure about them if they don’t happen.” — Joanne, 38, married for six years
On Doing It Yourself
“There’s so much to be said for pre-engagement, that period when you know that you’ll get engaged within the next six months/one year/whenever. We both knew when it would happen, and I guess we both brought up marriage to each other. That way, we could get the big questions out of the way: We knew we wanted to get married in the fall — this was pre-COVID, so planning was easier — and could even look at venues and get a feel of pricing before our parents got involved. The proposal happened on vacation, which was expected and fun, because the pressure was off.” — Amanda, 29, married for one year
“I’m in a queer relationship, and we both wanted to propose to each other. We made it clear that we both felt like rings were important to us, and we spent a few weekends looking at them. I think having really clear communication was great: We knew we wanted the proposal to be about us, not about our family and friends. So it was pretty obvious what was going to happen when we took a weeklong staycation and decided to make reservations at two of the fanciest restaurants in town. And we did propose to each other, but we each had our ‘day’ and knew it was going to happen reciprocally. ” — Taylor, 30, married for two years
“We come from two different cultures, so it was important that we get on the same page so our parents would align. It was also important — not culturally but just because they are parents and have feelings — for them both to be there to witness it. So our proposal happened when the families all happened to be visiting. I loved celebrating with everyone and being surrounded by both our families as they got to know each other, but I also wish we had a bit more time to enjoy the feeling of being newly engaged just as the two of us. I felt like we ‘staged’ the engagement for our parents, and it all worked out, but I was surprised at how much I also wanted some space for just us around that time. My advice: If you know family and friends will be on top of you, schedule some breathing room for just the two of you, too. ” — Bee, 27, married for one year
“I asked my partner when we were getting married. So I guess I proposed? But I feel like then the ball was in his court to do the actual ceremony and get down on one knee. But I felt what was more important than that moment was figuring out, in a nonsexy way, when it was happening so we could really plan our lives.” — Jenna, married for three years