Should I Propose Before or After Dinner (Our Definitive Answer)

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So you're ready to propose and you know you want to do it over dinner. But here's the question: Should I propose before or after dinner?

A marriage proposal is one of the most pivotal events in the lives of both the person proposing and the person who is being proposed to. Without question, your engagement day will be a cherished memory that you will both look back on fondly.

Nailing your proposal and making it as memorable as possible sets the tone for the beginning of your formal partnership, and the beginning of your partnership sets the tone for the rest of your marriage.

Should I Propose Before or After Dinner?

Should you propose before or after dinner? The answer is that proposing before dinner is the best idea. When you propose before you eat dinner, you and your new fiancé can celebrate after dinner.

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A marriage proposal is one of the most pivotal events in the lives of both the person proposing and the person who is being proposed to.

Also, you will be nervous as you anticipate your proposal. Proposing before dinner ensures that you'll be relaxed and in a celebratory mood for the remainder of your evening.

However, let's dive into more detail, as well as the pros and cons of proposing both before and after dinner.

Picking the Perfect Restaurant to Propose

Does the restaurant you pick actually matter when it comes to proposing before dinner? Indeed it does.

You have four options when it comes to how to choose the best restaurant to propose:

  1. Choose a restaurant that has special meaning for the two of you. It doesn't matter if it's a fancy restaurant or even a fast-food joint. For example, if the two of you met in line at McDonald's, it can be very meaningful for you to propose at that same restaurant. Alternatively, the restaurant where you ate on your first date is another excellent choice.
  2. Go to a restaurant that has always been on your dining bucket list. If there is a fancy restaurant your beloved has always wanted to visit, consider choosing that as the location for your proposal. Then, your proposal memories will always be linked to that special dining experience.
  3. Propose at a restaurant that is a favorite of the two of you. If there is a restaurant where you and your intended frequently eat, this can be the ideal location for your proposal. You may even be so familiar with the staff at the restaurant that they can be involved with the proposal by helping you make it extra special.
  4. Pick a restaurant that has special features. If you have a restaurant in your area that has an excellent view of the surrounding landscape, this can be the perfect place to propose. For example, many cities have rotating restaurants that are at the top of tall towers. Proposing with a gorgeous view of the city in the background can be extra special.

Where to Put the Engagement Ring When Proposing

Now that you've decided to propose at a restaurant, you need to figure out where you want to put the engagement ring. Here are some ideas. 

  • Involve the waiter. Your server can bring the engagement ring out with your significant other's meal. They may even be able to arrange a serenade. 
  • Consider personalizing the menu. This process can take some time and work, but it can totally be worth it if you can pull it off. Instead of using the restaurant's regular menu, your server can give your significant other a special menu that has a proposal inside. Some examples in the menu could be “Say Yes Salad” or “Marry Me Chicken.” Of course, the actual dishes at the restaurant will not have the exact same names, but you can be as elaborate as you want with this option. 
  • Just get down on one knee while holding the engagement ring as you pop the question. Sometimes the simplest way is the best way. After the server takes your order and removes your menus, you can stand up and prepare to kneel.
  • Write a note. You can doodle a proposal note or drawing on a napkin or piece of paper and slide it to them across the table. Alternatively, you can slip the note into the menu. 

Proposing Before Dinner: Pros and Cons

There are many benefits to proposing before dinner, but there are also some downsides. Let's dive into the pros and cons of proposing before dinner. 

Pros of Proposing Before Dinner

  • The remainder of dinner is a celebration. If they accept your proposal, you get to spend the rest of the evening celebrating your new engagement. 
  • If you propose before dinner, you won't be nervous all through your dining experience. Sitting through appetizers, dinner, and dessert can be nerve-wracking when you're worried about a proposal. Unless you're very sure they're going to say yes, you may even experience symptoms of stress such as sweating. 
  • You can invite friends and family to be a part of the proposal. If you love the idea of including family and friends, a group dinner can be the perfect way to propose. Of course, you can still do this before or after dinner. 

Cons of Proposing Before Dinner

  • Your proposal isn't as intimate. When you propose in public, you're inevitably going to have an audience unless you can afford to rent out the entire restaurant. If you know your partner would prefer something more private, proposing at a restaurant may not be a good idea. 
  • You and your now-fiancé won't be focused on the undoubtedly delicious dinner you're now enjoying. If you go to a fancy restaurant to propose, you will probably be eating food you don't normally eat. A special occasion such as dining at a bucket-list restaurant should have a focus on the food. 
  • If they don't accept your proposal, it will be a very public rejection. Proposing in public isn't a good idea unless you're very confident that they're going to say yes. If they say no, you will both be suffering through a very awkward dinner, and surrounding tables may even be witness to this awkwardness. 

Proposing After Dinner: Pros and Cons

Just as there are good reasons to propose before dinner, there are also some pros and cons of proposing after dinner. 

Pros of Proposing After Dinner

  • You can enjoy your meal and focus on that. If you're at a special restaurant, you can enjoy your dinner without forgetting all about the food because of the proposal. 
  • Your celebration will be more intimate. The good thing about proposing after dinner is that you will be able to leave right after they say yes. 
  • If they end up saying no, you can leave right after the proposal instead of sitting through an extremely awkward dinner. Just as you can leave right after they say yes, you can also leave if they say no. 
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Nailing your proposal and making it as memorable as possible sets the tone for the beginning of your formal partnership, and the beginning of your partnership sets the tone for the rest of your marriage.

Cons of Proposing After Dinner

  • You may have a difficult time disguising your nervousness. Sitting through an entire dinner waiting to propose can make you very nervous. 
  • Proposing after dinner may feel somewhat abrupt. If you propose after dinner, it can be anti-climactic and feel somewhat abrupt. 

The Best Tips for the Perfect Proposal

Below are some more tips for making your restaurant proposal perfect.

  • Clue in the staff and manager. Make sure they know you're planning to propose and ensure that they can accommodate this.
  • Have some tissues handy. One or both of you may be crying tears of joy, so be prepared for this. 
  • Don't put the engagement ring in the food. While this seems fun, it's actually nerve-wracking and messy. Also, there is a choking risk. 
  • Arrange for someone nearby to take photos and videos. Planning this in advance will ensure that you perfectly capture the special moment. 
  • Make sure you're both dressed up nicely. You'll be taking photos and probably videos, so you want to be looking your best. 
  • Give your significant other with a manicure the day before the proposal. They will want to take photos of their hand and the engagement ring. Suggesting a manicure may raise a red flag, so maybe consider offering a manicure every couple of weeks before the big day. 
  • Ask if the staff can help with the proposal. For example, they may be able to put the ring somewhere special for you or slip a note into a menu. In some cases, performers can even serenade your beloved for you.
  • Make sure you're seated at a table that allows you room to get down on one knee. If your proposal involves kneeling, you need to be sure you're not crowded into a corner or a busy area of the restaurant. Ask the wait staff for their most intimate area. 
  • Be prepared for rejection. When someone is ready to propose, the two of you have probably occasionally discussed sharing life together, so the risk of rejection is rare. However, it does happen, and if you feel this is a risk, you may want to do a more private proposal to save embarrassment for both you and your intended. 
  • Plant an intimate evening for after dinner. This evening will likely be one of the most important evenings of your life, so having a plan set up for afterward is important. Perhaps you have a bottle of champagne waiting in a hotel room or at home. Also, you can plan a surprise gathering with friends and family. 

Final Thoughts on Whether You Should Propose Before or After Dinner

Now that you know you want to propose at a restaurant, it's time to start planning out all of the details. Preparation is key to an unforgettable proposal that will be one of your most cherished relationship memories… as well as the building blocks to a solid marriage foundation.

For more relationship enhancement ideas, check out “101 This or That Questions for Couples” to discover even more about the person you love. At the same time, you'll probably learn a few new things about yourself.

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