Some guys have asked me in the past what would make a perfect proposal… Here are my thoughts and views… those of you who are now happily engaged or married, please feel free to contribute your thoughts! 🙂

You have been dating for close to 2 years now. And things are going really well. She laughs at your jokes, even when most people think you are really corny. You are comfortable enough to fart in front of her, and she hardly cringes. She’s great with your dogs or your sister’s kids. You can totally imagine growing old with her, and being with her for the rest of your life.

Yes, you are ready to propose.

If you are tempted to just casually ask her to marry you over the phone when you next speak to her, I will stop you right there. A marriage proposal is something that your girl would take very seriously. And it is an occasion that friends and relatives would ask for details for years to come. “So how did he propose?” You do not want her to say, “Ah well, it was really boring. He asked me to marry him over the phone.”

You want to give her a proposal to remember – a proposal that she will be proud to tell over and over again, and each time she retells it, she will remember how much effort you have put into it, and how thoughtful you are, and how much you love her.

So, how do you go about it?

Here’s a 5-steps approach that would result in your perfect proposal!

Step 1: Telling her parents

If you have been dating seriously, chances are you would have met up with her parents. By informing them, you would have scored Brownie points, as her parents would be really impressed that they have such a sensitive future son-in-law. Some guys I know even involve her parents in the proposal process as the girl is really close to her parents. Of course, there would be exceptions. If your girlfriend is estranged from her parents, skip this step.

Step 2: Getting the ring

Some girls like to choose their own engagement rings, but I personally think that takes out the surprise element of the process. And it’s not as romantic. If you have previously spoken about marriage, then you probably would have a good idea of the type of ring that she likes. Or if not, enlist the help of her best friend or sister who usually would be more than happy to help you out.

Step 3: Thinking about the setting

Think about your girl’s personality. Would she prefer a more intimate setting, where there are just two of you? Or does she prefer to have an audience?  If she likes to have an audience, then indulge her, and give her a big one. Try to recall the proposals in movies that she said, “Aww… that’s so sweet!”

You could consider doing something totally out of the ordinary e.g. on a hot-air balloon, or on top of Mount Kinabalu if both of you are avid trekkers, or even proposing over the radio. Or you could surprise her in the course of a normal day. Like when she’s coming home from work, and when she opens the door, there you are, kneeling down on one knee with the ring, with flowers in the room. Or when you are at both your favourite restaurant and she finds the ring on the dessert platter.

The options are endless, and it is up to how creative and memorable you want to make it.

Step 4: Be formal

As you know, this scene is going to stay ingrained in her mind, and would be retold to friends, choose your words carefully. Do not trivialize it by saying, “So, wanna get married?” Stick to the traditional, “Will you marry me?” As for whether to bend down on one knee, this would depend on the setting. However, do consider whether to do it, especially if your girl is the more ‘old-fashioned’ or the ‘romantic’ type, as she may well be expecting it and would be utterly disappointed if you didn’t.

Step 5: Be prepared for her answer

If you have come to this stage, chances are you are quite sure that she’s going to say yes. But just in case, do prepare for the 0.001% chance that she might say no, or she needs to think about it.

And so if she’s says yes, rejoice with her! Dance with her. Hug her. Swirl her around. The worst thing that can happen at this juncture is an excited girl with a guy with a blank look on his face.

And finally, a word of advice… when you are thinking about your proposal, stay true to your relationship and who you are. Remember the reason you are doing this – you are asking the woman you love for her hand. A proposal with ‘the full works’ might work for some relationships but for others, it might be the recital of a handwritten love poem or a song declaring your love.

I wish you luck and may your relationship be filled with much love, joy and laughter!

This article first appeared on New Man Magazine, Malaysia.