Advice for Proposing in a Restaurant

What you need to know — and should ask in advance — to make it a moment you both will never forget

Popping the question

Popping the question over dinner out is a part of our culture. According to The, a whopping 58% of women said they would want to be asked at the site of their first date, while 31% said they’d want to say yes at their favorite restaurant, or the one they’ve always wanted to try. Whether you’re thinking of asking for her hand at your corner sushi spot with no fanfare, or jetting cross-country for a one-night, no-holds-barred surprise meal, there are some things to know first.


1. If You’re Going to Do It Over Dinner, Do It Out

Proposing is stressful enough. If you do it in a restaurant, asking aside, there is nothing the proposer has to worry about, according to Megan Vaughan, service director at Eleven Madison Park (below, left). "Unlike at home, you don’t have to cook, there is no wine pairing to fret over, and you’ll be doted on to ensure the evening is something you both will never forget." Louis Risoli, a 30-year veteran of L’Espalier in Boston’s Back Bay, thinks it's also fun for the couple. “Why not combine this special event with a special place, doing something you both enjoy greatly?”

Even though you'll have the restaurant team on your side, don’t forget to add your own signature touch, advises Chad Bertelsman, senior dining room manager at Chicago’s Spiaggia (below, right). “Proposing in a restaurant has become part of our culture,” says Bertelsman. “The best proposals include something that is special to the couple from their time together — a photograph of a trip taken together, a special poem, a favorite flower.” Just as if you were proposing somewhere else, it’s these little details that matter most if you want to make the moment truly unique.



2. Get the Restaurant to Work With You

The first thing to do is get the restaurant on your side. Contact them and explain what you're envisioning. “Ask them if there is special seating they would recommend, perhaps something a bit secluded,” says Risoli. If unfamiliar with the restaurant, Bertelsman suggests asking them what table they’d recommend. “Most of us have handled thousands of proposals and can help advise and inspire you.” Once the management knows, they will often work with you to make special requests — like pouring Champagne right after s/he (hopefully!) accepts — happen. Others will also do something special just for the occasion adds Vaughan, like giving the couple an exclusive tour of the kitchen or preparing a special course, or series of courses, that isn’t on the menu.