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

3. When to Propose

It’s common for the question to be popped over dessert, while others just want to get it over with and share the meal with their betrothed in the know. Risoli agrees. “The proposer is bound to be very nervous beforehand, and is unlikely to enjoy anything until the ring is on the finger! I always recommend doing it earlier in the meal, perhaps after ordering, but before the food arrives.”

Bertelsman recalls one man who planned to propose over dessert who was so nervous, he was drinking Scotch to manage the stress. “His girlfriend noticed he was drinking more than usual and began to question him. He of course got defensive, she got mad and left — all the while the ring was still in the restaurant’s safe.” (Photo courtesy of Tiffany & Co.)

Remember, the restaurant is on your side here, so let them know your plan. They’ll be on the lookout, delaying the meal, popping open a bottle of Champagne, whatever you want and need to make the event as memorable and personal as you wish. Too nervous about figuring out when the “right” time will be? Let them take it off your hands completely. “Many proposers will give the ring to the restaurant manager in advance and it brought to the table at a specified time, perhaps on a small domed tray, with a beautiful flower or two,” adds Risoli. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/dplanet)


4. Ways to Make it Memorable

When proposing, how it's done and the small details are what make for lasting memories. Vaughan recalls one more unconventional proposal where the man wanted to pop the question dressed in a full server uniform. He had asked his girlfriend’s boss to take her to lunch. Once seated, he approached the table with a tray of hors d’oeuvres — and the ring. She was so immersed in conversation she didn’t even realize it was him until he started talking — and got down on one knee. (And yes, the boss left the two of them to have lunch together.)

Bertelsman remembers one particularly lavish proposal with a carefully selected eight-course tasting menu. The ring — along with a great bottle of Champagne and a dozen roses — was served first, but with each subsequent course, a dozen more roses were presented. While there was room for the 90 roses at the end of the meal, when they left to get in the horse-drawn carriage, she only took one stem.


5. Important Advice to Heed


Aside from making sure your loved one will say yes (which is somewhat out of your control), call the restaurant the day before and re-confirm any plans. Checking, and triple checking, that everything will go as planned will let you rest just a bit easier. Bertelsman and Risoli agree that keeping the moment private, just between the two of you, is best. Bertelsman adds, “don’t bring your mom, your best friend, or your attorney. I’ve seen all three.”