Should I Surprise Her With a Ring or Let Her Choose?

LDS bride and groom hold hands as they head to the LDS Temple
Photography Courtesy of Photos by Wendy G.

Knowing whether to surprise your girlfriend with a ring at the proposal is a very personal choice. Once upon a time, rings almost always came as a surprise. But now, 60% of brides say they had at least some input into their engagement ring, and 3% say they picked it out themselves. Here are some of your options for proposing, and how they impact how you choose the engagement ring.

The Traditional Proposal

If you’re a stickler for tradition, you’ll probably want to propose the old-fashioned way: get down on one knee and surprise her with the engagement ring. If it seems too risky to attempt picking out a ring on your own, solicit her input on key design features of the ring beforehand (silver or gold? square or oval cut diamond?) to guide you in the process.

Pros: This is definitely romantic, and it lets the groom take control of some aspect of wedding planning (because let’s face it, your fiancée will be running the show from now on). It also makes a guy feel good to plant a ring on his bride-to-be’s finger that he chose completely on his own.

Cons: The uncertainty of the surprise proposal. Will the ring be the wrong size? Will she like it? You don’t want her to feel even the slightest twinge of disappointment when you open the little velvet ring box at proposal time.

LDS wedding rings
Photo Courtesy of LDS

Proposal Without the Ring

This is quickly becoming the preferred option for many couples. After she’s finished saying “yes,” then you two can start shopping for rings as an engaged couple.

Pros: Still allows for romance and the element of surprise, plus she’s sure to like the ring and it will fit if she’s involved in shopping for it.

Cons: Your girlfriend just might not feel engaged without a ring, so depending on her viewpoint she may actually feel a little disappointed if you don’t slip an engagement ring on her finger.

Buy the Ring Together and Surprise Her with the Proposal

Most of the time, a proposal isn’t really a surprise. You’ve spent every waking moment together for the last several months. You’ve talked about where you want to live, how many kids you want to have. So it’s not really the proposal but the “where” and “how” that’s the surprise. Why not buy the ring together and then keep it for that special, surprise moment when you formally ask her, “will you marry me?”

a beautiful wedding ring
Photo Courtesy of Camilla Binks Photography

Pros: You can throw your energies into planning an awesome or elaborate proposal, without worrying whether she’ll like the ring. She gets the best of both worlds: the “wow” factor of a surprise proposal, plus the ring she loves at the moment of the proposal.

Cons: May feel unromantic and too procedural, like placing an order for the ring you want. You may even feel silly “asking” her to marry you when you’ve already started planning the wedding. If you’re a traditionalist, this might not be for you.

Purchase a “Token” Ring

LDS engagement ring, tips on proposing
Photo Courtesy of Stacey Kay Photography

Buy a token in ring that you use for the proposal. This could be as simple as a candy ring or one from a vending machine. You could get her a CTR ring that she can wear on her right hand, or you could purchase a right hand ring, or one with a very simple band and small stone.

Pros: You will have a ring for your proposal and then your new fiancée will get to choose her engagement ring with you. She will have a second piece of jewelry that has sentimental value.

Cons: She may be disappointed that you don’t have the “real deal”.

Consider the different ways to propose to your girlfriend in the 21st century, but in the end the decision is really up to you. Every couple, and certainly every woman, is different. Do what makes the most sense for you. Good luck!

♥ Jenny Evans
Exclusively for
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