Would you want your mother to watch your proposal? How about your siblings, or your cousins? When I posed this question on Twitter, people had strong feelings — either they loved the idea, or they completely hated it.
On the pro side is Charlotte Laws, whose husband proposed to her in front of his brother. “I was really happy about it. It felt like my husband was trying to show me off, that he was proud of me,” she tells Refinery29. “Marriage proposals are deeply personal, so sharing this with other family members makes them feel special. It allows them to be present at the start of the marriage (the proposal), and sends the message that they are welcome for the many years that the marriage endures.”
On the con side is Sara Belcher, who tells Refinery29, “Literally the thought of a significant other proposing in front of either of our families makes me cringe so hard. Proposing in front of families just involves them a little TOO much in the relationship for comfort. That’s like giving them a front row seat to be involved for the rest of your married lives (if they weren’t already overly involved already), because then any intrusive parent would say, ‘I’ve been there from the beginning of it, why can’t I be there now?’”
My colleague, Hannah Rimm, recently got engaged, and her fiancée proposed to her in front of a crowd. “I wanted to celebrate the engagement with my family and friends right when it happened, especially because I knew it was going to happen,” Rimm says. “I'm super close with my extended family (we're huge — about 100 people), and I wanted to celebrate having a new family member (my fiancée) as well as just being able to really celebrate our love. Also, if we're being honest, I like an audience and my partner knows that, so she planned exactly what would suit me — a big, love-celebrating party!”
According to The Knot 2019 Jewelry & Engagement Study, today, 26% of proposers involve friends and family in their proposal. As for whether you should pop the question in front of your partner’s parents, it really depends on the people involved. And this decision isn’t just about how close you are with your family. Some people are super-close with their parents and will call them as soon as they've said "yes," but still want the proposal itself to be a private moment.
Ideally, you and your partner should discuss your preferences in advance, says Alyssa Longobucco, the Knot’s Senior Style & Planning Editor. “Proposals are unique to each couple, and there’s no right or wrong way to propose,” she tells Refinery29. “The decision to propose while on vacation, at a first date spot, or in front of family and friends is dependent on the proposer and proposee’s personal preferences, so we recommend couples chat at least briefly about what they both envision before things actually go down.”
She adds, “Having your loved ones there with you to celebrate can be a super sweet and special way to let them join as you and your partner kick off the next chapter of your lives together, whether the proposal actually takes place in front of them, or if there’s a surprise engagement party with them directly following a more private moment. Plus, it will definitely save you a lot of post-proposal phone calls!”
If you and your partner have different preferences, then — you guessed it — talk about it until you find a solution you’re both happy with. “Marriage is all about compromise — think of this as the first of many to come!” says Longobucco. Or, you can do as Rimm suggests — “Have two proposals!”