You’ve shelled out the money for ring (but hopefully not too much), you’ve chosen the spot, and you have your foolproof plan down pat. Only one more thing left: To figure out what to say, and, well, say it. For those of you who don’t fancy yourself a man of words, this can be difficult. These tips and guidelines will help you figure out exactly what to say whether you are a modern day Ernest Hemingway or the last guy to put pen to paper.
The idea that you want to spend your life with your girlfriend, that she is perfect for you, that she understands you, so on and so forth…all of this is the same thing everyone else wants to say to their girlfriend as well. There is nothing wrong with that (as long as it is the truth), however, be as specific as you can be. Is there a moment you realized she was the one? Talk about how you felt when you first met her, or conversely what you want your future together to look like.
Rehearse, Rehearse, Rehearse
A moment as pivotal as this is not when you want the ‘uhs’ and ‘ums’ to come out. Rehearse in the car, rehearse in the mirror, just rehearse. Find a willing audience. As strange as saying these things to a friend might be, it is valuable practice time. Saying those choice words to an actual human is way different than saying it to nobody in particular, not to mention getting feedback can only help.
Brevity Is Key
You want your proposal words to be a succinct monologue not a rambling speech. The moment you get down on one knee she knows what’s coming, so you don’t want the anticipation for that pivotal question to change from can-barely-contain-it to ‘will you say it already’. You want each sentence to be a big hitter. You have plenty of time after you propose, and at your wedding if you really have that much to say. Make each memory you bring up a punchy anecdote, not a grand retelling. She doesn’t need to know the details, she was there too. It is more about how you felt during those memories, and the connection those feelings have with the fact that you are on one knee.
How To Actually Come Up With This Stuff
Sitting down with a pen and a paper and no brainstorming strategy probably isn’t going to do you too well. Come in with a concrete plan, and you can at least get some results. Here are a few ways to get the sort of material you want:
- Write a love letter (or a few). You’ll probably find it easier to cull out the kind of stuff you need for your engagement speech when you are in this headspace. Take anything good out of it and use it.
- Make a list of memories. Just keep going, no filter. It doesn’t matter if it was a great date or a night sitting on the couch. If you do this with no hesitation, eventually something good is going to come out.
- Like any good story or speech, your proposal speech should have a good contour with a beginning, a climax and a conclusion (you can choose to look at ‘Will you marry me’ as the climax or conclusion if you’d like). Drawing out the ‘arc’ of your speech can help you sort out what sort of things should go where.
Putting It All Together
Take all of these tips and get to work. Remember that when you write it down, nothing is final. There is always a backspace key, and chances are you are going to go through more than a few revisions. You don’t have to worry about it too much; as long as you are genuine and to the point it will be successful.