Not all women want to be the center of attention in a crowd or at a sporting event. Those looking for a more traditional option should stick to classic proposal ideas and avoid elaborate gestures.
Once you've decided that a traditional proposal is the way to go, start by talking to your girlfriend's father. While some may feel this idea is out of date, more than 80 percent of women feel this tradition is still important, according to a survey by Men's Health. Skip this step if she's not close to her father, or if you think it would make her uncomfortable.
One option for a traditional marriage proposal involves getting down on one knee at a family gathering. This way, both sides of the family get a chance to intermingle before the wedding and share in your big moment. Remember that this type of public proposal will only work if she's close to her family and if you're sure she'll say yes. If you're unsure, ask her sisters or mom what they think before you start planning.
Of course, not every woman wants her family involved in this intimate moment. For a different approach that's still rich in tradition, take her out to dinner at a nice restaurant. One benefit of proposing at a restaurant is that you can make it as private or as public as you'd like. Get down on one knee if you wish, but prepare for applause and cheers from fellow diners. You can also incorporate the waiter into your plans to keep things more private. Ask him to bring the ring out with dessert or champagne at the end of the meal, or have the chef spell out your proposal on the edge of the dessert plate. If the weather's nice, plan a picnic in the park and ask her to marry you in a more relaxed and natural setting.
Create your own traditions as a couple by taking her back to the scene of your first date or where you met when you're ready to propose. Whether you first locked eyes at a busy train station or shared your first date at a bowling alley, she'll appreciate the romance behind this gesture.
If you want to keep things as intimate as possible, propose at home. Ask for her hand as you sit next to the Christmas tree or over a dinner you've cooked just for her. Celebrate this special moment as a couple, and savor the privacy that only an at-home proposal can provide.
For more proposal ideas, and information on engagement and marriage, click to the next page.