Hi Grace. Long story short, my girlfriend has always heavily hinted that if I were ever to propose that she would want to pick out the ring. We’ve been together since High school so that makes just over 9 years now, and I figured she might as well get the ring she wants, so I would like to stick by her wishes and let her choose. My problem is I still want to surprise her with the proposal, she knows it’s coming but I don’t want her to know when. How can I carry out a proposal she already knows is coming, while still maintaining the element of surprise? Thanks, Joe.
Dear Joe – I appreciate your difficulty in this situation – it’s quite unique. You two have clearly known each other for along time and probably know each other well, too. First, let me say that I admire you for wanting to make her happy with the ring that she picks out. I also admire you for wanting to pull off a surprise proposal even though you both know it’s inevitable and the time is coming soon. So the main problem here seems to be the ring issue, if I understand you correctly. If you tell her it’s time to pick out the ring, she’ll know that the proposal is coming and it won’t be a surprise. If you don’t let her choose the ring you won’t have it when the time comes to pop the question. Well, I believe there are a couple of ways to look at this situation.
The main thing to remember is that only the two of you know and can decide what’s really important, what matters to both of you. A proposal after all is usually a formality, a question that, like a good lawyer, you don’t ask unless you know what the answer will be. But you have already said that you want it to be a surprise, so I’ll take your word for it that this element does matter, and to both of you. Just remember, she knows what’s going to happen, she just doesn’t know when or where it will take place. So, you could have her choose the ring she wants, and then tell her that the proposal will be a surprise, and she’ll just have to be patient.
But if it really is important to both of you that she chooses her ring, and that the proposal is a surprise, I see no way around a prop, a stand-in ring. Just go to the jeweler where you know she will pick out the ring, and explain the situation. I’m sure they would be happy to offer some kind of inexpensive ring that you can use for your proposal, and then after the deed is done the two of you can take it in and trade up to the real thing. They could even make it special by putting a big imitation stone or something impressive on it, just for fun. An engraved message is also a possibility – something like, “good for 1 free engagement ring of your choice.”
So, I hope that you can pull off your surprise – it sounds like she’d really appreciate it. If you are able to make it a real surprise – in an unexpected place and time – she’ll love you for it, even if the ring isn’t quite what she had in mind. You both have waited over 9 years so far, so it shouldn’t be too hard to wait a few more days for a visit to the jewelry store!