How to Propose Marriage During COVID

By Ash Fox


covid masked marriage art

drawing by Ambrosia Sullivan


As a marriage proposal specialist and planner, I’m getting asked “Can I propose during COVID 19 or should I wait?”. While a global pandemic ripping across the world doesn’t feel like an ideal scenario, you can still propose. These are my thoughts on how to propose marriage during COVID 19 (even in quarantine)!

From Proposal to Pandemic!

We spent hours coordinating and brainstorming the perfect plan and strategy. I instructed my clients how to cleverly lure their loved ones to private rooftops, waterfronts, parks and even the center of Times Square, where a fifty-foot billboard would be flashing the words “Will You Marry Me”. Violinists and acoustic guitarists learned the couple’s favorite songs. Floral arrangements, light up signs and champagne were ordered. The couples were coming from the UK, Australia, all around the US, even some from across town with dreams of Instagram worthy marriage proposals here in New York City. I had advised and arranged it all. Then came COVID 19.

The stakes are high when proposing marriage. It happens one time, so you want to get it right. My clients trust me, because I’ve consulted, orchestrated, and photographed over 1700 engagements for couples from around the world. They have different tastes and styles, but most want to make a statement and have beautiful pictures to show it off. I’ve dealt with bad weather, sickness, deaths in the family, and couples arguing right before getting engaged. I believe “bad” timing is sometimes the best timing, because when life gets tough, we get serious about our priorities. Plan A and B may have been scrapped, but we have Plan C, which could mean trading your destination proposal for your couch.

Do I need a ring to Propose?

If you don’t have a ring (because you didn’t get one before the shutdown or the ring is stuck with the jeweler), you can still propose! Around 30% of my clients proposed without a ring. I’ve had clients propose with Ring Pops, a Hello Kitty ring, and designer bags. I even had someone propose with a pack of M & Ms! His speech was “Will You Marry Me? I don’t have a ring, but I have snacks!” He had told his girlfriend he was taking her to dinner as his proposal ruse, so she was hangry up until the moment he popped the question. She lost her appetite from excitement and next day she picked out the ring of her choice at the jeweler. She was so happy to get the exact ring of her dreams.

“Home is where the heart is”

A quarantined proposal is a chance to be yourself. You’re going to spend the rest of your lives living in close quarters, so this is a preview of life at home. Your partner is most likely not expecting you to propose at home especially under these circumstances. This is an opportunity to create an extraordinary moment in an ordinary place. You’re making the cliché “Home is where the heart is”, literal. Scheming up a quarantined proposal with your partner a few feet away might seem daunting, but there are sneaky ways to transform your home while they’re with you. You can get to work while they’re asleep or can you plot and prepare in another room on a “work call”.

drawing by Ambrosia Sullivan

How to Propose in Quarantine

You go the classic romantic route and transform your space, with flowers and candles and spell out Marry Me. If that’s not your style, think about how you met, your first date, or an inside joke you share. A proposal can be romantic, sentimental, even irreverent.

I’ve had guys who met their girlfriends on a dating apps print out their first conversation on the app and frame it. Another couple, Tova and Joey played Scrabble on their first date, so the Joey bought a Scrabble board and glued down the pieces to spell out “Will you Marry Me”.

I like the idea of suggesting a spa night and role-playing masseuse. “I’m going to write a word on your back and you have to guess what it is”, you then spell out “will you marry me”. You can bathe, or shower together ask your partner to shampoo your hair and as they turn to grab the shampoo bottle drop to your knee.

Take advantage of your food stockpile with a sexy game. Blindfold your partner and hand them different foods to taste like in the film, 9 ½ weeks. When they reach out their hand after a few passes of whipped cream, honey and olives, you slide the ring on their finger!

Less sexy, but surely to be surprising: change their desktop image or screensaver of their computer to say “Will You Marry Me”! You can also add a slideshow of memories. With constant deliveries these days, you can re-package the ring inside a large Amazon box and then ask your partner to open it. They may be thinking it’s a delivery of Lysol wipes, but the ring box is inside!

You can try to woo them by making their favorite meal, setting down table cloth and lighting candle. Or you can leave the table a mess and make something they don’t particularly like for dinner! Then say… “I have something good for desert”! They may think you’re bringing out brownies, but you present a tray with the ring!

A few things…

Avoid choking hazards like the ring in a drink or having your pet carrying the ring! Now is not the time you want to visit a hospital for yourself or your pet! Don’t forget to get your ring insured. You can do it remotely!

Please don’t propose during sex! I know it seems spontaneous. However, I here from “proposees” (those who are dreaming of being proposed to), that they want their proposal to feel thoughtful. Sex is thoughtless by design. Get it on after!

Don’t forget to get down on your knee!

Proposing Outdoors

If you live in an area where you have plenty of space to social distance then there are lots of opportunities for proposing on a hike, bike ride, a picnic, or on a path where you share your weekend walks with your dog. I’ve had lots of couples propose on their Sunday coffee stroll.  I even had a client propose at 7am on his daily walk to work with his future fiancé! We often take the places that make up the background of our lives for granted. These proposal locations are unexpected precisely because they seem ordinary. Before COVID, I barely acknowledged the benches over by the ferry landing near my apartment. I cherish those benches now! If you live near a bike path or a body of water I’m sure you’re appreciating it more than ever. Lucky for you, you may have a great proposal spot right in your backyard. If you have a real backyard then you’ve won the the socially-distanced proposal-setting lottery! These ordinary places in your neighborhood may not be Bali or Paris, but they’re home.

Documenting the Proposal

Photography and videography are possible with the right precautions. If you were hoping to have amazing engagement portraits taken after the proposal, that’s trickier. Even when photographing the most adept posers, there are physical adjustments I make to get the positioning just right. I often position my clients hands to get the perfect angle of the engagement ring. With COVID that’s not possible. It may be safer to wait for engagement portraits. In the meantime you can absolutely have the moment of your proposal photographed outdoors with proper social distancing.

Professional photography or videography isn’t possible in quarantine, but you can set up a Nest camera before the proposal and discreetly film the entire thing.

The Speech

Put time into crafting your speech. Words are invisible, so you won’t make a suspicious mess while writing it! I’ve noticed some people want the proposal or the ring to speak for them. Use your words. In this time of COVID, everyone is feeling some level of anxiety and uncertainty about the future. Your speech showcases the certainty of your love. You can use this line or some variation of it while you are down on your knee …

“In this time of uncertainty, I know I’m certain about you. I’m happy stuck in quarantine with you forever. “Will You Marry Me”?

Celebrate your Engagement!

If you’re unable to see family and friends, calling or Facetiming with the news of your engagement is sure to uplift their spirits. Now they have events to look forward to in the future! You can celebrate with an online engagement party.  If you’re anxious, you can get married over Zoom in some states!

The time to Propose is NOW!

Your quarantined proposal may not be the most elaborate, but it can sentimental, spontaneous, heartfelt and even sexy. If you are in a great relationship and know your partner wants to marry you, they will say “yes”. The pandemic forced you make the most of an unpleasant situation and be resourceful. Those character traits anyone would say “YES” to for a lifetime commitment. If for some reason they say “no” maybe this wasn’t the person for you and you’re lucky to know and now get on with your precious life.

We know so little about what the future holds, with information changing from day to day. Take this opportunity to propose your lifelong commitment to the person you love, and take comfort in knowing whatever catastrophe comes your way you’ll be in it together.

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