Romance. What does it even mean?

Romance is a concept that, for me, has evolved with age and life experience. The Oxford Dictionary defines romance as ‘a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love’. Well this is all very well if you are in the first few months of a brand new relationship. Or indeed live in a Disney film. Now, I’m a true romantic. Despite a barrage of bad relationship experiences, I have never been a cynic when it comes to romance. It’s just my perception of romance, and what it means to me, has changed dramatically over the years. My partner Dave spent Valentine’s Day going round our garden picking up cat s**t so I didn’t have to. That’s love. As is getting up at 2am for a wee together then waiting in the hallway I don’t have to navigate my way back to bed in the dark.

If I had to rewrite the definition of romance for the Oxford Dictionary, I would probably say something like this: ‘romance – the act of carrying out selfless and thoughtful actions for the person you love’ . And if you’re planning on a romantic proposal and asking the person you love to spend the rest of your life with you – my advice is to keep it real.

romantic proposal
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Rewriting romance: a romantic proposal with a difference.

Many men – and women – believe that in order for it to matter, a romantic proposal has to be grand. A trip to Paris, climbing a mountain or getting down on one knee in an expensive restaurant, just to receive a round of applause from total strangers. And perhaps get a free dessert. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be like that. Of course you want it to be special. It’s not a casual ‘do you want pizza for tea?’ kind of question. But increasingly more couples are recognising the importance of just hearing the word ‘yes’ from their fiance to be – instead of seeing the reaction of strangers or tasting the free chocolate cake at the restaurant where the meal has just cost you the remainder of your wages that month.

I thought I would offer some tips on how to ensure a romantic proposal without breaking the bank – or collapsing at the top of Everest.

romantic proposal
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Why should I propose?

If you are having to ask yourself this question, then you really probably shouldn’t be proposing to someone in the first place. Put the ring away until you come across this blog article again and skip this part.

So many people get engaged for the wrong reasons. Perhaps because their friends are taking the plunge or their family are waiting anxiously for it to happen. Or even because they’ve been together a few years and it seems like the next natural step – even though the very thought terrifies them. The bottom line is: if YOU aren’t sure you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, then don’t expect them to want to spend the rest of their life with you. Harsh but true. On the flip side, if the thought of ever being without that person just makes you want to hold onto them forever and ever…then read on.

When should I propose?

There’s a general school of thought that goes around that expects an engaged couple to have been together for a certain number of years before they get married. But hang on! Don’t wait too long! Because there’s another school of thought that evokes raised eyebrows if you have been together too long before any signs of the ring appear. In reality – who cares how long you’ve been together before you get married? Ok, perhaps maybe wait a few months to discover each other’s bad habits before you run off to Vegas. But seriously, there isn’t a time limit on getting engaged. And it certainly shouldn’t determine the degree of romance in the romantic proposal. So don’t worry and do it when the time is perfect for you both.

You may also want to think about a date that is special to you both – perhaps an anniversary of some kind or birthday. Valentine’s Day still remains a popular choice for a romantic proposal – though you may have missed the boat this year!

romantic proposal
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Where should I propose?

Like I said before, it doesn’t have to be anywhere grand. The financial pressures of modern life means for a lot of people, a spontaneous trip to Rome just isn’t possible. But there are so many more ways that you can ask the person you love to marry you that don’t cost the earth. Here’s some ideas for a truly meaningful and romantic proposal:

  • a place where you love spending time together – a local park, picnic spot (who doesn’t love a picnic), a walking trail or favourite cafe/tea room. Just as long as it means something to you both.
  • Your home. If you are homebirds and feel at your most comfortable here, then why not embrace the privacy? You can dial up the romance by cooking a meal and setting the scene for a romantic proposal at home. Or get the cat to carry the ring in on it’s collar…
  • A dinner party with friends and family – you don’t need a room full of strangers to congratulate you on your engagement. If you want to be a little more public, then plan a meal with your nearest and dearest and let them be a part of the special moment.

How should I propose?

This will depends on a number of things but most importantly knowing your partner inside out. Do they enjoy the element of surprise and embrace public declarations of love? Or are they more of a private person who would prefer a more intimate approach? The most important thing to consider when planning your romantic proposal is that they feel comfortable. And only you know that person inside out. So plan thoughtfully and it will only add to the romance of the moment.

And finally, the most romantic proposals are the ones that are thoughtful, genuine and truly reflect the couple. Just don’t do it when you’re down on one knee picking up cat s***t for gods sake.

romantic proposal
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