1. Choose a favorite place—whether it’s a fountain, hotel rooftop, monument or national park—that has personal significance to the two of you. Once you’re there, ask someone nearby to take a picture of you together, and instead of posing, drop down on one knee.
2. Have a choir, brass band or drum line show up for a surprise performance of your fiance-to-be’s favorite love song in a park or public location for your proposal. For a really personal touch, ask the performers if they can incorporate your fiance’s name into the lyrics.
3. Arrange a surprise proposal with a street caricaturist. Have the caricaturist sketch a picture of you two with word bubbles that say, “Will you marry me?” and “Yes!”
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4. Send your unsuspecting fiance-to-be on a treasure hunt that ends with your proposal. Start with a clue at home (a handwritten note or text message) that leads to a tour of your favorite spots all over town.
5. Plan a romantic destination getaway for two. When you’re on the plane, use the loudspeaker system (of course, run your plan by the flight attendants first) and propose at 35,000 feet.
6. Rent a Vespa, scooter or bikes to tour the city and invite your soon-to-be fiance for a ride, but remind him or her to be safe and wear a helmet. Hand over the helmet (with the ring box already in it), and then you can zip around town to celebrate.
7. Go to the beach and build a sandcastle together (at a safe distance from the ocean!).When your partner isn’t looking, put the ring on the highest tower.
8. After a long day of sightseeing, have a drink in the hotel bar. When it’s time to go, have roses, candles and champagne all set up in your hotel room—everything for a perfect surprise proposal.
9. Gather a bunch of your friends and family for a party and have everyone put on a T-shirt or carry balloons filled with helium (otherwise they won’t float) bearing one of the letters in the phrase, “Will you marry me?” Then during the party suggest a group picture to reveal the message.
10. Spell your proposal out in glow-in-the-dark star stickers on your ceiling. Get into bed, turn the lights off and wait for the gasp. Refrigerator magnet letters work too!
11. Throwback to your childhood with a proposal written in sidewalk chalk on your street or driveway.
12. Create makeshift letters that spell out, “Will you marry me?” using anything from colored duct tape (against a wall or a piece of poster board) to scrapbooking materials. Surprise your partner with your creation at work, home or the park.
13. Fill a favorite room in your home with photo memories from your relationship; you can hang them from balloons or cover the walls with them for a jaw-dropping surprise.
14. Turn off all the lights in your apartment and make a trail of candles that leads to a circle of votives positioned around the ring.
15. Slip the ring on while your soon-to-be fiance is sleeping and then do a romantic morning wake-up call with champagne and strawberries.
16. Cook a five-star-worthy meal of all your fiance-to-be’s favorite foods, or hire a personal chef for the night. Propose over dessert!
17. Pick the perfect spot to propose and have a photographer hide somewhere discreet. After your proposal, your photographer can snap some posed photos too.
18. Tell your fiance-to-be that you’ve been selected for a couple’s “casting call” at a studio, and then propose in front of the cameras.
19. Rake the leaves in his or her yard to spell out your proposal.
20. On New Year’s Eve, sneak away to a romantic spot just before midnight and propose as the perfect start to the new year. Then celebrate with a kiss and plenty of champagne.