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How to prepare for a marriage proposal?

proposal amsterdam canal

Romantic Tour Amsterdam has helped with over 200 marriage proposals mostly on our boat in the past 6 years, but also in other locations such as flower fields, romantic bridges, Iconic canal houses, and Inside a teahouse. Most of them in the gorgeous historic center of Amsterdam.

A marriage proposal is one of the most important decisions you will ever make in your life and to make it extra special you want to make sure it is done the right way. But let’s start with this: The perfect proposal does not exist. In this blog, I will go through all the options and choices you can make and how to prepare you for your marriage proposal.

But before we start…

When you propose to your loved one this can be to a man or a woman, but in the over 200 proposals I saw it is mostly the man proposing to the woman. To make the text more readable I will be using the perspective of the man. Nevertheless, all advice can be used by men or women.

I hope my experience will help you pinpoint the most important aspects which will help you make the best marriage proposal in Amsterdam or elsewhere.


Choose a location that means something



photographer: David Jo Bradley


This is one of the first decisions to make. It can be anywhere: during your holiday, in the bedroom, during dinner, on the beach, or in a park. Wherever it is, I recommend a location that has meaning to you as a couple. A big part of our guests chooses to do their marriage proposal in Amsterdam as this is where they met or had a wonderful holiday which sparked their romance. If you already have strong memories of a certain place you can count on this being a suitable place to propose.

If you have already chosen to do your marriage proposal in Amsterdam, we have two articles with suggestions.

Take a look at our articles on top recommendations for inspiring ways to propose in Amsterdam as well as a selection of the most beautiful locations to propose.

If no specific place comes to mind for your marriage proposal it is a good idea to find out what your partner likes. It can be challenging to ask questions about this directly, especially if you hope to make this a surprise. However, there are ways to bring this up indirectly – for example, recently a friend of yours proposed which can open up a conversation about this. What did you think about their proposal? What do you think she felt about how he planned it?

One of the best ways to find out what your partner expects is to team up with a close friend of hers. You would be surprised by the information you get. Her best friend might ask her questions you never thought to ask or your partner may share a specific wish with them that they would not share with you directly.


A private or public marriage proposal?

From my experience, very few women like a public space for their marriage proposal. If you know your partner well and are certain it won’t be an issue, please go right ahead, you can certainly get creative. Overall I think private is better and here is why.

I believe our marriage proposals in Amsterdam on a boat work wonderfully as it is a private tour and we can be flexible with the location. We most often use a very specific location which is linked to a little-known romantic story about the area. Those who choose to propose there can really focus on each other without distractions in an almost completely private area.

Another question is whether to include guests or friends during your marriage proposal. Think about what private means to both of you. Some women would be OK with one or two close friends being present but for most, this is already too much. Believe me, I have seen this go unexpectedly wrong and turn very awkward so it is crucial to have a clear idea of what her preference is.

A well-balanced approach is to have the marriage proposal be private and meet up directly with your friends and family later. We have done this many times on our marriage proposal tour in Amsterdam with great results, especially when the couple is visiting the city with a group of friends. This is a fantastic way to celebrate afterward with a nice dinner, surrounded by the people you love!

If you are looking for a list of restaurant recommendations in Amsterdam, Romantic dinner after your proposal.


The engagement ring



photographer: David Jo Bradley


In almost all proposals I have been a part of there is an engagement ring involved. This can be more complex than you think. But how to get the right ring for your future wife to be.

You can ask her friend to ask your girlfriend. Women have a clear idea of what they want the engagement ring to be. If you yourself ask this question this is going to be very suspicious so with this it is again best to rely on a close friend of hers.

Another tip to figure it out is to just go shopping together and to pay attention to what she likes if you pass by a jewelry store. You don’t have to directly talk about an engagement ring, but take the chance to ask simple questions that can help you get an idea. What colors does she like? What gems? What form of ring? What does a favorite piece of jewelry of hers look like?

One of the best practices we discovered over the years is that you can also buy a simpler, more affordable engagement ring just for the marriage proposal. After you propose you can offer to buy her the ring she would like. Some jewelry stores offer exactly this service. Even if they don’t mention this specifically you will be surprised how many stores will agree to do this if you simply ask.

This is the most direct way to ensure that she gets exactly what she has dreamt of. You may think that this is not a romantic way to do it or that it takes away from the marriage proposal. However, please remember that the fact you ask her to marry you is the more important element of the surprise and the gesture that truly matters. The experience of choosing the ring together can also be a pleasant way to celebrate your engagement.

Whether you choose the ring yourself or arrange with a shop to let your partner pick one later, make sure to have the possibility to change the engagement ring’s size. You can look up some guides on how Jewellers make measurements or even measure a ring she already wears.


Small details lead to big results



photographer: David Jo Bradley


Not every woman has a clear idea of what they dream their marriage proposal will be like, but trust me, those who do always focus on the details, however big or small.

Once we organized a marriage proposal in Amsterdam for which the gentleman insisted on having a red carpet for his future wife to walk on at the proposal. She said afterward that was really important for her. She really wanted that red carpet to be there. This does not mean you must go over the top, but even small things like including the right type of flower or even the correct song can mean so much to your partner!

If you also have a specific idea and want something customized, please read our page on fully customized marriage proposals.

A marriage proposal is one of the most important moments in your life as a couple. This is an opportunity for you as a man to really show them she is the one for you. Most often the marriage itself is organized by the women, however, the proposal is your moment to show them how much you appreciate them by paying attention to every small detail.


Make it personal!



photographer: David Jo Bradley


Play a song that is very meaningful to you as a couple. A song that was playing when you first met, a song you danced to on a romantic night. It can be a beautiful love song that resonates with what you feel for each other or is important in your relationship. Here is a list of some of the most chosen songs for a proposal and here is another list with original songs for your proposal. 

I once had a guest who sang a song themselves. I played it in the background as the signal and he sang along to it. With all respect to him, he really could not sing, but believe me if you choose to get creative in any way, it really does not need to be perfect. She was incredibly moved by the gesture as she saw that it was it is from the heart.

Get creative with the details including adding a gift, a favorite drink, food, or anything that you might think of. You may get fresh flowers to reveal during the proposal or decorate the space with candles and rose petals to set the mood. Get a feeling of what is too much as sometimes simplicity works best and does not distract you from the moment. Think big, but stay practical – if you are on holiday and choose to bring a very big teddy bear and a huge bouquet it might be very sweet, but if you happen to be on a boat tour you would have to transport this back to your hotel.


Should you write a speech?



photographer: David Jo Bradley


Some gentlemen choose to write a speech. This is again very personal and can mean the world to your partner. Make sure to choose your words carefully.

My biggest advice – even if you learn it by heart always make sure to really practice saying it out loud before the big day! In the heat of the moment, you may be more nervous than you expected. I have had many guests who completely forgot their carefully crafted speech when the big moment arrived.

Do not be afraid of writing it down on a piece of paper and reading it out loud. It may seem less genuine, but I believe it is the message that counts. Many women appreciate this as you make sure not to miss the most personal details.


How to best capture the magic of your marriage proposal?

Your marriage proposal in Amsterdam, or wherever you choose, is going to be a day you will remember for the rest of your life together. It is beautiful to have the chance to relive this memory in the years ahead. Make sure you can get the best pictures possible. On our tours, we offer several possibilities that work great which I want to share with you.

Always think about whether you want this moment to be captured on camera and if so how. Because of the many emotions you will both feel during the proposal you may find it difficult to remember everything.

You can get a Polaroid camera, a charming way of getting the old-school look. The simplicity of it is what works great – you get them instantly and you can easily hang them on a nice frame or add them to a photo album. The fact that you do not have so many options with the settings of the camera also makes your picture more fun and spontaneous.

Our phones these days are also fantastic options so you can easily get good quality with not so much preparation. Or simply ask a friend who may be present to do it for you. You will be surprised by the results you can get if you print this out. The resolution on modern-day cameras is quite amazing.

A professional photographer who has experience with marriage proposals is an excellent choice if you have the budget. Nowadays many have pages on social media so you have an easy way to see the quality of their work. You may agree with the photographer that they are discrete and maybe even hide during the marriage proposal. However you plan this, make sure to spend a bit of time after the big moment when you can focus on taking the best photo possible. The photographer can give many tips and work with you to take more shots of the location. If you choose to propose somewhere outdoors with the sunset you can get some really stunning results.

If you want to propose on our tours, feel free to read about the romantic photoshoots we offer!

Another way is to film it. This does not need to be too complicated. On our tours, we set up a fixed smartphone on the boat that works great. Since both of you will be staying in a specific place on the boat putting this on a tripod in a concealed location works great. You can see here what it looks like.



What is less common is working with a professional videographer who captures the entire experience. This is great to get a good quality edited video but can cost quite a bit.
Should you ask her parents before the marriage proposal?

This is a personal matter which is very important to some women. The first reaction of many of the ladies on the marriage proposal tour is: Who knows about it? And if he had asked anyone, especially her father.

Of course, this is a question that can be very important for you as well. My advice is if you are considering it: Simply do it. This is a very respectful and beautiful gesture to the family.

Even if you are not sure about it, the focus should be on what she feels. You may think this is too traditional or unnecessary. Please do not overlook this question. Some of the gentlemen have been surprised by the reaction of their partner.
What I have often seen are ladies asking “Does anybody know?”. When he answers that had not, in some moments it is clear that even if it was not necessary, the woman would have greatly appreciated it.


Keep it secret!


photographer: David Jo Bradley


The marriage proposal has traditionally been a surprise. We take great care to be careful with our words and you should be too. For example, when we approach our customers via email we never use the word “proposal” in the headline and instead opt for more general words, such as “Visit in May”.

Think about what is visible and where you write it as it can easily ruin the surprise by accident. Nowadays we get emails and texts all the time and these often pop up with a notification on your phone. Some couples even use the same devices. You can make sure to keep your phone off or out of reach when organizing this or have your friends help you with communication.

Make up a good excuse that is believable. Here you can always use the help of others. For example, we tell our unsuspecting guests that the boat tour was supposed to be for more people who canceled, however all decorations and extras had already been set up. You could do something similar with the help of your friends if they “accidentally” miss an appointment and you “accidentally” end up alone with your partner.

Pay special attention to the engagement ring and make sure to hide it well, especially if you already live together with your partner. You would be surprised how resourceful some women are and the details they are able to notice! The best practice is to entrust the ring to a friend who keeps it for you until the day arrives. Be careful with your creative solutions – you could hide it in a pair of socks for example, but make sure not to put them on by accident in front of your partner. Whatever way you choose this is always a very fun story to discuss after the secret is revealed and can be a great memory in itself.


Make sure to prepare for the day of the marriage proposal!


photographer: David Jo Bradley


It is very challenging to keep your cool during the preparation stage so as the day approaches make sure you not to wait too long. If you propose on holiday I recommend doing so on the 2nd day. This gives you enough time to settle in the new location and takes the pressure off. If you are waiting for 5 days to propose on your holiday you will most likely be very nervous and your partner might notice. Besides, if you propose late you will not have the chance to celebrate your engagement during your holiday.

Ask yourself – Do you want to dress up? If you are working with a photographer for example this may be an important element. The most simple excuse is that you would like to do something in the afternoon but take them for dinner in the evening. This is a tried and tested method which is not too suspicious. Assuming you choose to take the boat tour and you explain to your partner that there will be other people on board, they are more likely to dress up.

Practical details aside, it is most important to prepare yourself mentally. You want to be fully present and give all the attention your partner needs. Make sure you are both in the right mental state to share this moment. If you are on holiday it is great to avoid staying up late and especially drinking on the night before. You do not want you or your partner to not be feeling well when the time comes, especially with all the thought you put into preparing for this moment.

Remember that this is a moment to enjoy. It is normal to be extremely nervous, but as I mentioned earlier – not everything needs to be perfect. This is not an exam, this is a celebration! When a man asks a woman to marry them something changes in the relationship. You can sometimes clearly read this on the faces of the couple. It takes the partnership to an entirely new, more adult level.

To take the pressure off you can also include a bottle of nice wine or champagne. There is always something magical about the sound of a popping bottle to mark a wonderful moment!


Be ready to answer questions



photographer: David Jo Bradley

Ask the question, but be ready to receive questions immediately after from your partner. Most likely your future wife has also been thinking of marriage. You should always stay true to yourself and answer from the heart. It is easy to see when someone is not sincere. Think about all the things that made you fall in love with this person and made you choose them to spend the rest of your life with. You know your partner best so you would know what to expect.


Stay in the bubble



photographer: David Jo Bradley

When you do a marriage proposal, DO NOT immediately let your friends and family know. I once had a proposal where the woman called their mother right after and I could clearly see that the reaction of the mother was a bit weird and surprised. She was not completely happy with it. It was very awkward as it immediately pulled both of them out of the moment.

The golden rule is that she would appreciate it much more if the center of your attention is her. Be together, and enjoy this wonderful moment. Celebrate! Dance! Sing! Leave an hour or two after the moment to enjoy it together before you tell others.
Ask for help if needed!

Once you start thinking about all the details and arrangements you need to make to ensure the proposal goes well you will find yourself looking at a very big to-do list. The advantage of working with us is that we take care of most details so you need to only arrive at the tour and propose.

Whoever you choose to help you with your proposal will almost certainly be excited to take part as well. You would be pleasantly surprised by what your friends would be willing to help you with.


Final advice – The perfect marriage proposal does not exists
You can pay the highest price for the most premium restaurant or hire the most magnificent musicians, but this won’t matter if it is not prepared from the heart. Trust me, your partner will be able to tell!

Make sure the marriage proposal fits her and you as a couple. Take this opportunity to spoil her and make her truly feel that she is the most special person in your world!

Don’t focus on being perfect! Things sometimes go wrong but they also often break the ice. If your love is true every little “mistake” will be yet another charming detail about your special day!

Feel free to get in touch if you like us to help you organize your proposal. You can see here how we can help with your proposal.

We love to help and we wish you a truly memorable marriage proposal.



A little bit about myself

a man smiling for the camera


I set up Romantic Tour Amsterdam 6 years ago because I think Amsterdam is a super romantic city. At first, we only did romantic tours, but quickly we started to get requests to organize proposals on the boat or at other beautiful locations. We have organized over 200 proposals on the water and in all sorts of locations from a beautiful willow tree in Vondelpark at the peak of summer to an old 16th-Century house in the middle of the canal district.

It brings me and the Romantic Tour Amsterdam team an immense joy to help couples make the next step in their relationship and show the world that Amsterdam is a more romantic destination than you ever dreamt of. If you are imagining a simple tour with flowers and a bottle of champagne, or if you have something more unique and extravagant please get in touch with us!


With Love Rocco