Is It Better To Propose Before Or After Dinner? Here’s A Breakdown Of The Pros And Cons

Should I Propose Before or After Dinner?


  • If you’re planning a marriage proposal, it’s hard to go wrong with incorporating a nice dinner into the special day
  • However, if you do plan a proposal dinner, you’ll have to ask yourself one incredibly important question: Should I propose before or after dinner?
  • Here’s a look at the pros and cons of each choice to help you decide the best move
  • Check out more relationship advice here

Congratulations! If you’re reading this, you’re probably on the verge of finally pulling the trigger on the whole “marriage proposal” thing.

If that’s the case, then you’ve presumably subjected yourself to Uncut Gems levels of stress in recent months as you repeatedly kicked yourself for not writing down any of the cryptic hints your girlfriend dropped about the type of engagement ring she’d like, attempting to covertly measure the size of her finger in the dead of night, and trying to figure out if “Asscher” is a legitimate diamond cut or an elaborate practical joke.

You may have (hopefully) secured the perfect engagement ring, which is arguably the most important aspect of the proposal. You may be heading down the home stretch, it’s important to remember plenty of jockeys have gotten tossed from their horse during the final leg. Sure, you have the ring, but now you how to decide on the best way to give it to her.

If you’ve reached a point in life where you feel like you’ve found the person you want to spend the rest of yours with, exactly how you should propose shouldn’t really matter. If you pop the question and get hit with a “No” because your potential bride is pissed you didn’t scatter enough rose petals on the beach or thought the acoustic guitarist you hired to pop out of a bush and start playing “God Only Knows” right when you kneel down was out of tune, you probably dodged a bullet.

If anything, you should propose over a Mix and Match Domino’s meal while watching reruns of a sitcom on an ad-supported Hulu account just make sure your pending fiancée really loves you for who you are. With that said, you want the night you propose to be one she’ll remember for all the right reasons, and there’s no better time to pull out all the stops.

As I alluded to above, you’ve got options concerning exactly how you propose, but it’s virtually impossible to go wrong by incorporating a romantic proposal dinner into whatever plan you ultimately dream up. When it comes to the restaurant of choice, you can opt for a spot with sentimental value (like the one where you had your first date) or splurge for a fancy and intimate meal at the kind of high-end restaurant where the prices on the wine menu will give you even more anxiety than the idea of asking “Will you marry me?”

Regardless of the venue you ultimately choose, you’ll have to figure out if you should propose before or after dinner. Each option comes with its share of pros and cons, so let’s take a closer look at what you’ll have to consider before you decide to opt for either one.

Should I Propose Before Dinner?

Should I Propose Before Dinner?

Asking someone for their hand in marriage may be one of the most nerve-racking moments of your life, but it should also be one of the happiest. Given the painful nature of the analogy I’m about to deploy, comparing a marriage proposal to ripping off a Band-Aid isn’t the best analogy in the world, but there is something to be said for getting it over and done with as opposed to dragging it out.

In this scenario, the engagement dinner becomes more of an afterparty to the main event. Whether you’re planning on a private proposal or concocting an elaborate public spectacle, the most stressful aspect of the day will be out of the way. That means you can easily take your now-fiancée from Cloud Nine to Cloud Ten by telling her you still have more in store (and on the slim chance things don’t pan out exactly how you were hoping, you can take solace in knowing you have a reservation you can fall back on to eat and drink the pain away).

Now, the night might not be primarily about you, but that doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to also take your wants and needs into consideration as well. Do you really want to shell out for a meal for two at Chez If You Have To Ask You Can’t Afford It if you know your stomach is going to be churning the entire time? Are you willing to risk blowing your cover or raising suspicions because those butterflies prevented you from taking more than one bite of your favorite dish at the restaurant where you had the dates where your relationship really started to bloom?

That first question is especially important to consider if you’re also planning on downing a glass (or four) of liquid courage before you propose, as doing so on a gastrointestinal foundation of a half of a roll from the bread basket and a couple of oysters is a recipe for disaster.

With that said, assuming you do things right, getting engaged is also going to be the highlight of the day. If you propose before dinner, you run the risk of the meal becoming the equivalent of the 43-year-old on a stool in a dive bar talking about the time he caught a touchdown to send his high school football team to the state championship. Do you want to peak that early?

There’s also a good chance dinner itself will become a bit of an afterthought. Your fiancée will undoubtedly appreciate you for having the foresight to plan a nice meal, but don’t be shocked if she spends most of it calling her family and friends and responding to the congratulatory Instagram comments on the post she’ll be constantly refreshing to keep tabs on how many likes it’s gotten.

Finally, you also run the risk of the ensuing excitement impacting her (and possibly your) appetite just like those aforementioned pre-proposal jitters. However, if you’re fine with the risks and would prefer to avoid those potential pitfalls, then it’s time to shift your attention to the next question.

Should I Propose After Dinner?

Should I Propose After Dinner?


Successfully proposing after dinner will give you a certain feeling of satisfaction a pre-meal proposal can’t really rival. I apologize in advance for yet another analogy that may leave a bit to be desired, but if the latter is like beating a video game on the default victory, the former is basically Engagement Game+; it might require a bit more planning, effort, and tact, but the payoff will be worth it.

There are a couple of routes you can take if you opt to propose after dinner. Some people might like to play the longest of the long cons and pop the question after leaving the restaurant to end the night on the highest note possible. However, for the purpose of this section, we’re going to assume you’re going to take the tried and true “Pop the Question at the End of the Meal” approach and whip up some sort of scheme to catch her off-guard at the table.

At the risk of coming off as one of those football coaches that stresses how important is to “just have some fun” while simultaneously taking winning way too seriously, you do want to have some fun here. Yes, the ultimate goal in this particular case is to win her hand in marriage, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself while figuring out the best way to make that happen.

The choice of the eatery is key here. You’re either going to want to pick a spot where you already have a solid relationship with the staff or find the kind of place where it’s obviously not their first rodeo and contact the restaurant ahead of time. It’s not going to hurt to do too much research to make sure they’re equipped to help you make everything come together. Establishing a comradery with a manager over the course of a few emails or phone calls is a great way to make sure everything is set for The Big Night, and there’s a good chance you’ll notice some items missing or comped on the bill at the end of dinner.

One of the nice parts of this strategy is that you’ll get a bit of practice when it comes to the wedding planning process you’re about to get one hell of an introduction to. There might be some added pressure with the post-dinner proposal, but it’s never too early to start learning the ins and outs of orchestrating a big romantic event.

I’m not going to tell you exactly how to plan your engagement night, as the specific proposal ideas should be unique to your relationship. You will, however, be sitting on a ticking surprise bomb the entire evening. It might be nice to tease what’s in store by having her favorite wine waiting at the table or getting the bartender to whip up her go-to cocktail ahead of time, which are just a couple of ways you can drop an assortment of hints over the course of the night. However, all of those little things could be viewed as what is essentially a proposal spoiler. If you want to blindside her with a truly surprise proposal, that could be an issue.

By now, I think I’ve made it clear that the lingering tension in the hours leading up to the big moment is the biggest downside when you choose to propose after dinner. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the risks of popping the question with the classic “ring in the champagne glass” or “hiding it in the dessert” move.

If romantic comedies have taught me anything, you’re going to want to make sure you (or your waiter) are proficient in the Heimlich maneuver if either of those ends up being your move.

Is There A Correct Answer To “Should I Propose Before Or After Dinner?”

Should I Propose Before Or After Dinner?


I know you might be looking for a definitive answer to this question, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to personal preference. I went with the pre-dinner approach, but it ultimately boils down to what you’re most comfortable with. I can only hope the information I’ve provided above will help you make a sage decision.

Regardless of whether you decide to propose before or after dinner, there is one piece of advice I cannot stress enough: cherish it. It’s going to be a stressful night, but more than anything, it should be an enjoyable one.

“Enjoyable,” on the other hand, is not a word I’d used to describe what’s in store when the excitement dies down and it’s time to turn your attention to the actual wedding. If you thought planning a proposal was tough, just wait until you get to experience the unbridled pleasure that comes with spending months agonizing over which font will look the most whimsical on a wedding invitation, the merits of using delphinium instead of hyacinth in the centerpieces, and which family members need to sit on opposite sides of the room so no one throws a glass of the champagne used for the toasts into someone else’s face.

Oh, and I regret to inform you that wedding photographers really are that expensive.

Now, it’s time for you to deploy your newfound knowledge and take the plunge. That first big step might not be easy, but if you take this advice into consideration, it will all be worth it in the end.

I wish you the best of luck.

Connor Toole avatar and headshot for BroBible
Connor Toole is the Deputy Editor at BroBible. He is a New England native who went to Boston College and currently resides in Brooklyn, NY. Frequently described as "freakishly tall," he once used his 6'10" frame to sneak in the NBA Draft and convince people he was a member of the Utah Jazz.