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Read Letter

Popping the Question

My dear Jack,

You want to pop the question?! 🙂 Well you’ve got to make it special. But first things first.

You see I was taught in Law School that during cross examination of a witness, never ask a question you don’t know the answer. You may get a surprise that will derail your case. No surprises. Same thing goes for popping the question. Make sure you know the answer before you pop the question. You don’t want a surprise. Not after spending so much on a rock. You’ll be dejected. Not to talk of the attendant embarrassment if third parties are present. She should be looking forward to you popping the question, have some idea that sooner or later you will. Women know these things intuitively; although of that day and hour she must be kept guessing.

Popping the question should be a formalisation of a done deal. You can’t afford the risk of uncertainty. It is important to note that this ritual of “surprise” is important to women. It’s a surprise “surprise” that’s not really a surprise, but is a surprise! Make what you will of that. Whatever you do, bear in mind she wants to do a narration of it to her friends thereafter. When she shows them the ring – usually wrist bent, finger wiggling; or hand wavy, finger wiggling, the auto follow up question is, How did he propose?! There’s a script for these things. You don’t want her sounding disappointed when she tells the story. If you don’t make it special you take away the first and second paragraphs of her narrative.

That narrative is actually the beginning of the marriage prose itself. The proposal is important to her. It’s also your boast. You want to be able to tell how you “so captivated her” she had no option but to say yes! And please if you’ve been unfortunate with a ring in an old proposal to an old girlfriend don’t recycle the ring. You don’t want your fiancĂ© discovering you used a failed ring on her. The consequence can be dire. Just take the old ring as a bad investment. Either you write it off or you pawn it. But by all means let old things be passed away and all things become new. New proposal, new ring.

But some people use family heirloom. Prince William proposed to Catherine with Diana’s ring. It’s invaluable. Catherine is actually keeping it in trust. It will go from generation to generation. As for the ring itself, there’s the economics of it. There are different carats. Do what you can afford.

You may also want to consider what type of gold suits her and her complexion. Some women prefer white gold, some want yellow gold or other variant. Platinum is expensive of course. Some mums offer gold jewellery to their sons to melt to make a ring. It’s a gift to cherish. Get a good goldsmith. If you can’t afford gold let her know the ring is not precious metal. You don’t want her assuming it is. Tell her you’ll buy her something very valuable some day; that she should keep faith in you. When you succeed, do.

Where do you pop the question? It has to be memorable. It’s part of the narrative. If it’s not memorable you must compensate – either with the flourish or the rock. The critical thing to remember is that you’re writing a romance novel. Seal proposed to Heidi on top of a mountain. Airlifted there by helicopter. Okay that’s extreme, but memorable. Just make it a romantic narration. A memorable trail, the full moon, a lovely vacation, a historic sight, an architectural edifice, at 36,000 feet above sea level, a thrill ride… These are good props. By the way, the ring goes on the fourth finger of her left hand. You can make the mundane so special. It all depends on how creative you are.

If in a restaurant you want to arrange with management to make the evening special. They can print a special menu for you. With her name. She’ll love that. And it’s a keepsake. They can dim the light at appropriate moment, roll music. And people love romance. The other diners will celebrate with you. The ring can be in her champagne glass, or whatever drink. Your options are limitless with creativity. If you’re not Kanye West the billboard option may be a bit too much. This apart from the cost, but who knows!

Oh, I forgot. You must know her ring size. You can get that information through her sister or friend. Swear them to secrecy. Or you set up one ruse or the other to find out her size. But women are sharp. Your ruse had better be good. Rings come in sizes. Range from Size 3 (14mm width) to Size 13.5 (22.6mm width).

It’s good to have a camera along. Your phone camera will work. You want to record the occasion, and her ecstasy! If you get your proposing right the return on emotional and financial investment will be great. Plan properly. I once knew a gentleman who flew his fiancĂ© to Venice via Paris and London. Just to propose to her. He booked her into the hotel where the movie, The Tourist, was shot. He bought the DVD as momento. The idea is to trigger memories each time she sees the movie, or there’s a mention of Angelina Jolie or Johnny Depp. He pre-booked a 2-person secluded dinning on a protruding pier overlooking the Grand Canal. The menu was custom and specially chosen. It bore the fiancĂ©’s name. Did I mention that like in the movie he bought everything she’d wear to dinner. It was a surprise layout: gorgeous dresses, stockings, purse, choice of shoes…

After dinner a gondola drew up. There was a guitarist on board playing love songs but commenced with Godfather sound track. And just before a famous foot bridge in Venice, with the crowd gazing he popped the question. The crowd of tourists went wild. Everyone loves romance. And the stone? Let’s just say it was an investment. It was as large as the bulging of her eyes at the sighting of the stone. And they lived happily ever after.

Okay, okay, he could afford it but you get the point: meticulous planning, detailing, creativity, flawless execution.

Your innocent and loving uncle,



©Leke Alder

Tags : Marriage, Proposal

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