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Should I Propose Before or After Dinner?

by Annie Earnshaw
Last updated on August 22, 2023
Should I propose before or after dinner?

Your engagement night is such a momentous occasion! If you’re planning to propose in a restaurant, you might be asking yourself, “Should I propose before or after dinner? When is the perfect time to pop the big question?”

There’s no right way to propose to the one you love, but we have a few tips and dinner proposal ideas that might help make the planning smoother.

Should I Propose Before or After Dinner?

Like every couple, every marriage proposal is unique. Your special moment should have sentimental value and work for the two most important people: you and your partner.

But when is the right time to pop the question? You want to propose at a moment when the table is clean, so avoid proposing during your meal. This is especially important if you have a secret photographer capturing the big moment. No one wants dirty dishes in their engagement pictures!

Both before and after dinner are great times to propose. The choice is up to you! Here are some benefits of each to help you decide which is right for you.

Proposing Before Dinner

Are you leaning toward a pre-dinner proposal? Proposing before dinner will feel more public because you’ll get special attention from the restaurant for your entire dinner! You’ll also be able to use your dinner as a celebration of your engagement.

If you’re nervous, this might be the best choice because you can have your special moment and then relax for the rest of the night.

Proposing After Dinner

Proposing later in the evening might be best if you and your partner would prefer less of a spotlight. By popping the question at the end of your dinner, you’ll be able to duck out right after and enjoy the rest of your evening.

If you’re the calm, cool, and collected type, proposing after dinner could be the choice for you. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy your meal together and end with a bang.

Is a Restaurant Proposal Right for Me?

Candlelit Dinner

There’s a lot of pressure to craft the perfect proposal! A special engagement dinner is a great idea for you if…

Both of You Love Food

You and your future fiancé are major foodies. As a couple, you find joy in eating together, from food trucks to a six-course meal. You love to explore new restaurants but have a few classics that you love.

You and Your Partner Are Romantics

A restaurant proposal is an engagement classic for a reason! The intimate lighting and fancy restaurant setting make restaurants the perfect setting for a surprise proposal.

You and Your Partner Want a Public Proposal

You know your partner best and know whether or not they want a public proposal. Some people would prefer an intimate proposal between the two of you. But if your partner wants the attention, a dinner proposal is a great way to have a special night together while sharing a fun, splashy moment.

What Should I Prepare for My Restaurant Proposal?

During your proposal dinner, you’ll be sitting next to your partner the entire time. You likely won’t have the ability to sneak away or make any last-minute changes, so planning ahead is a must! Take some time to think through how you want the evening to go and what special surprises you want to plan for your partner. That way, your special night goes off without a hitch.

Get Help From Her Loved Ones

Your partner’s friends and family members are reliable resources for what she loves. They can advise you on the entire process, from ring styles to planning the perfect proposal dinner. They’ll also be able to help you include any special, unique details she would love to tie together the entire evening!

Pick the Perfect Engagement Ring

The marriage proposal is just the beginning of a beautiful life together! Selecting a diamond engagement ring doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. Here’s a breakdown of how to pick out the perfect engagement ring for your partner:

Step 1: Set a budget. If you’re looking to maximize your budget, consider a lab grown diamond. Lab grown diamond engagement rings are 20-30% less expensive than natural diamonds.

Step 2: Do your research. Talk with her friends and family members to learn her favorite ring styles and get her ring size. If she’s told you exactly what she wants, listen to her! If she’s leaving it up to you, purchase a diamond based on her sense of style.

Step 3: Purchase the ring. This is a most exciting step. Once you’ve got the ring in hand, the rest of your plan for a perfect dinner proposal can finally move forward!

Hide the Ring Before Your Proposal Dinner

Now that you’ve got the perfect engagement ring, it’s time to keep it a secret! You don’t want your partner to accidentally ruin the surprise.

First, make sure your ring is safe in a ring box. Put the engagement ring somewhere safe and clean where you know she won’t look. If you live with your partner, this can be tough, so get creative. The garage is a great place to start. You can also keep the ring under the bed, on the top of the closet, or where you store your out-of-season clothes.

If your partner is especially good at finding things, give the ring to a trusted friend or family member. Make sure they tell you exactly where they put it and that you can access it easily when the time comes!

Pick the Perfect Restaurant

Now it’s time to pick the perfect restaurant for your dinner proposal! The right restaurant is entirely up to you and is mostly a matter of personal preference.

The proposal is about you and your partner, so your proposal restaurant should also be important to both of you! One excellent option is to the restaurant where you have a special moment. Was your first date at a fancy restaurant? Did you first say “I love you” while sharing a candlelit dinner? A high-end restaurant that marks a milestone in your relationship is the perfect place to propose.

Rather than proposing at a trendy restaurant, go with a classic setting. Restaurants with white tablecloths and intimate candlelight are a tried-and-true staple. Trends will come and go, but your dinner proposal story will live forever.

However, the restaurant where you propose should be special to you and your partner. Would your future fiancé love a fancy place with white tablecloths and intimate candle lighting? Or, would they be thrilled with a proposal at your favorite neighborhood diner where you always get dinner together? You can’t go wrong with picking your favorite restaurant!

Our Favorite Restaurants Across the Country

Need a recommendation? Here are some of our favorite restaurants for a romantic dinner proposal.

East Coast

Juvia in Miami, FL: This restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows are perfect for catching a romantic sunset before you pop the question! Take in the stunning views of South Beach while enjoying the eclectic menu; it features contemporary takes on Japanese, French, and Peruvian cuisine.

Tavern on the Green in New York, NY: This famous restaurant in Central Park is a picture-perfect backdrop for your dinner proposal! The menu features hearty seasonal ingredients that compliment the sophisticated yet warm ambiance. After your proposal, you can even host your wedding there a few months later!

Talula’s Garden in Philadelphia, PA: Talula’s Garden features a farm-to-table interpretation of the Mid-Atlantic menu. This restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor space and features an upbeat, cozy vibe with lots of lush plants throughout the space. They also have an event space so you can surprise your partner with a proposal party!


Beatnik on the River in Chicago, IL: If you want a unique and adventurous experience, look no further than Beatnik on the River! The charming patio sits right on the Chicago River with breathtaking views of the city. They also feature a diverse, adventurous menu and have an event space so you can celebrate with your loved ones.

La Dolce Vita in Detroit, MI: Searching for a romantic restaurant with a stunning? Look no further; Detroit’s Metro Times named La Dolce Vita as the best patio in the city. The mouth-watering eclectic Italian menu, live band, and romantic venue complete this proposal dinner spot.

Young Joni in Minneapolis, MN: Adventurous eaters will love Young Joni’s Korean-inspired fare and wood-fired pizzas. You can also explore the dimly lit secret bar, which is the perfect place for a signature cocktail and a memorable proposal.

Vin de Set in St. Louis, MO: This charming restaurant is famous for its gorgeous patio, exposed brick walls, and famous fireplace. The menu is French with an American twist; the cocktails are also excellent.


Lon’s at the Hermosa in Phoenix, AZ: Located at The Hermosa Inn, this restaurant offers classic Arizona charm. You’ll find stunning views of the Phoenix landscape on the patio. Complete the perfect evening with artful American cuisine, a cocktail made with Lon’s private-label whiskey, and a stay at the historic inn.

Canopy by Hilton Rooftop Lounge in Dallas, TX: Take in the sweeping Dallas skyline while enjoying a signature cocktail and a stunning sunset. This proposal spot is the perfect swanky location for your dream restaurant proposal!

Nobie’s in Houston, TX: Tucked into a quaint, repurposed house, Nobie’s is the perfect intimate proposal spot. Their rotating menu features upscale favorites like tear-apart milk bread with smoked trout roe and tagliatelle bolognese. After your proposal, celebrate with a slice of their famous cakes or pies!

Rocky Mountains

Daniels and Fisher Clock Tower in Denver, CO: This venue offers a completely private dinner option inside a literal clock tower! Their “Romantic Evening” package includes a candlelit dinner for two, champagne, chocolates, and a rose petal trail to your table.

West Coast

The Roof on Wilshire in Los Angeles, CA: Talk about a dinner with a view! The Roof on Wilshire is located atop The Hotel Wilshire and offers poolside dining with a 360-degree view of Los Angeles. Pair with their contemporary American menu, and you’ve got a perfect proposal evening.

Bertrand at Mister A’s in San Diego, CA: Bertrand is one of the most romantic spots in San Diego, so grab your reservation early! Incredible service and a French-inspired American menu make this a hot spot for romantic dinner proposals. The patio has a stunning view of San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, and each table is set with gorgeous flower vases and printed china.

The Pink Door in Seattle, WA: If you’re looking for a little extra excitement, The Pink Door could be the spot for you. In addition to the incredible Italian menu, you’ll get a thrill from the secret entrance to Pike Place Market and the occasional acrobat performance.

Make Your Restaurant Proposal Unique

A restaurant proposal is an engagement classic, but don’t let that deter you! You can create a special proposal for your partner that perfectly celebrates your relationship.

Get the Restaurant Staff Involved

When proposing in a restaurant, the staff are your new best friends! You won’t be able to leave the table without making your partner suspicious, so make sure the manager and your waiter know about your plans well in advance.

Call the restaurant ahead of time and let the manager know that you plan to propose that night. The restaurant staff wants you to have an incredible proposal experience, so they will likely accommodate any requests you have to make the evening extra special. They’ve probably helped with proposals before, so you might also get a recommendation or two as well!

Also, think about where you want to be in the restaurant. Would your partner enjoy the attention of being in the middle of the restaurant, or would they want to be tucked into a private corner? If the restaurant has a beautiful view, ask to be seated where you can enjoy the scenery.

Hire a Photographer

Your engagement dinner will live forever in your memory, and having sweet engagement photos to cherish adds a special touch to your evening—research local photographers who specialize in engagements. You’ll want to tell them all about your plans for the evening (including when you plan to pop the question).

Photographers who specialize in engagements are often camouflage experts who capture the big moment without making your partner suspicious. Like the restaurant staff, your photographer can also give you recommendations on planning for your proposal dinner.

Write a Proposal Speech

The proposal is your big moment to pour your heart out to your partner! Even if you prefer to show love through actions instead of words, your proposal dinner is the perfect time to tell your partner just how important they are to you.

Also, highlight some of the things you love about your partner. Why do you want to spend the rest of your life with them? What do you love about them? How do they make you a better person?

Remember, as you’re writing, be yourself! If you have a silly, goofy demeanor, bring humor to your speech. Your partner is with you because they love you, so let your personality shine through.

What Should I Do on the Day of My Proposal Dinner?

The day has arrived! It’s totally normal to feel a wide range of emotions, from excitement to fear. Embrace where you’re at; this is why you did all that planning ahead of time!

Lean on your network today. If you need reassurance, call up a trusted friend or family member to talk through what you’re thinking and feeling. Remember that today should be memorable for you as well!

Hide the Ring During Dinner

You’ve kept the ring hidden for this long, so don’t spoil the surprise at this point! Luckily, you’ve got a few options for keeping that gorgeous ring hidden.

If you’re wearing a dinner jacket with pockets, you can keep the box in one of your pockets for easy access. The box might make your pocket look bulky, so make sure that your jacket looks normal before you see your partner.

Do you need a more covert hiding spot? Check out the Box Sock, which has a secret ring pocket and a slim box for the perfect hiding spot.

Present the Ring at the Perfect Moment

Your first instinct might be to present the ring at the bottom of a champagne glass or hide the ring in a dessert. However, nothing ruins a proposal like the Heimlich! Rings in food present a serious choking hazard, so go with another presentation.

A heartfelt speech as you drop to one knee next to the table is a sweet, classic way to propose. Before the big day, you can also ask the waiter to leave a note on your partner’s menu or on their napkin. If there’s a live restaurant band, you could request a particular song to play while you pop the big question.

Remember to Eat

No matter when you pop the question, you and your partner are there to share a dinner together. When adrenaline runs high, you might forget to enjoy your meal. Make sure actually to eat the delicious food you’ve ordered!

What to Do After My Proposal Dinner

You made it! Congratulations on your engagement; now, it’s time to celebrate! After proposal plans are the perfect way to top off your restaurant proposal.

Order a Special Treat

Right after you propose, order a bottle of champagne for your table for you and your new fiancé. Celebrate your engagement with a toast to your future!

If you’re proposing after dinner, order a special dessert that you and your partner can share. Ask the restaurant to personalize it to a special occasion. Chocolate is always a safe choice!

Often, restaurants will send out a drink or dessert to celebrate but don’t assume it will be complimentary.

Host a Party for Family and Friends

Surprise your partner even more with a special party! Invite both of your loved ones and families to celebrate the happy occasion. Your party can be as formal or casual as you’d like! Consider renting out an event room at your restaurant ahead of time or asking your families or close friends to host at one of their homes. As long as there’s food, music, and good folks, you’re sure to have a good time!

Go On a Trip Together

Why wait for the honeymoon to travel? Get away with your fiancé after you get engaged. You’ll be able to enjoy that post-engagement feeling without getting bogged down with wedding details. You can either surprise your fiancé with a trip or plan it together for an extra memorable getaway!

Published by Annie Earnshaw

Annie Earnshaw is a content intern at Clean Origin.