The COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives in so many dramatic ways, but one thing this unpredictable virus can’t do is — cancel love!
Plans to pop the question with a sparkling diamond engagement ring on a gondola in Venice or under the Eiffel Tower in Paris might not be a reality right now but it is still possible to get engaged to your soul mate in an incredibly special and memorable way.
In fact, the pandemic is helping a lot of people focus on what is most important and make their proposal and wedding plans even more personal and intimate.
To help you plan the perfect proposal, even during the pandemic, we have spoken to nine experts who specialize in creating special, life-changing moments for couples. Here is everything you need to know.
Can We Still Get Engaged During COVID-19?
The short answer to this is – YES! You can still become engaged to your partner, but there are a few things to take into consideration before you dive in.
A change of location might be the first thing to grapple with. “Many proposals are often planned to happen while couples are on vacation, so once the borders were closed and people were not able to travel anywhere, a lot of proposers had to re-think their plans,” says the team at Flytographer, who provide local photographers in cities across the world to capture special moments.
If you were planning a grand gesture, you might also need to adjust your expectations. While a flash mob is probably off the cards for now, “the most important thing is that the proposer is able to say everything he or she wants to say to their person as they ask them for their hand in marriage,” says award-winning wedding photographer Nicole Chan.
Though many places are closed or semi-closed, that doesn't mean that love is canceled says the team at The Heart Bandits, who are proposal planning experts. “If they were planning on having a proposal set up on a rooftop with elaborate decorations, an alternative could be to find a picturesque place in a park with a simpler setup instead. The biggest thing during this time is being flexible. Be flexible with your proposal idea, location, and your date because during this time things can change throughout an entire region.”
Do Your Research
“During a pandemic, winging it doesn’t work,” says The Yes Girls, proposal specialists who have planned thousands of memorable proposals. If you are the type to be spontaneous and go with the flow, you may need to get a bit more organized with your plans.
The Yes Girls suggest creating a plan that is “realistic yet still incredibly romantic.” This means doing your homework on the current COVID-19 safety measures.
The Heart Bandits explain that people will need to look at the current regulations for the city where they plan on proposing. “Many cities are still in the slow process of reopening and they are in the early phases of having only limited activities and businesses operating. Many event spaces throughout the country are currently closed and don't plan on reopening until mid-late summer.”
Additionally, they point out “ordering items during this time can also be delayed so people need to allot more time for delivery.”
Choosing a Location
The location of your proposal will be one of the biggest considerations during the pandemic. Wedding planning website Joy suggests that “couples should focus on the joy and excitement of getting engaged, and remember that no matter where or when the proposal happens, it will still be one of the most special and memorable days of their lives.”
The Yes Girls recommend getting creative with possible locations. “Discover local spots that you could propose at, such as renting a private event space, utilizing a lush garden area, or booking an Airbnb with a deck to set up the proposal.”
If hiring a venue isn’t possible, think about what outdoor spaces you have at your disposal. “Many of the gorgeous outdoor hikes and overlooks are still open so that's always an amazing option,” says Arizona-based wedding photographer Olivia Markle. The team at Joy agrees. “Hop in the car and drive to a local beach, park, hiking trail, or favourite scenic spot where you live, then pop the question as you enjoy the view together.”
Make it Personal & Intimate
Setting up large public displays of affection are not feasible right now, so “proposers are getting creative and more sentimental with their proposals, utilizing private spaces, and the focus is truly centered on the two of them and the commitment they are making together,” says the Yes Girls.
Photographer Nicole Chan always asks her clients, “How do you want this proposal to be remembered? How do you want her or him to feel?” This forms the basis of the occasion and it can be just as special somewhere more low key. “I have photographed Boston proposals at dawn in the Boston Common, on private Airbnb roof decks, and at a picnic in their backyard,” she says.
Flytographer has shared a beautiful story from one of their clients which captures this spirit perfectly. Noah Lizerbam proposed to his partner earlier this year with an intimate photoshoot in Los Angeles.
“The proposal really went better than I could have imagined! I had put together a memory chest of a bunch of nostalgic items from our relationship. Pamphlets from concerts and shows we've gone to, rocks from parks we've camped in, notes we've written to each other, and mementos from too many hilarious nights to count. She had thought that the chest was just a Valentine's Day gift, but when we got to the end, I pulled out the ring to represent all of the memories we still have to make.”
Bring the Location to You
If you had plans to propose in a particular location or at an event but you can’t because of COVID-19, think about how you can bring the experience to you, says the team at The Yes Girls.
“For example, if your plan was to propose in front of the Eiffel Tower because that is your significant other’s dream, bring Paris to her! Set up a Parisian style picnic like you’re in a cafe, create an Eiffel Tower backdrop, set up market lights, play French music, and bring the essence of Paris to your partner.”
For one of their clients, Sal (above), they took his partner Maria’s love of Italy and set up this romantic Italian themed wedding proposal with a canopy, a private chef, a personal menu, and incorporated her favourite music.
Ideas for Proposing at Home
While vacations are wonderful, home is also a place full of special memories and moments.
“Currently, many of our customers choose to propose in their hometowns at locations that have a special meaning to them,” says Flytography. “This opens the door to having a small celebratory gathering after proposing with close friends and family.”
Wedding website Joy has some great ideas for proposing at home...
“Create a romantic proposal ambiance at home with your partner’s favourite flowers, candles, and romantic lighting. Cook their favourite meal, pour nice wine or champagne and enjoy the evening together.
Set up a “Will You Marry Me?” sign or balloon letter arrangement in your home or backyard, or if the two of you love games, propose during a game of Scrabble by spelling out ‘Will You Marry Me?’”
Proposing on the Water
Popping the question while floating on the water and enjoying picturesque views is still possible, even during the pandemic.
Gone Sailing Adventures in Toronto, like many other boating businesses, are adapting to help couples mark their special occasion. “With extravagant events affected by the pandemic, we have focused our services on making sure couples start their life together off by sailing into the sunset with only their closest loved ones. We have strict protocols in place to ensure the safety and health of all our guests.”
You could consider hiring a smaller vessel to create a special moment with just the two of you. Sightsailing of Newport says their boat Starlight has not been saddled with any type of capacity restrictions by the state and is their most popular boat for engagement sails. “Despite the pandemic, people are still optimistic, looking ahead and getting engaged.” You can even have the captain sneak a bottle of champagne on board so you can really celebrate!
Remember to Capture the Moment
If your friends and family can’t celebrate with you, capturing the moment for others to see will be more important than ever
“I'd recommend hiring a professional photographer to document this special time,” says Olivia Markle. “Make it meaningful, whether it’s on a mountain top or in your living room, you can add personal touches and make it authentic to who you are as a couple. Also, lots and lots of string lights are never a bad idea!
If you are planning to work with a photographer and/or videographer, you should ensure they understand and adhere to the current COVID-19 safety guidelines.
“Because it’s essential that our photographers shoot at least six feet away from anyone, we offer a strategy called ‘Fly on The Wall,” explains the team at Flytographer. “This allows the photographer to capture the proposal moment from a distance by waiting for the customer’s cue that tells them they are ready to propose.”
Include Friends & Family (Safely)
Getting engaged is such an exciting time in any couple’s life and something to celebrate with family and friends. Just because you can’t come together in the usual way, that doesn’t mean you have to cancel the celebration altogether.
The Yes Girls suggest asking family and friends to “make videos, FaceTime in, or write letters for your partner to read so even if they can’t physically be there, they are still present.”
The team at The Heart Bandits has another great idea for an engagement celebration. “Couples could consider getting their friends and family to create a car parade immediately after the proposal. They can even have signs on their cars to congratulate the couple.”
What about the Ring?
No proposal is complete with a ring to ‘seal the deal’. Whether you are making this important choice on your own or with your partner, you should check the latest restrictions which could affect your ring shopping plans.
How about the Wedding?
So now he or she has said ‘YES!”, what about the wedding? The pandemic has put the brakes on lots of weddings but many couples are also choosing to elope and have smaller ceremonies with just their nearest and dearest.
“Of course this is a very hard time and having to replan your dream wedding is never going to be an easy thing but many of my brides are now eloping in adventurous, remote locations which are extremely intimate,” says Olivia Markle. “Lots of them are planning to have a big party with their friends at a later date, so they get the best of both worlds!”
For more tips on wedding planning at this time, take a look at our guide to planning your perfect wedding during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If we can find positives in this pandemic, one is surely the kindness and humanity people are showing to each other at this time. As Nicole Chan said, “We've all in one way or another showed a little bit more attention and care to those we love. I find that proposals are still happening, and while the proposals themselves look a little different, love still conquers all.” We couldn’t agree more!