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Planning the Perfect Pandemic Proposal

COVID-19 has disrupted many proposal plans, but staying safe doesn't have to mean sacrificing the romantic engagement of your dreams.
Sara Hubbard

A marriage proposal is perhaps the most intimate of interactions, which makes it largely conducive to COVID-19 social distancing guidelines. Typically an affair between just two people, proposals don’t usually need much altering in our pandemic-riddled world. However, for the groom or bride to be who is mourning the loss of the big proposal of their dreams and just can’t wait one more day to be engaged, there are ways to make big statements on a small, safe scale. Here are a few ideas to provide inspiration for those planning to pop the question this Valentine’s Day.

The restaurant proposal, take-out style

Restaurants are the quintessential proposal locale. However, with many states and counties limiting public dining options, getting down on one knee with a dining room full of onlookers is simply not an option. That being said, most restaurants nowadays are offering take-home ordering, allowing you to recreate the feel of your favorite restaurant at home. For the home chef, it could be an opportunity to express your love through gastronomy by whipping up your partner’s favorite meal.

Setting the mood is of the utmost importance as well. Stephanie Nass’ brand Chefanie has a curated selection of romantic tableware – ranging from burgundy marble tablecloths to cloth embroidered napkins that can be kept as keepsakes for years to come. Intricate floral and baroque candles and pearl napkin rings add a finishing touch to the lovely, cozy proposal.

Factoring in friends and family

For the couple that wanted their engagement to end in a celebration with friends and family, there are ways to recreate the joy of being surrounded by loved ones from a distance. Ahead of February 14, reach out to your partner’s friends and family and ask them to send handwritten notes or photos expressing their excitement for your nuptials or reminiscing on favorite memories. Though they can’t be there in person, a tangible reminder of their love and support can mean the world.

This also allows for the memory of your proposal to be kept forever. A personalized box with your names and the date of your engagement makes for a unique way to preserve the priceless memories. Etsy is ripe with choices, with everything from jewel-toned to wooden options depending on your taste and style. You can also choose to coordinate stationery for a more cohesive look or have loved ones pick out their own and embrace a more eclectic, homey feel.

For the adventurous couple

There’s never been a better time to lace up your sneakers and get outside. And if you and your partner have bonded while hitting the trails, a proposal in nature could be option. Find a trail or outlook in your area, maybe one that has special meaning in your relationship. Surprise your partner with matching Valentine-colored running shoes, like sustainability-minded AllBird’s  Tree Dashers in erupt. Make sure to have the ring tucked away safely so it doesn’t accidentally fall out and become a squirrel’s new favorite accessory.

If a picnic is more your speed, choose a place that doesn’t require a strenuous walk – lugging a lunch and bottle of champagne for miles is less than ideal. Kathy Kuo’s heart-shaped picnic basket is just the right vessel for carrying your meal and serves as a subtle nod to Valentine’s Day. Prepare your favorite sandwiches and sides or pick them up from a restaurant, throw in a bottle of champagne and you have the perfect al fresco proposal.

Groovy like a drive-in movie

Movie theaters may be closed, but in their place countless drive-in options have popped up. The retro, throwback feel of a drive-in movie lends itself to the romantic, sometimes cheesy themes of Valentine’s Day. So, lean into that and stock up on your partner’s favorite candies, popcorn, snacks, etc. The United Drive-in Theatre Owner’s Association reported that, as of October 2019, there were 305 operating drive-in locations across the country – and that number has only grown since the onset of the pandemic.

In Los Angeles, Street Food Cinema has plenty of Valentine’s weekend options, and similar productions are likewise taking place across the country. If you can’t find an option near you, there are ways of recreating the drive-in experience at home. Investing in a projector and screen allows you to turn your backyard or living room into your own private screening room. And from there, it’s a matter of personal preference to decide when exactly to pop the question. Whether it’s right when the music swells at a romantic point in the movie or after the credits roll, there’s no wrong way to propose under the silver screen.

Make it a weekend affair

A getaway for Valentine’s weekend is just what everyone needs. Make your proposal extra special by extending it from more than a moment to a few days. Take a browse through Airbnb or VRBO to find a rental home within driving distance. If you want to make the trip extra special, consider renting a fun (maybe vintage) car as well – perhaps in a romantic red. If you can, enlist the help of a friend to decorate the home ahead of your arrival so you can watch your partner’s surprise as they go inside.

Otherwise, you can take advantage of a moment when they aren’t there – send them on an emergency trip to the grocery store or provide another distraction. Remember to bring plenty of candles, twinkling lights, rose petals and whatever else you like to use to make the scene just right so when your partner comes home, they are met with a proposal they will never forget.

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