The holiday season is prime time for wedding proposals.
With family and friends gathered together, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Eve have become go-to dates to pop the big question. According to a recent study of wedding trends by TheKnot.com, December is the most popular month to get engaged in, with 16 percent of couples choosing the holiday season to put a ring on their relationships.
Elizabeth Bailey, a wedding and event planner based in Cockeysville, said she is inundated with consultation requests from newly engaged couples from Thanksgiving to Valentine's Day.
"Our phones ring off the hook. We get so many emails," she said. "The majority of people become engaged over that time. We don't take a lot of time off over the holidays because of that fact."
With Christmas fast approaching, we asked wedding and etiquette experts to share proposal do's and don'ts that will ensure a memorable "yes."
Elizabeth Bailey, wedding planner
•Ask the parents. "It's still very traditional that if a guy is asking, he first goes and talks to the parents," said Bailey. "I'm really traditional. He should tell them his intention. I think that is really nice to do."
•Pick an experienced photographer to document the proposal and discuss your plans with that photographer, Bailey said. "They will get the shot. I wouldn't have a friend do it."
•Don't text the news or share on social media before telling your family and friends, Bailey said. "Once you become engaged, you need to call your parents, brothers and sisters," Bailey said. "It hurts feelings that they weren't special enough to find out in person. A call will take five minutes. They will probably want to hear your voice and hear from you."
•Don't get swept up in the spirit of the holidays and propose on a whim. Have a ring. "There should always be a ring," Bailey said. "Not having one shows a lack of preparation. If you don't prepare, that shows it wasn't completely important to you."
Lizzie Post, etiquette expert
Emily Post's great-great-granddaughter is co-author of "Emily Post's Etiquette" (18th edition) and "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette" (sixth edition), as well as "Emily Post's Great Get-Togethers." She is also the author of "How Do You Work This Life Thing?"
•Know your mate, according to Post. "Make sure that your beloved would actually enjoy a proposal in front of the whole family or on this holiday," she said. "That might not be his or her cup of tea. Make sure you've heard them say that they wouldn't mind doing it."
•Do your homework with the family. "The family might be going through something. Or if the sister's fiance might be doing the same thing," Post said. "You want to be in the free and clear. When you ask the parents or you ask for support from the parents, you might want to check that your timing is still good."
•Don't make it the person's only Christmas gift. "The only present under the tree shouldn't be a small ring box," Post said.
•Don't propose in front of a big group to someone who wants an intimate proposal. "At the holidays, it can just be that overwhelming feeling when it feels so pressured," Post said. "It's sort of like the person who proposes at the ballgame with 50,000 eyes watching. What else is she going to say?"
Marama Nengel, hotel concierge
The concierge at Four Seasons Baltimore, has seen her share of elaborate, and memorable, proposals. In fact, Four Seasons recently debuted a proposal package that starts at $995 for a rooftop set-up with votive candles and a sparkling wine toast. A more elaborate package, which includes a night's stay at the hotel, starts at $1,495.
•Plan ahead. "Don't call two days before, freaking out that you haven't planned it, but want to do all these things," she said. "You'd be surprised by the amount of people who call the day of. We can always make it happen, but it would be better if we have a little more time. You want to tailor it. You want to customize it. You don't want it to be generic."
•Make sure you set aside some money to do it. "Budget the proposal," Nengel said. "There are some costs involved."
•Avoid proposing in a small room with a photographer. "It makes it very awkward. And it kills the intimacy of it," Nengel said. "I would suggest that they do it outdoors. That way it's easier for the photographer to hide. It's an intimate moment. It's a private moment."
•Avoid placing "awkward" items in the room such as life-size pink bunnies or matching onesies placed in the center of rose petals arranged in the shape of a heart, a setup that happened during one proposal, according to Negel, who said she advised against it. "That's not romantic," she said. "I tried to talk him out of it. But he still did it. I don't think it went so well. Usually [the women] will parade downstairs with their ring. She didn't."
•Avoid proposing on the holiday itself. "You want it to be a special occasion," Nengel said. "You want it to be your day — not Christmas."
Mia Antalics, bridal boutique owner
The owner of Garnish, a bridal boutique in Ruxton Station, has heard about almost every type of proposal from brides-to-be.
•Hire a photographer. "Document the event," Antalics said. "What a special memory for both of you to share for years down the road."
•Dress for the occasion. "You want it to look right," Antalics said.
•Research the type of ring your bride wants. "Know the style that the bride is looking for," Antalics said. "It will be her lifetime accessory. Do put thought on the ring that is best suited for her personal style."
•Don't blab about your plans. Keep it a secret. "Don't tell too many people," she said. "The more details people know, the more chance for your surprise to be ruined. I've heard of situations where a guy friend has been in a drunken state and said something to a potential fiance."
• Don't involve too many people. "Limit the proposal to close friends and family," Antalics said. "Not everyone needs to know. It's a special moment."