How to Plan Surprise Proposals for Each Other

For many same-sex couples, proposals go beyond traditional gender roles. Both people may want to have the experience of proposing and being proposed to. Follow these tips and tricks for planning a surprise proposal for each other.

By: Justin McIntosh
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Photo By: Justin McIntosh

©Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

Photo By: Justin McIntosh

How to Plan Surprise Proposals

Justin and Nathan, an engaged couple from Nashville, Tennessee, decided they both wanted the opportunity to propose to each other and have the feeling of being surprised. Here are some things they learned through their experience.

Put a Ring On It

The first thing most people think about when getting engaged is the ring. After much discussion and shopping, Justin and Nathan decided that they each wanted one ring that would serve as both an engagement ring and wedding band. They chose classic and simple bands together. They plan to take the rings off and have them engraved before the wedding day.

Dream Big

Justin knew he wanted his proposal to Nathan to involve musical theatre, as that was how they met. After several emails and phone calls, he got the producers of "An American In Paris: The Musical" to agree to let him propose on stage after one of their Broadway performances in New York City. The cast even stayed for a group photo. It never hurts to ask.

Music Makes the Heart Sing

Justin works in the music industry and wanted to include live music in his proposal. He asked Caroline Kole, an artist he helped manage, to sing her original song, "The Guy I’m Gonna Marry" with lyrics altered to fit their story. She was accompanied on acoustic guitar by their Nashvillian-turned-Brooklynite friend, Chris Wallace.

Add Family and Friends

Nathan’s favorite proposal moment was when all of their closest friends from Nashville and New York surprised the couple on stage to celebrate their engagement. Unbeknownst to Nathan, Justin had arranged for them to be in the audience that night. He used Google Docs to keep everyone in the loop on arrival times, hotels, restaurant reservations, etc. so that no one accidentally bumped into them early and ruined the surprise.

Go Traditional or Go Your Own Way

Kneeling to propose is a time-honored tradition that shows respect and love for your partner. Even in 2016, this custom is still relevant. Both Justin and Nathan got the chance to experience this ritual. But it's not for everyone. You don't have to kneel. Make another grand gesture or don't. You don't have to be bound to traditions. Create your own!

Space It Out

Proposals don’t have to be at the same time, or even in the same city. Nathan and Justin wanted to cherish and anticipate the element of surprise and proposed separately at different venues two months apart. Nathan wanted to recreate a theatrical proposal with a reunited cast from "9 to 5: The Musical" at the theater where they first met in Nashville complete with friends, including Reba!


Don’t be afraid to practice. Practice make perfect and a rehearsal for a performance proposal, or any type of proposal, helps calm the nerves and ensure everything turns out just right. The cast enjoyed rehearsing in secret and preparing for that one special moment.

Involve All the Senses

Nathan wanted Justin to feel love in different ways. He included a musical performance for the ears, fragrant roses from cast members for the nose, and a hand-written letter for the final visual and tactile experience leading up to the moment he popped the big question.

Keep the Party Going

At the end of the second proposal and with the help of their wedding party, Nathan planned a surprise engagement party while they had all of their friends and family present. See how they pulled it off on a budget here. Follow their wedding-planning journey for more inspiration at

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