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Getting hitched: 6 tips for the perfect proposal

Young Man Proposing to a Woman

Bob Ingelhart/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Few people have more experience with wedding proposals than Kristie Kent, the "proposal planner" at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel in Vancouver.

"I'm basically here as a point of contact," she explains. "Once [the prospective grooms] have got the ring in hand, they're usually ready to go, but I try to help them think outside the box to come up with a different type of proposal."

Kent has, for instance, helped co-ordinate the flyover of airplanes carrying banners with "Will You Marry Me?" printed on them, followed by fireworks timed to the "yes."

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Here are her tips for achieving an overwhelmingly positive response.

Drop to your knee

A genuflecting proposal is hard to top. And simple is always best: A classic kneeling pose is right knee down, left knee up, ring box in the left hand.

Practise, practise, practise

Utter the words "Will you marry me?" out loud to yourself before you say them to her. Even a cool customer is going to be nervous and you don't want to emit a croaking mumble.

Consider your outfit

Cut-off sweat shorts and your favourite Ramones T-shirt don't scream romance, while a tuxedo is probably overkill. Use what you'd wear to dinner with her parents as a gauge.

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Pick your spot carefully (and avoid the spotlight)

A good hard rule: Avoid proposing anywhere that has a Jumbotron. Choose a private place that's special to both of you: the cottage dock where you shared your first kiss, your favourite restaurant, a first-class suite on Singapore Airlines.

Get to the point and stay loose

This isn't the right time to chronicle every moment of your relationship together or to recite an epic poem extolling her beauty. Use heartfelt words, but keep it brief. Once she sees you kneeling with a ring box in your hand, the jig is up. And since you don't really know how she's going to react, be prepared to go with the flow. If she starts crying for joy at the first sight of the ring, give her a minute before launching into a brief declaration of why you want to marry her.

Leave the viral videos to the kittens

Just because someone on YouTube conscripted his entire family and much of the neighbourhood to participate in a big-budget flash-mob proposal doesn't mean you need to do the same. She'll be just as thrilled with something intimate (and less likely to find out ahead of time). Remember to have your phone on hand so you can snap a photo of the two of you to post online later and call your parents (and soon-to-be in-laws) to announce the happy news.

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This is part of a six-part series on getting married in style. Next week, we look at how to plan a top-notch bachelor party.

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