Skip to main content

Proposal destinations: 10 best places to pop the question

By Gabrielle Jackson, for CNN
updated 10:18 PM EST, Thu February 13, 2014
Australia-based Pitch & Woo helps guys create unforgettable proposals for their girlfriends. We asked founder Jonathan Krywicki to help us create a list of top proposal destinations. Rome's Trevi Fountain is well known for romance, but the Eternal City is full of sweetheart spots, he says. Australia-based Pitch & Woo helps guys create unforgettable proposals for their girlfriends. We asked founder Jonathan Krywicki to help us create a list of top proposal destinations. Rome's Trevi Fountain is well known for romance, but the Eternal City is full of sweetheart spots, he says.
HIDE CAPTION
10. Rome
9. Boracay, Philippines
8. Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia
7. Tulum, Mexico
6. Great Barrier Reef, Australia
5. Amalfi Coast, Italy
4. Fiji
3. Venice, Italy
2. New York City
1. Paris
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The site of the proposal is a big part of the story of the modern couple's romance
  • Australia-based Pitch & Woo helps guys create unforgettable proposals for their girlfriends
  • Proposing while away from home is "about creating a fairytale fantasy," says expert
  • Italy is a popular country in which to pop the question

Editor's note: This article was originally published April 2013. It was updated February 2014.

(CNN) -- Admit it. Just once in your life you'd like to feel like the hero in a chick flick, with all the schmaltzy romance, the elaborate plots, the happy endings.

Even if it's just for the amount of time it takes to say those big four words: Will. You. Marry. Me.

You want it to be somewhere exotic: in a romantic setting, away from family and friends, on a vacation never to forget.

Prince William certainly wanted it that way. He trekked around Kenya carrying Princess Diana's ring in his backpack until he found just the right place to propose to Kate Middleton.

In a remote log cabin with no electricity that was accessible only by air or -- bizarrely -- horseback, Wills got down on one knee and asked Kate to be the future queen of England.

It was the ultimate destination proposal, and it shows William knew exactly what was expected of a 21st-century proposal.

MORE: World's most romantic nationalities

The proposal trip: cashing in on the trend

If there wasn't already a growing trend for guys to pop the question on vacation, then this single event made it one. It was one royal move that men everywhere could confidently copy (if not in Kenya, exactly).

On bended knee: what worked back then works today. Or so say the experts.
On bended knee: what worked back then works today. Or so say the experts.

When Phil Govey asked Rachel Amamoo to marry him in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Rachel says time stopped, just like in the movies.

"It was kind of like we were in a little bubble, because there were lots of people around, but it was like it was just us two," she says. "It was so romantic."

David Mendelsohn got it equally right when he proposed to his girlfriend, Isika, in Lake Como, Italy.

"Everything fell into place like it was prewritten," says David.

He proposed beneath a 200-year-old oak tree made famous by the James Bond film "Casino Royale."

Isika said yes, and, she added, "By the way, I'm pregnant."

Destination proposals are now de rigeur in the story of a couple's romance, according to Jonathan Krywicki, whose Melbourne, Australia-based company Pitch & Woo helps guys create unforgettable proposals for their girlfriends.

Krywicki says one in three of his clients plan to propose while away from home, often while abroad.

A consumer survey by American Express found a similar result, with 30% of consumers citing a weekend trip or vacation as the best time to pop the question.

"It's a really popular thing to propose while you're away from home because it's all about creating that fairytale fantasy," says Krywicki. "There's something about being in an unknown area that adds to the allure of the moment."

MORE: A modern take: 8 truly romantic cities

The right way to ask

The proposal doesn't have to be overly complicated, as long as the setting is right.

Just ask Naomi Tarszisz, whose husband proposed to her in Central Park. They were visiting friends in New York at the time and Phil Rushton was carrying a diamond in his pocket.

China\'s Olympic silver medal figure skater Tong Jian, right, proposes to his girlfriend and skating partner Pang Qing at the end of a skating exhibition in Shanghai in 2011.
China's Olympic silver medal figure skater Tong Jian, right, proposes to his girlfriend and skating partner Pang Qing at the end of a skating exhibition in Shanghai in 2011.

Walking around the city on an overcast April day, Rushton decided all his ideas -- the top of the Empire State Building had been at the head of the list -- were lame, so he guided Naomi to a green patch of lawn in Central Park. They sat down for a chat and the sun suddenly appeared.

When Naomi stood to leave, Rushton got on one knee and said, "Naomi, will you do something for me? Will you make me the happiest man in the world; will you marry me?"

Being asked was nice, says Naomi. Being on holiday in the couple's favorite city was great, but being able to look directly into her future husband's eyes made it perfect.

"He got up on one knee," says Naomi, who is a foot shorter than Rushton. "I appreciate the down-on-one-knee gesture, but it's also just the easiest way to look into my eyes.

"I hadn't imagined a proposal, but if I did it probably would have been on an escalator or something."

Knowing your partner -- and her expectations about the proposal -- are the key to proposal success, says Krywicki.

In his booklet, "The Seven Biggest Mistakes Men Make When Proposing," Krywicki says the first mistake is timing. Is she ready? Is your relationship ready?

The second is expectation.

"You really need to know what her expectations are," Krywicki says. "Most women, not all of them, but most women have this fantasy of how this special day will take place.

"Now, if you've got a partner that's innately private and you go and do a public proposal and she feels pressured to say yes because everybody's looking at her -- that's not a good thing."

MORE: Why Valentine's Day is the least romantic day of the year

The wrong kind of obligation

If only Kirsten Thomas's ex-fiance had been operating with such expert advice.

He proposed while the couple was on holiday in South Africa, only to break it off 10 days later.

When she asked why he'd proposed in the first place, he told her he'd felt pressured to carry it out while they were on vacation.

Which begs the question: Is planning a "destination proposal" all becoming a bit of an industry, something so expected that it's no longer a surprise, even a bit cliché?

Top of the pops: according to proposal entrepreneur Jonathan Krywicki, Paris is the top destination for proposals.
Top of the pops: according to proposal entrepreneur Jonathan Krywicki, Paris is the top destination for proposals.

Rachel and Phil's romance had all the hallmarks of a fairy tale. They met in New York while Phil was on a secondment from his London law firm and began dating casually.

Then, one day when they were running a half-marathon together, Phil suffered an aneurism and was rushed to the hospital in a coma. Rachel kept vigil at his bedside and when he woke, they fell in love over a tray of bad hospital food.

Rachel eventually moved to London to be with Phil and expected a proposal would follow.

"I was kind of expecting a destination proposal for a long time," says Rachel. "Every trip we went on -- Paris, New York, Corsica, Sicily -- I was always like, 'Oh, this is romantic' waiting for the proposal that didn't come."

Then they took a trip to Rome and it happened. While the moment was romantic -- let's not forget the bubble she found herself in -- the story they tell these days is more about how that bubble was burst by a street vendor trying to sell them a rose.

"That really brought us back into the commercial aspect of hanging out around the Trevi Fountain in Rome," says Rachel.

Perhaps Katherine Burgdorf got the balance right when she proposed on a park bench during a coffee break from work. The big surprise here is not that she was a woman proposing to her boyfriend, but that it was a warm, sunny day in London.

"It was a beautiful day, so we went and had a coffee at our favorite coffee stand," says Katherine. "We sat on a park bench under a beautiful apple tree.

"I think I was overwhelmed by the weather and I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to ask!'

"I totally surprised myself. I had the shakes afterward. And he was like, 'Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes."'

MORE: 50 cities, 50 last-minute Valentine's dates

Did you get engaged while on vacation? Wish you had? Share your story in the comments section below.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:26 AM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
the Teufelsberg or
Spooks have left their mark on a once-divided city still thought to be an espionage hotbed.
updated 6:06 PM EDT, Sun August 24, 2014
nanjing, handicrafts
With more than 6,000 years of history, Nanjing is one of the few cities in China still practicing the country's endangered traditional crafts.
updated 12:10 PM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Rock and weather collide over millennia to create natural bridges. Here are 15 of our favorites from around the world.
updated 1:39 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
A one-nun brewing operation, Sister Doris is putting Germany's women beer makers on the map. Sort of.
updated 2:07 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
From Myanmar to Mickey Mouse, Stefan Zwanzger, aka The Theme Park Guy, gives his rundown of the best.
updated 11:10 AM EDT, Fri August 22, 2014
Four hundred years after the death of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, her murderous exploits prove a grisly attraction.
updated 8:50 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Formed by volcanoes and steeped in a rich history of Polynesian culture, Hawaii sounds more like a place in a fantasy novel rather than an American travel oasis.
updated 7:56 PM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Despite Kyoto's allure, until this year there's been a glaring absence from the city's travel scene -- a top tier, super-luxury hotel brand.
updated 7:51 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Why global adventurer Alastair Humphreys now looks for 'microadventures' close to home.
updated 7:33 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Don't order Corona and don't freak out when you see Jessica Alba without makeup and you might pass for local.
updated 7:01 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
History buff? Hardcore surfer? These South Pacific islands have every traveler covered.
updated 11:14 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Airlines and airports are going high-tech to reduce your time in line.
updated 4:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Summer isn't over yet. These new hotels are keeping it alive and fresh.
updated 2:32 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Eight of the top 10 scoring cities in the Economic Intelligence Unit's annual Liveability Survey are in Australia and Canada.
updated 6:21 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
When a man tells me to "trust him," my typical reaction is to run.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT