Maybe she already knows the plan. How do you still keep the suspence? We have a plan.
My girlfriend and I are going to be getting engaged on an upcoming weekend. The process has been very open: we picked out the ring together, she knew when I talked to her dad, and she even knows that I'm proposing that weekend.
However, she doesn't know how or exactly when I'm proposing that weekend. To further complicate matters, her parents are divorced.
That being said, I can't propose in front of one set of parents over the other. That being said, whenever her and I are alone that weekend, she's going to be expecting it. Hence, how do you surprise someone who's expecting.
Why would you want to propose to her in front of her parents? What's the possible upside? Are you hoping that they'll jump into the conversation, urge their daughter to say yes, chime in with their own expressions of love, match your diamond ring with a second ring-like how corporations match 401(k) contributions?
Keep your proposal personal. So if that's one of your concerns--that if you propose in front of the mom, you shortchange the dad, and vice verse--consider yourself lucky.
Okay. So not only do you have to propose to her alone, you should propose to her alone. And on that note, how do you make it a surprise?
Reframe the question. Ultimately, the goal isn't to make it a "surprise," per se, but rather memorable, intimate, and romantic.
You're right. You're not going to shock her. You're not going to drop a bombshell and come out of left field.
Yet you can, however, do these two things: 1) Create a red herring; and 2) Maximize the tension.
1) Create a red herring.
Carve out multiple occasions throughout the weekend when you will be alone together. On a normal weekend when you're visiting her parents, that would be difficult. However, since you've already talked to her father, they'll understand, they'll be rooting for you. Set aside at least two different occasions when you will be alone. (Like, theoretically, a walk on the beach on Friday afternoon, and then a private dinner on Saturday night.)
At your first one-on-one episode, do not propose. She'll be looking for it. She'll be wondering about it. She'll be wanting it.
So don't give it to her. Not yet.
This will recalibrate her expectations. It might make her doubt that the proposal will happen, after all. (She could think-- Maybe you're having cold feet? Maybe you forgot the ring? Maybe you're just chickening out?) Trust us. Even if your girlfriend is Mensa-intelligent and rationally knows that the proposal is coming, she'll probably have some nagging doubts. For the purpose of surprise, those doubts are your friend.
This leads to the second part of the plan:
2) Maximize tension.
Every minute you don't propose is one more minute of suspense, of drama, of tension. Even though it's not a "surprise," per se, it still packs a greater emotional punch. Delay the proposal until the last possible moment in your romantic timeframe. (To clarify: this does not mean that you wait until you're about to dash to the airport; obviously, you need to take your time and give it space.)
Think of it like a movie. In Titanic, you know those poor bastards are gonna hit the iceberg, but Cameron stretches out the story, milks the drama, plays with your expectations. (Did we just advocate you following the lead of frickin' Titanic, the movie every guy swears he hates even though he has seen three times? Forgive us. But you get the idea.)
And, of course, follow the 10 Commandments of Popping the Question.