by James Oliver Cury

The Short Take

She gets plenty happy when you make breakfast; imagine her delight when you present a ring on a platter.

How I Did It

When we first started dating, my wife Dorothy never told me how she hoped I would propose. Instead, she communicated all the ways she did not want me to profess my love for her. Nothing public. No pricey dinners. No cheesy sunsets. But yes, must be creative.

Before the Proposal…

We always get pictures at photo booths in foreign countries.

So how did I make it original and meaningful? I decided I would wake up early one Sunday, sneak out of bed while she slept, make her breakfast (all of her favorites dishes), bring it to her in bed as a nice surprise and — here’s the creative part —  present the meal as if it were fancy enough to be something you’d experience at The Ritz-Carlton.

People are much more likely to say yes if they’ve had their morning coffee.

I hid each dish under a stainless steel food cover, lifted the covers to reveal each plate (eggs, bagel, etc.) and left the last cover for… you guessed it… the ring. So the final move was the big reveal — surprise, not hash browns! — followed by the getting down on one knee to make the proposal official. Lesson learned: People are much more likely to say yes if they’ve had their morning coffee.

Visualizing the Details: Avoid Stringy Food

Photo courtesy of Two Red Bowls via Flickr Commons


  • Breakfast-in-bed tray
  • Your usual breakfast plates/bowls, cups and utensils
  • Ingredients for a breakfast, including (possibly) fresh OJ
  • 3 opaque fancy food covers (I suggest stainless steel)
  • The ring

Location: Wherever the two of you lay your head

Cost: approximately $260

The steel covers cost around $70 each, for a total of $210. You may be able to find less expensive ones but make sure they’re not translucent (duh). Food costs vary on what she likes to eat in the morning, so budget $25 a person just to be safe.

The Ring Is Hidden Under a Dome

Photo by Stu Allen


This proposal only works if you’ve actually made her breakfast in bed before. If you haven’t, first, shame on you, but also you need to try it once or twice and see how it goes. It should be an act that doesn’t raise eyebrows.


You’ll need to stock the fridge with the foods you’ll be cooking for her: eggs, toast, bacon/sausage, fruit, cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, French toast, whatever she loves. Make fresh orange juice. Everyone likes that. The hard part: hiding three, large, silver food covers. You’ll need to put these up on a shelf in a box or under the bed or somewhere that can accommodate bulky items.

Fresh OJ Only Photo courtesy of star5112 on flickr.

Consider getting one of those alarms that shakes under your pillow instead of a sound-based alarm. Plan on getting up one hour before you’ll wake her. If she naturally rises at 9am, your lazy ass needs to be alive at 8am. If she wakes and insists on rising, you have three choices: 1) Tell her you plan to make breakfast in bed and hope she returns to the bed, 2) Agree to make breakfast and serve it at the table (you’ll still be a hero for making breakfast), 3) Scrap the proposal for another day. If she stays at the breakfast table or in the kitchen with you as you cook, shoo her away when you’re ready by saying you have a surprise dish for her.


Once alone, place all the cooked dishes on the tray — along with the ring on its own plate — and add the covers. Make sure the ring is furthest from her (or direct her to lift the covers in a particular order). Smile proudly as she unveils each dish (“Oh, you shouldn’t have!” she will say). Then prepare for her eyes to tear up when she gets to the last plate. Ideally you’ll be standing nearby so you can get down on one knee and say the magic words. Instagram moment too? You decide.

Note: She is not obligated to eat any of the food at this point (it will not reflect on your cooking). Maybe you can, um, work up an appetite for it.

Photos courtesy of James Oliver Cury

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