How to Get Married

Marriage is an exciting prospect for couples in love, but it can also seem overwhelming and intimidating. Read the steps below to prepare yourself to propose, plan a ceremony, and get married.

Plan ahead to pop the question.

Your (hopefully) spouse-to-be should be surprised, delighted, and put a little off-balance by your proposition. It's the sort of romantic moment most people live for, so get it right by planning it out early. Think about the appropriate place, time, and words to say. Try to think of things your lover particularly enjoys – favorite restaurants, activities, and/or music – but for whatever reason doesn't get to indulge in very often. Use these as background elements to set up a truly memorable proposition to marry.

  • Short, simple words carry a lot more power than big, fancy words. If you want to make a great impact what you say, plan to speak plainly and from the heart.

Purchase an engagement ring.

Since you're doing the asking, it's your responsibility to have the engagement ring picked out ahead of time. Think about what your lover likes and doesn't like. If there's jewelry for you to examine, do so, and avoid gems and colors that make few or no appearances in your partner's current collection.

  • Feel free to specifically ask your partner about engagement rings, but be sure to do it well in advance of when you actually plan to buy the ring, so he or she will have forgotten all about it.
  • Don't feel as though you have to spend an exorbitant amount of money on an engagement ring. The more important thing is what the ring symbolizes. Besides, the wedding itself is likely to set you back plenty on its own.

Ask your lover to marry you.

With the ring stowed safely away, begin your day or night out together. Be on your very best behavior, and keep things happy and bright. When the time comes, drop to one knee in front of your partner, pull out your ring, and say your piece. With any luck, you'll get a resounding “yes!”

  • Propose in public, if you can help it at all. Having witnesses around proves to your lover that you're ready to get married no matter who knows it and no matter what they might think. The people around you will love the show, too.

Begin to plan the wedding.

Once the night is through and you're successfully engaged to be married, waste no time in laying out plans for the ceremony and honeymoon. Even a small civil ceremony needs a time and a place; most people will also want a more formal ceremony, whether religious or civil, which requires all kinds of event planning skills and plenty of money. Don't forget to register with a wedding gift registry, if you'd like people to bring wedding gifts.

  • Plan the wedding with your lover. Include parents and legal guardians as well. More often than not, they'll be glad to help plan and defray the cost of the event.

Pick a time and place.

As a general rule of thumb, don't get married immediately after the engagement is announced. Instead, enjoy being engaged for a little while. With any luck, it's the only time you'll ever be engaged in your entire life. Once you can both agree on a day, find a justice of the peace, notary public, or other legally-empowered person to perform your marriage. Call ahead and set up an appointment; it'll give him or her something pleasant to look forward to that day.

Be prepared.

Arrive to the site of your ceremony early, and bring at least one witness along. Dress up or not, as you like it: nobody except the two of you, the master of the ceremony, and your witness(es) will be there to see.

Tie the knot.

Follow the lead of the official and exchange vows. Kiss your spouse when you're done! You can choose to get a marriage license the same day you get married, in most cases; fees vary by state, but aren't usually very expensive. The license gives you legal proof of your marriage for tax and other purposes. Once you have it, you don't need to renew it.