When two women get engayged, there are as many unique ways for it to happen as there are couples. The beauty of a proposal is that there are so many different ways to personalize it to your love. Queer women and non-binary folks have to get especially creative with putting our own twist on this heteronormative tradition. The straightforward “man gets down on one knee” approach doesn’t apply in the first place, so we have to start from scratch. Who proposes to whom? Should there be a double proposal? Traditional diamond ring or some other gem, like emerald or sapphire? Whether you’re gay or straight or somewhere-in-between, putting a shiny ring on the love of your life’s finger is just plain romantic. If anyone knows how to re-work an old-school tradition into a way cooler and more modern version, it’s queer people.
Here are six stories of women proposing to women, each as special and one-of-a-kind as the next. From a surprise party of 100 friends to getting on one knee in front of Ellen DeGeneres herself, these fiancées and wives asked their partners for forever in swoon-worthy ways that earned them each a “yes.”
Katie & Tam: The Fumbled Ring Delivery
Katie and Tam had been together for about three years when Tam bought a ring to propose. (Since they’re lesbians, they had already been living together in a house they bought together two years earlier!)
Here’s how Katie tells it: “Tam has never been good at keeping secrets, so she decided to propose the weekend after the ring was delivered, which was on a Wednesday. This particular Wednesday, I was having a crappy day and decided to leave work early and head home. Meanwhile, Tam was tracking the ring delivery by the minute. Good thing, because the delivery driver tried to deliver it to our neighbor! She took off running out the door when she realized and intercepted the delivery.
“We were texting back and forth on my way home, and I was so irritable because I was stuck in traffic and had to go to the bathroom. Finally, I make it home, see her outside on our patio on my way to the bathroom and just as she starts to speak I say, “I gotta poop!” and run past her to the bathroom. After I’m finished, I immediately put my oldest baggiest sleep shirt on and crawl into the bed. Then I hear her yelling for me to come outside. I tried to argue that I didn’t want to get up, but she insisted.
“So, I drag my grumpy butt to the door, where I see my now-wife kneeling, with the box and ‘marry me’ in chalk on the patio. Before she can even speak, our 65-pound mutt jumps up and almost knocks her over. After safely putting him in the house, she manages to get out a couple of words before we both start crying like babies. She’s shaking like a leaf, and I can’t even seem to put the ring on because I’m crying. She didn’t even make it an hour with the ring. How did she think she would make it to the weekend?! It’s the perfect story for us and our imperfect but full of love (and dogs) life.”
After a 14-month engagement, Katie and Tam had a small wedding at a family home followed by a restaurant dinner. A month later, they had a larger wedding with “gourmet pizza and lots and lots of alcohol.” Because when your proposal involves the words, “I have to poop,” you need two weddings.
Soy & Aja: The Fake Photoshoot
Soy and Aja have been making their lives public on YouTube since 2017, so it only makes sense that they published a video of their 2018 proposal. They’d already been together for six years, and Soy had an idea to surprise Aja.
In the video, Soy describes how she created a fake email account and emailed Aja with an invitation to a formal photoshoot. Aja got all dressed up for the shoot in a beautiful red dress, but when she got to the location, she found a video of Soy telling her the top six reasons why she loves her: one for each year they’d been together.
When Aja saw Soy in her dapper black suit, Soy got down on one knee with a ring and asked her to be her wife.
They’re still sharing their story, and after having their first baby in August 2019, they just announced the pregnancy of their second child in December 2019!
Jesi & Brittnie: The Empty Box
Jesi and Brittnie knew instantly they would be marrying each other. They had been together just a few months when Jesi, then 31, proposed to Brittnie, then 27. Jesi says, “We knew from the beginning that we were supposed to be together. There was no official talk. We just assumed that was what was going to happen. From day one, she basically moved in with me.”
Jesi asked Brittnie during a family photoshoot in October 2016 with a ring she had made herself. Her 6-year-old son was supposed to ask his future step-mom himself, but he got too nervous, so Jesi stepped in.
Brittnie asked Jesi back the next month. Jesi remembers, “She gave me an empty box and asked if I would marry her even if it was empty. I said of course! We can fill that box with adventures instead of a stupid ring. Then she gave me my ring.”
The same friend who had been taking the photos at the portrait session officiated their wedding one year later.
Sarah & Kate: From Paris to The Ellen Show
Speaking of double proposals, here’s one that involves Ellen DeGeneres herself. After gorgeous photos of Kate proposing to Sarah in front of the Eiffel Tower went viral, they were invited onto “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.” Little did Kate know, Sarah had a secret plan to propose back to her live on stage.
After their family and friends surprised Kate on stage with Ellen, Sarah got down on one knee and popped the question. Kate’s family isn’t supportive and won’t be attending the wedding, but Ellen told them and all her viewers that chosen family can be even better… and then gave the couple a $25,000 wedding present from Shutterfly!
Tiffany & Shelly: The Personal Scrapbook
2017 was a whirlwind of emotionally draining events for Shelly between her father’s passing and extensive home repairs. So when the 40-year-old finally got to spend a quiet weekend in June home alone with her girlfriend Tiffany, 35, it was a welcome respite.
Shelly says that Tiffany had “been frequently mentioning how relieved she’d feel because it was a weekend we’d have without travel, visitors, or obligations. It was still kind of cool in the Chicago mornings, so she asked me to make a fire in the pit outside, which I love. She made brunch while I got a fire started. We ate brunch on the patio by the firepit and she said she had a small gift for me…
“She presented me with a scrapbook. It was mementos from all of our adventures from date #1. She had little printouts of text conversations… hotel room keys from every trip… ticket stubs from events… everything. I was really amazed… just slowly turning the pages and reliving the moments. The last page was the proposal. I looked up and she had a ring. I was in my high school reunion t-shirt and covered in soot but it was perfect!”
Their special solo weekend unexpectedly became less intimate when Shelly’s mom and aunt showed up just as the couple opened the champagne. Tiffany and Shelly had two weddings in 2018: a courthouse one in Chicago and then a big one full of family and friends in Mexico.
Kelli & Sarah: The “Super Secret Pizza Party”
Kelli had been with her girlfriend, Sarah for about three and a half years before she recruited 100 (yes, 100!) people to help her propose to her love.
“I wanted to ask her alone (mostly) at Transmitter Park in Brooklyn, where we lived, then surprise her with a huge party with all of her family and my family, and her close friends from back home who she’d been dying to get out to Brooklyn since she moved from New Mexico several years before,” Kelli says.
“I took her and our two friends out to brunch then made an excuse to head to the park, where I asked her and our friend took photos. Then I led her to one of our favorite local bars, The Diamond, where everyone was waiting. When we got there, she was so happy she cried. I think about a hundred people came out to celebrate. It was such a big, fun gathering that I think a lot of our friends still think we got married that day (we didn’t, not yet!)”
Lots of people pitched in for the surprise: “I invited her best friend, DB, and DB’s girlfriend up from DC so that it didn’t seem weird that we were getting fancy and going out to brunch. Her boss at the time and our dear friend, Thor, made sure she had the weekend off (she used to work weekends). Our three close friends, Berk, Colyn, and Lisa, helped wrangle guests and get the cakes to the bar. The staff at The Diamond helped, and I had a whole secret Facebook group where I threatened many of our friends with dire consequences if they let word slip. I was so paranoid that she’d see the group on my phone or something that I called it SUPER SECRET PIZZA PARTY. She was not surprised that I asked, but she had NO idea everyone would be there to celebrate at the party afterward. Everybody helped, and it was perfect.”
Kelli, 30, got Sarah, 34, a wooden ring since she is allergic to metal, and Sarah later surprised Kelli with her own ring. They’re still engaged, planning a September 2020 wedding.