Marriage proposals are fairly emotional affairs. In real life, they can be like something out of a fairy tale, particularly since you’re agreeing to spend the rest of your life side by side with the love of your life. More often than not, however, they’re not quite as perfect and polished in everyday life as they are in your favorite movie or on TV.
Whether they say just the right thing or capture just the right moment or are just the most romantic or emotional in a way that you just can’t quite put your finger on, these marriage proposal movie scenes are sure to tug on your heartstrings.
Pride & Prejudice
Though there is quite a bit of debate over which on-screen remake of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice is better, the 2005 version starring Keira Knightley, Rosamund Pike, and Matthew Macfadyen or the 1995 BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, there’s little doubt that the story is one of the most romantic in either literature or film.
In the 2005 version, Mr. Darcy’s foggy, ethereal, early-morning proposal to Elizabeth Bennet is one of the highlights for sure. Darcy tells Elizabeth that she has “bewitched [him], body and soul…” Their love story has inspired many in the over 200 years since the book was written, including this couple that shared their Pride & Prejudice-themed engagement with BuzzFeed.
The romance of the film’s engagement scene isn’t all fictitious, however, as Knightley told The Early Show on CBS that Macfadyen is “irresistible” and said that the fact that he’s so manly is “desperately romantic.”
If you’re of-a-certain-age, you’ve almost definitely seen the film adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook anywhere between one and one hundred times. Noah, played by Ryan Gosling, falls desperately in love with Allie, played by Rachel McAdams, one summer. Allie loves him too, but her parents don’t approve of the match as his family isn’t as wealthy or “esteemed” as theirs. They reunite many years later, when Allie (who is engaged to another man) sees a photo of Noah and the house he renovated for her in the local newspaper.
Allie has to decide whether she’s going to marry her wealthy Southern beau or stay with Noah. After watching so much of their romance, this scene, with Noah pleading for Allie to stay with him forever, is one of the most heartrending of the whole movie (and there are plenty from which to choose).
While many idolize Noah and Allie’s relationship, from the perspective of many relationship experts, that’s exactly the problem. According to Harper’s Bazaar UK, because the relationship isn’t realistic, it leads people to idealize their own relationships, which, let’s face it, probably weren’t ever going to be like Allie and Noah’s anyway.
It’s fair to say that Stepmom, which stars Julia Roberts, Susan Sarandon, and Ed Harris is just one of those movies that makes you cry. The engagement scene, when Harris’ character, Luke, proposes in bed to Roberts’ character, Isabel, with a spool of thread is one of the more emotional movie proposals, if you ask me.
Perhaps understandably, in the beginning of the film, Isabel and Sarandon’s character Jackie don’t get along very well. Jackie regularly mocks Isabel and attempts to make life difficult for her. Isabel, however, is the one to discover that Jackie has been diagnosed with cancer — a fact the family doesn’t know — and the two reconcile, Isabel recognizing that Luke’s kids will lose their mom and Jackie recognizing that Isabel will be Mom going forward after Luke proposes.
While rumors swirled that Roberts and Sarandon didn’t get along during filming, according to ABC News, both vehemently denied it at the time and Sarandon recently tweeted that she found out that it was actually her PR person who had been the source of those rumors.
Regardless of if you love it or hate it, Love Actually has, somehow, morphed into a Christmas classic. There are so many great moments in each of the many storylines woven together throughout the movie, but one of the best is the love story between Englishman Jamie and his Portuguese housekeeper/maid Aurelia. They don’t speak the same language, but fall for each other regardless.
As HuffPost noted, the fact that Jamie walks out on his family’s Christmas celebration in order to catch a plane to Portugal to tell the woman that he loves that he loves her is, in and of itself, enough to make any hopeless romantic swoon. After he shows up at her father’s house and leads what turns into a parade through town to the restaurant where she works, it’s his proposal that tugs the heartstrings the most.
In broken Portuguese and in front of not only all those who’d followed him, but also all the patrons and staff in the restaurant, and her “yes is being my answer” in English is enough to melt even the most cynical heart.
Runaway Bride is an underrated classic with one of the best on-screen proposals. Hitmaker Garry Marshall (Four Weddings and a Funeral, Pretty Woman, The Princess Diaries, Valentine’s Day, etc.) paired rom-com queen Julia Roberts as always a bride, never a bridesmaid Maggie Carpenter with Richard Gere as big city columnist Ike Graham.
Even if you haven’t seen it, you likely already know how this is going to end. Carpenter runs from yet another wedding after falling for Graham. Graham, likewise, has fallen for Carpenter. Carpenter shows up in the city at Graham’s apartment, gives him her running shoes, and tells him that while things will be surely be difficult from time to time, she’d regret it forever if she didn’t ask him to be with her forever. As E! noted, it doesn’t get much better than Roberts and Gere together.
He’s Just Not That Into You
At first glance, it might not seem as though a movie called He’s Just Not That Into You could possibly contain a sweet, emotional proposal. In reality, it has what might be one of the best sweet and simple proposals captured on film.
Beth, played by Jennifer Aniston, has been with boyfriend Neil, played by Ben Affleck, for years, but breaks up with him after realizing that he is never, ever going to want to get married (he tells her so and everything). After Beth’s dad has a heart attack and she’s left taking care of him, his house, her sisters, and their husbands, Neil somehow knows to show up and pitch in, which is when she realizes that he’s her partner and loves her, whether they’re married or not.
She shows up on his boat, which is where he’s been living, and asks him to come home, but to leave his old ratty cargo pants on the boat. As she’s helping him unpack, she finds the pants and is planning on throwing them out, but he tells her to first check the pockets. She, of course, finds a ring box in one of the pockets and turns around to see Neil on one knee.
A Walk To Remember
Nicholas Sparks has the ability to pull on heartstrings like practically no one else, which is why this story of reformed bad Landon, played by Shane West, and preacher’s daughter Jamie, played by Mandy Moore, falling in love was such a hit — and continues to be a well-loved romance movie. While Landon is romantic with Jamie before she tells him, after he finds out that she has cancer he steps up his game even more so, desperately trying to help her accomplish everything she wants to in her life while she still has time. The proposal, after he literally built her a telescope by hand in her back yard, is a sweet and simple request, but if it doesn’t make you cry, I don’t know what will.
Moore was only a teenager during the filming of the movie, but she told Entertainment Weekly, that “a part” of her “absolutely fell in love with him” during filming. That on-screen chemistry was no joke.
There are two proposals in Leap Year, but only one of the two deserves a spot on this list. As likable as Adam Scott is as Ben Wyatt on Parks & Recreation, he’s just not who you find yourself rooting for in this silly rom-com. Instead, you’re hoping that Anna Brady (Amy Adams) won’t make it to Dublin in time to propose to her boyfriend Jeremy (Adam Scott) on February 29, which according to the movie is the one day when women are allowed to propose to their boyfriends instead of waiting for him to pop the question.
Spoiler alert: at the end of the movie, after she and her boyfriend do get engaged, you get the ending you were actually hoping for, with Anna breaking off the engagement and traveling back to Ireland to tell bar owner Declan (Matthew Goode). She proclaims her love for him in front of the entire bar when he walks away without saying a word, then finds her outside on the edge of the cliffs, and drops to one knee.
Sweet Home Alabama
Like Leap Year, there are two proposals — or at least about one and a half — in this rom com classic starring Reese Witherspoon as Alabamian turned New York City fashion designer Melanie, Josh Lucas as her small town soon-to-be-ex-husband, and Patrick Dempsey as her wealthy, well-connected fiancé.
The first comes from Dempsey’s character, who proposes to Melanie by having her driven to Tiffany and telling her she can pick whichever ring she’d like. It’s a little dreamy, sure, but the tear-jerking sort-of-proposal comes later in the movie, as she parrots back the words that Lucas’ character said to her the first time he kissed her, back when they were kids, to tell him that she won’t be signing the divorce papers they had drawn up years ago. After sharing a kiss, Melanie finally gets her first dance with her husband at the haphazard reception her friends threw together at the last minute at the local bar.
Both the Tiffany scene and the one on the beach in the thunderstorm are classics.
When Harry Met Sally
When Harry Met Sally is one of Rob Reiner’s greatest hits (and he’s had a whole lot of them). While the proposal scene, when Billy Crystal’s character tracks down Meg Ryan’s character to tell her that he loves her and can’t live without her, isn’t the most iconic of the film, it’s a touching and heartfelt proposal if I’ve ever heard one.
Originally, however, that proposal wasn’t even supposed to be in the movie. In an interview with AV Club, Reiner said that earlier versions of the script had the two characters parting ways at the end, rather than ending up together, because he couldn’t see himself ending up with anyone anytime soon (Crystal’s character is partially based on him). During filming, however, Reiner met his future wife and decided to change the ending of the film, ensuring that Harry and Sally ended up together and you get to watch the emotional proposal.
While — spoiler alert — Sara, played by Kate Beckinsale, ends up with Jonathan, played by John Cusack and not Lars (played by John Corbett), Lars’ elaborately staged proposal is one of those that seems too romantic and picture-perfect to ever happen in real life. The candlelight, rose petals, and giant box containing only an empty ring box will all leave you feeling a little teary-eyed, especially after you see Lars pop out to explain to Sara exactly what’s happening.
In an interview with the BBC that came out right before the film premiered in the UK, Beckinsale said that she and her real life (now-former) partner nearly met each other approximately 25 times before they actually, finally, met in real life. They didn’t realize that they’d been in such close quarters so many times before until after meeting. Ah, serendipity.
The Wedding Singer
In what must be one of the most unrealistic and unlikely marriage proposals of all time, Adam Sandler’s character, Robbie, proposes to Drew Barrymore’s character, Julia, with a song he wrote for her, while singing over the PA system on an airplane. She was engaged to someone else (and nearly became Julia Guglia), but, come on, how much of a chance did her would-be husband really stand after “I Wanna Grow Old With You?”
While You Were Sleeping
While You Were Sleeping may just be the most underrated seasonal movie there is. While it’s set at Christmas, that’s really not what it’s about, but it gives you a good excuse to queue it up during December to watch one slightly strange love story and one eminently adorable one.
Ultimately, everyone is glad that Lucy (Sandra Bullock) ends up with Jack (Bill Pullman) instead of his formerly comatose brother Peter (Peter Gallagher). The proposal, however — sweet, simple, and loving — is one of the highlights of the whole movie (though, really, there’s not really any part that’s bad). Jack’s proposal where he tries to board the L in Chicago with a ring instead of a train token — giving Lucy both the love of her life and the family she craves — is a tearjerker for sure.
Sense and Sensibility
Emma Thompson not only starred in Sense and Sensibility, but also wrote the screenplay (for which she won an Oscar). The movie is a wonderful adaptation of Jane Austen’s timeless and relatable novel.
The proposal scene, in which Hugh Grant’s character Edward proposes marriage to Thompson’s character, Elinor, is an emotional one. Elinor herself bursts into tears during the proposal (or, rather, upon finding out that Edward didn’t, in fact, get married, which technically happened before the proposal). His heart “is and always will be” Elinor’s. Swoon.
The best movie proposals are tearjerkers
Picture-perfect, over-the-top, emotional marriage proposals are practically made for movies. Over the years, writers, actors, and directors have created one beautiful proposal after another. While these immaculately polished, teary-eyed proposals might not be all that realistic when it comes down to it, romantic comedies and dramas as you know them just wouldn’t be the same without them.