Even if it's just for the amount of time it takes to say those big four words: Will. You. Marry. Me.
You want it to be somewhere exotic: in a romantic setting, away from family and friends, on a vacation never to forget.
Prince William certainly wanted it that way. He trekked around Kenya carrying Princess Diana's ring in his backpack until he found just the right place to propose to Kate Middleton.
In a remote log cabin with no electricity that was accessible only by air or -- bizarrely -- horseback, Wills got down on one knee and asked Kate to be the future queen of England.
It was the ultimate destination proposal, and it shows William knew exactly what was expected of a 21st-century proposal.
The proposal trip: cashing in on the trend
If there wasn't already a growing trend for guys to pop the question on vacation, then this single event made it one. It was one royal move that men everywhere could confidently copy (if not in Kenya, exactly).
When Phil Govey asked Rachel Amamoo to marry him in front of the Trevi Fountain in Rome, Rachel says time stopped, just like in the movies.
"It was kind of like we were in a little bubble, because there were lots of people around, but it was like it was just us two," she says. "It was so romantic."
David Mendelsohn got it equally right when he proposed to his girlfriend, Isika, in Lake Como, Italy.
"Everything fell into place like it was prewritten," says David.
He proposed beneath a 200-year-old oak tree made famous by the James Bond film "Casino Royale."
Isika said yes, and, she added, "By the way, I'm pregnant."
Destination proposals are now de rigeur in the story of a couple's romance, according to Jonathan Krywicki, whose Melbourne, Australia-based company Pitch & Woo
helps guys create unforgettable proposals for their girlfriends.
Krywicki says one in three of his clients plan to propose while away from home, often while abroad.
A consumer survey by American Express found a similar result, with 30% of consumers citing a weekend trip or vacation as the best time to pop the question.
"It's a really popular thing to propose while you're away from home because it's all about creating that fairytale fantasy," says Krywicki. "There's something about being in an unknown area that adds to the allure of the moment."
The right way to ask
The proposal doesn't have to be overly complicated, as long as the setting is right.
Just ask Naomi Tarszisz, whose husband proposed to her in Central Park. They were visiting friends in New York at the time and Phil Rushton was carrying a diamond in his pocket.
Walking around the city on an overcast April day, Rushton decided all his ideas -- the top of the Empire State Building had been at the head of the list -- were lame, so he guided Naomi to a green patch of lawn in Central Park. They sat down for a chat and the sun suddenly appeared.
When Naomi stood to leave, Rushton got on one knee and said, "Naomi, will you do something for me? Will you make me the happiest man in the world; will you marry me?"
Being asked was nice, says Naomi. Being on holiday in the couple's favorite city was great, but being able to look directly into her future husband's eyes made it perfect.
"He got up on one knee," says Naomi, who is a foot shorter than Rushton. "I appreciate the down-on-one-knee gesture, but it's also just the easiest way to look into my eyes.
"I hadn't imagined a proposal, but if I did it probably would have been on an escalator or something."
Knowing your partner -- and her expectations about the proposal -- are the key to proposal success, says Krywicki.
In his booklet, "The Seven Biggest Mistakes Men Make When Proposing," Krywicki says the first mistake is timing. Is she ready? Is your relationship ready?
The second is expectation.
"You really need to know what her expectations are," Krywicki says. "Most women, not all of them, but most women have this fantasy of how this special day will take place.
"Now, if you've got a partner that's innately private and you go and do a public proposal and she feels pressured to say yes because everybody's looking at her -- that's not a good thing."
The wrong kind of obligation
If only Kirsten Thomas's ex-fiance had been operating with such expert advice.
He proposed while the couple was on holiday in South Africa, only to break it off 10 days later.
When she asked why he'd proposed in the first place, he told her he'd felt pressured to carry it out while they were on vacation.
Which begs the question: Is planning a "destination proposal" all becoming a bit of an industry, something so expected that it's no longer a surprise, even a bit cliché?
Rachel and Phil's romance had all the hallmarks of a fairy tale. They met in New York while Phil was on a secondment from his London law firm and began dating casually.
Then, one day when they were running a half-marathon together, Phil suffered an aneurism and was rushed to the hospital in a coma. Rachel kept vigil at his bedside and when he woke, they fell in love over a tray of bad hospital food.
Rachel eventually moved to London to be with Phil and expected a proposal would follow.
"I was kind of expecting a destination proposal for a long time," says Rachel. "Every trip we went on -- Paris, New York, Corsica, Sicily -- I was always like, 'Oh, this is romantic' waiting for the proposal that didn't come."
Then they took a trip to Rome and it happened. While the moment was romantic -- let's not forget the bubble she found herself in -- the story they tell these days is more about how that bubble was burst by a street vendor trying to sell them a rose.
"That really brought us back into the commercial aspect of hanging out around the Trevi Fountain in Rome," says Rachel.
Perhaps Katherine Burgdorf got the balance right when she proposed on a park bench during a coffee break from work. The big surprise here is not that she was a woman proposing to her boyfriend, but that it was a warm, sunny day in London.
"It was a beautiful day, so we went and had a coffee at our favorite coffee stand," says Katherine. "We sat on a park bench under a beautiful apple tree.
"I think I was overwhelmed by the weather and I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm going to ask!'
"I totally surprised myself. I had the shakes afterward. And he was like, 'Yes! Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes."'