Once you have come to the life-altering conclusion that you’ve found the woman of your dreams, it’s a bit daunting to think about the proposal. You want it to be something you’ll both remember for the rest of your lives, and it’s natural to be nervous about it. So how do you keep your cool while you’re asking the most important question of your life?First, you need to forget all the botched proposals you’ve seen in the movies and on television. Those are fiction and bear no resemblance to what’s going on in real life. Throw away any preconceived notions of what a proposal of marriage means and concentrate on how you want it to be—how you want her to feel, the love and astonishment you’ll see in her eyes and the perfect moment you know it will be. Tell yourself that 99.9% of marriage proposals go just as planned and yours will be one of them.

One of the most common things that can make a man lose his cool is not knowing whether his true love will like the engagement ring. Although the media portrays it as traditional to present a ring, a growing number of men are proposing without a ring and letting her go and pick it out.

Keeping your cool is easy if you keep the proposal simple. Don’t rent a skywriter, a big screen at a sporting event or make your proposal in a public place. The very nature of these types of proposals almost ensures that something will go wrong! Plan a memorable evening then propose when you are both in a relaxed, receptive mood. Many proposals happen after a romantic dinner while the couple is sitting by a fountain, enjoying a carriage ride, or walking in a park. The simpler the setting, the more likely it is that your proposal will be perfect!

Don’t second guess yourself. Plan your proposal then carry it out as exactly as possible. Don’t panic as the afternoon or evening starts but remember how right your plan was when you made the arrangements. Most brides don’t remember the noisy traffic, the clatter of dishes from a kitchen, or the truly awful stage production they saw before they were proposed to. They remember the love in their man’s eyes, his sincerity, and the thrill that ran through them as they heard him declare his undying love. The little things will take care of themselves so don’t worry about them.

You can also keep your cool by keeping things as they are. Don’t get a new haircut, buy a new suit, or choose an unfamiliar restaurant for the proposal. If you stick with known quantities you will be confident and your proposal will be exactly as you wish it to be.

Finally, keep the words themselves simple. Don’t try to be funny and don’t try to memorize a beautiful poem to express your love. The point is to surprise her with a quick but sincere proposal. If you joke around she may not think you’re serious and not know what to say. If you’re too casual she may think that marriage means about as much to you as buying a new shirt. Have the ring ready, get down on one knee and tell her briefly why you love her so much. Then ask her to marry you as you open the ring box. It will be a wonderful moment that neither of you will ever forget!