Reach for the stars #1
When you wish upon a star… don’t you wish they weren’t hidden by the sodium-orange glow of street-lighting? There are just 21 International Dark Sky Reserves in the world – and two of them are in Wales: the Brecon Beacons and Eryri (Snowdonia) National Parks, where they strictly control light pollution. There are many Dark Sky Discovery Sites too, so you'll be sure to find a dark sky location. So imagine you and your beloved beneath inky-black skies, and all the stars, planets, galaxies and meteor showers are twinkling in their full glory, just like the diamond ring that’s safely stowed in your inside jacket pocket, next to your thumping heart.
Reach for the stars #2
We’re talking Michelin stars here. There are nine restaurants in Wales with the coveted gong, and they’re equally fabulous, in their own unique ways. One thing they have in common is that they all make dazzling use of the best local Welsh ingredients, cooked with panache and love. The final ingredient is you, a table à deux, some candlelight, and perhaps a friendly waiter/waitress who’s been briefed to slip an engagement ring among the petits fours.
Submit your proposal in writing
You will need the following items:
- A cottage on a remote stretch of Welsh coast (there are lots here - the northern coasts of Pembrokeshire or the Llŷn Peninsula are especially suitable)
- A tide table
- A garden rake
- At dawn, sneak down to the beach and use the rake to write marry me in huge letters on the sand
- Sneak back and cook breakfast
- Casually suggest a stroll on the beach
- Spend the next decade basking in glory as all your betrothed’s friends loudly wish that their partners were half as romantic as you are
From here to eternity
Nothing stirs the heart like a stunning view. So what you’ll need is a quiet hilltop from which the landscape stretches out forever. The Sugarloaf near Abergavenny, Carn Ingli (Angel Mountain) in Pembrokeshire, Yr Eifl on the tip of the Llŷn Peninsula, Picws Du in the Brecon Beacons, Moel Siabod in Eryri (Snowdonia)... these aren’t our most famous peaks, and there are hundreds more to choose from. But there’s a good chance you’ll have the summit to yourselves (apart from the odd sheep, so check for poo before you go down on one knee).
A flying start to marriage
What better place to pop the question than the basket of a hot air balloon, soaring above the stunning Wye Valley? Flights regularly take off from Llanarth. Drift over Tintern Abbey, which is the most picturesque of ruins, in the loveliest setting. Come to think of it, Tintern Abbey was ruined as a direct result of Henry VIII’s marital problems, but let’s gloss over that. Instead, let’s celebrate with a glass of post-proposal bubbly at one of Monmouthshire’s many splendid restaurants and gastropubs.
The most romantic spot in Wales?
Llanddwyn Island, without a doubt. St Dwynwen is our patron saint of lovers, whose day we celebrate on 25 January. She was a fourth century Welsh princess who set up a nunnery on this little peninsula, which has two lighthouses, a ruined chapel, several magical springs and wells, and amazing views across the Menai Strait to Eryri (Snowdonia). Does it get any more romantic? That’s a rhetorical question. No, is the answer. The answer to your proposal, on the other hand: yes.
A band of Welsh gold
The royal family have worn wedding rings of rare Welsh gold since the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother’s marriage to King George VI in 1923. More recently, William and Kate, Prince and Princess of Wales, and Harry and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have all be adorned with Welsh gold wedding rings.
You can try panning for gold at Dolaucothi in Carmarthenshire, where the National Trust has restored mines that were first exploited on a grand scale by the Romans. It’s quite hard to find more than a few specks so, just in case, bring your own Welsh gold ring and pretend you just found it, there, under that rock. We won’t tell anyone.
Get a prenuptial agreement
Okay, it doesn’t sound very romantic, but bear with us. The Laws of Hywel Dda (‘Hywel the Good’, a 10th century Welsh king) were the most enlightened in the medieval world, especially in their equal treatment of women, who were entitled to half of everything. Hywel’s HQ was beautiful Dinefwr Castle, whose ramparts offer stunning sunset views down the Tywi Valley. What better place to begin a union of true equals?
I want to take you on a slow boat…
…to Skomer. Early summer is the perfect time to visit this beautiful island, set in azure seas off the Pembrokeshire coastline. Take a picnic and a blanket, climb to some dreamy clifftop, sit among carpets of wild flowers, watch porpoises and dolphins cavort in the waters below, and be inspired by nature at the peak of the mating season. It’ll just be the two of you and around 20,000 puffins and 240,000 Manx shearwaters.
The cliché about the Welsh and singing is true: there are around 100 male voice choirs in Wales, and hundreds more mixed choirs and vocal ensembles. And here’s the thing: lots of them are available for hire, whether it’s the entire choir, or a crack squad of a few singers.
So here’s the plan: you and your loved one, strolling hand-in-hand through a public place (let’s choose the plaza in front of Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff, because that’d be ideal). Suddenly, a lone tenor breaks into song. The crowd stops. Soprano, alto and bass join in perfect four-part harmony. They are singing Gary Barlow’s 2007 smash hit Rule the World. Awww. You drop to one knee. The crowd bursts into wild applause. Tears flow down every face. How could it possibly fail?