With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, many a loved up guy may be thinking of popping the question soon. If the idea of proposing on Feb. 14 is just a little too obvious, still bear in mind that the same basic principles of surprise and romance apply year-round.

To make the perfect proposal, be guided by what both of you enjoy. Any grand gesture needs to feel genuine, so tailor it to what the pair of you love or will find truly poignant. However laidback or larger-than-life you make it, be creative. Time spent on careful planning to ensure the personal touch will ensure the declaration is memorable and can only help seal the deal.

If you’re still unsure as to where to start, here are some What’s Hot pointers for putting together the perfect proposal.

Time travel

If you both like a touch of nostalgia, turn back the clock and recreate elements of your first date. Where this isn’t practical, e.g. you met and dated in France, then bring “abroad” home with a few props and music to help set the mood. And, if you stepped out at one of the island’s fine dining restaurants, take her there. Make the reservation and arrange for them to let you personalize the menu with a “Will you Marry Me?” card. You could even create a special starters, entrées and desserts page; work in plenty of insider references to make it extra special. Remember, love is as much about your memories as looking forward to a shared future.

To know her is to love her

Match your proposal to a joint pastime. If you’re avid runners, register to enter a race. Pop the question to her as you join hands to cross the finishing line, or get friends to hold up a placard at the race’s end. That should really make her breathless.

If you live for travel, book a romantic weekend staycation at one of the lovely bed and breakfasts on the Sister Islands or up at Rum Point.  Explore a little and love a lot as you blaze a trail.

Are the two of you crazy about your mutt? Then rope your fur-baby into help. Take a romantic beach walk with your soul mate and thread the engagement ring into your pooch’s collar. A similar idea is getting a dog tag engraved which pops the question for you. Involving your pet could help make it a truly fur-ever thing.

For couples who love being on the water, a scenic sunset cruise with any of the local tour operators is a great idea. Several offer a romantic dinner sail. A proposal under the stars after watching the sun go down is hard to beat. Tell her if she wants to know how much you love her to count the waves in the sea.

How deep is your love? If you share a passion for diving, propose with some waterproof cards spelling out your intentions. Again, Cayman has plenty of watersports operators who would gladly lend a hand and video the moment.

For beach walkers, write your proposal out in pebbles, sea glass or shells. Alternatively, get a driftwood plaque with the immortal words painted on it, strategically propped up on the iron shore or on the trunk of your favorite palm tree. The possibilities are as endless as the ocean’s waves.

Proposal picnic

Prepare a secluded picnic for two and tap into those fond memories of times together while enjoying the simple things in life.

Enjoying good company and good food surrounded by nature can create a wonderfully intimate experience. Barkers Beach in West Bay is a stunning picnic spot, as are Starfish Point in North Side and the shady lawns and courtyards of Camana Bay. Pack a tempting selection of your favorite deli treats and finger foods and pair them with a chilled bottle of sparkling wine. Attention to detail is key, try heightening the occasion by setting the scene with a playlist of her favorite tracks. In the Bard’s immortal words, “If music be the food of love play on.”

Be true to yourself

Remember that proposing is as much about being true to yourself as making your intended happy. So, if you’re not a man of many words, why not wear a T-shirt with your proposal emblazoned on it? Cayman has several stores that will be happy to help you design and print a personalized message for that special touch. Go ahead; write your own love story.