Marriage Proposal Guide

Marriage Proposal Guide


In today’s modern world, couples often discuss marriage together, coming to a mutual agreement rather than a formal proposal. Asking for a bride’s hand in marriage, which typically means formally asking her/their father for permission to marry, is an old-fashioned tradition that is rarely followed nowadays. Still, many do choose to follow this custom.

Marriage Proposal Guide

1 – How It All Started

The tradition of asking for the bride’s hand in marriage dates back at least to ancient Rome. Back then, the prospective groom would ask the bride’s father for permission to marry her, at which point he would hand the father a symbolic coin. In return, the father would take the hand of his daughter and place it in the groom’s hand, symbolizing his approval of the upcoming marriage.

2 – Why You Should Ask

Asking permission to marry can set the stage for a wonderful relationship between you and the bride’s parents. Asking the bride’s father for her/their hand in marriage shows respect. It shows her/their parents that you love their daughter enough to go through the possible discomfort of asking for her/their hand. It also gives you — and the bride’s father — the opportunity to have a meaningful conversation about love, family, and plans.

3 – Ask Your Soon to Be First

First, talk to your soon-to-be bride. You want to be sure she/they are ready for this next step. She/they should be the first to know that you have marriage in mind. It’s also important to find out what kind of relationship she/they have with her father. Maybe he has been absent from her/their life for a long time, or maybe she/they are closer to her stepfather.

Perhaps she/they are just very uncomfortable with the idea of you asking her/their father for her hand in marriage — after all, although the act is symbolic, it does have sexist undertones. Make sure your bride-to-be is completely comfortable with the idea before you ask to meet with her/their father.

4 – Ask Her/Their Father

Hopefully, you will have met her father at least a few times before this point. This will make you both feel a little more comfortable. If not, start with an introduction. Call her father, introduce yourself, and ask if you can meet for lunch or dinner. Don’t simply show up at his office or home; this is impolite. If you can’t meet in person, it’s OK to ask for her hand in marriage over the phone, according to GQ.com, but a face-to-face conversation is ideal.

Start by thanking her father for meeting you and telling him how much you cherish his daughter. Tell him that you want to spend the rest of your life with her and that you will devote yourself to caring for her for the rest of your life. Then, respectfully ask for his permission to marry his daughter or, if you are more comfortable with different wording, for his blessing on your marriage.

Some Extra Tips:

Should you still ask? Here are a few tips on how to decide whether it’s appropriate or not.

If the bride values family and tradition then asking her/their father is an absolute must. The bride may love the gesture and will be flattered by your manners. Consider it the “old-school” thing to do and retro is most certainly in!

If the bride values family but doesn’t hold tight to traditions, then make sure she/their family is aware of the proposal but doesn’t feel the need to ask. Perhaps involve a sibling or another family member in asking about details like what kind of ring the bride might like.

If the bride is not that close to family, then it’s probably not a good idea to feature them so heavily in the proposal. In fact, she/they might even be insulted if others knew about the proposal before she/they found out.

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I’m a wedding officiant in Indianapolis, IN. I work with all kinds of couples from LGBTQ, interracial, Spanish-speaking, and other unique and amazing partners. Please let me know if I can help you on your way to a beautiful new chapter of life.

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