Whether you are having a civil ceremony or a traditional one, the marriage proposal is often one of the most fraught and nerve-wracking parts of the whole wedding process.
A lot of people still hanker after tradition (however ‘modern’ their thinking normally). In many cases, they don’t really know what they are expected to do.
Obviously, the engagement ring is an issue (and there’s not a lot of practical advice I can offer, as it’s such a personal thing), but you will actually need to propose.
Do you ask your future father-in-law’s permission?
Certainly, in my case, I felt that my fiancee’s family was fairly traditional, so it made sense to ask. Fortunately it all worked out, but had I been rejected, I guess I could have said that I respected their decision, which they considered to be in their daughter’s best interest. As I lovedher, I would do my best to earn their permission. Perhaps they could suggest how I might do that?
At the very least, I would have been seen to have done ‘the right thing’ in their eyes.
You can ask either parent, of course, or neither. Most progressive parents will appreciate that it is actually the bride’s decision that is crucial.
Another way round this is to ask for the parents’ ‘blessing’ (which shows respect, but leaves the actual decision with the two of you).
When and where do you pop the question?
I can’t be prescriptive, of course. You may want to propose 30,000 feet up during a sky-dive. You may prefer the snug in your local pub. You may choose a display of dancers in a crowded shopping mall. But I’d advise some planning – though nothing too elaborate. Keep it reasonably simple. (A lot can go wrong with those showy proposals!)
The proposal is a moment to be recalled and recounted many times in the future, so you want something that will bring up fond memories.
Choose something that you are pretty sure will appeal to her (not necessarily what would suit you!). Don’t propose at half-time during a Manchester United match, if she doesn’t like soccer! Instead, maybe there is a special spot that you both love, or an activity you both enjoy.
Atmosphere is important. A quiet picnic may be just the thing. You don’t have to be totally romantic, but it can help.
I decided to propose when we were on holiday – five days in Rome. I did plan to pop the question on the last evening in the wonderful Piazza Navona, but, in truth, was dreading it, and it might have spoiled my holiday (and my bride-to-be’s). On the second day, we went to the Villa D’Este in glorious weather, had the place to ourselves, and it just happened. Down I went on one knee!
It was what I had planned, though certainly not to the last detail.
Again, it’s your choice whether the bended knee proposal is for you. It may also be good to have practised what you are actually going to say. I kept it very simple, and as I’m not an orator, that was probably best. Once my fiancée had recovered from her shock, she was delighted! Mercifully, we could both really enjoy the rest of our holiday then!
The proposal should not be an ordeal. With a little consideration and fore-thought, it can be something you both will always look back upon with pleasure. An unforgettable beginning to an unforgettable new life together.
Michael Gordon can deliver a tailor-made civil ceremony in London or further afield in the UK or Europe.