||The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2013)|
A marriage proposal is an event where one person in a relationship asks for the other's hand in marriage. If accepted, it marks the initiation of engagement. It often has a ritual quality, sometimes involving the presentation of an engagement ring and the formal asking of a question such as, "Will you marry me?" In western culture (or rather the anglo-western culture sphere), it is traditional for the man to propose to the woman while kneeling on one knee before her (occasionally referred to as genuflection), and sometimes putting the ring on her finger, as opposed to merely giving it to her. Often the proposal is a surprise.
The average duration of preceding courtship varies considerably throughout the world. (See courtship duration.)
In many Western cultures, the tradition has been for the man to propose to the woman. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, 29 February in a leap year is said to be the one day when a woman can propose to her partner. As a monarch, Queen Victoria had to propose to Prince Albert. Finland has the same custom, with the addition that a man rejecting such a proposal was expected to buy his suitor enough cloth for a skirt as compensation. Although still rare, a woman will occasionally propose to a man. Proposals by women have reportedly become more common in recent years, with jewelry companies manufacturing engagement rings for men. However, in the western cultures where engagement rings have traditionally been plain, similar bands worn by both sexes, of course, the idea of "an engagement ring for men" is nothing new.
In many cultures it is traditional for a man to ask permission from a woman's father, in private, before proposing to her. The father of the woman may not inform his daughter of the proposal, permitting the suitor the element of surprise.
Although it is uncommon in the West these days, the parents of the couple may make a marriage arrangement, preceding or superseding the proposal.
- Schlesinger, Herbert J. (2008), Promises, Oaths, and Vows: On the Psychology of Promising, CRC Press, pp. 18–19, ISBN 0203927354.
- Leap Year Proposal: What's The Story Behind It?
- Australian news article about women proposing