||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 the Anglosphere it is traditional for the man to make a proposal to the woman directly while genuflecting in front of her, although kneeling before her is not uncommon if somewhat obsequious; the man sometimes puts the engagement ring on her finger at this point, as opposed to merely offering it to her. Sometimes the proposal is intended to be a surprise. If the woman accepts the proposal, she will typically assent to the man verbally and wear the ring during the time leading up to the marriage ceremony, known as the engagement. Acceptance of the proposal is not compulsory in Western culture.
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 Scotland and Ireland, 29 February in a leap year is said to be the one day when a woman can propose to her partner. 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. As a monarch, Queen Victoria had to propose to Prince Albert. Proposals by women have become more common in the Anglosphere in recent years, with jewelry companies manufacturing engagement rings for men. In many countries it is equally common for a woman to propose to a man, and in many western cultures, engagement rings are plain, similar bands worn by both partners, which are exchanged when the couple enters into the engagement.
In many cultures it is traditional for a man to ask permission from a woman's father, in private, before proposing to her. Although it is uncommon in the West these days, the parents of the couple may make a marriage arrangement, preceding or superseding the proposal. Arranged marriages were common between royals throughout most of European history; such marriage contracts and proposals were made at great distances and often without first-hand contact between the parties prior to the engagement.
- 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