Valentines Day is almost upon us and one of the things that happens frequently during this romantic period is the proposal of marriage. This is a big step for all parties involved, although gone are the days that a man’s prospects were vetted by the lady’s family. It is more than likely that both parties have been involved in and discussed the decision, but the actual proposal should still be a surprise.
We are all for equality here at PG, and in favour of ladies proposing if they so desire, but for simplicity we have given our traditional(ish) 6 elements to a perfect proposal for a Gentleman.
1 – A little thought goes a mighty long way
You will get tired of hearing us saying this here, but in all things a little thought and preparation goes a mighty long way. And with such an important step in anyone’s life, you will need to make some choices and decisions, and those will take some research and consideration.
Make sure that you do the right thing, if your partner likes surprises then make it a surprise. This is about making the event special (see the next point), therefore you need to do whatever makes the other person happy. Try not to do what you would want as a proposal, but what would make your beloved happy.
If you need to make a grand gesture, this will require some effort and planning, therefore you had better get on with it!
2 – Make it Memorable
An engagement story, whether good or bad, is one that generally lasts longer than tales about the wedding. As one friend of PG tells us, he never lived down his lack of a memorable proposal, indeed his lack of any formal proposal was frequently mentioned all the way through his marriage!
Now you can make extravagant gestures, such as proposing on the Banks of the River Seine on a moonlit night, or on top of a mountain at dawn. Or you can keep it simple, such as your favourite restaurant for dinner or your first date spot. There are many, many options but everyone will ask both you and your partner how you proposed, so you should both be proud of your tale of romance.
3 – To Ring or not to Ring
The Engagement Ring is a lovely romantic item, but it is sadly the marketing invention of the De Beers diamond company, along with the notion that the price of the diamond should be 3 times your salary. Historically, it was common for people just to exchange only wedding bands.
That is not to say that you should propose without an engagement ring, but don’t be forced into to spending more than you can afford. If your partner likes emeralds or sapphires over diamonds then get a ring that has that particular stone in its setting.
The next question is whether you purchase the ring in advance or wait until afterwards and choose the ring together. If you are confident in your abilities then go ahead, or if you are not and as #1PG did, you can by a ‘holding ring’; one that was lovely but could easily be substituted if necessary. If you really don’t want to do that then you can do something silly and temporary, we have heard of sweets, string, flowers and other objects being used as substitutes for rings.
We will write a piece about choosing a ring in the future, but you can judge what your partner likes by looking at their jewellery or you can ‘window shop’ via stores or indeed magazines to get a feel for what is desired.
4 – Asking for Permission
It is traditional to ask for the father’s hand permission for you to be wed. This dates back to the earliest days of marriage when it was about status, money and very rarely about love. The prospective suitor had to pass muster and prove that his prospects or credentials were good enough for the family and by default the lady in question. Though this is still the practice in some parts of the world, it is not the case in the majority of today’s world.
It is considered ‘good form’ to ask the father, mother or a significant relative, for their blessing for the union. It can be done retrospectively, but it should be done in advance and will add a certain element to the proposal itself.
5 – On Bended Knee
Now one thing that all of us at the PG agree on is that if you are going to ask for their hand in marriage and propose, you should do it on bended knee. The origins of this tradition are unknown, but it is believed to stem from medieval times and the genuflection of a knight to his liege; showing Respect, Honour and Devotion. This was then replicated by the action of the knight to a lady in aspects of courtly love and chivalry, but this is just speculation.
No matter what, it is a beautiful gesture and a wonderful sight. One that will be appreciated.
6 – With Words We Woo
The final element is what to say. At this moment emotion will be coursing through your veins and your heart will be thumping away, so the simplest and most heartfelt words are the best.
Take their hand and speak the truth. You might make a mistake, but generally you will find the perfect words.
No matter what you do, make your proposal genuine, memorable and one that means a great deal to you both and your future together as partners in the life that lies ahead. Bon Chance!
A Gentleman’s Tip – Make sure you have a couple of handkerchiefs to spare. There will be tears, so you should have one ready to offer to your beloved.