The Marriage Proposal Etiquette That Every Gentleman Should Master
As if meeting the right person isn’t enough of a struggle, then comes the bonus of asking this right person whether they want to spend the rest of their life with you. Hollywood, romantic novels and businesses that stand to gain from the joyful occasion have raised expectations around this special moment to the point that many gentlemen dread it. But, on the positive side, if you do it right you will only have to do it once!
So what does a gentleman need to know before proposing marriage? Follow our tips and add a bit of aristocracy into what we hope will be the start of a happy life together!
9 top tips on how to propose
1. Can I be spontaneous?
After the best date ever or a jolly weekend away, you decide that you found your soulmate. Can you pop the question right there and then? Sure, go ahead and pick the person who will make decisions on your behalf, if you are incapacitated, and raise children with you and grow old with you on the spur of the moment. But let us get you the number of a good divorce lawyer first.
2. The perfect time and place?
Contrary to what movies may have you think, there is no “correct” way to do this because the “perfect” proposal is the one that was planned with your partner’s personality in mind. Some may want an audience and others privacy. Some will be dreaming of a Parisian restaurant and others of a secluded beach or the comfort of home. Choose what feels right and use words that come from your heart. And by that we mean: please don’t google what to say.
3. Put a ring on it
The engagement ring will become an expensive permanent fixture in your partner’s finger, so this is not a decision to be taken lightly. You may want to buy one or offer a family heirloom or you may even propose without the ring and suggest that you buy it together later but don’t leave it for longer than a couple of weeks. If you present the ring when you propose, don’t fret over size as it can be adjusted. When it comes to cost, the only advice we can give is buy the best you can afford and, if you are going ring shopping with your new fiancée, either set a budget or ask the jeweler to present rings within a pre-agreed price range.
4. Please don’t make me ask for permission
In the olden days, a gentleman would ask his future father-in-law for permission before actually proposing marriage to his partner. Aren’t we happy this is no longer required? However, parents would still expect to meet their child’s future spouse before any discussion of marriage and they appreciate a call or visit, even if the proposal is anticipated. The only exception is if your partner comes from a cultural background where requesting permission is the norm.
5. Is anyone getting me something?
One would expect so. In most cases, following the presentation of an engagement ring and within a reasonable time frame, the bride or her family will reciprocate with a gift of a certain value, usually a watch.
6. Shout it from the rooftops
Tell your parents, close family and friends as soon as possible. Widowers should politely inform the family of their deceased partner and divorcees should notify their former spouse, especially when children are involved. Then the update will slowly make its way around your entire network but you shouldn’t feel obliged to tell your colleagues, unless your relationship extends beyond work. An announcement in the papers is only expected in certain social circles but, for the digital savvy bride and groom, a short update on social media may be appropriate.
7. Wedding bells
Just to be clear, an engagement is not, and should not be, a “phase” in your relationship. A gentleman proposes marriage with the intention of proceeding to a wedding ceremony within a reasonable timeframe. 6-12 months is sufficient time to plan the wedding and anything beyond that may indicate hesitation from either or both sides. Equally, in terms of social interactions, engaged couples should be considered as good as married.
8. What happens if the answer is NO?
One would assume that, in an intimate relationship, people know how their partner feels about them so a negative response is unlikely. Provided you didn’t ambush anyone with a proposal, e.g. because you were worried they might break up with you, it is perfectly understandable to express your surprise and disappointment. Accept the decision with grace, do not attempt to change anyone’s mind and, if you need an explanation, leave it for another time. On a positive note, you will be delighted to hear that most jewelers will agree to a refund if you purchased a ring for the occasion.
9. Breaking off an engagement
Inform close family and friends but don’t feel obliged to provide an explanation. Both partners should offer to return any gifts exchanged on the occasion of the engagement, e.g. the engagement ring, but the other party may decline the gesture. If wedding invitations have gone out, notify all guests preferably in writing and return any wedding presents.
Now that we’ve got the etiquette of your forthcoming proposal sorted, how about we delve into sartorial considerations? Having picked the perfect time and venue, browse our collection for a wedding suit that will mark this special occasion and why not personalise it with the date of your engagement or your partner’s name?