Things You Need to Know about Wedding Proposals

When you think about it, there aren’t that many truly momentous happy occasions we will remember our entire lives.  The ribbon for “Best Handwriting”, the “Future Chemist” plaque, the first place certificate for “Longest Broad Jump”, all of which brought joy when they were awarded, but truthfully, how many of us can really remember the actual place, time of day, weather, what we were wearing, and scores of other details about the event?  Not many. However, one of the most important occasions in most people’s lives is also one of the most memorable: the wedding proposal. Let’s learn about why this singular event will remain etched into our memories, unlike so many other occasions which at the time seemed unforgettable, but in fact, have totally receded in quality details, or have been forgotten altogether.

What makes the wedding proposal so special?

To really begin to understand wedding proposals, let’s dive back into the history.  Proposing marriage has been a part of human culture for a long, long time. Historians differ in opinion, but the consensus seems to be that people have been proposing since medieval times.  Most often, after a couple is engaged, the immediate circle of friends and family will know, and there may be an announcement in the newspaper and social media for the public or entire world (think Meghan Markle) to learn about the betrothal.  Generally speaking, there is a ring or some other token of love involved, but this is up to the individual couple. What really makes a wedding proposal special is that it delineates a definite change in an individual’s life–going from a single status to a “will be married at some point in the future status”.

What makes wedding proposals different?

Wedding proposals are a rite of passage for many people. Usually, when you think the rite of passage, you may think of occasions like getting your driver’s license, graduating from high school, getting accepted into university and turning twenty-one, but giving or receiving a marriage proposal is also a significant rite of passage.  It is different from some other rites of passage since it is not specifically age-related (even grannies can be proposed to!) in the way that other markers in one’s life generally happen at specific ages. Plus, it is an individual thing–you or your spouse decides when this will happen; it is not based on anything that society might have constructed as “the correct age”.

Who does the proposing?

There are no hard and fast rules, but generally speaking, it is the man who asks.  Nowadays, of course, women can ask men.

When is a good time to propose?

The average time a couple dates before a proposal takes place is 2.8 years.  Of course, there is a huge variation in this statistic. Some couples are together for many years before there is a proposal, and we have all heard of people who go straight to the altar almost immediately after meeting! It is really an individual’s personal decision as to when it is the right time to propose.

And how long should there be between the proposal and the wedding ceremony?

There is no hard and fast rule.  Some engagements can go on for years, while others can be a few weeks in length.  The average length of time is fourteen and a half months. It makes sense to have a good amount of time to enjoy the new status of being engaged and to attend to the myriad of details that planning a wedding always involves.

Where do wedding proposals take place?

Wedding proposals can take place anywhere.  It is up to the imagination of the person who is going to propose.  Popular times and places include proposals which take place on holidays (Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve, birthdays, etc.) and places such as favorite hangouts (restaurants, clubs, beaches, etc.) and meaningful landmarks (where you first met, where you first kissed, etc.)  There is no right or wrong place for a wedding proposal.

Is there a “typical” wedding proposal?

Most people are familiar with the stereotypical proposal:  the man, kneeling on one knee, holding a box containing a diamond ring in his hand on an outstretched arm.  Nowadays, this sort of proposal, while not exactly extinct, is becoming less common. There is no “typical” wedding proposal except that two people commit to a marriage at some point in the future.

What are different ways to record a wedding proposal?

Some people hire professionals to film this important milestone, while others want to keep the actual proposal private, and will only have each other to compare notes on and cherish the memories of that special occasion.  It is up to each couple’s individual preferences as to how public they want their actual proposal to be. Some proposals are very public: televised at sporting events, shown in real-time on Facebook, etc. Whatever the couple chooses, it should reflect what feels right for them.

What comes after a wedding proposal?

The engagement period post-proposal is typically a time when the couple gets involved in the details of their life together.  Where to live, what they will need to start out, whether or not to start a gift registry at favourite stores, the wedding and honeymoon specifics, introducing the families and friends, engagement parties–some or all of these details will need to be addressed during this time.