Of all the landmarks in one’s life, the proposal of love leading to marriage is one of the most profound events that most people will ever experience. But what do we really know about this significant rite of passage? What can we learn about this expression of love? Let’s look at this in a pragmatic and scientific way to help us appreciate how singularly wonderful this human occasion is. We have done the research for you, so take a look at what we have uncovered.
All societies have the equivalent of the wedding proposal
While we don’t know exactly when in history people started proposing, we do know that this human act of the declaration of love has been around a long, long time. Formal unions between couples exist everywhere, in all cultures, religions, geographic areas and countries. You better believe that when space colonies are set up, it won’t be too long before the first proposal takes place on Mars!
Some fun facts about marriage proposals
Did you know that there is a National Proposal Day? Well, there is! It is every March 20th. Who do you suppose most women call first after being proposed to? According to Brides magazine, that call goes to her BFF and not her family. And which month do you think most proposals happen? If you guessed December, you guessed right. This is a great boon for people who buy engagement gifts because everything will be on sale come December 26th!
In ancient Rome, it was believed that there was a nerve running from the ring finger of the left hand directly to the heart. This nerve would be triggered by the proposal when the ring was first slid on the ring finger of the woman.
Scotland, Ireland and Finland have a special proposal day
Every four years on February 29th, Leap Year’s Day, women in these three countries can take the initiative and propose to men. As an added bonus, if Finnish men reject the proposal, custom dictates that they must give the proposer enough material to make a skirt. Odd compensation, but something is better than nothing! And what percentage of women propose to men in the United States? A very low five percent. Read about it here: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/why-dont-women-propose-to-men/
Where do you think is the most popular place for a proposal?
If you guessed at a tropical beach with light trade winds blowing the palm fronds while the sun is setting in gorgeous hues of orange and red, you guessed wrong. The majority of marriage proposals take place in either the groom’s home or in the bride’s home. Makes sense too–you would not want the ring to fall into the sand during a nervous proposal!
And what about the custom of proposing on one knee?
No one is quite sure about the origin of this custom. However, many ritualized ceremonies involve similar actions: many religions include kneeling as part of ceremonies or services. In a similar way, knights would kneel when being awarded honors from kings and queens. To this day, people kneel in front of royalty to show respect. Kneeling in front of an enemy in times of war as a sign of surrender, another historical tradition, though this is certainly not the origin of proposing on one knee!
The time between meeting and a proposal averages two years
However, people in the northeast spend more time dating before a proposal is made, which is almost four years. And which region has the shortest time interval between meeting and proposing? That would be in the south where couples become engaged about five months earlier than the national average.
Unlike the regional differences in the time between first laying eyes on the person one will marry and the proposal, there are no huge regional differences in the ages of men and women when they march down the aisle. The average age for women to get married is 27, and the average age for men to tie the knot is a year and a half older at 28.5 years. These numbers have been going up for the past thirty years.
Should engagement rings be part of the proposal itself?
Traditionally, a wedding proposal involved a man, kneeling on one knee and extending a small box containing a ring, to his intended wife. Nowadays, however, this may not always be the case, and it is up to the couple to decide. Many couples like to look for the engagement ring together so there will be no problems as to whether both parties like the design.
For financial reasons, many couples opt out of buying an engagement ring altogether and spend the money on the wedding ring, the wedding and the honeymoon. It is up to the couple as to whether an engagement ring will be part of the proposal.
And what are those four little words again?
According to one survey, over ninety percent of proposals consist of just these four words: “Will you marry me?” Short and to the point. Why spend unnecessary verbiage when beginning to finalize your life together? It is time to start enjoying the lead up to the big occasion itself–the wedding–now that the official engagement has begun.