If you've decided to go old school and, out of respect, ask her parents for their blessing to marry their daughter, that's commendable. It's also nerve-wracking, stressful, and scary. Here's how to make your meeting (or phone convo) go smoothly, without any regrets on anyone's part.
1. Ask her for advice.
If you're absolutely sure she will say yes to your proposal, ask her for some pointers when talking to her mom and dad, if you don't know them well. Even if you intend to surprise your girl with the actual proposal, you can still enlist her help. She knows her parents a lot better than you do, so get her to tip you off to how to talk to them.
2. Meet them a few times before the big ask.
For most guys, meeting their girlfriends' parents for the first time and asking for their blessing in marriage takes nerves of steel. Make it easier on yourself by socializing with them ahead of time, if possible. Get to know them and let them get to know you. You'll all be so much more relaxed on the day of your face-to-face meeting.
3. Treat them to something they like.
Dinner at a nice restaurant, a few rounds of golf, hiking—find out what interests them and jump on it. If they're feeling comfortable, so will you. If you can't plan an outing—maybe you and your girlfriend are visiting them over the holidays—ask to meet with them privately. This is not the time for an audience.
4. Bring her mom flowers.
It's a sweet gesture that, if carried out with genuine feeling, will earn you lots of charm points. You don't have to spring for a dozen of the finest orchids ever grown—a pretty bouquet of daisies will send the right message.
5. Figure out what you want to say ahead of time.
After a few pleasantries, tell them how you feel about their daughter. Explain why you're good for her, rather than why she's good for you. Make it clear you're committed to the relationship and want to marry her, then ask for their blessing.
6. Figure out what questions they'll ask.
As parents, their concern is their daughter's happiness. They may have questions about your employment situation, age or religious differences, and anything else that may affect her well-being.
7. Speak and act with confidence.
Just as you would for a business presentation, acting like you're sure of yourself (without being cocky) is essential. Make eye contact with her parents while talking and listening. Watch your body language (uncross your arms, sit up straight), and remember to breathe often. Speak in a calm, friendly manner, and no matter what, don't argue.
8. Make talking to them on the phone feel natural.
If you can't meet them in person because of distance, plan to call them at a predecided time. First impressions count, so call on the dot at the appointed hour. Make some pleasantries, then get down to business.