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Do You Still Need to Ask Her Parents for Permission to Propose?

If you're thinking about skipping the tradition, read this first.

Contributing Writer
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Photography by: Steve Steinhardt

Ladies get a lot of the attention when it comes to wedding preparedness, but before all the invitations and vendor searches, it all starts with a single question—and it's not the one you're thinking. Asking her parents for permission can be a nerve-wracking endeavor, especially because many aren't sure if they still need to do it at all. Is the custom a sweet tradition or antiquated one? We caught up with etiquette expert Patricia Fitzpatrick to help sort it all out.

 

The Ultimate Marriage Proposal Checklist

 

Does your S.O. want you to?

The largest and most important determining factor in this situation is what your bride wants. "Although most brides consider the custom a chance for their partners to score brownie points, some veto it," acknowledges Fitzpatrick. "They say they'd be insulted if their fiancés did this, that they're not property." So, the simplest way to figure out what to do is also the easiest: Just ask her.

 

Would her dad appreciate it?

If you've already had a conversation about the conversation (see above) and your future bride is indifferent, a helpful tip might be to think about your future father-in-law. "It is a very chivalrous, respectful act; and one that would be appreciated by an older, traditional father," notes Fitzpatrick. If her dad could have been a shoe-in for Leave it to Beaver, consider asking permission a great first step in a long, happy relationship together. 

 

Do you have a plan if he says no?

Remember that if you're asking for permission, you're essentially asking a question. And the response to that question could be "no." Fitzpatrick advises any hopeful groom to consider this ahead of time and be prepared to address a parent's reservations should the arise. Of course, this doesn't mean it's the end of the road, but it could put you in a sticky situation if you aren't prepared. 

 

If ultimately you decide asking permission is the right move for you, know that including other special people in the conversation is encouraged. "The bride's father is not always the one the groom asks. It could be the mom or stepfather. Etiquette adapts to the times," says Fitzpatrick. Ultimately, this is a personal decision best left to the couple that wants to wed to determine the "rules."