Marriage Proposal Etiquette

This page seeks to answer 'What is marriage proposal etiquette?'

For most of us, we have no idea of what is the proper etiquette for proposing, or being proposed to, until it happens among our friends.

Most of our proposal etiquette comes from Hollywood, from movies and novels.

No one seems to consider the parents of the happy couple, or that they might get the ring size wrong. Or worse, that it was not a good idea to be proposed to in the first place!

Some partners don't seem to even have a clue on how to propose! (direct him here!)

Does he know how to propose?

Planning a proposal involves more preparation than expected.

Aside from all the issues trying to get her ring size in secret, guessing what type of ring she might like, whether she's the sort that would rather be involved in designing the ring...

The proposal inevitably raises other questions from both families of the couple.

Where are you going to live? Do you have a house yet? How are we going to afford the wedding? Are you ready to get married?

Thus, the need for an elaborate understanding of Marriage Proposal Etiquette .

After all, etiquette simply means a kind way and a well-thought out way of doing things, like a sequence, almost like a procedure.

How to Propose

Common "How Do I Propose?" Confusion

Many get confused with the wedding ring and the engagement ring.

  • Do I propose with the wedding ring?
  • Oh you mean there are two rings?
  • Which is the ring finger? On which hand?

Adapted from my other Engagement Ring Etiquette post. I've just pasted it here for easy reading. I've added a few bits too to illustrate the correct way to propose.

Marriage Proposal Etiquette

The Order of "How to Propose"

After dating for at least four to six months, your partner decides he wants to marry you, assuming no family objections during the relationship.

I.e. Your relationship must be known to your family. Not only informing them when you are about to take it to the next level. As the future bride, you can play a part by introducing him to the family.

He goes to a jeweler and begin the quest for his diamond (or precious stone). He researches and studies his budget and what he wants to give you and finally purchases a diamond. His jeweler then gives a clasp-on temporary ring, where the diamond is clasps on in a nice velvet box.

He keeps it with him and proposes to you according to how he would like to propose.

He should consider your personality and character in his method of proposal. If you hate to be "put on the spot", he shouldn't go up on stage of a big concert and propose using the microphone.

Once you accept, both of you make a trip to the jeweler to get your ring set according to your finger size and preference and your band designed.

Alternatively, he finds a creative way to get your ring size. Either he measures your finger when you are asleep, or meets your favorite jeweler to ask about your details.

How My Husband Found My Ring Size

Once I went to a jeweler to look at some jewelry, while I was looking at something else, my fiance had a very quick private talk with my jeweler to get my ring size. This was a shop I have not been before and yet, the very smart jewelry instantly could tell my finger size.

This is to illustrate that with a glance, the jeweler could accurately estimate my ring size. They have been sizing so many fingers that their guesses are accurate or not far off.

Tell this story to your future husband to show how smart jewelers are.

It is also very helpful if you let him know your ring size.

Once he gets your ring size, he can buy the ring immediately without having you to get it re-set or size. I only encourage this if the groom truly knows his bride's tastes very well - such as a preference over thinner bands, the diamond set high or low, the tall band, the crusted band etc.

Marriage Proposal Etiquette Essentials

Before proposing, he sets aside time to talk to his parents about his decision to marry you. Depending on circumstances and his relationship with his parents, this could be done in a phone call or dinner. Sometimes, it may take a while.

If you are aware that he is going to talk to his parents, be patient and try not to think too much into it. Occasionally, there may be sticky subjects that are not because of you but a change in his status.

For instance, sometimes he is running the family business and getting married would mean a request to spend more family time. Arrangements must be made to get extra help etc etc.

After gaining his parent's blessings, he then proceeds to consult yours. Once he gets your parent's blessing or permission, he can plan on how to propose.

Obviously, he does not really need permission to marry you in this day and age. But it is a nice and elegant idea and your parents will definitely appreciate it.


Sometimes disagreements may come, or perhaps there are conflicting views when to get married. Example, "My daughter is too young" etc, "Are you going to move to another country?"...

Graciously work through them with honest, kind, open communication. If there is no compromise on each part, have a good think and follow your heart.

Alternative to the Hollywood Proposal

Marriage Proposal Etiquette Alternative

Less Romantic, More Practical

He speaks to his parents about marrying you, then asks for your parents' permission to marry you. Once that is clear, he takes you to view some rings, discussing his budget with you. You select your favorite ring and everyone is happy.

This depends on personalities of the couple. If this arrangement makes you happy, that is all that matters!

You might be interested in:

  • Engagement Ring Etiquette
  • Elegant Weddings
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