• Glynis Woodhead

Love is in the air ...


It’s almost that time again – the most romantic day of the year looming. And not only is it St Valentine’s Day but this is also a leap year so for those of you ladies who have waited too long for that special person in your life to pop the question, now’s your big chance!

There have been many theories that the origins of this tradition were instigated by the Scots, or the Irish, but these have largely been discounted. They suggest that if the young lady who was brave enough to ask her beau to marry her was then rejected, then he should buy her a silk gown as recompense. It’s one way to increase your wardrobe, I suppose, but perhaps a little extreme – and, besides, who only wants to add a new dress to their collection every four years?

One thing’s for sure, though, St Valentine’s Day is still very much a day when declarations of love lead to marriage proposals. It may not be the most popular one as Christmas Day leads the way there, but it runs a close second.

From movie trailers like the one Matt Still did back in 2011 to propose to his girlfriend, Ginny, and which has now been viewed over 34 million times, to the gift of a single red rose, marriage proposals will never entirely go out of fashion.

But before that proposal itself there has historically been the tradition of asking the bride’s parents for permission to marry in the first place. It goes back, of course, to the days when dowries were required and women were regarded as the ‘property’ of their fathers, hence the question asked by ministers as to ‘Who gives this woman …?’

No one would dare to argue these days that any woman was her father’s property and many women (and men) see asking permission to marry as a deeply misogynistic and out-dated practice, as any discussion to marry should be between the couple themselves and not one half of the couple and the parent of the other.

And yet, asking for permission is a tradition which continues for many couples. It can confirm to the parents how much you care not only about your beloved, but about wider family relationships and is seen as a huge sign of respect. And if you’re still not happy about that slightly antiquated practice of asking for permission then the best alternative is to ask parents for their blessing instead. You just need to make sure they’re not going to rush off and spill the beans about your big proposal before you get to it yourself!

The other advantage to speaking to your future parents-in-law is that it can be a moment of real bonding between you all, and in these days, when families are often so geographically and emotionally fractured, having as many people on your side to support you as you enter this new phase of your lives can’t be all bad.

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