While there are some wedding traditions that go in and out of style, there’s one that never will: Asking your future wife’s parents for their blessing.
A recent study revealed that 70% of all engagements happen with the partner’s dad and/or mom’s loving approval, a tradition that became popular in the 18th century. And even though back then asking for your hand in marriage was more of a permission than a blessing, the gesture has clearly stuck around.
So if you are about to pop the question, how and when should you approach your partners parent(s), and who should you ask?
The first thing to consider is the relationship your future spouse has with their parents. Is your girlfriend close or estranged to her parents? Or has she expressed her annoyance at the tradition? If so, then that’s obviously something to consider. But even if it’s not YOUR cup of tea but you know it would mean a lot to your partner and her parents, it’s a sweet, courteous and respectful thing to do. With that said, here’s what you need to know (based on the most common questions we receive from grooms!):
How Should You Do It?
We suggest reaching out to their father or step-father (or potentially both) and asking if you can stop by their home or go for lunch or coffee. If you don’t live in the same state, a phone call would be the way to go (an e-mail is too impersonal). During your discussion a great way to start is to talk about your feelings towards your partner, and that with their blessing you plan on proposing. You can even give them a general date range if you want, so they know now to schedule anything or ruin a potential surprise (they can even play a part in it!). Here’s a sample script:
“I wanted to talk to you today because I have some important news to discuss. First, I want to tell you how much I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and (spouse’s name), and how much I appreciate being welcomed into the family. You are wonderful parents, and I know that (girlfriend’s name) is such a kind and caring person today because of that. Your daughter means the world to me, and I hope to spend the rest of my life proving that to her. I’m here today because I would like to ask your daughter to marry me, and I would be honored to have your blessing.”
Do You Only Ask the Father?
Even though the “blessing” is traditionally supposed to come from the father, we think it’s a great idea to include your girlfriend’s mother as well. They can be together when you ask, or after your meeting or phone call with the father you can call up their mom and share the big news and also tell them how much her blessing would mean to you. In terms of step-parents you’ll want to make sure you include them as well. A bride may be closer to her step-father than biological father, so take all the family relationships into consideration first.
SEE MORE: A Husband’s Guide to Getting Married
What If They Say No?
There’s no sugar-coating this. If this happens it’s going to get awkward…fast. If that DOES occur (and trust us, it’s not common, so don’t get nervous!), you’ll want to remain calm and continue the discussion. Tell the parent(s) you are sorry they feel that way, and that you would like to talk about the reasons why. Chances are you already know whether this can be a constructive conversation or not depending on how well you know the parent, but if there is a time for a calm, rationale back and forth, now would be the time to do it. Are they worried about something you haven’t considered yet (such as religious objections, etc.) or are there past relationship issues or financial ones? Hopefully you can get a clearer idea of why they might feel this way, and what you could do to help alleviate their concerns. If it’s not going in that direction, thank them for their time and go with your heart knowing you did what was right.
When Should You Do It?
This is entirely up to you. It could be several days, a week, or months before your actual proposal (just maybe don’t do it on the SAME day. LOL). The point is that you took the time and effort to reach out in a meaningful way, which is something your future in-laws will definitely appreciate.