The RIGHT Way to Ask a Dad to Marry His Daughter

how to ask a dad to marry his daughter
Photo by Luke and Ashley Photography

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?

SEE MORE: A Guy’s Guide to Buying the Perfect Engagement Ring

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.

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  1. says: Trisha

    I am horrified that it is even suggested asking the step father before even asking the mother. People love to act like mothers don’t exist in a “Man’s world”. Pretty sure us women gave birth to men and deserve more respect than a step parent.

  2. says: Robby

    Guess daddy’s little girl never hit home as a father me and my daughter are very close and will always be my little girl there are customs and courtesies not only here but all around the world some have been raise in this sense other don’t have to do so in there own family’s but in your are going to become family you better think about becoming I tuned a little to what one another is raise like as it is important to respect the way of each other family…you know to care about little more about something a little bit more then yourself and writing negative…sexist this that and 3rd…if you don’t like this tradition the. Why read it and move on to something your appropriate to your liking..this person gave some great pointer a traditional that is very much timeless and again it is important to lots of well respect good heart people not only American but around the world…not that you would even cross your mind that I’m not trying to be ugly at all it…but you may not know any better so I’ll let you know it not nice cool or doing anyone favor of Constructive criticism ..being kind of hurt in a since as know one cares what you would do if your man did it and how your family would be disrespected…wow, you can get on oh joe’s Demi along with discuss all on Jerry springer’s form page that might be more you aptitude, thankful for all the men and women past and present that fought for your right to base a woman getting married web page so maybe next time when you don’t agree with a topic doesn’t require you be ugly and know one care what you and yours does as we are all o

  3. says: Ali

    From the mother of a potential bride… this tradition may mean nothing to some and that’s perfectly fine. But as much as you would like respect I ask you to be mindful of those that like this tradition. I know my daughter is expecting for her boyfriend to ask my husband and I for a blessing. And we are looking forward to it.

    Thank you for sharing this advice with anyone that is thinking of asking for a blessing.

  4. says: HH

    I disagree. A lot of women wouldn’t like it if her wannabe-Fiance did this. Be sure she is okay with it and wants it.

    “Never goes out of style”??? That has never been IN style in my family, and thank God. This would be a dealbreaker if my guy did it, and I would hope be knows me well enough to know better. I would feel very disrespected.

  5. says: Anonymous

    Jean……It’s far from sexist. It’s romantic and polite.
    The world we live in today has lost its way and is now missing out on true romance with respect, courtesy and chivalry.

  6. says: Lakito

    This is very respectful to do and I really enjoyed this blog. Talking to the mother is definitely something I would suggest as well! Good luck to those that read this for advice!

  7. says: Andres

    I love how well you put this! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your wisdom and thoughts on this. Forget that crazy lady, Jean, who commented.

    I’ve read a couple of articles for tips and advice, and yours takes the cake!
    Thanks again!

  8. says: Jean

    Will you all please stop writing articles to tell guys to ask a grown adult woman’s dad for blessings or permission. This is so sexist and evil, Stop doing this!!
    That is so disrespectful to the mother. The mother is the most important parent to a girl.