Asking for a daughter's hand in marriage

I didn’t want to hijack LiveOnAPlane’s thread so here’s a new one on a related topic.

Do men still routinely ask a woman’s father for her hand in marriage? My father asked my mother’s father but that was back in the mid-'60s. I told my parents on no uncertain terms that **KeithT **would NOT be asking them for my hand. I don’t usually get my heckles up over feminist issues of this type, but this one really bothers me. I am not my father’s property and it’s MY hand, not his, to give away!

Am I in the minority on being bothered by what’s really just a tradition like so much else related to marriage? Or are others bothered by this as well?

I did not ask my father-in-law for permission to marry his daughter.

However, my wife and I had been dating for two years and everyone knew that we were going to get married when we got a bit older. I’m sure he would have said something long before I formally proposed if he had any objections.

Zev Steinhardt

<snort!> We called my parents when we got back from Vegas and told them!

I’ve been engaged twice. Both times, I asked her father for permission.

The first time, many years ago, the younger sister stole my thunder. Her family was from North Carolina, and Tom, her father, was a Southern genleman type. Just as I was getting up the courage to ask, she blurted out, “When are you gonna marry my sister?” I nervously asked, and he gave permission, and was proud that I had the respect to ask him first. The fact that he was retired military, had some rifles and who knows what else, and hunted made my decision to ask him first that much easier.

That relationship didn’t work out.

The second time, the situation was much more relaxed. We had been living together for a few months, she was pregnant with my son, and we had talked about getting married for a while. Her family and I got along great, so when I asked her dad for permission to ask his daughter to marry me, he laughed, and asked if I was sure I wanted to do that. Said something about me getting the milk for free. It was pretty surreal and completely informal, but he appreciated the gesture.

In neither case did I use the phrase “hand in marriage,” and in neither case was the engagement riding on her dad’s approval. I think it’s more a gesture of respect than anything else.

No, you certainly don’t have to. I think of it as a charming archaic custom provided everyone is OK with it. By that I mean, the girl doesn’t mind, the father likes it, and the son is OK with it, too.

To *demand * it certainly is silly. But my father would like it, and it could just be a cultural thing for me, but I wouldn’t mind it myself. The choice is still mine, it’s just for the sake of tradition.

How many people still do the “Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” bit? And don’t even get me started on the custom of wearing white for second and third weddings. Another tradition, and something that should be up to each individual couple.

I think it depends on the individual. And the bride’s father/parents. Personally, I think it should be done but I know this is not always the case. And not so much a case of the stuffy “May-I-marry-your-daughter” but these days it’s the less formal “Is-it-ok-if-Girlfriend-and-I-get-married?” or words to that effect.

In my case, in the end, MrNinevah asked both my parents.

He’d always maintained that he wanted to ask my dad; he has some respect for some traditions and thought it would be the right thing to do.

However, he kept procrastinating… or saying “the timing wasn’t right”. In the end, he managed to do it (this is where my powers of nagging finally paid off after 6 weeks) right before my parents left for their trip to Egypt in Jan 05. We got engaged after they got back.

The Woman Who Would be Bus Wife was living only with her mom when we met. She never knew her dad, being as how her mom was somewhat of a whorish slut.

Admittedly two not-necessarily related facts, yet both are facts.

Three months after we started dating, BW came home from work, and found a note where her mom used to be. Mom was moving to live with her boyfriend and the apartment was now hers, rent paid for the next three months. I moved in a month later and never felt the need to ask if I could marry her daughter.

My worthless, shit-for-brained BIL on the other hand, came over to my folks house with his mom and sister in tow for a nice Sunday dinner and ceremoniously dragged my folks downstairs before coming up and announcing their engagement.

My dad told me later he thought it was nice and the proper thing to do, but that he felt uncomfortable, and that it kind of made BIL seem to be “kind of a pussy” (Dad’s words) in his eyes.

My daughter recently got engaged, and plans to marry later this year. Her fiance has not asked my permission, and it would surprise me considerably if he had.

(And 30 years ago I didn’t ask my wife’s mother for her permission either – she was a widow, so there was no father available.)

It’s probably different when you’re older. My wife and I were both in our 30s, which seems a little late in life to be asking the father’s permission. Plus, she and I openly acknowledged that we’d be getting married someday, even making wedding plans and joking, “I haven’t asked you yet / well, I might not say yes” right in front of her dad. So, by the time I actually asked her, her father knew darn well it was coming.

It just gets my dander up because it seems so outdated. I mean it would seem incredibly silly for me to ask KeithT’s parents if I could marry him. So it shouldn’t be different for me just because I’m a girl dammit!

[/outraged rant]

I called my future FIL to ask permission to marry his daughter, then proposed a few days later. That was in 1998.

The way I saw it, it wasn’t about permission. Seriously- my then-fiancee and I were both in our 30’s, in love, and had been calling our own shots for years by that point, so we were going to do what we wanted to do whether we had permission or not.

It was about respect. I think very highly of my in-laws, they’re great people. To this day, both my in-laws and my wife say how great it was that I called my FIL first. It wasn’t necessary, but I wanted them to know that I didn’t think it was any small thing that I would be marrying into their family, and I wanted to start our relationship off on the right foot.

I’m glad I did it.

If people like that sort of thing and want to do it, I say fine. I haven’t asked for, needed, or wanted my parents’ blessing for anything I’ve done since I graduated high school. I would’ve hated that and my husband wouldn’t have done it either, considering he thinks of my father as “that insane bastard who tortured my wife when she was a little girl”. He’s polite to my parents, but he’s really never going to like them.

I didn’t have anyone walk me down the aisle either, though my family was in attendance and we basically get along now.

I understand where you’re coming from, taxi78cab. I wouldn’t have much cared for it if my husband had asked my dad, particularly if he’d talked to him before asking me. But we were a bit odd anyway.

I asked him to marry me. And there was no way I was going to ask my in-laws’ permission, for a variety of reasons. He said yes, and then his dad started hinting at him to ask my dad…

Whereupon we get back to sentence 1 of the previous paragraph. I don’t recall if it was my dad or my mom who we told first (but they were number one and number two), but my dad was the first to know it was coming (he’s a smart guy), so he congratulated the two of us right then and there. Asked where my ring was, then laughed harder and happier than I’ve ever seen when I said, “No ring. I asked him.” So there wouldn’t have been a lot of point, even if my husband or I had wanted something like that to occur.

Well, it never occured to us to do it (we were 22 when we got married). I think my dad would have laughed if DangerDad had done it. What we actually did was get engaged rather surprisingly (he wasn’t planning it and I wasn’t expecting it) and call my folks up at 2am to announce it. Dad answered the phone and when I said I was engaged, he said “Oh good! Who to?” (That’s my dad for ya.)

It was actually a few years later when I met someone who mentioned that her husband had asked her dad for permission, and I was so surprised that I was kind of tactless. I asked what would have happened if her dad had said no. She was surprised by that question, but I wondered what the point of the whole exercise was. She said it was just nice and repectful, which is fine. Since they were already living together anyway, I privately kind of thought that the horse was out of the barn, and it was a little lame to ask, but I guess it made them happy and who am I to argue?

I would be deeply pissed off if a man did that to me. It would make me feel icky, like he thought my father had the right to give me to him and like I was property to be transferred.

Of course, any man I liked well enough to marry would probably know this about me. I’d just suggest that you make sure that the gesture would be well received by your lady friend before you do it.

I’d like to think that if a guy did ask my dad, his response would be like Jack Bristow in Alias:

“Can I ask you a question?”


“Do you KNOW my daughter?”

My brother-in-law didn’t. My parents weren’t pissed but a lot of HIS relatives were giving him grief so at the engagement ceremony* he turns to my dad and mumbles it out. My dad just laughed and said “you should ask the person you’re marrying.”

*Marathi & Hindu religious ceremony. They were already engaged with the ring etc. several months before that.

I did the “something old” thing when I got married. My dress was new, the necklace was borrowed from my grandmother, I wore a blue garter, and I’d had the shoes for a while. Ididn’t have a sixpence, but I put a penny in my shoe.

I wouldn’t like the outdated implication of control/ownership if a guy asked my father for permission to marry me. So much so that I might me slightly offended by it depending on specific circumstances. I would, however, be OK with a fiance asking my parents for their blessing. That conveys respect for the parents opinion without implying that my father owns me.

Asking for the bride’s parents’ blessing seems better than asking the bride’s father for permission, since the latter does smack of ownership/control, while the former seems more enlightened.