Why You Should Consider Proposing This Leap Year

In a time where the #MeToo movement has led to massive progress for strong, independent and decisive women, why is the mindset towards a marriage proposal still that it should be driven by men? It's certainly food for thought, and something that probably ought to change. For now, February 29th is just round the corner - a traditionally acceptable day to pop the question if you're female.

Why You Should Consider Proposing

It might still feel like a brave thing to do, but statistics from eharmony suggest opinions on the matter are changing. More than a third of people in the UK agree women have as much right as men to pop the question, with more men than woman agreeing on this point. However, among women, almost a third still feel it’s a man’s job to propose – and many more fear the rejection. But there are valid reasons you might be tempted to take charge of the proposal, admits Match.com relationship expert Kate Taylor. “Perhaps you and your partner have always had a non-traditional relationship and this is another way of celebrating that. Or maybe you feel your man lacks confidence, and would never have the courage to do it himself.”

What To Think About Beforehand

“It is still important to make sure your relationship is ready to be taken to the next step,” warns Kate. “Have you discussed marriage with your partner? Have you agreed how you’ll solve issues that might arise? Do you share the same goals for the future, and are equally committed to reaching them? All the answers to these questions need to be ‘yes’ if the marriage is going to be successful.” In case any are a “no”, Kate advises using 29th February to have a different kind of conversation. “Use it as a time to talk to your partner about the future instead; cook them a meal or take them out for dinner and discuss what you’re both looking for, and celebrate what you already have.” Finally, before getting down on one knee, Kate advises all potential brides ask themselves one, crucial question: why you want to get married? “Make sure it’s not simply because you’re tired of waiting for him to do it,” she adds. 

How To Make It Happen

If you’re intent on turning the tables, it’s important not to propose to him the way you’ve imagined he might propose to you. “Keep the proposal fun, light-hearted and flirtatious,” suggests Kate. “Tailor it towards who he is and what he likes, not what you like.” Dating and relationship expert Chris Pleines agrees: “Part of being in a relationship with someone is to know what they like and what they don’t like. If you’re thinking of proposing to him, you should plan ahead. Your proposal will be special regardless of the form, as long as you put thought into it.”

When & Where To Do It

When it comes to a less than traditional proposal, experts agree privacy is best. “Even if your partner is a lively extrovert, the chances are that he’d prefer to be proposed to privately,” advises Kate. “You’re bucking the trend by being the one to propose to him, and he might feel uncomfortable sharing that with other people.” Chris advises picking a time that won’t feel too much like it’s coming out of the blue. “The best time to propose is when you both don’t have anything big going on at work – you don’t want to add up to the stress of any situation, so be sure you’re proposing when everything is a bit more relaxed.” 

How To Solve The Ring Dilemma

With tradition dictating men should present women with an engagement ring when they propose, it’s difficult to know what to do in the opposite situation. Bernadette Chapman, founder of The UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP) suggests thinking of an alternative gift. “Consider what might work for your groom-to-be; perhaps it’s a watch engraved with a special message or a bespoke ring to wear on his non-wedding hand. There are also token rings you can buy just to propose with.”
 

Lifestyle and events producer Holly Patrick proposed to her now-husband Pete during the last leap year, in 2016. Here’s her story…

Why I Did It

I was on a train when the urge struck me to propose to Pete. But I knew I wanted to do something different and unexpected – anyone who knows me knows I like to think outside the box. My background in events was bound to help, but when a friend sent me a Brides magazine competition looking for 13 women wanting to propose during a leap year, I swiftly entered.

How It Went

The day itself was amazing. We were invited to The Savoy and had makeovers by Benefit: styling, nails and hair –  a full-on photo shoot. The atmosphere was electric and getting to experience the moment with other women was great. There were a lot of nerves, but I was fairly confident everything would be alright. 

The evening was more surreal. It started with Pete arriving – under the guise that this was being filmed for a food review – and we had a wonderful meal together. Soon enough, the moment had arrived. I was chosen to be the first of the 13 women and, in hindsight, that was brilliant because I got to go in and get it done without too much time to over think it. 

Once we’d moved into the proposal room, I started speaking before we even sat down. I just wanted to get the words out and into the open. I think I started off by saying, “So, I haven’t actually brought you here for a food review. I have a question for you.” Then there was silence and Pete looking around mystified, before I said, “Will you marry me?” 

The Reaction

As soon as Pete understood it wasn’t a joke, he quickly realised how lovely, surprising and amazing the whole thing was and said yes – thank God. Looking back now, Pete says the whole thing was the best proposal story he could have imagined and he hasn’t come up against anything that remotely challenges it. Pete did get a slight ribbing from his work friends the next day but, eventually, the friends that know us and our relationship ended up saying “It’s cool. I love that Holly did that.” My friends and family also thought it was brilliant and after a small eye roll from the more traditional of the bunch, the general consensus was we were made for each other, which was all that mattered.

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