How to Ask Her Father for Her Hand in Marriage

What to Avoid When Asking for Her Hand in Marriage
Dress nicely and be respectful when talking to her dad, and hopefully he'll be your future father-in-law.
Dress nicely and be respectful when talking to her dad, and hopefully he'll be your future father-in-law.

When asking her father (or parents) for her hand, there are a few things you probably want to avoid doing. To make the best impression possible, keep these "don'ts" in mind when preparing to ask the big question.

Don't ask in an e-mail. This is definitely a situation where you want to talk, not type. If possible, set up a meeting with her father and have the conversation in person. If her father lives far away or is unavailable to get together in a timely manner, a phone call is the next best thing. Just never ask over e-mail, as that can make it seem like you're not thoughtful enough to make the effort that a face-to-face meeting involves.

Don't forget mom! After all, she's the one who brought the person you love most into the world. Asking the father for permission originated in a time when the man was in charge of the family, but today, husbands and wives tend to have equal power in familial decision-making. Let her mother into the conversation, and set up a time to ask both parents your big question together. If her parents are divorced, ask them separately.

Don't just throw on anything in your closet. It's always a good idea to dress for the occasion. That's right, wearing nice clothes will help you make a glowing impression. Even if her parents already know you and your style, or you've been close with her family for years, this is certainly the moment you want to be at your best. Keep in mind her father's style, too. If he's the suit-and-tie type, you might want to dress up; otherwise, choose clothes that look neat but are still comfortable. A haircut might not be a bad idea, either!

Don't take the situation lightly. Let her parents know how serious you are about their daughter and about marriage in general. Assure them that getting married is something you've thought a lot about, and tell them exactly what it means to you.

Read on for links to more tips on engagement, relationships and marriage.

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  • Carpenter, Mackenzie. "Popping the question: Some prospective grooms still ask parents for daughter's hand." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Nov. 13, 3007. (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • O'Brien, Glenn. "Asking a father's permission to marry his daughter." GQ. Aug. 2002. (Oct. 7, 2010)
  • Sege, Irene. "Asking for her hand: after asking permission." The Boston Globe. Oct. 9, 2007. (Oct. 7, 2010)

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