So you’ve decided you want to get down on bended knee? Well, we have all the info you need to guarantee the moment goes off without a hitch!
The time is right. You’re going to pop the question. Congrats! This is big; and one of those life moments that deserves careful consideration. For better or for worse, this proposal will be remembered for the rest of your lives!
If you’ve decided to go down the traditional route, it’s worthwhile figuring out how to do it properly, and yes there is actually a proper way to do it. So which knee exactly do you propose on? And why get down on a bended knee at all? The answers lie immersed in history as far back as King Arthur!
So, grab that big shiny rock, clear some floor space and prepare to practice your ‘will you marry me?’.
The History of Proposing on One Knee
The Western idea of a traditional proposal, man or woman kneeling and offering a ring to their partner, is not a new concept. The act of bending down on one knee in a bowing position is something that has been going on since medieval times. Knights, or men of good standing, were known to kneel before noblewomen in an act of servitude while reciting oaths promising they would always be ‘truthful, loyal, devoted to the church, charitable, and to always defend a lady’.
These promises may not sound too dissimilar to modern/traditional wedding vows, but it is thought that this medieval act of bending on one knee was more than likely just a representation of a man’s adoration and deep respect; considering most of these noblewomen were already married that is!
The actual words, ‘will you marry me?’ were not used for marriage proposals back in the days of King Arthur and his round table. No, a perfect proposal back then, and up to the 1900s, would have looked a lot more like a business proposal, and a lot less like a scene from Love Actually.
These transactions took place between families and were often more about what each family unit could offer the other. Not quite so romantic…
The now legendary tradition of offering a diamond ring during a marriage proposal is actually a result of persuasive marketing…
De Beers, the luxury jewelry brand, were mining in Africa towards the end of the 1800s when they struck a rich seam of diamonds. This haul was unprecedented and thus needing a way to shift them, De Beers set about finding a reason for people to buy them.
Their lightbulb moment came in the 30s/40s when they devised the ‘Diamonds are Forever’ advertising campaign. A convincing marketing strategy informing the American population that diamonds were rare, expensive, and the only viable way in which to propose marriage.
Well, it took off, big time! Across Western countries, the diamond is still seen as the only stone that should be used in engagement rings today!
Which Knee Do You Kneel On When Proposing?
The short and fast answer is the left knee. Traditionalists and etiquette experts insist the left is the correct knee to propose on since this is the knee that medieval knights used as a display of respect and surrender.
Method: your left leg should be bent until your knee is on the floor, and your right knee should be up in front of you. But, we hear you ask, ‘which hand should hold the ring?’. Well, your left hand should be holding the ring box, while your right hand opens it. Got all that?
Can You Propose on Your Right Leg?
If you’re right-handed, which on average most people are, then you’ll probably feel more comfortable proposing with your right leg. This is because your dominant side, the right, will be in control and therefore give you a much more stable base.
What If You Don’t Want a Bended-Knee Proposal?
Let’s remember that proposing on a bended knee isn’t a rigid requirement of the proposal process! The modern-day wedding industry may put emphasis on it, but this ‘tradition’ is based on medieval knights and advertising campaigns!
Ultimately, this is simply a special moment between you and your significant other, so don’t feel like you need to do any knee bending if you don’t want to! The iconic bended-knee moment may give many a thrill, but for others, it’s overwhelming and understandably so. You may have all the good intentions of providing a traditional proposal, but if you’re a trembling nervous wreck, then your partner is not exactly going to be enjoying the moment to its fullest.
The same goes for the actual proposal setting. Believe it or not, not every person wants to be asked for their hand in marriage at the top of the Eiffel Tower, in the middle of Times Square, or in front of the Grand Canyon. Most people just want to feel special, and blessed with the knowledge that their partner has thought deeply about their beautiful moment together.
Remember that planning something meaningful never has to be cliché, over the top, or bound to tradition!
Bended-Knee Proposal Alternatives
So, if you’re thinking of proposing without getting your knees dirty, the possibilities are truly endless. Opt for a private proposal in a safe place that you feel most comfortable, away from prying eyes. Subtlety is honestly so underrated! Or simply ask the question whilst out having a romantic meal, picnic, or walking the dog! Whether it’s a humble low-key approach or a shout-it from the rooftops surprise, make sure it’s special to you.
Perhaps you feel the act of getting down on one knee in front of your partner is not a true representation of your relationship, and actually, you should both be on an equal level as a couple. That’s totally fair, and a healthy way to consider each other. If this is the case, maybe you should consider a joint, or mutual proposal?
When all is said and done, the greatest marriage proposals are the ones that are heartfelt, genuine, and mean something to both parties. Your proposal is personal; whether steeped in history or a moment purely of the modern-day. Love knows no bounds; bended knee, or not.