Are you thinking of surprising him with a marriage proposal on 29th February 2020?
Read on to find out how to get it right, and you could also WIN the chance to have your wedding filmed for free…
How did this tradition originate?
Every four years, in leap years, the 29th February has traditionally been the day that women are ‘able’ to propose to men.
So how did this tradition, also known as Bachelor’s Day come about? Rumour has it a nun was complaining to St Patrick about how women were having to wait too long for their men to propose (yes, I’d love to know how their conversation got onto that as well). St Patrick decreed that women could propose every four years in a leap year, on 29th February and over time the custom spread to Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
And I’ve also heard that if the man rejects her proposal, he has to buy her twelve pairs of gloves, give her a kiss or a silk gown to make it up to her… well the mind boggles…
Obviously a woman can propose any day of the year, but it’s a great day to take the leap (pardon the pun), and pop the question to the man of your life.
First of all, you want to be sure he’s going to say yes… so unless you’ve had those conversations and he’s said at some point that he wants to get married, and specifically to you, or that you mean everything to him, I’d hold off.
It shouldn’t be a bolt out of the blue, and you should feel pretty sure he adores you and would say ‘yes’. Maybe you’ve always known you would get married, and the years have gone by, it was just something you meant to get around to doing.
Or perhaps he’s a procrastinator, and can’t see the point of ‘fixing something that isn’t broken’, but you know he’d marry you to make you happy?
Sometimes if you’ve been married before, men might think you don’t want to, but would be delighted to be asked and would jump at the chance to marry you.
Hopefully at some point in the past you’ve discussed whether or not he’d like a woman to propose to him or you have a feel for how he’d respond. Some very traditional men wouldn’t like it, and I also know women for whom it’s really important that the man proposes to them.
If you’re the sort of person who deep down would rather they propose, chances are your partner might prefer this as well. The last thing is a nagging feeling of resentment years down the line, that you felt you ‘had’ to take the initiative instead of him.
Chances are if you’re up for proposing, he’s not your average guy either, and would be up for being proposed to!
How to propose?
If you’re going to propose, put yourself in your man’s shoes – chances are he’d prefer you did it privately, rather than with family around, and definitely not in front of all his mates – he might just dismiss it as a joke…
You don’t have to spend a fortune though. If you have a cute dog or cat, perhaps you could enlist their help – tie a message around their necks—practise with a spare note to see if they chew or rip it to shreds though!
I’ve heard of some people putting out little messages and notes in the form of a treasure hunt, with the last note being ‘Will you marry me?’ Or they hide a note inside a Kinder egg and re-coat it in chocolate layers, which he has to break open… Or maybe you’re Scrabble fans, and you lay out the letters ‘Marry Me’ before the game, or if you’re really clever, hide the letters in your pocket and wait for the right moment to produce it as a seven letter word.
Or you can take them to somewhere that’s special to you both, maybe where you had your first date, or somewhere special you went away to together that means a lot to you both. You could cook him a meal, or go to your favourite restaurant and present the ring as part of the dessert…
If he’s the playful kind who’s a fan of selfies, you might propose in a photo booth, which would be pretty cool, as you’d have the snaps to remember it by, and the photos could make great placeholders for the reception!
You’ll probably know what he’d love most, whether he’s a romantic who would respond to red roses, petals strewn around the room and candles and soft lighting at home, or making sandcastles on a beach on a destination break, but I do think it’s a great idea to do something a little bit out of the ordinary as well as playful and sweet.
If you know for sure he’ll say ‘yes’, and you’re up for it, and doing something special, then maybe consider having a videographer to capture the build up and that special moment when he accepts. You can hire them on the pretext of having a romantic couple’s shoot.
Horrors of horrors! What about if he says no?
You’re probably going to be in shock if this happens, especially if you thought it was a done deal that he’d say yes. And I’ll be honest, I think it would be quite difficult for a relationship to survive a rejection of a marriage proposal, but it doesn’t have to be the end. It’s possible that he’s just not ready.
If though, this does happen. It’s fine to say you’re disappointed, but try and stay calm though. Definitely ask what their reasons are for saying no, and then stay quiet and just listen—I’d recommend not responding at this stage and wait for them to completely finish, even if you have to wait a while for them to open up.
And then depending on what they say, you’ll know if you can accept this and if there’s a future for you both together still. If getting married is important to you, then it’s better to find out and be able to move on to someone who will want to marry you.
And if he says yes?
Congratulations! You’re a very special woman and you both make very special couple!
So what happens next?
As you’ve broken with tradition, you’ll want to discuss the engagement ring. Do you break tradition 100% and buy him an engagement ring, I think this is a nice touch if he’s a ring type of guy.
Or you might want to let him buy you an engagement ring as a surprise and then he can do the whole proposal thing again, going on one knee if he wants to.
Whatever you do, I’d love to hear about it, as your story is already really unique, and as a wedding filmmaker, I just love telling stories. And so I’ve got a very special present for you…
I’m going to be running a competition very soon, offering a free highlights wedding film (worth £700) to a couple where the woman has proposed on 29th February and who tells me the most interesting story, either about themselves, their partner, their relationship, their proposal or their wedding. The only cost to you will be my transport (and accommodation costs if applicable).
So how do you find out more and enter the competition?
Sign up to my Facebook and Instagram channel at @artoflifefilms or click on the icons below or see my terms and conditions and the entry form for the competition.
Or if you’re worried you’ll miss it, sign up to my blog on this page—and I’ll email you the competition details…
Maybe you’re already married and you proposed to your man? Or maybe you’re the man she proposed to? I’d love to hear some real life stories, so please do comment below or get in touch with me…