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20-40-60 Etiquette---Shall I ask her dad?

To ask an etiquette question, email Helen- - -



By Callie Athey, Lillie-Beth Brinkman, Helen Ford Wallace

QUESTION: I am going to ask my girlfriend to marry me soon. Am I supposed to ask her dad for her hand in marriage? Or is that an out-of-date custom?


CALLIE’S ANSWER: Absolutely you need to ask her dad first. It is a wonderful tradition and a huge sign of respect. Best wishes!!


LILLIE-BETH’S ANSWER: I like this tradition, even if it seems like it’s not necessary. Asking her dad, or both her parents, really, will involve your girlfriend’s family from the beginning in a big celebration that will end up bringing together two families. That participation indicates that while marriage is between two people, it affects more loved ones than just the bride and the groom. The two families are making this journey together. If your girlfriend is not on good terms with her parents, then discuss this with her first, as you two are discussing marriage and the “what-ifs” of a proposal. Even though women are independent and should make their own decisions about whom to marry, I am not ready to say good-bye to this symbolic tradition. And weddings involve a lot of tradition.


HELEN’S ANSWER: It is respectful and courteous to ask her dad for his blessing. It shows that you honor tradition and it helps you get off on the right track with the in-laws. Your girlfriend would probably really appreciate the gesture and would be thrilled that you thought enough of her and her parents to talk to them about it first.

GUEST’S ANSWER: Christina Nihira, journalist and community volunteer: Congratulations on finding that someone special. The proposal, as you might guess, becomes much more than a sparkly ring and a simple “yes” by your girlfriend. In reality, you are uniting two families.

Tradition dictated the practice of paying a visit to your future father-in-law. Marriage, just a few generations ago, went beyond affairs of the heart. Questions of status, class, dowries were the delicate hallmarks of such negotiations.

The rite of asking permission for your love’s hand in marriage might not be as commonplace. Many may even consider such a move as sexist. Whatever.

I still believe it’s a treasured gesture. It expresses a sign of commitment and respect. Yes, that’s old-school sincerity. There is no substitute for showing what a true gentleman you are and that your intentions are genuine.

Luckily for us, we live in a time where love seems to triumph over status and the big bucks.




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Helen Ford Wallace

Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for... Read more ›

Lillie-Beth Brinkman

Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman Read more ›

Callie Athey

Callie Athey is 20-something and is a graduate from the University of Oklahoma. She has worked in various positions, ranging from Event Coordinator to Environmental Health and Safety Assistant. Currently, Callie is an Executive Assistant to a... Read more ›