Asking Dad: A Romantic Gesture or Chauvinistic Gaff?

It’s a dilemma that most men face when they are considering proposing to their girlfriends. Should you ask her father for his permission or not? Is it a romantic tradition that will impress your future father-in-law and delight your wife-to-be, or a chauvinistic gesture that will embarrass Dad and leave your girlfriend fuming?

Asking the bride’s father for his permission before getting engaged is a ritual that dates back hundreds if not thousands of years, and works on the presumption that a girl is her father’s property until she gets married, when she becomes her husband’s property.
In the upper classes, marriage used to be more about social status and financial standing than love. The bride’s father would have needed to be sure the groom was able to support his daughter and that the groom’s family was a good social match for his own.

In the working classes, a daughter getting married would have meant losing a working member of the family, and her father would have needed to give his permission for this to happen. In some parts of the world a bride price is still paid to compensate the family for the loss of the bride.

In modern western society, it is no longer essential to ask the bride’s father for permission before you propose to her. However, many people still find it a charming tradition that shows respect for the father and family of the bride, and gets the father-in-law, son-in-law relationship off to a good start.