To Ask or Not to Ask? Getting Her Dad's Permission Before Proposing

Asking Father's Permission To Marry

Photo: Getty Images

Every week, we give our readers a glimpse inside the mindset of a guy's brain on weddings with the help of the hilarious and smart editors at The Plunge. For their latest installment, they're letting us know how to tell if your guy's friends like you.

The debate over asking for a father's "permission" to marry his daughter is fast becoming as time-honored a tradition as actually doing it. So many polarizing issues to throw into the fire: feminism, old world vs. modern values, culture, religion. So how do we at The Plunge resolve it? Create a cheat sheet.

The Traditional Family
If tradition matters in her household, you'll come off as disrespectful and poison your relationship with your in-laws from the start if you don't ask. Even if they don't like you, you'll earn some points by showing backbone.

The Laid-Back Family
Ask. We'd love to be all progressive about it and give you the choice because, yes, it's a bit misogynistic to think about asking a woman's father if you can "have" her. However, this is one tradition that's unlikely to die any time soon. This family is more likely to understand if you feel the bride should be the first person to know your intentions and have the final say in the matter, but all parents — particularly fathers of daughters — want (and deserve) to be respected. Include both parents if you like. Even the biggest tree-hugging atheist hippie will understand if you decide to ask.

See more: 4 Ways to Tell You're With the Guy You'll Marry

Every Other Type of Family
Approach her father and mother. Be respectful. At the key moment, instead of saying, "I'd like to ask permission for your daughter's hand in marriage," ask for their "blessing."

"Blessing" is the perfect word because it's respectful, inclusive, and shows you recognize their clout but that the wedding isn't contingent on the answer. The truth is, everyone knows you don't really need anyone's "permission;" you want their support. This approach is courteous, less antiquated, and preserves your sense of independence.

And If He Says No...
He won't, but if you're unlucky enough to wind up with a Meet-The-Parents-Deniro-jerk who thinks his little princess is still 12 years old, we've prepared some rebuttals for you: "Sir, I respect that you're looking out for your daughter. Someday when I'm a father, I'm sure I'll feel the same way. [Pause. Meaningful eye contact. So super earnest right now.] I want you to know I love your daughter. I will devote the rest of my life to providing for her, loving her, making sure that she's happy. [Final pause.] I respect your opinion, sir, and I will work hard to earn your respect."

He won't change his mind on the spot but he should be grudgingly impressed by your maturity and start to see you in a new light. Then the conversation ends gracefully.

Another idea? If he says "No," you say: "Tough cookies, old man. Pretty soon you'll be dead, we'll be married, and I'll be in charge."

He'll have a good laugh, slap you on the back, and soon you'll be drinking buddies. Never fails.

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift

Get personalized planning advice, exclusive offers and must-read wedding news.

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from