June: it’s the month for blushing brides in white veils and doves trumpeting skyward. But before meeting at the alter to say “I Do,” there’s the business of “Will You Marry Me?” 

So The Kissing Expert thought it an apt time to reflect upon the query, given the commitment that hangs in the balance.

A Little History

For many centuries, and in some cultures today, the “Will You?” has been less of a request, and more of a “You Will” command with families arranging unions for economic and social alliances.  But as societies have prospered, the pursuit of marriage has evolved from practical to romantic, with young lovers deciding their fates.

While it’s hard to pinpoint its origin, the image of a man on bended knee is most commonly associated with the “Will You?”. Turns out the bended-knee proposal has spiritual roots, likened to kneeling in prayer, or before a monarch. The gesture, adopted as symbol of humility and commitment, has the added benefit of being eye level with your intended’s hand to ensure slipping the bling on the right finger!

The Ring 

While Egyptians are credited with creating the engagement ring (with the Greeks adopting it), Ancient Romans are attributed with making it tradition.  A Roman woman wore a gold band in public, and iron one while doing chores (very practical!). The diamond wouldn’t arrive on the scene until 15th century Europe when aristocratic circles began influencing social status and wealth.  

As for the designated digit, in Western cultures, it’s traditionally worn on 4th finger of the left hand, where it’s believed to touch the primary vein that runs from heart (aka “vena amoris”).

Early Traditions

Interestingly, a ring wasn’t always in the offer, and the man wasn’t always the one who asked!  A few hundred years ago, engagements were sealed with:
  • New Gloves: If a lady received a new pair from an admirer, and wore them in church Sunday, he knew he was in!
  • A Wooden Spoon: While some are born with a silver one in their mouths, men carved spoons of intent.  If the token made it onto the maiden’s neck (vs. into the sugar bowl), it was time to register for more cutlery!
  • Going ‘Sadie Hawkins’ on Leap Year: Before February 29th equaled Leap Year, the day represented being “left over”, so the fairer sex took charge with women proposing to men.  Girl power was strong even back when!

“Will You?” Today

As a timeless tradition it’s not surprising 40% of proposals are still made on bended knee, but today creative play is the signature that lends uniqueness for each couple.  

Perfectly orchestrated YouTube performances and “Will You Marry Me’s?” projected on sporting arena JumboTrons are among popular contemporary asks. Some might argue intimacy has slipped in a desire to raise the bar, but to endure as a story for the ages the proposal needs to be as priceless and perfect as the diamond, with social media serving as a court of opinion.

Speaking with her cadre of ladies and gents, The Kissing Expert has heard the gamut of delightful “Will You?’s”.  From writing on the bathroom mirror in lipstick – “Will you marry me?”, to tucking a brilliant ring into a box of Cracker Jack, they are all memorable moments.

Among some of the other special ones:

  • The Element of Surprise: One gal was convinced it would happen on a Parisian getaway.  Multiple trips to the Eiffel Tower piqued her anticipation, and while champagne popped, the question didn’t.  Returning home, it was a spontaneous trip to the Empire State Building where he made his promise! 
  • Frozen: Building a sofa out of snow, one guy intentionally baited his gal with an argument. As they sat on their frozen love seat—and at her apex of annoyance—he slipped down on his knee.  The cork from their celebratory bottle of champagne serves as a special Christmas tree ornament.
  • A Gauntlet & Giggles: After months in a long distance relationship, one young woman drew the line in the sand, so he planned dinner at a romantic restaurant, and placed a small box on her plate.  In her excitement, she stated he must call her Dad, and in his nervousness, he said to his future father in-law, “I just asked your sister to marry me!”, to which the Dad replied, “My sister’s been dead four years!”
  • In Lights: Coca-Cola played a leading role in this young man's romantic proposal. See for yourself how it transpired:

So whether the “Will You?” comes in a candlelit room, or on a Post-It, The Kissing Expert knows the lights in your eyes are sure to shine brightly as you start your journey to the aisle. And with a “Coke and Congratulations”, enjoy the moment!

Andréa Demirjian is The Kissing Expert and author of KISSING. When not thinking, talking and writing about kissing, she runs an independent marketing business. Andréa believes truly and simply that kissing is the key to peace on earth. For more kissing tips, find her on Facebook/kissingexpert.