How NOT to Ask Her to Marry You

by JoHarrington

No-one's denying that it's nerve-wracking being the one to go down on one knee. But there are some definite no-nos in popping the question.

A wedding proposal is one of the most intense moments in anyone's life.

It can be fabulous or a complete failure, but the answer to that question will shape your whole future. With so much riding upon it, it's hardly surprising that so much thought goes into how to ask her to marry you.

And some men get it completely wrong, often with hilarious results. Check out what this lot did, then wonder at how the majority still managed to get her to say 'yes'!

So Much Pressure in Popping the Question

This moment changes lives. From the instant that answer is given, then all future life plans have to factor in two, and possibly children too!

Image: Wedding ProposalFor most of us in the West, the tradition is for a man to ask a woman to be his bride.  It's not unknown (and increasingly common) for it to happen the other way around, but still people expect the onus to be on the males.

This means that many women won't ask him to marry her, even if she would like that very much. She'll wait silently hoping that he'll ask her.

Hence there's a ridiculous amount of pressure for men to initiate a marriage. He has to guess whether she is likely to want this too. Then he has to judge the right moment to ask her. It falls to him to research the traditional rites involved in this milestone, then to plan it all to perfection.

If he gets any part of that wrong, then the result could well be humiliation and/or the end of a beautiful relationship.

Yet the females feel the pressure too. They have no idea if, or when, that question might be asked. When it is, then they are put on the spot, having to make a life-changing decision with just a split second's knowledge.

At least he had time to contemplate the implications first.

So what is a marriage proposal?  It's two people acting under a lot of pressure, focusing upon a decision that will map their whole future lives. And we wonder why some marriage proposals go so badly wrong...

Marriage Proposal in Dubai Mall Goes Horribly Wrong

I really do recommend that you watch this to the end. Oh dear! Awkward.

Would it ruin the cringe-giggling, or make it all better to know that the Dubai Mall wedding proposal fail couple are actors? 

The whole stunt was part of a viral online campaign by Cadbury's - hence the train which cut across the picture - to promote their Not So Sweet Bourneville Chocolate range.

However, just because this one was fake, it doesn't mean that similar things haven't happened in real life too.  As this lot aptly demonstrate:

I've been reading all morning the comments on videos, like the above, of failed marriage proposals caught on film. I was absolutely stunned by the fact that so many of them launched into vitriolic reprimands towards the ladies involved.

The general feeling was that she should always say yes - regardless of her true feelings on the matter - in order to spare his blushes.

To my mind, the facts of the matter are quite otherwise. He created that situation in the full knowledge that she could either say 'yes' or 'no'. That's a 50/50 chance either way. That it might be 'no' was the risk that he took when popping the question.

As for 'she shouldn't have humiliated him!', that's a bizarre one. He's just humiliated her. He's put her on the spot, during one of the most important decisions of her life, and ensured that there's a huge audience to watch her.

In those circumstances, the pressure is immense for her to say 'yes'. And isn't that precisely why so many prospective bridegrooms ask the question in public?  He's trying to emotionally blackmail her into marrying him.

So he's using coercive tactics and embarrassing her, yet she's the nasty individual for refusing to play along?  Let's put this to the vote!

Do You Have the Right to Say 'No' to a Public Marriage Proposal?

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Thamisgith on 03/28/2014

You have the right to say no to anything you don't want to do - in public or in private.

Guest on 03/12/2014

I reckon so, especially if you honestly think there's no future with this ... insert your own descriptive.

Mira on 03/10/2014

I can't believe men would resort to such tactics. Some probably don't think of manipulating the woman; they just want an audience for what they see as their big moment, when the woman will say yes. Regardless of the motive, it's a terrible way to propose, for many reasons. I mean, a food court?!:)

Jo_Murphy on 03/09/2014

To say yes when you mean no could become a life sentence!

Ember on 03/09/2014

I think this is a stupid question. It doesn't matter the situation, the answer should be honest. Obviously that is far more difficult to talk about it in a public situation.

I think two things. By the time you're ready to propose, you should know how the SO feels about getting married. And you should know how they'd feel about a public proposal. etc.

Wedding Proposal Interrupted by a Giant Wave!

Health and safety is key, especially when you're engaged in planning for your future.

Set and setting is quite important.  Even if you wisely opt for a private affair - without the eyes of millions placing pressure on the marriage proposal - that doesn't mean that your environment can't intrude in unforeseen ways.

The gentleman above thought that going down on one knee in the middle of a sea-washed slab was a good idea. He was lucky that neither of them were seriously injured, when a wave knocked them clean out to shore!

This is one of the most important moments of your life. Try not to cripple your prospective spouse in the asking.

And remember your own physical reactions too, as Cody should have done during his proposal of marriage.

Drops the Ring Off a Waterfall While Proposing!

The best thing about having a mate who is a professional cameraman is that you get your proposal filmed. The worst thing is what he actually films!

When Cody decided to ask Amberlie to marry him, he enlisted his best friend Tyson Henderson to help. As Tyson makes a living out of filming special moments, he offered to catch this wedding proposal on tape.

It wasn't so strange that Tyson took his camera on that trek to a local waterfall. He was always recording his friends and family in this way. It wasn't like the couple were alone. Tyson took his fiancee too.

So Cody had his big moment all worked out - the scenery, the romance, not too public a proposal, the friend filming, and a beautiful day.  What he hadn't figured upon was how much his hands would be shaking at the time.

Top tip, marriage suitors! You're going to be nervous. Try not to stand too close to anywhere that the ring might be lost, if your trembling fingers drop it. Because the odds are high that you will.

Cody had both engagement ring and wedding band at his fingertips. The latter ended up flying over the edge of a waterfall and crashing into the waters below. Some might take that as a bad omen. Others might laugh.

Fortunately for him, it all worked out well in the end.

Unlike this next man. It wasn't the ring that he lost, it was his temper.

Wedding Proposal that Ends in Jail

It should have been a romantic break in Cozumel. The perfect surroundings for Ryan to pop the question... ish...

Another great tip for a successful wedding proposal is to not get angry, when it's not all going quite according to plan. Ryan Houston's bad example is a case in point.

He'd done everything right. He'd booked a quiet holiday for himself and his girlfriend Laura Yearout, in a sun-drenched resort in Cozumel. He'd even arranged a romantic meal for two, out on a pier with the ocean lapping all around. It should have been beautiful.

But someone had moored their yacht right behind the couple.

On the verge of asking Laura to marry him, Ryan glanced over her shoulder and saw a man in Speedos stand up and stretch. Just feet away, the man looked across at the couple. Feeling the moment somewhat ruined, Ryan leapt from his seat and untied the yacht, pushing it out to sea.

There's no record of what the man in the Speedos did. But presumably he called the police, because before Ryan had geared himself up to finally make his proposal, he was staring into the eyes of a Mexican constable.

As he was handcuffed and being dragged away, Ryan yelled at Laura to get 'something' out of his pocket. She did. It was the ring. She freaked the Hell out and dropped the ring, right into the ocean.

It transpired that the yacht wasn't actually damaged. After a while cooling his heels inside, Ryan was let go to continue the rest of his holiday.

Which is when Laura told him what she'd done. He spent the next two hours in full Scuba gear, combing the sea floor until he discovered the errant engagement ring. The words 'lucky man' spring to mind. I would have guessed it drifted well out on the currents by then!

He returned to his girlfriend on the beach and finally asked her if she'd be his wife. She said 'yes'.  Personally? I'd have entered in a clause there. A tentative yes, depending upon whether or not he subscribes to some anger management classes.

And if your great planned proposal doesn't go quite as scripted?  Then let it happen. This next bloke redeemed his moment brilliantly. You'll not be able to watch this without laughing.

The Epic (Fail) Marriage Proposal

Absolutely everything goes wrong, but the innovative suitor turned it into comedy gold.

Over-complicating things means that there is more to potentially go wrong. The best wedding proposals are kept simple.

Personally, I'm really glad that film-maker Nick Plagman decided to create a whole movie set of his marriage proposal. But that's only because I can selfishly giggle like mad at the outcome. As for poor Sarah Madsen, I'm amazed that she ever worked out what he was trying to ask her, in the midst of all that chaos!

The pertinent point is that complicated proposals of marriage can easily be doomed. There is so much to remember, at a moment when your mind might be frozen with nerves, and there is plenty that may not pan out as planned.

Keep it simple and it won't end up looking like a farce. Unless, of course, that's what you planned. Like this next band of ill-advised suitors did.

Meanest Marriage Proposal Ever!

I honestly thought that this was a joke. A prank wedding proposal played out by actors. Nope. It was horribly, horribly real.

Nikki and John are known for playing pranks upon each other, not to mention on their family and friends. But surely there's a time and a place?

The way that John popped the question (or should that be plopped the question?) meant that Nikki wasn't even entirely sure that he was in earnest.  To be fair, neither did anyone watching the video afterwards, and we weren't contending with gunk dripping in our ears.

It was certainly a memorable, but probably the most immature wedding proposal ever between two consenting adults.

There was more than a hint of childishness, and John framed the whole thing in such a way that he could claim to have only been joking if she had said no. Maybe that's a win-win situation for himself, but it equally risked Nikki saying no out of sheer spite.

I think it would take a certain kind of woman to say yes after a prank proposal. Fortunately for John, Nikki is apparently one of those women.  As were these two ladies in the wedding proposal prank videos below.  (Watch out for strong language. Fury is the first reaction, then a 'yes' if they're ready to forgive him quickly.)

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Updated: 03/16/2014, JoHarrington
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JoHarrington on 03/13/2014

Ah! And that is a brilliant proposal! Beautifully done, and you got the ring that you wanted. Not to mention that it was a success in terms of you saying yes.

Guest on 03/13/2014

No to both guesses. At least as far as I know *wink*. You'll meet him in a couple of months, so long as you're still coming to Revival, so you can draw your own conclusions. But I do think that familial approval (aka arranged marriage) doesn't only happen in certain cultures and that some families can become a little too...controlling?... of their younger members, which cramps their style and stops them from reaching full potential. Fortunately, my husband has always had his own mind, regardless of the fact that his family treat him otherwise and resent me for becoming involved with him. His 'proposal' involved stopping pointedly in front of a store in the Jewelry Quarter of Manhattan and saying 'we should go in and look at engagement rings'. To this day I don't know whether either set of parents expected this turn of events, but mine have reacted far better than his family.

JoHarrington on 03/12/2014

Mmm... did you marry a member of the aristocracy or something? Or someone from a rival clan is a Medieval feud?

Guest on 03/12/2014

According to us, yes. According to others, not necessarily. And, as some of your videos show, sometimes even the other partner can have other ideas, with or without input from their family.

JoHarrington on 03/12/2014

Ah! One of those tricky situations. :( Surely it was up to your husband who he wanted to marry?

Guest on 03/12/2014

No, but I suspect it's the same jealous streak that caused some of my in-laws to become outlaws after realising that a) I was here, b) I was staying and c) I was taking their relation to be my lawful wedded husband because we wanted to get married, not for any other reason.

JoHarrington on 03/12/2014

Wow! Did the former boyfriend ever say what precisely prompted that?

I think couples know when they're meant to be together. There should be no question about it, at the moment of proposal.

Guest on 03/12/2014

I had a former boyf turn around and tell me he didn't like the way my parents were treating him as 'potential marriage material'. As my parents had been nothing but polite throughout, he didn't last long after that. Conversely my husband gets on very well with my parents, my dad in particular, which makes life much easier. Like them, we fell into marriage, having spent several years together without any major bust ups or fallings out with each other.

JoHarrington on 03/10/2014

Thank you very much! :)

Mira on 03/10/2014

So much psychology packed in these videos ;-) Great page, Jo!!

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