Video: Should you ask the dad?

Last updated 13:30 01/05/2014

Is it necessary to ask the dad for his child's hand in marriage?

Your epic proposal stories

Share your stories, photos and videos.
Opinion poll

Do you think a man should ask for a woman's 'hand'?

Yes. It's respectful to her family.

No! A woman's not an object to be passed around.

I'm ambivalent on this to be honest. I don't care either way.

Vote Result

Getty Images.
PUT A RING ON IT: But should you ask the dad first? We imagine Wills did (he probably asked his grandma too). Jay Z? We're not so sure.

Related Links

Public proposals: Male ego Beautiful NZ proposal video

Relevant offers


Cowboy rides into town and pops the question Wedding in a warzone: The couple taking their wedding photographs in Homs, Syria Kiwis' KFC wedding pictures Mariah Carey 'planning triple wedding day' Nearly drowned on Monday, married on Friday Chinese celebrity couple jet to New Zealand to take wedding photos at Waitomo Caves Stuff's wedding of the week Peta Mathias: I'm bored with my fiance, so should I call off the wedding? Air New Zealand fulfills Chris and Danielle Hoffmann's wedding photograph dream Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams announces engagement

How do we feel about the tradition that sees men asking a woman's father if they can essentially 'have her'?

Is it just a sweet sign of respect? Or is it basically like filling out a change of ownership form? 

At the end of the day, this ritual is a throwback to when women were considered second-class citizens: they were, from birth, the legal property of their father. Then, if the meeting of the two men went well, they'd become the legal property of their husband. 

The whole asking for a woman's hand thing has evolved with our economy - although, it did evolve differently in different places and is still evolving in places. Generally, when people worked the fields etc., a daughter marrying off was considered first and foremost the loss of a working member of the family, and so the groom was expected to pay up - whether in livestock, cash or gold. Aka, asking the dad was a negotiation, like figuring out the price of a prize cow.

But then, as we moved indoors and had to go out and buy stuff rather than just grow it, daughters, and their need for food and trinkets, were considered a drain on the family and dads couldn't even give them away. Hence the birth of the dowry - grooms-to-be getting paid to take a woman off of her family's hands.

So, yes, the tradition remained a negotiation that treated a woman like a 'thing', it's just that the tables had turned. 

And today, with most of the world seeing marriage as something both parties enter into for love (remember that there are many cultures where dowry, forced marriage and negotiations still happen) the tradition is really more of a nicety. It's something some men feel like they 'should' do (and there are often motivations when you consider the father-of-the-bride is usually in charge of the bar tab on the big day).

But, think about this: what if he refuses? And what about her mum? She was probably quite involved in your lady love's rearing. 

So, while the nervous boyfriend's intentions are normally less sinister than the tradition's mercantile roots, should we not just do away with it? Or has it just evolved into a harmless rite-of-passage?

What do you think? Did you ask? Or did your partner ask?

- Hat tip: More FM

Ad Feedback

- Stuff


Special offers
Opinion poll

What do you think of the "Game Over" T-shirt?

It's hilarious!

It's dumb, but not offensive

I'm offended

Vote Result

Related story: Anti-wedding T-shirts in bad taste

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content