The Truth About Asking for a Blessing to Marry Your Partner

It's giving old school, but this conversation can be a core memory for your future in-laws.
Man asking for father-in-laws approval
Photo: Stígur Már Karlsson Heimsmyndir / Getty Images
Jenn sinrich headshot
Jenn Sinrich
Jenn sinrich headshot
Jenn Sinrich
The Knot Contributor
  • Jenn writes articles for The Knot Worldwide, with a speciality in planning advice and travel.
  • Jenn also writes for a myriad of other large-scale publications, including SELF, Women's Health, and more
  • Prior to becoming a freelance writer, Jenn worked as an on-staff editor at, American Baby, Fit Pregnancy and FreshDirect.
Updated Aug 21, 2023

If you're in a serious relationship and think that a wedding may be in your near future, chances are, you've put some thought into how you're going to propose or be proposed to by your significant other. For so many people, the very first step for the proposer involves asking for at least one of the parents' blessings to marry their child. Traditionally, this is the groom asking the father's blessing or permission, but, in modern times, it can look a little different. In fact, it's not uncommon for a groom to ask the mother's blessing, or even a step-parent's blessing. It's also not out of the question for a bride to be the one asking for permission to take someone's hand in marriage.

"While this is by no means a requirement in order to propose to your partner, it's often seen as a sign of respect and speaks to valuing the opinion of your partner's parents," explains Kevin Dennis, owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services in Livermore, California. "It can be a great way to honor the parents, knowing that it's less about wanting permission to marry and more so wanting to include them in this big life decision."

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History of the Tradition: Asking a Father to Marry His Daughter

Believe it or not, but the tradition of a groom asking a bride's father for his blessing to marry his daughter dates back all the way to ancient Rome (we're talking BC). Back in those days, women were considered to be the property of their fathers until they married and ultimately became the property of their husbands. Clearly (and thank goodness), that's no longer our reality.

In addition to sealing the actual transfer of ownership of the woman, asking for a father's blessing to marry his daughter was also to ensure that whoever their daughter was marrying would be in good hands and well taken care of, but it was also because women didn't have the same autonomy as they do now, Dennis points out.

It wasn't until the 18th and 19th centuries where this tradition began to evolve to a less transactional and more respectful type of endeavor.

Should You Ask for a Blessing to Marry Your Partner?

Whether or not you should ask for a blessing to marry your partner is dependent on a myriad of factors and, ultimately, up to you and your partner, as well as your respective beliefs and values. "If your partner comes from a very traditional family who is expecting you to sit down with them and discuss your plans to propose, it may be a necessary part of the process to avoid hurting any feelings," says Dennis. "Likewise, if you're very close to their family, it might be important to you to include them."

He agrees, however, that there are no direct rules to follow. It's ultimately up to you and your partner to decide if asking for a parent's blessing is something of importance to one or both of you.

What to Do If You Do Want to Ask for a Blessing

If you think that asking for a blessing from one or both of your partner's parents is something you'd like to do, follow these tips to pull it off the right way.

Do a bit of research.

Investigate whether or not this is something that's being expected of you. Perhaps your partner comes from a cultural background where this is commonplace. It's a good idea to know ahead of time whether or not your partner's parents are expecting to be a part of the proposal conversation. You could also ask your partner to give you a heads up as to whether or not they'd like you to do this should you become engaged in the near future.

Put a meeting on the calendar.

This is not a topic of conversation to just throw out there at a random date or time. Be intentional about inviting them to have a conversation with you, ideally in person. "Unless you have some considerable geographical distance between you, avoid asking them over the phone, as this can come off a little impersonal if they live close by, so dropping by for a quick visit is the better move if you're on the fence," says Dennis. "That said, if they live across the country, it may not be so easy to coordinate a trip with your partner without tipping them off." If so, he notes that a FaceTime call or video chat would be acceptable.

Prepare your speech.

It's a good idea to think about what you'd like to say to your future in-laws ahead of time so that it comes out the way you want it to. In addition to asking them the actual question of "can I have your blessing to marry your daughter or son," come up with a story or a heartfelt reason as to why you want to marry them and how you plan to love and take care of them through sickness and in health.

Make sure they can keep a secret.

"When asking them for their blessing and including them, be sure to outline your plans for the proposal so they know a time frame for keeping the secret," says Dennis. "Avoid any miscommunication by letting them know that your partner doesn't know it's coming, that way they don't accidentally spill the beans before you have a chance to pop the question."

Alternatives To Asking For A Blessing To Marry Someone

Asking for anyone's blessing to marry the love of your life might not quite meet your comfort level—and that's OK. There are many other ways you can show signs of respect to your partner's parents without actually asking for their blessing.

Give them a heads up.

Dennis recommends sitting your partner's parents down and at least letting them know that you're planning to propose. Hopefully, they are supportive of your endeavors. Either way, they can appreciate that you're showing them the level of respect to actually tell them ahead of time so they're not blindsided by your engagement.

Include them in ring shopping.

"It can be common for the person proposing to enlist the help of their partner's best friend when it comes to ring shopping," says Dennis. "Including the parents (or your partner's mom) in the mix can be a sweet gesture, especially if it's an instance where their parent(s) have been saving a family ring for them."

Ask for their help with the proposal.

Dennis also suggests asking for your future in-laws' help with planning a surprise engagement—or engagement party. "This gives them a purpose and makes them feel special without making anyone uncomfortable by feeling like they have to give or ask for permission," he says. "If you're planning to pop the question on an upcoming trip or some sort of destination or event they have planned, consider inviting your partner's parents along for the trip, even if it's to surprise your partner after you get formally engaged."

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