If you thinking about tieing the Knott and have not yet decided if the proposal should be on bended knee or not. Well, what does it mean to go on one knee? Here’s the actual Tradition of Proposing on Bended Knee.
The tradition of a man (or woman) proposing on bended knee comes from medieval knights bowing before noblewomen. Upon getting down on one knee, the proposer will then ask their partner for their hand in marriage with the phrase “Will you marry me?”
The true history and meaning of proposing on bended knee
While the visual of a proposer on bended knee hearkens back to medieval knights bowing before noblewomen, this common gesture accompanied by the question “Will you marry me?” seems to be a somewhat recent phenomenon. Proposals used to look a lot more like the process of buying a house: “Have your realtor call my realtor. Tell her to throw in the couch, and we’ll have a deal.” Historically, marriage proposals were more like business negotiations between family representatives; romance just wasn’t a part of the picture.
Odds are if your grandmothers got engaged in the early 1960s, then it wouldn’t have been a bended knee proposal. The proposals were much more casual, maybe while seated in the front seat of a car. So, actually, what most people assume dates back centuries is rather a pretty modern invention.
The gesture of getting down on one knee while proposing has been connected to prayer, submission, deference, and respect, among other things. Though for 98 percent of people who are proposed to, we suspect the bended-knee moment elicits feelings of “It’s finally happening!”
Are bended-knee proposals worth all the hype?
An expert wedding planner says women grow up learning that a wedding will be the best day of their lives, and when combined with the norm that only men propose, it can translate to, “You know that big change in your life that we’ve told you is the most important thing? You have no agency over when and if that happens.” Egan says this dynamic is incredibly frustrating for many people and she has had “girlfriends complain that they feel desperate or crazy wondering if/when it’s going to happen.”
Is bended-knee proposals old-fashioned?
Being in a long-term relationship, and not married. For me, “proposal culture is toxic.” I have has seen firsthand the pressure even strangers put on her boyfriend to propose: “The assumption is often that I am a ‘poor woman sitting around waiting for my boyfriend to propose to me.’ These attitudes toward women are so icky.” Another wedding planner says, “I think people get caught up in this notion of romance and forget that it’s a giant life decision that should be discussed together at length before the agreement.”
It’s not just same-sex couples that are partaking in alternative proposals. From an unforgettable hike to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to a low-key proposal, complete with breakfast, garden blooms, and poems from the proposer, proposals have become less about the bended-knee tradition and more about the actual moment. The best proposals—bended knee or not—are meant to be authentic, genuine, and truly special for all parties involved.