Should Women Really Only Be Allowed To Propose On A Leap Year?

We’ve come a long way but it seems when to comes to marriage, it’s still men who ask the big question

Should women really only be allowed to propose on a Leap Year?

by Kate Randall |
Published on

Pink did it, as did Succession star Sarah Snook and actress Kristen Bell but will many women this Leap Year follow suit and propose to their partner on February 29th? Traditionally females have only been ‘allowed’ to pop the question every four years - but times have changed and people can propose to who they want whenever they want. In the celebrity world it’s a lot more common for a woman to ask their partner to marry them but in the real world, it doesn’t seem as popular. So is the Leap Year proposal an outdated tradition? Or should more women, instead of waiting to be asked, take the initiative and get down on one knee if that’s what they really want?

According to new research, more than half still support it, while 27 percent of women would ask their man to marry them, with 36 percent of men ready to accept. And relationship expert Jo Hemmings tells Grazia that while we’ve come a long way in terms of equality, there are still certain jobs a man is expected to do and a woman proposing shouldn’t be seen as desperate but instead as empowering. 'I think it’s nice that a quarter of women would still considering proposing on February 29th and it definitely makes their proposals different others,' she says. 'Despite making huge steps with equality, it is still seen as the man’s "job" to propose, even if the woman has been dropping big hints. I don’t think the tradition is outdated.'

But for Sophie, an Area Manager at Amazon, there is no way she’s going to ask her boyfriend to marry her even if it is a Leap Year as she already has the proposal sorted out in her head.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard
Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard ©Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

'I know I could propose if I wanted but I genuinely appreciate the tradition of being proposed to,' she says. 'My boyfriend has a joke though that every time I mention getting married, he pushes the proposal back a month. At this rate he'll be popping the question when we're retired. I've already planned how I'll be proposed to down to the last detail. It'll happen somewhere with great food, great weather and great beaches - Mexico or Jamaica are possible contenders. Timing is crucial - it'll be right in the middle of the holiday. Too early and I won't be able to keep it a secret and too late means we won't get to enjoy our engagement bubble. We'll have a gorgeous dinner, then drinks on the beach with a ring for dessert.'

But Jo says it really doesn’t make any difference as to who asks who as long as both of them want to get married.

'I don’t think who proposes to who makes any difference to the marriage and if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. It also doesn’t have to be on February 29th as that doesn’t give women many opportunities.'

Don’t procrastinate for too long – proposing can be a nerve-wracking experience, so watch out for signs that your partner might be ready for you to pop that question, be brave and ask them.

That can certainly be said of Pink, who proposed to Carey Hart back in 2005, while the motocross star was racing. As he began his third lap, the singer – who has gone on to have two children with Carey – held up a pit board that read, ‘Will you Marry Me’ and when he didn’t pull over, she added, ‘Serious?!’

Kristen Bell took an even more modern approach by tweeting partner Dax Shepard after same-sex marriage was legalised in California in 2013, and wrote, '@daxshepard1 will you marry me? Xo #marriageequality #loveislove, to which he replied, "F**k yes!!!!!!!!!!!" And it was the 2020 pandemic which inspired Sarah Snook to pop the question to her husband Dave Lawson, revealing back in 2021, 'At the beginning of the pandemic last year, I got locked down in Melbourne with one of my best mates and we fell in love. We've been friends since 2014, lived together, travelled together, always excited to see each other, but totally platonic. We've just never been single at the same time. I proposed and we got married in February in my backyard.'

But whether you do it on February 29th or any other date, Jo says there are certain rules to follow when it comes to proposing and announcing the engagement.

Pink and Carey Hart
Pink and Carey Hart ©Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

'Do make sure your lifestyle values are aligned – as well as discussing what you’d like from the wedding itself, it’s important that you’re on the same page about factors like finance, having children and long-term commitment,' she says. 'If one of you is a spender and the other a splurger, or one a party animal while the other is more of a stay at home and watch telly person, there are ways to compromise around this but it’s really important to agree on having – or not having children – and when.'

She also says that it’s also important to think about the actual proposal and whether your partner would prefer a big showy, public proposal or something more intimate. According to research from Amazon’s Chatterbox, which provides unique insight into UK life by questioning some of their 75,000 diverse employees, 80 percent of us do not want a showy, OTT proposal despite the current trends on social media. And if you’re nervous about proposing, just go ahead and do it.

Jo advises, 'Don’t procrastinate for too long – proposing can be a nerve-wracking experience, so watch out for signs that your partner might be ready for you to pop that question, be brave and ask them. There isn’t a right or wrong period of time to wait or ask either – some people feel ready within a few months, others might take a couple of years or longer.'

But once the proposal has happened, the most important thing to do is to make sure your close friends and family find out before reading it on Instagram or Facebook.

'Tell both sets of parents first if that’s an option,' she says. 'Lovely for the both of you to do it together in person if you can, but if they live too far away then do it via a video communications platform so it feels more personal. If your parents are divorced, then make sure all parties know at much the same time. After that comes close friends and other family members and, in this instance, I think a phone call is perfect. It feels more special than a text and allows you to share your excitement and happiness with those who love you the most. But never put a post up on social media before telling those close to you as the arguments might happen before the wedding planning has even started.'

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