Tradition dictates that a classic proposal involves someone getting down on one knee. From the moment we heard our first fairy tale to the last time we watched a questionable rom-com on Netflix, it’s the romantic scenario that we’ve been conditioned to expect from any potential partner wishing to involve us in their happy ever after. But have you ever stopped to question exactly why proposals tend to play out in this way?
Her.ie and wedding site Engagement Ring Bible wondered exactly that and delved into the history behind this proposal tradition, discovering that it dates back to medieval times or, as ERB puts it, ‘the days of knighthood chivalry and formal courtship.’
‘Knights would get down on one knee in front of their lord as a display of respect, obedience and loyalty. It was also a common occurrence in religious ceremonies, and in those days marriage and religion were intrinsically linked,’ the site explains.
‘So when a courteous gentleman was proposing to his lady, pledging his allegiance to her and declaring his undying love for her, getting down on one knee was the natural thing to do.’
While other wedding traditions are often quite unsettling in their origins (bridesmaids originally wore matching dresses to distract evil spirits from the bride to be), it seems that this particular one actually comes from a place of love and respect. Touching, no?
When it comes to the wedding ring itself, we have Pope Innocent III to thank. In 1214, he introduced a law decreeing that affianced couples had to observe a waiting period between the proposal and the marriage contract. During this time, they were each ordered to wear a ring on their finger as a sign of their commitment.