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Leap Year Proposals: For and Against

Assistant Editor Zoe is against leap year proposals, but her mum is all for them - which side are you on?

As 2016 is a leap year, it’s tradition on that token extra day of the year – February 29th – that women can propose to their partners. It’s not a tradition for everyone though. Assistant Editor at Hitched, Zoe Burke, grew up knowing her mum proposed to her dad – but that doesn’t mean she’s for leap year proposals. Here they argue for and against leap year proposals.

If you’re looking for proposal ideas, why not browse our 33 proposal ideas for inspiration?



Zoe Burke – Assistant Editor of Hitched and not a fan of leap year proposals

“I grew up never really knowing that it was unusual for a woman to propose to a man. It was normal to me that my mum asked my dad to marry him, and it’s something they’d joke about from time to time. I love the story, but it’s not something I want for myself.

“I massively admire my mum for having the courage to propose – whether it’s a man or a woman popping the question, I can imagine it’s incredibly nerve-wracking. I’m all for equality but the thought of proposing to my boyfriend leaves me a bit cold.

“For me, someone who always makes plans and knows what we’re doing and when, the idea of being completely surprised by such a big gesture is so romantic. I love the thought of someone loving you so much that they go to the trouble of picking out a ring you’ll like (or a place holder to make sure you’ll have a ring you like!) and secretly planning to surprise you with that heart-stopping question.

“If I did it myself, there’d be none of that surprise for me. And most men, I think it’s fair to say, propose pretty safe in the knowledge that they’re not scuppering their partner’s proposal plan. The problem with embarking on a leap year proposal is that you may be stepping on your partner’s toes and ruining a surprise (we can live in hope anyway!).

“And what do you do when you propose to a man? Would he want a ring? Do I have to get down on one knee? What about my tights? This is one old-fashion tradition I’m happy to keep. Changing my name after marriage though – that’s a whole new debate!”



Lesley Burke – mother of Zoe and a fan of leap year proposals

“I never imagined I would propose to someone. It wasn’t really the done thing, but the more time I spent with my future husband the more our conversation would turn to our future together and the idea of marriage and a happily ever after.

“One day he said to me ‘A woman can propose, you know!’ We’d only been together for about six months, but I thought, well, why not? So I said to him: “Go on then, will you marry me?” and replied with, “Name the date.”

“We still did the traditional bit after of getting the ring – a blue sapphire engagement ring surrounded by diamonds, which he bought for me. I didn’t propose with anything or get him anything as I didn’t feel the need to. We’ve now been married for 30 years and have two children and a cat. Sometimes a spontaneous gamble is worth it – you don’t need an elaborate pre-planned proposal and you certainly don’t need to wait for a man to ask.”

Considering a Leap Year Proposal?

Are you planning to surprise your partner with a leap year proposal? We’ve got some tips to help you – and don’t forget to read our 100 proposal stories for inspiration – there are a few tales of women proposing in there.

  • Be confident your partner will be happy for you to propose. If he’s quite traditional and you can imagine he would enjoy asking you to marry him, you proposing might not be what he has in mind. Try and subtly talk to friends and family to see what they think.
  • Get him a gift! It doesn’t have to be jewellery, although ‘mengagement’ rings are a thing. You could buy a nice engraved watch, bracelet or necklace to accompany your proposal.
  • Think about the setting. Do it at a big party and you might strike the wrong note – an intimate setting is way more romantic.
  • Make sure you’ve at least discussed marriage before and are on the same page – you don’t want to ask such a big question if you’re not sure of the answer.
  • If you’re too nervous to say it, why not write it down? Fill a notebook with all the reasons you want to marry him, and write down the big question on the last page.

Would you propose to your partner? If it’s definitely not for you, why not read our advice on how to get your partner to propose for more ideas about how to take your relationship to the next level. If you did propose to your partner and want to share the story, apply to be a real wedding or tweet us – @hitchedcouk. We love hearing about all things weddings and we’d definitely love to hear more about your leap year proposal!