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Most of us are familiar with the (American? Secular?) image of a proposal. The man kneels and says "will you marry me?" and so on. But what does an Orthodox proposal look like? I'm interested in any minhagim people have to share: yeshivish, chassidish, sephardi, etc.

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    I took an ad out in the school newspaper, though I sense that this is not standard practice. – rosends Dec 1 '14 at 14:21
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    In the circles I inhabit (American, mostly modern and Yeshivhish Orthodox, mostly Ashenazic), I have heard of many ways people have proposed and have not heard of any that were governed by a minhag. – Isaac Moses Dec 1 '14 at 14:25
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    I think classically Jewish matches are(/were) made by parents/guardians, with the couple agreeing to but not proposing the match. So there's no proposal, properly, unless you mean the one in which a match is proposed by a third party. Do you mean to restrict your question to modern cases, where one of the potential couple proposes marriage to the other? cc @IsaacMoses – msh210 Dec 1 '14 at 14:37
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    @msh210, that sounds to me like a minhag worth documenting in an answer, perhaps including the tenayim document, which would have sealed such an interfamily proposal back when it was more than a formal execution document for some poor piece of tableware. – Isaac Moses Dec 1 '14 at 14:46
  • I've heard of people doing all sorts of crazy things -- giving her a Snapple with "Will you marry me?" as the Snapple fact stands out. (see, eg, this Snapple cap) – Shokhet Dec 2 '14 at 2:29
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In some more "Yeshivish" circles (this was pretty normal among my crowd in Yeshiva), the custom is to propose with a bracelet, not a ring, and it is usually done with some formulation of "will you marry me." If the "question" is asked, people are careful to do so without any witnesses, to prevent the marriage taking halachic effect. The kneeling thing is discouraged, either as a formal issue of chukas hagoyim or just as a sensitivity to the same issue.

A Rebbe of mine encouraged us to not do big fancy proposals, as they set a standard of excitement which is hard to live up to in real marriage.

I heard that R' Tzvi Berkowitz proposed to his wife by asking her, towards the end of a date, "so, should we schedule a chasuna?"

  • As @Yishai explained in an answer to a question he's about to post a link to in a comment, there's a Chabad practice, too, of not giving a ring until the wedding. – Isaac Moses Dec 1 '14 at 19:58
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    That's a great story, in your last paragraph....though I suspect that not everybody is capable of pulling that off. – Shokhet Dec 1 '14 at 19:58
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/38594/… – Yishai Dec 1 '14 at 20:01
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Several of my friends and I, did an informal proposal at our respective girl's parents' home, at the point that the girl was interested. I suggest doing this, of course, if there is a high assumption that the girl will agree, otherwise, everyone is in for a lot of embarrassment.

Part of doing this, is that it is considered courteous to inform the parents and receive their approval. Sometimes, the parents disapprove. In that case, obviously, you have to use a different plan, which may involve, occasionally, funding your own wedding. (Remember, there is no halacha that says that you MUST have the wedding cost 1/2 an annual salary :-)

  • Was a gift involved? If so, was it arranged so that there wouldn't be 2 kosher eidim who saw it happen? – Daniel Nov 10 '15 at 14:42
  • @Daniel AFAIK, wouldn't kiddushin require a formal harei at.. which was not done, then. Even if this is not required, my fiancée's parents, who were the only two in the house, AFAIK, are not kosher witnesses as they are direct relatives. – DanF Nov 10 '15 at 18:21
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    @DanF There is no need to say anything at all so long as it's clear you're trying to get married. – Double AA Nov 10 '15 at 18:40
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I'm getting married in December. After my kallah and I were getting to know each other for some time and we felt more confidently about moving forward we started discussing getting married and asking each other questions that were important to us to find out about the other person. When we got engaged we went to the Ohel to request a bracha from the Rebbe on our upcoming marriage. The closest thing to what you are describing is in the ceremony of the chuppah which is the bracha concerning marriage and then the verse that the groom says while placing the ring on the finger of his bride which reads in English, "with this ring, you are consecrated to me according to the law of Moses and Israel."

There are a few issues with the secular way of asking for marriage for a Jewish person... 1)usually this is not done at the wedding ceremony and is actually the way someone proposes to be married which in effect is the engagement. however, in Jewish law using such an expression especially if followed by a gift may actually mean the two people are married and not just engaged. 2) Just my thoughts on the matter... the relationship of husband of wife is one of mashpia and mekabel. kneeling towards are showing such extreme reverence upsets that balance and makes for an unhealthy marriage. there is a reason that 50% of all marriages in goyish America fail. There is no understanding of what it means to be husband and wife.

  • Does this answer the question? Was your visit to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's grave a form of engagement? Further, the Rambam (Ishus 15:19) states that a husband should be מכבד his wife יותר מגופו. Is kneeling one time really too excessive so as to throw off the balance of their entire relationship? – Chaim Sep 4 '16 at 3:56
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    going to the ohel is a custom associated with the engagement and not the engagement itself. Previously when the Rebbe was alive people would write a letter asking for a blessing for their engagement. the "engagement" today takes place over 2 stages. One being less formal in which 2 parties both agree to marry and raise a peice of clothing to symbolize this agreement. The formal agreement known as the tannoyim take place right before the wedding in a similar fashion. – Dude Sep 4 '16 at 4:07
  • The tannoyim used to be done weeks in advance of the chassuna itself but now to avoid having to have a formal break up procedure if the two decide not to get married the tanoyim is done right before the chuppah. As far as getting down on one knee. It just isn't how Jewish marriages are initiated and yes one event can have negative impacts on a relationship if doing this one action is based on a misunderstanding of marriage – Dude Sep 4 '16 at 4:09
  • +1 your view on this subject seems to be the closest to the truth, I personally am trying to figure out what is dating and how is it supposed to be done (the man's side), I whould really appreciate your opinion, first question, (the way I see it a man/mashpia can theoretically marry any woman), if a man trusts his father to find him a wife, what is such a man to do on a date?, I recently decided that i should boast end tell to her my good traits, and that I will take care of her, will doing this make me less of a mashpia? – hazoriz Jan 6 '17 at 4:47
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    A (very) belated mazal tov to you and your wife, @Dude! :) – Shokhet Mar 28 '17 at 16:26
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I would think that it would be an intelligent move to ensure that both her parents, and the Lady is is acceptable to your proposal before proposing to her. I would further ensure that the actual request would be done in private, as someone earlier mentioned the halachic consequences of there being any witnesses to the proposal. Then in the event of either person having a mind change, there are no complications. Each simply goes their own way again.

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