Marriage proposals have been on all of our minds lately with this being a leap year and all. If you have been hiding on another planet, a leap year (by tradition) gives a girl the chance to propose to her man – either because she wants to take the bull by the horns and do it herself or she thinks that he’s never going to get round to doing it!

Think of special ways you can propose
Think of special ways you can propose to your loved one.

Some of you will know that I’ve been married twice. Not quite out of choice – I was widowed at the age of 31 with a young baby and have subsequently married again and every aspect of the relationship, story and the men themselves has been different. Quite apart from the two very different weddings, the proposals were poles apart, too – for the first we’re talking a dark, slightly seedy nightclub in Bath and I practically had to drag him out to buy me a ring.

The second time I was whisked off to Rome for the weekend. On arrival at our hotel, my boyfriend dashed off (with the room key) complaining off a bad stomach, leaving me standing in the reception for a good 10 minutes. He had in fact been checking that the ring and Champagne on ice were in place in our room with its delightful little roof terrace overlooking the city that lends itself to romance…

Then there’s the brilliant baby proposal, where it was the girl’s birthday but her boyfriend asked her to change their baby’s nappy ‘just this once this morning’ then he’d do them for the rest of the day. She undid the baby’s sleepsuit and he was wearing a vest saying: ‘Will you marry my daddy?’. Wedding Ideas’ managing editor Rachel went to a Take That concert where a couple where dragged up onto the stage by Mark Owen because the girl had a dream to sing with Take That.

Gary Barlow promptly announced that that was not what this was all about, at which point the man got down on one knee to propose, in front of thousands of cheers. Straight afterwards Gary sat down at his piano and sang A Million Love Songs to the couple. How do you top that? Well one of our cherished clients Sheree from Cute Maps returned home from work to find her man in full Scottish dress, surrounded by a Scottish landscape that he had made using toy sheep, paper maché and plasticine. He even had a stream running down the middle of the set! He got down and one knee and said he was sorry that they hadn’t been able to have their annual trip to Scotland that year, so he had brought Scotland to her. I wonder if they had haggis, neeps and tatties for tea?!

Those are stories of men who got it right. It isn’t always the case. We often hear of bodged attempts, inappropriate or tedious efforts from men who simply don’t know how best to do it. Or emotional end-of-the-hospital bed type scenarios. Or even slightly awkward. Our Brand Manager Pippa was proposed to on the London Eye. He had a ring but didn’t get down one knee and was really, really embarrassed. The delight of their fellow pod passengers just added to the chagrin. And sometimes we hear tales of how he turned round in the ad break on a Wednesday night and said: ‘Shall we do this?’ We love spontaneity, so that will do. Just.

Despite us declaring that anything goes (as long as it gets done), we all agree that there are golden rules when planning a marriage proposal. Having been proposed to twice in very different ways, I think I can say that my one big tip is to ask the father’s permission. Of course, sadly he isn’t always still around but if he is, it’s a lovely tradition, which gets her parents excited about it before it’s even happened. Even my lackadaisical late hubby got that one right…