Dear 100 Hour Board,
Not that I'm on either end of this issue, but it'd be good to know what to do when/if this comes up.
Do you think that it is necessary to ask your future father-in-law's permission to marry his daughter (your girlfriend)? Should you ask before or after proposing to your girlfriend?
On the other end of this, what would you talk to your future son-in-law about if he asked your permission to marry your daughter?
-The Tropeical Meme
A few of us weighed in on this in Board Question #53311. In my mind, it's not about permission, it's about politely letting him know of your intentions with the understanding that ultimately, it's not really up to him at all.
- Rating Pending (who will probably make some jokes about the amount of my daughter's dowry with my future son-in-law before telling him that he gets nothing but the pleasure of her company)
As for a more current writer's take, here's mine. I didn't ask my father-in-law's permission to marry his daughter. About a week after we got engaged, we came home to visit our respective families (both live in the same city, actually). I spent plenty of time with her family and got to know them, but I never felt that I would need to secure anyone's permission. This is hardly a day and age in which a couple wouldn't get married because a parent disapproved. (In fact, a parent's disapproval might make some couples more likely to get married.)
My feelings on the subject might best be summarized Pride and Prejudice-style:
BINGLEY: Then... I have your blessing?
DARCY: [amused] Do you need my blessing?
BINGLEY: No. But I should like to know I have it all the same.
I don't think you need to have her parents' approval or blessing in order to get married. But it's nice to know they like you, and I'm sure they'd like to know that you're going to be good to their daughter. That's something I'd like to know about the suitors for my still-not-even-a-twinkling-in-my-eye daughters.
It's fairly standard nowadays to propose first and then ask the father for the girl's hand as a formality. In my own opinion, calling up a girl's father before you've squared things with the girl seems quite risky. If you're considering marriage, she ought to know about it. That way you're sure of her answer and she can advise you about whether or not to do things formally. Very few people bother with it anymore, but when my first sister got engaged her fiancé called my dad to declare his intentions and ask his permission. Instead of just giving him the go-ahead as was expected, my dad informed my future brother-in-law that he'd like him to provide some references. You heard me; references.
A week later we got a packet in the mail full of letters from mission presidents, employers, and bishops, all informing us that my sister's intended was the most upstanding young man they'd ever met. After that my dad gave his permission, and he went through the same exact routine when my second sister got engaged. In both cases my dad hadn't met the man in question and wanted some assurances. By the time I got married, my dad really didn't care anymore about grilling future sons-in-law, so my husband was able to slip under the radar.
As for my own daughters getting married, I believe it's a parent's right to inquire about a suitor's maturity, state of finances, education, family, and standing in the Church.
I did not and would not ask for permission from a girl's parents. However, I did call them to inform them--both of them, not just her father--before the proposal and to ask for their approval (which, in my definition, means that they can agree but their disapproval has no real effect). Stargirl and I had already discussed marriage ourselves and didn't feel like we needed anyone's permission, but it was nice to know they approved of the idea. Luckily, they did, and I didn't have to tell anyone off or defy their wishes. But I would have if it came to it.
Perhaps it is an individual matter; Stargirl's parents are pretty serious about etiquette, and she made it known beforehand that she would prefer that I spoke to them. It might be best to figure out what the future girl of your dreams thinks about the matter.
In my personal case, there were some questions about future plans for work and school, a bit of advice, and an expression of their support and love for both of us. It was overall a good experience, and one that I feel contributed to my relationship with them. So, I'd probably follow suit if the need ever arises for me.
Dear Tropical Meme,
Perhaps the best person to ask would be a father of a young woman of age, which I am not. However, I can give you my opinion for what it's worth.
I don't think it's necessary to ask for permission from the bride-to-be's parents. I do think that it's nice and respectful to ask for a blessing, and I also think that it's best to ask both parents (if applicable) instead of just the father; asking for a father's permission to marry his daughter could be considered antiquated and a little sexist.