2024 is a leap year and, traditionally, 29th February is the day when women can get down on one knee for a leap year proposal. However, do modern brides really need to wait for a leap year before they pop the question or is this simply a fun day to turn the tables on tradition?

How it all began…

The idea of a leap year proposal started in Ireland hundreds of years ago. Legend has it that St Brigid, an Irish nun, felt it was unfair that women sometimes had to wait a long time for men to propose. So, she asked the Irish patron saint, St. Patrick, for permission for women to ask instead. Eventually, St. Patrick agreed but only on one day, every four years!

Time to update ‘The Rules’?

However, while that might have been progressive thinking in the fifth century, it’s not quite so forward thinking today! Men and women can now obviously propose any time they want. Also, with the rise in same sex marriages, brides are actually proposing all the time, while plenty of men are also being proposed to. 

Celebrity brides are getting in on the act, too. Actress Jodie Turner Smith proposed to her finance Joshua Jackson, while Frozen star Kristen Bell, Succession star Sarah Snook and singer Rita Ora all popped the question to their lucky other halves.

Lots of our real brides have also gone against tradition, by proposing to their partners or by simply deciding together that they're ready to get married. So, here are a few of their stories to inspire you and help you decide whether you’re ready to make the ‘leap’…

Muti-coloured magic

Real Weddings Liverpool: Stephanie and Erol’s wonderful rainbow wedding
Stephanie and Erol

Stephanie and Erol’s rainbow-coloured big day was anything but traditional, just like their engagement. “There was no proposal, we just agreed that we wanted to get married!” says Stephanie. “No big ceremony etc. He did buy me a lovely vintage engagement ring from the 50s/60s. It's a Sri Lankan sapphire with small bead diamonds either side in the shape of a bow.”

Nadine and Ross snuggled up in a chair next to their VW photobooth.
Nadine and Ross

Nadine and Ross also decided together that the time was right. "We just sat down one evening and decided to get married." says Nadine. "Especially because our son mistakenly thought it was Ross and I getting married at a recent friends’ wedding. He told his whole class! Our daughter Amber would also talk about it and we just thought, we don't want our kids to be any older than they are now, so why not? We also wanted to share the same surname as our children and each other, so the decision felt very natural.”

In it together

Danny and Esther felt exactly the same. “We always wanted to get married but it never happened due to a lot of setbacks,” says Esther. “Having shared all of life’s ups and downs and climbed the mountains together, everything was going well. We were happy and healthy, so we planned it together. The wedding was on Friday 13th March, exactly 20 years after the day we got engaged. It was the best day of my life.”

Esther and Danny smiling at one another whileposing for photos near the waters edge
Danny and Esther

True romance in Rome

Becky and Idriss had been together for a year and a half when they  decided to get married. “We both have the same passion; to save the world,” says Becky. “When we were together time flew and I never wanted it to end. Then the pandemic came and we only had each other. We got to know each other so quickly and went through so much together in those two years, as well as falling in love and completing our masters. We both knew we were soul mates.”

Idris kissed Becky's forehead
Becky and Idriss

“It really was a joint decision and our engagement was one of the best days of my life,” says Becky. “Idris told me soon after we met that I was the woman he wanted to marry and I could just let him know when I was ready. So, after we finished our studies, I told him!"

A grown-up agreement

“Our first date was in Amsterdam,” says Lisanne. “We saw each other for the first time in real life in the city’s Dam Square. When we got engaged, we just decided to get married. There was no proposal at all! Actually, to me, that felt really grown-up."

second wedding dress from WED2B
Lisanne and Manuel

When in doubt, just ask…

Jurassic Park fan Jennifer didn’t wait long to mention getting married to her partner Peter, and the fact they were both huge dinosaur fans helped! “Peter runs his own business selling knives for outdoor pursuits, but also sells antique replica swords and armour (an interesting conversation on our first date!),” says Jennifer. “I’m a primary school teacher but I have a degree in archaeology. On our fourth date, we walked past some people getting married at the football museum in Manchester. I said, ‘Did you know you can get married under the T-rex at Manchester Museum?’ and 18 months later we did!”

Real Weddings in Manchester: Jennifer and Peters’ dino-themed day
Jennifer and Peter

A surprise double proposal 

Then there’s Claire and Kate, who both planned to propose and ended up doing it at exactly the same time! “I’d been looking at rings for a while but in February I found the one,” says Kate. “ What I didn't know was that Claire was also planning to propose and she'd also found the perfect ring and squirrelled it away.”

Claire and Kate

“A couple of months later we were in our kitchen. Claire decided to measure her finger with a ring sizer she’d bought online. She then turned to me and said, ‘Let’s measure yours’, before going straight for my ring finger. I told her to be less obvious and disappeared to get my phone charger. When I returned, I found Claire on one knee in the kitchen. Initially laughing and assuming she was joking, I told her to ‘F*** off’ and ran away. Claire, understandably concerned, was relieved to find I’d only vanished to get the ring I’d hidden away myself! Once we realised neither of us was joking, we both said, ‘Yes’. There were a lot of tears and it was absolutely perfect.”

Take the leap!

Real weddings rotherham
Rebecca and Gary

And, if you do think a leap year proposal sounds fun, take a leaf out of our real bride Rebecca’s book and just go for it! “When it came to proposing I decided to take advantage of it being a leap year,” says Rebecca. “We were in bed and it was very early, as Gary was about to leave for a week away working in London. I gave him a leather and steel bracelet with the words ‘Marry Me’ engraved on it. Gary actually didn’t say, ‘Yes’, he just laughed!”

So, how will you do it?

Groom Richard down on one knee proposing to Bride Nicky
Nicky and Richard

It just goes to show, that whenever and however you or your partner want to propose is the perfect time. Whether that’s on holiday, at home, at Christmas with your family or on the 29th February. Although, we also have couples who’ve proposed via helicopter, up mountains, trekking across Peru and many more weird and wonderful locations. However, when and where you do it really isn’t the most important thing and, of course, if you don’t want to, don’t wait to be asked!

For more amazing proposal stories and tons of romantic ideas, check out our real weddings and see how other couples did it. Also, we'd love to hear about your big day, especially if you're considering a leap year proposal. Click here to tell us more and be featured on our blog. Finally, for more inspiration, check out our Instagram, Facebook or TikTok accounts.