Eight women who decided to propose

Stock image of a woman proposing to a man Image copyright iStock

According to tradition, 29 February is a day when women can propose to their partners. One person who has just taken advantage of this is Molly Gibney from Bristol in the UK. This is how she, and seven other women who proposed, asked their loved ones to marry them.

"We've talked about marriage a lot," says Molly," but I decided to do it on 29 February, since that's true to tradition."

At midday, she proposed to her boyfriend Paul by showing him five photos of herself standing at five places in Bristol that are significant to them. In each picture she is holding up a sign - together they spell out, "Will you marry me?"

Image copyright Molly Gibney
Image copyright Molly Gibney
Image copyright Molly Gibney
Image copyright Molly Gibney
Image copyright Molly Gibney

Molly even had jewellery specially made, melting an old engagement ring passed down by her family, and using some of the gold in a bracelet for him and a ring for herself.

She told us about her plans beforehand but asked us not to use her real name until she had popped the question to make sure it would be a surprise. Keeping it a secret was "nerve-wracking but exciting."

The plan worked - Paul was extremely surprised and touched, and the couple are now engaged.

But Molly is still an exception to the rule. In a US survey by AP, nearly one in four people said they felt it was not acceptable for a woman to propose. And out of the respondents who were already married, only 5% said the woman was the one to propose.

Here's what happened when seven other women asked their partners to marry them.

The underwater proposal: Emilia Ribeiro - Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil

Image copyright Emilia Ribeiro

Rodrigo and I had lived together for five years when I proposed. Neither of us are really into words, so I wanted to propose in a way that would be symbolic, but also speech-less.

We went on a guided scuba diving tour in a river in Bonito. It ends up below a waterfall, where it's like you're under a curtain of bubbles.

The diving master helped me hide the ring in the scuba diving equipment, then when we were behind the waterfall I swam towards Rodrigo with the ring. He was really surprised!

Everybody thought it was a cool idea - firstly because I proposed, and secondly because it was underwater.

Image copyright Paulo Akio Iwano
Image copyright Paulo Akio Iwano

We're now married but Rodrigo likes to joke that he never said actually "Yes" to my proposal [since we were underwater at the time].

Society is designed so the man needs to propose to the woman - but the man proposing doesn't make your marriage more or less romantic.

Women need to be confident - people can waste so much time thinking, "When is he going to propose to me?" and creating lots of expectations. I think if you want something done, you can go out there and do it yourself.

The bracelet: Ally Richards - Birmingham, UK

Image copyright Ally Richards
Image caption Ally and Chester had been together for three years when she proposed

Proposing is something I'd thought about doing for quite a long time. I realised I'd been, on some level, waiting for my partner to propose, then it occurred to me that I was ready to make that step and it felt quite silly to just wait and see if it would happen.

I spent a while thinking about what to get him. It didn't feel appropriate to propose to him and say: "Now can you get me a ring?" I settled on a bracelet with several rings on it.

On the morning of the proposal I felt very nervous, even though I knew it was probably going to be a "Yes".

I still felt shaky and had butterflies in my stomach. I was worried he might be upset I'd taken the opportunity to propose away from him.

Image copyright Ally Richards

I made him breakfast and showed him the bracelet, and said: "Will you marry me?"

I think he was very surprised - he wasn't sure if it was a joke! He seemed shocked in a happy way and quite surprised.

When people found out we were engaged they'd always ask me how he popped the question. They're often quite embarrassed when I say I was actually the one to propose - not because they have set attitudes but because it's just what people expect.

I'd definitely recommend it to others. You give up the excitement of having someone propose to you, but it's a great feeling to be able to show someone you love that you feel that way.

The blanket fort: Brooke Armstrong Pazoles, Baltimore, US

Image copyright Callum Pinkney Photography

Matt and I had been dating a long time and lived together - we were in a pretty committed relationship.

Two summers ago, I was going through a really stressful couple of months. I went home one night and all I could do was lie on the floor and cry.

Matt found me on the floor, and asked me: "What do you need?" Eventually he said, "What if I build a blanket fort for you?"

He built me a great fort with blankets in our room, and we lay in there for a while until I calmed down. I thought to myself, "Someone who builds me a blanket fort when I'm stressed is someone I want to hang on to."

Image copyright Callum Pinkney Photography

So I asked him to marry me. I was a little bit nervous.

His response was: "Is this for real?"

We both started laughing and the nervousness went away. I said "Yes," and he said "Yes."

He also wanted to propose because he didn't want to miss out so he arranged a more traditional proposal a few weeks later.

I guess we technically both proposed to each other but I did it first! We got married in September.

The big surprise: Flavia Massucatto - Sorocaba, Brazil

Image copyright DeJota Foto e Video

There is a bar called Berlin in Sorocaba which Diogo and I always frequented. There is a big square in front of the bar so I decided to propose there.

On the night of the proposal, I arrived at the bar with Diogo and some friends who knew about the surprise.

Then I invented an excuse and left the bar. I went to the square where all our family and friends were hiding with heart balloons, photographers, and a microphone and sound system.

I'd already agreed things with the owner of the bar - a waiter came to the table and told Diogo his car was involved in a crash outside. So he left the bar to check on his car - and to his surprise, saw all of our family and friends there, and me proposing to him.

Image copyright DeJota Foto e Video
Image caption Diogo left the bar expecting to see his car damaged...
Image copyright DeJota Foto e Video
Image caption ...and instead encountered his family and friends - and a proposal from his girlfriend

I was very very nervous but very happy too. I didn't get down on one knee because I was wearing a dress but I was very sincere.

Diogo was always a special man for me - he is a great person, a great son, a great brother and a great friend. I thought he deserved a special moment.

He was surprised - he told me that he never thought I would propose. It was so exciting and cute, and a few months later, we got married.

The pizza proposal: Jenny Fawson - Briton currently living in Bochum, Germany

Image copyright Jenny Fawson

Simon and I were going home after a weekend with married friends.

We were walking along the main road in the dark and the rain, and trying to figure out what takeaway to get. We were deciding between McDonald's and Pizza when I just said, "Should we get married?"

I felt a little nervous as I asked but it was very spontaneous - you feel a rush, a bit of a release, and it's very exciting.

Simon was surprised, but he said "Yes" and we kissed. Then we went home and sat at home eating pizza, both a bit stunned and overwhelmed by what had just happened!

We'd talked about marriage early on in our relationship, but we both knew that he was ready and I needed some more time, so it was probably always me who'd have to propose.

Seeing friends who had been married for a few years and seeing how it had worked for them made me look afresh at marriage and decide to revisit the idea.

Nearly derailed by a snowstorm: Emily Vana - Pittsburgh, US

Image copyright Emily Vana
Image caption Emily Guhl and Emily Vana (right)

My fiancee, Emily Guhl, is more traditional than me, so I felt it was important to her for me to get down on one knee and propose.

I spent a long time saving up money for the ring. We're pretty aware of each other's finances and pay all our bills together, so if a large amount of money went missing she would have known.

We are both originally from Chicago, so I planned a weekend back there for the two of us in January 2015.

Emily loves skylines, so we booked flying lessons with a private plane and I was going to propose to her in the air. However, it being Chicago, a giant snowstorm derailed that plan.

We ended up going down to the planetarium, which has the most amazing view of the skyline. I set up my phone to take automatic pictures, and got down on one knee and proposed.

Image copyright Emily Vana

It was definitely nerve-wracking - not because I wasn't sure what Emily would say, but because I felt so much pressure to do something memorable.

It ended up working out well - we're getting married in April.

'I proposed with a fruit pastille' - Kimberley Evans, Cambridge, UK

Image copyright Kimberley Evans

Nicholas and I were on holiday in Croatia and decided to go up this mountain path. Two and a half hours of climbing later there were stunning views, and we decided we wouldn't go any further.

We sat down, and it was just beautiful. The view was fantastic, we were all on our own, and I realised this was the perfect moment.

So I asked him: "Do you want to get married so we can do this more often?"

I didn't have anything prepared because I hadn't planned to propose to him - so I proposed with a fruit pastille!

I didn't have time to be nervous. I went from thinking, "This would be a perfect time to ask," to asking him, in the space of about two seconds.

Image copyright

When we walked back down the mountain we talked about all the other various proposals we'd thought about that didn't happen.

I had thought about making a cake and having it written on the cake, and we had both thought of proposing at a gig we went to before our holiday but they didn't play our song.

Everyone was really happy we were engaged, although apparently one of my aunts was horrified because women proposing isn't the done thing, apparently!

Plenty of people have asked him if he felt surprised I proposed and he said both yes and no because somehow it just felt right.

Wedding photographs courtesy of Akio Iwano Photography, Callum Pinkney Photography, DeJota Foto e Video and

For one day only

Image copyright Paul Popper/Popperfoto

Throughout history it has been traditional for men to propose to women, but once every four years, on 29 February, women were "allowed" to propose to men. Test your knowledge about this leap year tradition with our quiz.

Why did women only get one day to propose?

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