Why Do You Get On One Knee To Propose?

The History of Proposing on One Knee

Most of us have watched a proposal take place in some way. Perhaps your own engagement comes to mind, or you saw a friend or family member propose at a get-together. Or you may even have watched a stranger propose at a park, restaurant, or event. 

Usually, one person gets down on one knee, pops open a small box, and displays a beautiful diamond engagement ring. Then, hopefully, the individual being proposed to accepts, they kiss and hug, and tears of joy are shed.

It’s a joyous moment to observe, and even watching someone kneel can elicit feelings of romanticism, love, devotion, and excitement. But have you ever asked yourself, “Why do you get on one knee to propose?” This action is thought of as tradition, but the history of getting down on one knee to propose may surprise you.

Historical Significance of Getting Down on One Knee

As it turns out, getting down on one knee traces its roots back to actual knights in shining armor. In medieval times, knights would bow deeply with one knee touching the ground to show respect to lords in positions of honor, as well as to noblewomen. The gesture was associated with honor and respect, but it also became associated with love and servitude, as knights would bow before the women they loved as a symbol of courtship and devotion. 

But how does this transition to today, and how does it impact getting down on one knee nowadays?

what knee do you propose on

A Modern Take on Proposing on One Knee

While the roots may be associated with medieval knights, getting down on one knee to propose is actually a more modern tradition than many realize. As recent as the 1960s, this wasn’t a typical way to propose. Marriages were arranged for quite some time, and then they shifted to be much more casual and simple, rather than the big romantic gesture we view them as today. 

In today’s world, we’ve come to question some age-old traditions, and this one is no different. Why do you get on one knee to propose? Let’s take a look at a few reasons relevant to modern-day relationships and experiences.

Why Do You Get Down on One Knee to Propose?

The most common reason why people get on one knee to propose is that it’s simply tradition. Many brides-to-be have come to expect the gesture, and it’s an obvious indication of what is about to happen, which is very exciting for those involved. For many, there is nothing quite like the anticipation of someone kneeling low, reaching in their pocket, and pulling out a small box to display a gorgeous ring, express their love, and ask their soulmate to spend a lifetime together. If your significant other longs for the dramatic effect of a bended-knee proposal, it’s important to provide that experience, as it’s something they’ll remember and cherish forever. 

Another reason why people get down on one knee to propose is respect. Kneeling shows your significant other you are willingly putting yourself in a place of submission, offering your heart and trusting they will care for it. It’s a symbol of honor to kneel before the one you love, and it’s a way to show you will love and cherish them forever. Proposing on one knee is their attempt at beginning the relationship from a place of love, honor, and respect.

proposing on knee


Why do you get on one knee to propose?

While the tradition may date back to medieval times, proposing on one knee is an act of devotion and respect for their spouses-to-be. It provides an exciting and dramatic moment of heartfelt commitment and a classic expression of love.

Does it matter what knee you propose on? 

Many have asked us what knee to propose on, and we’re here to tell you to kneel on whichever one feels most comfortable! People like to kneel on their left knee because they are right-handed and can position themselves more easily. But if you’re left-handed or simply prefer to get down on your right knee, go for it!

Is a bended-knee proposal old-fashioned?

Because of the actual timeline of the tradition, bent-knee proposals are not considered old, but they may not have a place in every relationship. Some couples will not desire a proposal on bended knee, as they may struggle with the notion of why you get down on one knee to propose in the first place. If you or your significant other prefer not to include getting down on one knee in your proposal, that is perfectly reasonable, and it’s up to each couple to decide what is best for them.

Roman Malakov Engagement Rings

If you’re planning to propose and are beginning the journey of shopping for the perfect ring, start your search with Roman Malakov. Our extensive collection of engagement rings will delight you and yours, and our jewelry professionals can offer advice on purchasing, sizing, and insuring your ring. They will walk you through different diamond shapes, ring settings, and styles and give you more information about the natural diamonds we use in our jewelry and the best way to care for your engagement ring. 

Come visit Roman Malakov in NYC’s Diamond District, shop online, or book an appointment for an in-store or virtual consultation.