Working out the ring size, keeping the plans quiet and worrying about the answer – few women experience the joys of asking for someone’s hand in marriage.
But women considering proposing to their Valentine this leap year are being advised to forget the hype and let the love shine through – by someone who has done it.
Jane McArthur, 30, of Corby, who proposed to her boyfriend Andy Russell last leap year, said: “As long as you love each other, go ahead.
“Don’t make it materialistic. All the planning goes out the window but the love shines through.”
Fearing shy Andy, 29, might never dare, Miss McArthur, of Portree Walk, proposed last February 29 after months of planning.
She dodged the ring-size dilemma by opting for a watch inscribed with ‘Marry me Andy’ instead, took the day off work and booked a table at a restaurant.
The plan faltered when Mr Russell had to stay late at work, but brave Miss McArthur, who was by this point shaking with nerves, decided to push on and got down on one knee.
But unsuspecting Mr Russell, believing his girlfriend of four years was ill or had tripped, went and helped her up.
Overwhelmed by the situation, Miss McArthur flung the watch at him, telling him to read it and give his reply.
Shocked Mr Russell felt like he had been “hit by a bus”.
Mr Russell said: “It’s such a nerve-wracking thing to do, she threw the watch at me and then ran away. She got so worked up. I just read the watch, had a surprised look on my face then said yes.”
The couple , who have a six-year-old daughter, Chloe, planned to wed this leap year at a register office in Great Yarmouth, where they enjoyed their first holiday.
But a couple of weeks after they booked the trip, they found out Miss McArthur was pregnant with their son, who is due in May.
The British tradition that women can propose on a leap year is believed to go back hundreds of years.
Miss McArthur said: “Girls seem to be more involved in diamonds and bling but it’s about showing them you want to be with them for life.”
Mr Russell said: “I was shocked and delighted. I think she’s very brave.”