In Great Britain and some of the Nordic countries, the woman can actually do the proposing as well, but only on February 29, so once every four years. In Finland, when this happens, if the man does not accept the proposal (talk about miscommunication), he needs to provide enough cloth for the woman to make a dress (this seems like a thing right out of the Middle Ages, can you hear the troubadours?)
As mentioned, the size of the stone seems to be an important issue for the parties involved in the marriage proposal. This is not necessarily something to do with the superficiality of modern times: even in Ancient Egypt, diamonds were an important part of the marriage proposal, because they were thought to protect the woman. Placing the ring on the fourth fingers of the hand also goes back to that time and place: apparently, there was a belief about a direct line going from the finger to the heart. The Romans, always the pragmatists, went with a simple iron ring (if they had lived in the 21st century, studies would surely have been done to see if marriage actually works out if you only have an iron ring – maybe yes, maybe no).
In many cultures, even today, it is inappropriate to do the actual proposal yourself, be you man or woman. There is an entire ritual related to the marriage proposal and it is usually the custom to hire a specialized person to do it as a go-between. This obviously makes a lot of sense in some of the cultures where the young ones don’t have any say whatsoever in the decision about who to marry (they call it “arranged marriage” for a reason).
The hand on which the ring is worn varies around the world as widely as proposals do. Orthodox Christians and Eastern Europeans, as well as people in Germany, Austria, Greece, Russia, Spain, Slovakia, India, Colombia, Venezuela, and Poland wear the ring on the right hand. Jewish couples wear the wedding ring on the left hand, though it is placed on the right hand during the marriage ceremony. In The Netherlands, Catholics wear it on the left, all others on the right, while in Belgium the choice of hand depends on the region of the country. A traditional reason to wear the wedding ring on the right hand stems from Roman custom. The Latin word for left is “sinister”, which has evolved into the negative meaning of today, while the Latin word for right is “dexter”, a word now evolved into “dexterity”. The left hand’s negative connotation and the right hand’s good one (even then) made the right hand the obvious choice. Except in the United States, where the ring is still worn on the left hand based on historical legend that says the left hand is closer to the heart.
We all know the basics about marriage proposals: man loves woman, man hopes woman loves man. Man buys very, very expensive engagement ring (a tradition especially important in the United States ) and keeps hoping. Then, man proposes. Yes, this is basically all there is to it, except that traditions on marriage proposals do vary from culture to culture.