It usually involves about 5 or 6 people. 2 of which are a potential bride and a potential groom.
So here's how it goes.
Abdul is the potential groom. He likes Yasmine, which makes her the potential bride.
But Abdul doesn't want to approach Yasmine directly. [There are any number of reasons why he is unwilling or unable to do this, use your imagination, I'm not going to dwell on it too much.]
Abdul then confides in his friends; Yahya and Isa.
Yahya and Isa are friends with Sadia. And Sadia is friends with Yasmine.
Ergo, Yahya and Isa ask Sadia if Yasmine would be interested.
Sadia then asks Yasmin if she's interested in Abdul, our potential groom.
I've drawn a really awful diagram to try and simplify this.
The reason I'm even talking about this is because very recently, I was Yasmine.
And trust me when I say this: It's not nice to be Yasmine. I was very unappreciative of the fact that two complete randoms and a friend knew that I was being proposed to before I did. It also said a lot about Abdul's character that he couldn't ask me himself.
In Islam, it is perfectly acceptably to use a intermediate to handle marriage situations in a discrete and subtle manner. But to involve three (and possibly more, if my suspicions are correct) people to communicate a potential interest is really really really unnecessary.
If the brother involved was really shy, or didn't want to upset the sister in any way...I mean, like I said before, there a thousand reasons why he wouldn't want to ask her directly, then by all means, use a go-between to make sure things go smoothly. But there is no need to have so many people involved not only complicates things, but doesn't increase the baraqah in any transactions that may take place after this.
By involving Isa, Yahya AND Sadia, all this guy did was open up my private life to three people that usually wouldn't know anything about it. And yes, I do consider even potential marriage proposals as my private business.
What irked me even more was that there was no relationship between Yahya and Sadia, or Isa and Sadia, that made it more halal for them to speak about the potential between us. And I know for a fact that Abdul didn't speak to Sadia, so really it was a very modern game of Chinese whispers. Sadia and Yahya and Isa are all just friends, not related in any way, so it would have made more sense for Abdul to speak to Sadia directly if he felt the need for her to ask me.
To top it off, Sadia tells me that both Yahya and Isa approached her seperately and were unaware of the other having spoken to her, but aware of the other knowing the situation. Maaaaaannn....you have NO idea how annoyed I was at this complete mess of a proposal, or potential proposal.
But saying that, just because things didn't happen according to how I would have liked them, doesn't mean that I didn't consider this poor fellow at all. But to be honest, I was so surprised at the identity of my potential groom, it took me some time to get over the shock and start giving marriage a thought at all.