Just give me the ring, already!

Promotional art by Frank King (c. 1941), highl...
Promotional art by Frank King (c. 1941), highlighting Skeezix’s marriage proposal to Nina Clock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a scary/sad trend — spending shitloads of coin on a wedding proposal to make sure that:

1) it’s seen by millions of strangers on social media;

2) it makes you Famous;

3) it makes your proposal so much better than all your BFFs;

4) it’s something you’ll never forget.

(H/T to Small Dog Syndrome.)

Having been the recipient of a few marriage proposals, here’s my wisdom on the matter:

Don’t waste a ton of cash on the proposal. Weddings are expensive. Honeymoons are expensive. Kids and housing and student loans are expensive. Is this truly the best use of your limited funds? (Billionaires and trustafarians, fire when ready.)

If you’re buying an engagement ring, make sure it’s something she’ll love wearing. Both my engagement rings are unusual, and neither is a single diamond in a raised setting. Not my style! Both are pave, and super-comfortable. Is she sporty? Girly? Super-traditional? Crazy about vintage? (And if so, which styles?)

Don’t propose at the bottom of a hotel escalator. That was proposal Number One from Husband No. 1. I said no, because — really? He tried again in a restaurant about 10 minutes later. No. Then on a street corner in Hanover, NH. The final one was, (cue Rocky theme), on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, with a gorgeous ring we had finally chosen on a visit to Boston.

Think twice about the whole bended-knee, in-public thing. For every woman who loves that much attention, some of us hate it. This is a major moment, not a made-for-TV drama! (And what if she says no?)

Even though she’s crying, don’t assume why. I did weep when HN1 proposed, but, (spoiler alert), because I didn’t want to get married to him right away. Maybe, (I realized with a mixture of confusion, guilt and terror), ever. The ring was so damn nice!

If your sweetie says she really doesn’t want an engagement ring, think long and hard before you heave a sigh or relief and blow that cash on something else. She might not like diamonds, (especially conflict diamonds), but she might really welcome something lovely as a memento of this important moment. Earrings? A pendant?

An engagement ring doesn’t have to mean a trip to Kay Jewelers or Tiffany. My first one came from a fancy Boston jeweler, but my second was an estate piece I found at Saks; it looks like an Art Deco ring and would have cost double if it were new, or that old. It might be a family heirloom or something you design or find on Etsy.

Classic "one-knee" proposal, ca. 1815
Classic “one-knee” proposal, ca. 1815 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pick your moment/location carefully. Jose, my second husband, could not have done it better when he chose to pop the question. We emerged from midnight church service one Christmas Eve and it had just started to snow. He knew that two of my worst-ever memories had both happened on Christmas Eve and he wanted to “re-brand” that night with something happier. And so he did!

Have you proposed or been proposed to?

Did you enjoy it?

36 thoughts on “Just give me the ring, already!

  1. I read about that expensive proposal and had to wonder about the sanity of some people. Even if the guy is a billionaire, it seems excessive. Then again, I’m pretty introverted, so such a gesture would be too much for me to take.

    Been proposed to, accepted, and then called it off. All it did was make me feel boxed in and freaked out. I’m all for others getting married – it’s just not for me.

  2. since i’ve been single (for the past 10 years) I’ve had a proposal on a 1st date, i’ve had several proposals on the 2nd date, 2 proposals at about the 2 months mark and the one guy i wanted couldn’t commit. one guy proposed by text message. i find the whole proposal thing fascinating.

    my ex husband’s proposal was the worst – i had finally fulfilled his many demands, such as agreeing to raise our kids jewish and acquiesing to changing my last name, and so as he held his birthday card in his hand (with my signature including his frigging last name) he lamely said, “well, ok, do you want to get married?” while remaining seated in his favorite chair reading. oy, oy, what was i thinking??!!!

    1. That’s a ton of proposals, missy! I had one once in a Benihana restaurant. That was weird. The one man I wanted very badly to marry also ran away…

      Your ex sounds a little…unromantic?

      1. it is a ton of proposals! i think i am considered a good catch is my age range – i’m 59. i’m still fun and fairly fit and financial stable. 60+ men just want to make me theirs!

        my ex was … yes let’s just call him unromantic, that’ll do!

        benihana? so funny… and you also lost the one you actually wanted to say yes to… a big sigh…

  3. wow, this is a cool post. humorous but the content really true. i want to be proposed in the right way. i don’t want a diamond ring, it doesn’t fit me. i don’t want an “one-knee” proposal, it is so old fashioned and i don’t think that’s cool, but not creative and ridiculous.
    Most of all, the first point; i think so, life after proposal are really expensive. I’ve been witnessing my married sisters and brother marriages :).

    1. Weddings don’t have to be super-expensive, but a lot of people assume they do. Both of mine were less than $10,000 but still super-stylish, elegant and a lot of fun. But I don’t have a huge family and neither did my husbands..The first has 65 guests and the second only 25.

      1. mmmm,,, for 65 and 25 guests, in my country, Indonesia, it is still quite expensive. But, i know how it’s worth there. kekekeke.

        I think wedding suppose to be like that, super-stylish, elegant, and a lot of fun. That’s cool.

        But, again, here in Indonesia, I think our culture (most of it) won’t let a limited wedding like that. It would be something big (most of wedding I attended has more than 500 guests, as for my sisters and my brothers more than 300 guests each, the rich one even has more than 1000 guests). Wedding is a family matter, sometimes it’s become pride, can be held for 1 week, festive…maybe it seems too much. But that’s it. Almost of us.
        But, someday, mine, I want to be sacred, meaningful, limited to really close relative, on my way (I guess it would be so haaarrrdddd). πŸ™‚

      2. 300 is a small amount, usually 1 family count at least for 4 person, mom,dad, 2 children.
        it’s not always that’s luxury, the main point is everyone could come and celebrate.

        it seems always a way to afford such a wedding.
        as my sister’s and brother’s wedding, like i said before, it’s family matter, my bro saving, my dad, my family :). most of it run that way.

        i think we’ll get scolded if we make the wedding limited. sometimes, if we couldn’t afford it, it’s not about how expensive and luxury the food we prepare, how fancy the place is, but how much people you appreciate as your relative by inviting them to join your feast, your celebration πŸ™‚

        btw, it gives me an idea, maybe i should post about it someday :).

  4. Isn’t this trend outrageous?

    We were completely alone in a park, he did get down on one knee, and I said yes. I don’t like diamonds, at least for rings, and my favorite stone is an emerald. One day, out shopping with a friend, I saw the impossible: an emerald solitaire ring set in white gold. My eyes nearly popped out and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Because she was a good friend (one of The Girls), she made a mental note and got the info to J. who surprised me with it a few months later. Teamwork – that doesn’t involve a paid coordinator!

  5. Sound advice not to commit to expensive , showy acts that leave you heavily out of pocket before the marriage even starts….if there is a marriage, because expensive gesture and all, she can still say no.
    I did go the traditional route and asked her fathers permission, I eventually forgave him for saying yes, and then proposed on one knee. But that was the last century………….

  6. My husband and I flew to Vegas on a whim, bought a wedding band in a gift shop at Caesar’s Palace, and were married two hours later. That was 32 years ago, and we’re going strong.I’ve watched my siblings and friends marriages implode over the years, many of them packing it in before the ring or wedding was even paid off. I honestly don’t get the need for splashy engagements or weddings.

    1. Great story!

      I agree. I think this insane attention to the externals and to public attention is very off-putting. I do love a gorgeous party and am all for that, but it’s too easy to get distracted by the color of the napkins or the style of your dress — and forget you’re going to be stuck with the person for the Rest Of Your Life. πŸ™‚

  7. My fiance and I have been together for 8 years before we decided to get married. One day, on his lunch break, he came to my place and told me he had just made a wedding budget for his work coleague and he thinks we can afford to have our own wedding too. That same day, after work, he took me out to my favorite wedding venue in the city and told me he had booked it for June 1st, 2013. No ring, no fuss, no drama… just what I wanted – to be told when and where I have to wear a white dress. He didn’t give me a ring then, but a few months later, while boating on Jackson Lake, in Wyoming, he asked me to marry him (after setting the date and almost all the details for the wedding). He gave me the most wonderful ring – it has the same shape as the Teton Mountains that I love so much and a tiny diamond between two peaks. So, a Teton ring right next to the Tetons, with no witnesses, no one to see the big gesture but us, that was a private and amazingly beautiful moment

    1. I love a guy who takes charge like that. Very cool! I was engaged a very long time in both instances as well, probably about as many years. I like the idea of having a very long time to really decide if this is the right decision and get to know your husband-to-be. People race to the altar.

      Your ring sounds so pretty. Thanks for sharing!

  8. A man I once dated told me that I had what he called ‘MM,’ which was short for ‘marriage magnetism.’ He explained that I attracted men who wanted to get married. I had heard the m-word on more than a few occasions by the time we were having the conversation and I knew even then that it did not have as much to do with me, as it did the men I’d been dating.

    I’m embarrassed to say how many proposals I’ve had for fear of sounding big-headed or crazy. I am neither, but 29 years after hearing ‘MM’ roll off my then ex-boyfriend’s lips, I have to admit that his expression was apt.

    My last proposal and one I knew deep in my bones was right for me, was the one my husband, John made, on a bridge built in the 14th century in Cornwall, England where we have lived very happily for the last four and half years.

    It was a grand moment of private recognition rather than a well orchestrated one and perfect in every way.

    This link explains a bit more.


    It’s a great topic, Caitin, and one I have have an eyebrow-raising amount of experience with.

    1. Well, then….:-)!

      I’ve had a few over the years, but never took them seriously. I think it’s a nice compliment, but thank God I passed on a few of them. I’ve gotten back in touch with a few ex-beaux, as friends later, and some of the turns their lives took. I was lucky I didn’t sign up.

      I think not wanting to marry, oddly, is often wildly attractive.

      Glad you found a good one!

  9. Very true! I’ve just written about the way my husband proposed to me πŸ™‚ It was a completely personal, private moment between the two of us and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I never did understand the concept of a “public” proposal.

  10. My dad proposed to his stepmother at a Turkish restaurant, I think. From what I can tell it was very romantic and she accepted immediately. You should’ve have seen my sisters and me when my dad told us: we started freaking out we were so happy.

  11. Call me over-simplistic, but if more people spent the same amount of thought, investment, and energy in the marriage as they do with the proposal (and the wedding), there might be a lot less broken homes.

  12. Yes, thank you! I actually didn’t care for a ring, a proper proposal, or an actual wedding (damned rebel!) but I had them all anyway to appease family and the Mr….Mr.LovesSingleMalt gave me his great-grandmother’s huge art deco engagement ring, but I never wear it because it’s over 100 years old and a real piece of Chicago history. So, I bought a $30 silver-hammered band on Etsy from a freelance female artist– when I lost it, people thought it was weird that I didn’t freak but instead just bought a vintage ring on Etsy that I liked to replace it, also still $30. To me, it’s the relationship that counts, not the hoopla or the jewels. Also, I’m just saving the fancy ring for when I become a bigshot opera star πŸ˜‰

    1. Wear the ring!!! It sounds devoon (past pluperfect of divine.)

      Your hammered silver ring from Etsy sounds exactly (!?) like the one my husband ordered there as his wedding ring…a lady from rural Michigan? He loves it.

      It is not about the jewelry, but I do dearly love my engagement and weddings rings; the latter is a wide gold band with a very narrow band of diamonds circling it (sort of like Saturn’s ring.) It’s exactly us.

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