Groom With A View #1: Proposals and Rings

It’s just over a year since MWF and I got engaged, so I thought write a few entries about engagement and wedding planning from the groom’s perspective.

And we’ll start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, with the proposal and the ring.

I’d decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with MWF a long time before I actually popped the question. When proposing I came up with a few ideas as to how I wanted to do it.

I was going to keep it simple. 

I’m not a fan of the viral proposal trend. You know the kind of thing, a guy stages a flash mob or musical number or some elaborate stunt in order to pop the question. Maybe I’m just an old fashioned killjoy but it just seems to be taking away from what is supposed to be a personal, private moment. 

All the bells and whistles seems to be a bit “look at me” and I’m not a fan. It feels less like an important moment for you and more like some ham fisted attempt to grab your fifteen minutes or get a pat on the head for being so quirky.

And like all public proposals it feels a bit manipulative. It’s putting a lot of pressure on the person being asked. They’ll look like a callous heartbreaker if they say no, even if they have good reasons. And if they do stick to their guns and decline how awful would that be for the asker?

I kinda knew what the answer was going to be, marriage had been discussed in our talks about the future.

Despite this I still felt nervous. What if faced with the question she actually decided that actually a life with me isn’t that appealing? That in theory it sounded good but as it threatened to become reality it lost some of the appeal?  It was unlikely, but not impossible. And that small seed of doubt just wouldn’t go away.

I took MWF somewhere quiet and, once away from prying eyes and ears, got down on one knee, did my half prepared speech and asked.

What I said is private. I know what I said, and so does she, and that’s how it will stay.

This is despite people asking for all the details. Repeatedly.

I understand the enthusiasm comes from being happy for the couple, but it feels like prying. I spoke from the heart and for an audience of one, I don’t want anyone else hearing and judging what I said.

Luckily it served as an introduction to the constant questions that became part of engaged life.

The ones that put me most ill at ease were the queries about the ring. I had shown a photo to friends, just to make sure I hadn’t chosen something that MWF would hate, and thought this would suffice.

I was wrong.

Lots of people asked where I had got it, and more invasively, how much it had cost.

This seemed a bit vulgar and, frankly, like nobody’s business. Especially as it’s kind of a gift, and asking someone how much they spent on a present seems a bit rude.

I suspect wanting to know the price was some kind of weird competitive thing. So that people could compare it with their own rings or maybe to use it as some kind of measuring stick for my commitment or love.

This seems stupid. Why get into a “my ring cost more” game? Does it matter? The cost didn’t matter to MWF and shouldn’t to any prospective bride. Insisting on a certain ballpark figure or brand of jewellery seems to be more about wanting to show off how flash or minted you are.

That’s not what an engagement ring is supposed to show. It’s supposed to show a promise and commitment, and frankly you can do that with any ring you want, from a diamond encrusted Tiffany’s piece to a plastic ring from an amusement arcade (if it’s good enough for Sandy Cohen it’s good enough for me).

Needless to say I ignored the “three months wages” guideline. You’re about to start a life together and you’re going to blow a quarter of a year’s salary in one go? On something you can’t drive or sleep in?

These questions die down after a few weeks, but it still bothers me that people react like that. I felt like I was being judged and assessed for my choices and finances, that while most people complimented my choice, some thought I could have spent more.

It could really eat you up. Especially if you start buying into their BS. Luckily for me I don’t, but you feel bad for the guys out there who have a partner with expensive tastes. Or for ladies who are made to feel embarrassed or insecure about the ring, thus putting a dampener on a time when they should be feeling pretty good about life.

You’re not in competition with anyone, and spending your time comparing yourself with others will just drive you nuts. Just focus on you and remember that the important thing isn’t what’s on your finger but why it’s there.

So please, if someone you knows gets engaged just congratulate them and avoid giving them the third degree.

And if you do find yourself on the receiving end of these questions, remember you don’t have to tell people anything.

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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