Sunday, June 21, 2009

Getting Engaged - two perspectives

B - the planner

Ok, you found “the one.” Congratulations! Now for the big test: how well do you know this person? Can you plan the perfect moment to pop the question? I hope so because nothing I can say will be of any help. Each engagement story is as different as we are as people. Therefore it would be foolish for me to think that I could impart any wisdom that may be applicable to anyone but me and J. Instead, here are some things that I learned along the way…

There are two things about rings that most guys can tell you. First, they are central to any traditional engagement and second, any details are a complete and total mystery. While it is becoming increasingly common for ring shopping to be couples activity, for those of us that must learn the 4Cs on our own, it can be a bit overwhelming. If maintaining the element of surprise is a priority for you (as it was for me), do your homework online (I started here), find a trusted jeweler (for those in LA, consider Sarah Leonard), ask lots of questions, and be observant to hints from your significant other. The old fashioned standard is 2 months pay but instead, I would recommend working backwards. What will make her happy? This includes her tastes, ego (don't think it won't be compared to everyone else's ring), and activity level (big rocks don't mix with rock climbing) but in the end, you both need to remember this is, at most, a symbol of your love and at least, a fancy shiny bauble. Keep it in perspective. Finally, as far as finger sizing goes, only the very brave (or dumb) should attempt using a ring-sizer on a sleeping girlfriend…

The same type of planning goes into the event itself. Is there a place that is special to you both? Would you like to include family and friends? Do you need/want to ask for permission? Should it be a big event or a secluded and private moment you share only with each other?

As for us, I was in grad school at the time so the ring was modest. However, I spent a little extra on getting a "designer diamond" (a Gabrielle) and designed the setting myself. I popped the question on the top of a mountain in Southern California (San Jacinto - 10,834 ft) and had veiled plans to meet up with our families that evening to announce the engagement to them.

If you hadn't figured it out already, I'm a planner. I knew I'd be nervous and was able to anticipate the rush of emotions, but the one thing I couldn't anticipate was the quick transition to wedding planning mode. Have you set a date? Where will it be? Who is invited? Have you found a cake? What about a dress? You get the idea, and that's just the wedding. I didn't process how much was involved beyond that; the engagement party, bachelor party, bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, honeymoon... In other words, brace yourself but at the same time, slow down and enjoy the moment because for some (and this includes me), getting engaged is at least as pivotal as getting married. You may make all the formal promises on your wedding day in front of friends and family, but you make the decision and the promise to yourself when your get down on that one knee.

The hoopla surrounding an engagement is an interesting paradox. On one hand, making the event perfect for the two of you is appropriately the first test of really knowing your mate. On the other hand, it is just a moment in time and hopefully, the first of countless moments you will share as a couple. Ultimately, any engagement that ends with "yes" is perfect. So don't stress out. Instead, embrace it for what it is worth and enjoy it... and if you can figure out that balance, don't forget it during your wedding planning.

J - The Ring Recipient

B did a fantastic job of planning the proposal. Unlike a lot of couples, we never talked about weddings, rings, proposals, etc. I am just not the type of girl to pre-select my engagement ring. I wanted it to be a surprise and it absolutely was! I really had no idea that the proposal was coming. I only suspected that something was up when B got all emotional and started stumbling over his words as we stood on the top of the mountain. I was really just ready to sit down and rest after our long hike, but all of my energy surged back as soon as B got down on one knee. I hope I never forget the feeling that came over me when he proposed. It was this amazing combination of shock and pure delight.

I second B's advice to stop and savor the moment before you launch into wedding planning mode. You'll (usually) have months and months to stress over wedding details. Force yourselves to take a time out and enjoy the engagement part. This is a big deal, don't rush past it in your hurry to get to the married part!

I also liked that I was the first to know about B's proposal. B was right to assume that my parents would be delighted and wouldn't be offended to not be asked beforehand. Years earlier, when my brother-in-law called my dad to ask if he could "marry his daughter" my dad said simply "which one?" You have to have a good sense of humor to marry into my family.Best of luck to all you guys (or maybe girls) out there who are planning the big proposal. Don't hesitate to contact B for advice as he flawlessly executed a very complicated proposal weekend.

For more marriage-related commentary, see our posts on our wedding and our honeymoon.

1 comment:

Bruce said...

We're sitting here in your old bedroom, reading your blog aloud. Mom was reading until she got choked up and I had to take over the reading. Very touching and fond memories for all of us.