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…
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.