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Tune Into the Needs of Your Soul: Class of 1980


Okay, so who do you APW stalk?

Come on, you know that you have at least one person on APW that you make sure to scan the post for their comments; even when it’s a heavy comment day and you’re running late and only have a few minutes to read.  Because even if you don’t agree with them, the comments are always good and always seem to bring up that point that you hadn’t thought of, but one that TOTALLY makes sense.

For me, that’s Class of 1980.

So here she is with her thoughts on APW.  Her post was written before this one, and she is very conscious of the fact that some may have taken offense to that post and might to this one also.  Or that maybe you think APW is hitting you over the head about rings.  (Ain’t she nice?!?)

Don’t.  And we’re not.  The pervasive attitude towards rings and the attack in individuality is what draws her ire, not anyone wearing a ring, large or small.

So go.  Soak up the wisdom.

Or don’t; it’s okay, she won’t judge you for it.

Tune Into the Needs of Your Soul: Class of 1980 | A Practical WeddingI don’t remember exactly how I found APW, but it was when Meg was still in the planning stages of her own wedding.  As I read backwards to the beginning, there were two posts that resonated with me because they were so poignant and eloquent.  There was her post dated March 29, 2008 entitled “In which the WIC makes its first grab at my soul and wallet and a post dated July 1, 2008 entitled “My ring and me”.

Meg wrote about pressure from jewelry salespeople and the unexpected reactions she got from friends about her choice of engagement ring – a ring she chose with great thought and was thrilled with.

If I could pick two posts from APW and plaster them all over the Internet, these would be it.  To me, they sum up what APW is all about and they have a message that is sorely needed.

Meg’s ring story is an illustration of how our society has become so soulless and unimaginative, that beauty and craftsmanship take a back seat to something as vapid as perceived status and monetary value.

To choose something because it speaks to you, because it fits your lifestyle, your ethics, and your individual style does not even register as something to strive for.  We suffer as individuals and as a society if mindless choices are rewarded with approval and thoughtful choices are questioned.

Taking an individual approach seems to threaten people if it means not falling in line with prevailing trends, yet most trends reverse themselves eventually.

Our country has been in a conspicuous consumption trend for a long time.  It’s affected every part of life including weddings.  And now we are beginning to see a trend going the opposite way because our level of consumption as a country was ultimately unsustainable.

(I am old enough to remember when a one-carat ring was considered “large” and now many people think two carats are standard.  I remember when DeBeers told grooms to budget two months salary for a ring and now they tell them to budget three months salary.)

Personally, I am so very tired of the status game.  It’s exhausting, pointless, and boring as hell.  And it never ends.

Artistry, beauty and practicality feed the soul.  Most people would be happier choosing a life full of experiences and things they truly love, and shedding personally meaningless things that just bog them down.  And they would be less anxious too.

I think APW’s message is to encourage you to tune into the needs of your own soul and to make conscious choices about your wedding and your life.  APW serves to quiet all the influences in society that don’t know the first thing about what is best for you.

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  • http://webecomeus.wordpress.com Caitlin

    yes, yes, yes. just yes.

  • Katelyn

    Class of 1980, I *love* reading your perspective and am totally guilty as charged as far as comment stalking. I’m so happy there’s a place on the internet where you and I collide.

    :-D

    • Class of 1980

      Wow! Thanks!

  • Nicole

    I didn’t read all the comments in the previous ring post, but I wanted to say THANK YOU for all of the talk of rings lately. My fiance proposed with a very simple tungsten band that had a very dear-to-us engraving. I think the idea had been to pick out something a bit more “sparkly” together, but neither of us really saw the need. What I wind up having to deal with is when I mention I’m engaged, and women immediately respond with “Let’s see the rock!”, I feel like I have to apologize, somehow explain away their disappointment. True, the ring looks more like a wedding band than an engagement ring, but it means far more to me than any diamond. I just wish the expectation wasn’t built up so that I have to defend it, convince others that I love it. It helps to read here about other nontraditional ring choices so I don’t feel so out-of-the-ordinary after all.

    • Rebecca

      I don’t know if you read through all the ring comments last week but one of my absolute favourites (which I’m sure it’s ok for you to steal), was a commenter (can’t remember who sorry) who, when faced with a similar question, grabbed her fiance and said “this is my rock”.

      Best call ever, I reckon.

      • abby_wan_kenobi

        Suggestion: “This rocks to me”

    • http://ohioonpurpose.blogspot.com Evie

      This is my first week wearing my understated wood and titanium band at work, and I feel like I’m explaining a bad haircut. “Is it what you wanted?” “Yes, it’s lovely.” “Oh. Well, good! If it’s what you wanted!” Oy.

    • Angela

      All this fuss about rings and rocks dont have any meaning in other countries….even in high class living comunnities….
      I have a small, beautiful white gold diamond (less than 1 k)engagement ring, because my fiance give it to me, after propouse with a big pink sparkly plastic ring that was all i really want and all i really need. In my country (Spain) and in my circles, when we tell others that we were engaged, they dont ask for the rock, they only ask if we are as happy as everyone else was about our union….
      And i ask my fiance about not pay for the ring more than 1/3 of one month salary….thats more than enough for a ring….

    • http://rescuedinsanity.com Kristine

      My engagement ring is also very understated. To be honest, I actually didn’t want one at all. But the ring was the one his grandfather gave to his grandmother. My pratically husband was very close to his grandparents, closer than he was to his parents, and they have now both passed away. The ring means a lot to him. I wear it humbly and with pride. If people feel the need to judge the style or the size of the diamond, which they have, then I don’t feel the need to talk to them anymore.

  • ddayporter

    yep, I always read your comments in particular 1980! I mean who am I kidding, I spend an embarrassing amount of each day trying to read Every Single Comment no matter what (job? what job?), but I always appreciate your perspective. this post is so great – and that last paragraph sums up this site so well!

  • http://bluesuedeidos.com Beth

    I definitely read all your comments on last week’s ring post, 1980, and I love what your perspective adds!

  • mere…

    “to encourage you to tune into the needs of your own soul and to make conscious choices about your wedding and your life” … gives me goosebumps!

  • veggiesattva

    This is so FATE. :) My boyfriend and I (not engaged) were just at Kohl’s last night (yes, you read that right), and I found the most Fabulous big honkin’ CZ-in-sterling-silver super fake ring in exactly my size. And it was the only size of that ring on the whole rack! I was like “omg we have to buy it and put it in a drawer what if we never find such a fabulous fake ring in the future when we need it??” But alas, buy it we did not – I think he didn’t totally believe me about wanting the big beefy fake ring! And/or saying the word “engaged” around my boyfriend causes him to look for a corner to hide in :D

    But it is exactly the kind of ring I want. Because I’m not a jewelery person and I’m certainly not a Shiny Rocks person, but I have read enough clever women on this site to know that the first thing someone does when you announce you are engaged is zoom their eyes in directly to your ring finger. And, I just feel like avoiding that whole “I didn’t want an engagement ring… not that kind of person… la la la” conversation, and what better way to shut people up than a big HUGE obviously fake “diamond”! Plus I would feel super blinging and could totally punch people with it if they dared question my choices.

    In conclusion, I plan to find the largest cubic zirconia I can for my someday engagement ring and wear the heck out of it. Hooray for all women making personal choices and not just blindly going with what society tells you to wear.

    • Class of 1980

      I’m just jealous of your lobster icon.

      • Jessica

        http://en.gravatar.com/ I don’t think they’ve mentioned it on this site? but I know from another site I read. You can input any icon you want at Gravatar.com and it links to your email address when you post on a lot of sites.

        crab says: “snap snap”

        • Kristen

          I love that you ended that with “crab says: “snap snap””. That cracks me up.

    • Cass

      When my fiance and I first got engaged, it was in the throes of passion before we left each other for four whole months after graduation. It was in a moment we knew we could never be apart ever again. Because of the spontaneity (and being poor students) we had no ring. We ended up going to Wal Mart right then, before we parted, to get a simple “fake” ring for me.
      Although I have a more permanent (fairly modest, but beautiful) ring now, I still keep the old silver-plated nickle and plastic ring. Perhaps it will go in my wedding album after all of the festivities. That fake ring symbolizes so much passion and “I can’t live without you” between us.

      • Jessica

        Aww, Cass that’s so sweet!

    • Judy

      lol, I have a terribly fake ring, well I think its terribly fake. It cost less than $30 for the engagement ring and wedding band. All the shiny stuff is wearing off and the stone is one that I’d never pick because its too chunky and he’s offered to buy me a real one, but I’ve become really attached to this one!

  • http://twentyfivetowife.blogspot.com Amanda

    This may be a bit more in response to Meg’s “My ring and me” post from July 2008 (linked above), which I haven’t reached yet in my read-it-from-the-beginning quest, but I feel the same need to explain my ring to people, but from the other side.

    I have an heirloom ring that is not small (though it is less that 2 carats), but is obviously old. It was my great grandmother’s, and because I wanted a family ring or nothing at all, and because my fiance didn’t have a family ring available, and because I completely forgot about the anniversary-style ring from my other grandmother, my engagement ring is a champagne diamond surrounded by smaller white diamonds. It’s sparkly and beautiful and I do stare at it and lose myself in the way the reflections look like they’re coming from so much farther away than the other side of the stone.

    But I’m embarrassed when people are impressed by it. I want them to know that we didn’t spend one cent on it, and then it’s from generations ago and that it’s way more hollow than it looks. I was really happy when I got the appraisal back and it said that the small diamons had “poor” symmetry–because I think it gives it more character, and because it’s something I can at least think of myself as some defense: “It’s not that great! It has poor symmetry!”

    I do love it though. I love that I feel connected to my roots, even though I’m about to shift my primary allegiance away from my parents and toward my to-be-husband and our to-be-family. I love how happy it makes my dad that I’m wearing it. And honestly I love how pretty it is in a very antique-y way. It feels old and full of history.

    My fiance isn’t a huge fan, which breaks my heart a bit. He thinks it’s too flashy. I’m still not really sure what to do about that. On the one hand, it’s my finger (ha! pun not intentional but I wish it was) and changing things like what I wear and how I present myself for his sake is not how I want to start our future together. On the other, it’s a pretty big symbol of the relationship, and maybe something with which I should honor him as well. But on the third (mutant?) hand, his reasons for not wanting me to wear it have nothing to do with it not being from him and everything to do with it being too big, and his fears about the appearance of wealth.

    And now the ring has just grown on me. The more I wear it the more I love it, and the more it just feels right on my hand.

    • http://twentyfivetowife.blogspot.com Amanda

      To get back to the topic at hand, I love that this blog has helped me think in this way about my ring, and in similar ways about my wedding (all of that “it’s ok to have a cheap wedding /and/ it’s ok to have an expensive wedding, if that’s what’s right for you” stuff).

      Also I love that there are a week’s worth of posts today =D Yay APW love-fest week!

    • ddayporter

      ok first I just have to tell you, that 3 hands business cracked me up.

      I don’t envy your position. hopefully with lots of talking it out, you two can come to an understanding about it either way. personally I hope you can both find peace with keeping the ring! but I don’t know the deeper stuff going on. just, good luck! :)

    • Class of 1980

      Amanda,

      Years ago I worked with a woman who had just turned 50. She decided to treat herself to an enormous diamond ring. She wore interchangeable stacking bands as a wedding ring (she changed them all the time). So this huge diamond was a gift to herself, from herself.

      She purposely chose a diamond with some definite yellow in it to prevent anyone thinking it was a fake. LOL I still remember her telling us that when she left the jeweler with her new ring, she looked down and almost had a heart attack at what she’d done. She was a trip. Hilarious woman.

    • Kristen

      This is just an example of another way in which all of this “Your business is my business” stuff makes my head hurt. The whole point is that none of us should feel pressure to explain ourselves. You have a stunner diamond? Awesome! Someone else has a twist tie? Awesome!

      Yes, we all do make some assumtions about people based on what they wear. Some of these are fair, some of these really aren’t. But I have yet to find one other article of clothing or jewelry about which people are so unabashedly rude. “How many carats is that? How much was it? Is it gold? Are those all diamonds? Mine cost xx. …” When we bought my fiance’s ring, we went with palladium (resizeable and hypoallergenic) and the jeweler told us that when people asked we could just tell them it was platinum. He was totally taken aback when I told him I’d just tell people it was none of their dang business.

      Talk to your fiance some about what you can do to make him more comfortable, though. It’s hard finding the right balance of compromise and not changing yourself. But it’s worth trying. Or maybe you’ll just get him rallied to the, “It’s a family heirloom and the vast majority of its value is sentimental” party line. I do love a good, “Nacho business!” party line.

      • Class of 1980

        Amen.

  • Class of 1980

    Yeah, people. My post today was written BEFORE the big post on rings last week. And I thought, Oh Boy, these poor readers are gonna be so over the whole ring thing. I wanted to cancel my guest post!

    Except, it’s not really about the rings. It’s about why we have a hard time letting people be individuals.

    And here’s something ironic … Yesterday, I saw a headline about Jessica Simpson getting engaged and they were making a big deal about her “unusual” ring. It turns out that Jessica’s ring is a ruby with smaller diamonds on the sides. Ruby is her birthstone.

    And just as I was thinking her ring was cool, the writer let me down by saying that “Jessica’s ring was a slap in the face to all women who wanted the conventional big diamond.”

    Uh. NO. No, no, no, no, no.

    There is no reason to slap any precious faces. We should be celebrating our individuality; not going to extremes in any one direction. Besides, who’s gonna dictate the direction for everyone else?

    • Alyssa

      Toldja they’d like it. :-)

    • abby_wan_kenobi

      THIS is the thing I never understand. How is a random celebrity’s ring an insult to other people. How are any of our personal adornment choices relevant to anyone else’s life? I have a sapphire ring which I wear on the traditional left ring finger, and I have people ask me if I’m married and then they always want to know if there’s some big political reason I didn’t get a diamond. The first guess is always that it’s my birthstone. They seem disappointed with, “Um, because it’s pretty? Look sparkles!!”

      • Class of 1980

        Exactly.

        You can blame some of it on a lack of awareness. Gemstone rings are not unusual elsewhere.

  • Class of 1980

    Thanks for the compliments, people. :)

    • http://www.stofnsara.com saartjie

      All of them completely warranted.

  • Class of 1980

    NEWS: Prince William just got engaged and gave his fiancee his mother’s sapphire engagement ring. Seems like a happy enough story to me, but then you look at the comments and realize you just can’t win.

    So don’t even try.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/yblog_newsroom/20101116/wl_yblog_newsroom/the-rings-the-thing

    File this in your “People Are Crazy Busybodies” file.

    • Alyssa

      That makes me sad, not only on the level of what we’ve been talking about here, but on a personal level.
      I remember seeing that ring when I was growing up and thinking that it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It didn’t scar me or make need that type of ring as an engaged adult, but I had a Princess Di fascination and I LOVED her ring.

      Haterz gotta hate.

    • meg

      You guys, I’ve already gotten my first PR email selling knockoffs of this ring. Lordhavemercy.

      • Class of 1980

        And are you getting one??????

        LMAO.

        • http://www.stofnsara.com saartjie

          I think THIS might just be my favourite APW comment of all time. (I’m shallow like that.) I’m going to laugh about it all day…

      • DtotheQ

        Knockoffs? It is a classic ring, the style of which you see in jewellery stores all over – i have my grandmothers sapphire ring that is identical (but smaller ;) ) to this, it is a classic design that has been around for years.

        • meg

          Oh, that’s not going to stop them from trying to sell you perfect replicas marked as “royal engagement rings.”

          • Rosamund

            Asda (slightly skanky Wal-Mart-owner UK supermarket) has a track record of £20 glass knock-offs of celebrity engagement rings. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time…

          • Alyssa

            I totally bought on Ebay, and wore for years, a replica of Kate Hudson’s engagment ring.
            Not cause it was hers, but because it was Art Deco and frickin’ gorgeous.

            So, um…it’s cause of people like me that they have a market for this stuff.

            *hangs head in shame but gets distracted by sparkly knock-off ring*

          • http://! Jennifer

            I swear I remember replicas of that ring being advertised in Parade magazine or some such back when people were gaga over Charles & Diana.

    • http://whyareweallsostupid.com sarahdipity

      When I saw the news of their engagement I thought thank goodness we just got married. Their wedding tastes are going to eclipse the wedding industry even if its not what you would want. And thank goodness I already have my sapphire because I bet they go up in price for a little while.

      I was actually shocked by all the haters but I suppose I shouldn’t have been.

  • Mallory

    “We suffer as individuals and as a society if mindless choices are rewarded with approval and thoughtful choices are questioned.”

    So true, I’ve already encountered this situation in my short time of being engaged. I’m so glad there are places like APW who are trying to change this!

  • TheArchaeologist

    Great post and I think it resonates with the majority of the readers here. However if I can make itty bitty comment on that the idea that our society in particular is soulless for conspicuous consumption. I just want to point out that most cultures past and present (even those we don’t necessarily think of like Native Americans) were OBSESSED with status and accumulating wealth. Like seriously, even more so than today if you can believe it. It seems to be a cultural phenomenon that makes us human. This does not mean that we must all rush out and buy status symbols..just that we can’t help it as a culture :)
    I admire all you ladies (and men!) who differ from the societal norms! You are creating the cultural norms of tomorrow (even if it doesn’t seem like it)!

    • Cupcake

      (Just to clarify, gathering and amassing wealth isn’t a human universal, but it is a commonality in societies that are even a little complex, which includes most Native American societies. It is largely absent from hunter-gatherers, or at least was until researchers and tourists starting paying them.)

    • Class of 1980

      Yes, I agree that status has always been part of our society. When I used the words “our society has become so soulless” it was because I’ve been around just long enough to see a big change.

      Nowadays, status is on steroids. Instead of it lurking quietly in the background like it used to, it’s become the main event.

      • Lethe

        Personally I suspect this may have happened because of increasing income inequality. Richer rich and poorer poor = more anxiety about status.

    • Mel

      I say “exactly” twice to TheArchaeologist’s comment. And using it as a springboard…

      “To choose something because it speaks to you, because it fits your lifestyle, your ethics, and your individual style does not even register as something to strive for.”

      Playing devil’s advocate…. Isn’t this idea–buying something because it ‘fits your lifestyle– materialism at its very core? The idea that a chunk of metal with a rock embedded in it can represent a whole person, or even an aspect of one’s personality? The notion that one chooses a ring because it is a reflection of who they are and/or speaks to their choices is, in my mind, very materialistic.

      Now, don’t get me wrong. I consider myself materialistic, and I’m okay with this. My favorite piece of furniture is my dining room table, because it’s old beautiful and I refinished it myself and it’s not from Ikea. I look to that table and it seems to reflect my personality, and my hard work. But some might see it as an old beat up thing, while others might think of it as a status symbol (it’s worth waaaay more than I paid for it). But in the end, it’s just a table.

      I don’t often succeed, but I try to let my things be things and let my personality shine through what I say and do instead of through the things I wear and own.

      I apologize in advance if this sounds antagonistic–I’m not trying to be. I like the conversation going on and it’s not one I get to have with people face-to-face…

      • Sarah

        Okay, I’ll devil’s-advocate you back. : )
        It depends on your definition of “materialism.” If it means imbuing an object with meaning beyond it’s quantifiable characteristics, then, yes. But we’ve been doing that for millenia (e.g., decorating and creating totems and symbols). If it means amassing things merely to demonstrate your ability to amass things, then no.
        There is meaning to what we physically present to the world, and it’s not soulless. Personal expression gives us confidence, and helps people understand our personalities without asking lots of questions first. It also creates a diversity of beauty in the world, and that’s good for the soul.

        • Mel

          Thanks.

          That was a really lovely point. Sometimes I think about physical objects and what gets imbued with meaning, and why, and I like your response.

          ….yep, that’s it :)

  • http://thatcardboardbox.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth

    I didn’t chime in on last week’s ring post, but I wanted to *exactly* pretty much every comment anyone made.

    I am not much of a jewelry person, and I knew I didn’t want a big old honkin’ diamond because I like to get my hands dirty and I didn’t want to worry about having to take my ring off if I wanted to play. When I laid out my case to my then fiance (now husband), though, he was worried that I was just being nice and trying to spare him having to spend the money for a ring. I just knew I would only want to wear my wedding ring once we were married. We found my engagement ring while we were on vacation last summer. It’s a wrapped silver wire ring with two little amethyst beads on it (we’re both February birthdays) made by an 80-year-old Welsh-Canadian lady and it is AWESOME. It satisfied my wish for something super unique and durable, and his desire to buy me something to symbolize our commitment. I got some funny looks when I showed it off initially, but I was actually pleasantly surprised by how many people respected our choice and thought my ring was pretty damn cool.

    And then we got married and I haven’t worn it since. But it’s beautiful, it served its purpose and I love it. So go with your heart and don’t make your choice based on what other people think. If you are true to yourself and your partner, the ring (or lack thereof) will fit no matter what.

    • Sylvia

      Yes!! I found it very difficult to convince my husband that I truthfully, honestly, not-just-saying-it, definitely did not want a fancy diamond ring, in fact I think I suggested that maybe we didn’t need a ring at all… (if only I’d known the phrase “compete in the diamond olympics” back then!) – his reaction to everything I said was still “maybe she’s just saying that, really every girl wants a big diamond…” and this is the man who really knows me. That was probably even harder than convincing everyone else since that yes, we chose it together, yes I LOVE it and no I won’t be ‘upgrading’ in a few years when we can afford a ‘proper one’!

      Ps the standard reaction to my (in my opinion beautiful and not even THAT different from the norm) ring*: “Oh! How… Unusual?!” I can’t help but laugh :-)

      *It’s a 1920’s antique aqauamarine with two smaller old cut diamonds in case that’s interesting to anyone else.. ;-)

      • Class of 1980

        Your ring sounds absolutely beautiful. Aqua and turquoise are my favorite colors in the whole wide world.

        • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

          ME TOO!

          I’ve been rooting for a turquoise accent wall in the yet-to-be-bought-home for over a year.

          • Class of 1980

            Go to the paint section of your nearest Lowe’s and look for a Valspar paint chip with this on the back: Color: EE2121 Mica Stone.

            It’s a Turquoise (on the greenish side) with tiny granite crystals mixed in!

            It was love at first sight. ;)

  • alex

    I think this is the right time to share my ring story.

    Let me introduce myself. I’m someone who loses absolutely everything. Six wallets, eight cellphones, a couple of digital cameras, the gps, the car keys (twice), my passport, an mp3 player and my Bose headphones too. Being like that, I’ve grown up completely detached from material things, and have stopped buying things I don’t really really need.

    One day, my now-fiance tells me all shocked that his best friend had just bought a 20K engagement ring for his girlfriend. To be honest, I didn’t even know rings like that existed! We both felt a little disgusted by his friend’s expense; mostly because they come from a developing country –like we do–, and it really upset us that he could really be spending SO MUCH on something that could help to feeding thousands of children instead. So I calmed my fiance… “No, really, I don’t expect you to buy a 20K ring… as a matter of fact, whenever the time comes, you’d better not spend more than 20 bucks on my ring. First, because we’re simple, but mostly, because you and I know I’ll lose it, and I don’t want you to get horribly mad at me when it happens.”

    On day. he suggested going to Taxco (a small silver mining town in Mexico, where I’m from) and getting a simple ring. It was a beautiful trip. We got the simplest possible silver band, and bargained it down to $3. He got one too (a tradition in Argentina, where he is from).

    A few days later he proposed. I did get a couple of comments on the style of “can I see your ring??!! oh… aw… he went for something simple”, to which I replied “and it only cost $3!!”.

    A few months later… I lost the ring playing baseball. I felt really sad, but he comforted me saying “hey, we knew you’d lose it! we can afford to get you a new one…”. So we got another, identical one, on Ebay.

    Of course, we had a deja-vu when the wedding bands talk came about. We wanted something simple, and that wouldn’t hurt too much if I lost it. So one day, when I came to him all excited about this post that I had read on APW, where some people where adding “goats for Ugandan children” to their registries, he came up with a solution to our ring dilemma: to keep the engagement rings (“that way I won’t feel too bad if you lose it again, we’ll just stock up on them”), and let’s invest the little cash we were saving for wedding bands into two Ugandan goats (“I trust those kids won’t lose their goats!” he said), and two frames for their pictures.

    If anyone out there is such a mess as I am, I strongly recommend our strategy =)

    • ddayporter

      “I trust those kids won’t lose their goats!” AHHHH. amazing.

    • http://www.chilingwang.com Chi-Ling

      What a great idea! I just forwarded your comment to my significant other. I don’t know that we’ll go the Ugandan goats route, but I think donating money to a charity we both love is great way to mark our commitment to each other.

    • meg

      Sniffffff! We got some of those goats for our wedding too.

    • A Team

      Wow — our story is so similar! I was also really uncomfortable with an expensive e-ring (also both for philosophical and ‘I lose everything’ reasons), and we ended up getting “engagement goats” through Heifer instead.

      E-high five!

      • alex

        NO KIDDING! What a coincidence! High five back!

    • Gomushin Girl

      Ok, but for many people from developing countries, jewelery is seen as an important and safe investment of wealth. Lots of cultures are really big into giving gold and other kinds of wearable wealth for weddings precicely because they’re portable and likely to retain value. If you’re in a place where markets are unstable, where currency isn’t as trusted or as common as here, or just a place where it’s tradition, putting a heck of a lot of money in what we in the wealthy west consider a bauble isn’t conspicuous consumption. It’s an investment. If times go bad, it’s something the woman can sell to keep herself or her family from trouble.
      There’s nothing wrong with wanting your own ring to be modest and reflect what you can afford. It’s laudable and awesome . . . but it’s also cultural. Different cultures and different circumstances make for different choices.

      • Class of 1980

        I don’t even trust our own currency as a matter of fact, and we are investing in gold and silver. However on APW I think we’re talking about status worries and being a slave to the status quo rather than currency worries.

        Besides, the message is about being true to oneself, whether that be a giant ring, an artisan ring, an antique ring, a tattoo ring, or no ring at all. If a bride comes from a culture where gold is given for security reasons and she embraces that, then she is being true to herself.

      • http://Averyhappyaccident.blogspot.com Alice

        I live in a country with an infamously instable economy (hello from Argentina!)… and completely unreliable banks. We don’t invest in jewelry…. instead we just hoard US dollars hidden in our house. When we get richer, we’ll open account abroad. Seriously. It’s better to hide your wealth here, rather than show it off! Plus a showy ring (aka any ring with diamonds) is going to result in getting mugged on the subway. I wish I could just choose the ring I wanted without having to worry about security issues. The little American consumer in me is screaming as I look down at my tiny silver engagement ring. I love it. I do but sometime when a newly engaged friend puts a picture of her enormous 3 stone ring on Facebook, a small part of me dies of jealously.

        • http://Averyhappyaccident.blogspot.com Alice

          There’s so many typos in that comment that I come off as a non-native English speaker. But no. I’m just an American with rapidly deteriorating English spelling and grammar.

        • Class of 1980

          Totally Off Topic, but here goes —

          Our dollar is not at all safe. For one thing, it’s just paper currency not tied to anything of value. Get some gold and silver and hoard it in the U.S. The reason metal prices are going up is that so many people are trying to preserve their assets and have no confidence in the near future of the dollar. If we have serious inflation, and some think it’s likely, our dollars will be worth so much less.

          Jumping off soap box.

      • Gomushin Girl

        To make it clear, I was responding to the part where Alex was gobsmacked by the fiance’s friend’s 20K ring ~ I applaud people who take control of their finances in whatever way best suits them. I’m only trying to point out that this friend may well have been responding to cultural norms that regard very expensive jewelry pieces for weddings as financial investment in the new family. Jewlery is a very, very, very common way of ensuring portable wealth for women in many parts of the world. That’s all.

    • Class of 1980

      My business partner tells me that his former father-in-law was a curmudgeon. When he got engaged, his future FIL kept saying he should pay him a bride price like they did in other countries because he was getting his best daughter.

      So, my business partner got him a goat and tied it up in the backyard. His future FIL was speechless for a change. ;)

  • http://meaghantothemax.wordpress.com Meaghan

    Yay! I am totally guilty of stalking Class of 1980; I feel like she’s my slightly older and infinitely wiser fairy godmother sometimes.

    What I love about APW is that it’s not about competing to have the biggest ring/cake/whatever, or about having the smallest/most creative/least ecologically damaging whatever – as Meg has said, weddings (and relationships) are not competitions. And so many media sources and messages to women try and push that we should be competing and judging each other, instead of respecting our (hopefully) well-reasoned choices and recognizing that there are different paths for all of us.

    • Class of 1980

      Meaghan wrote: “Yay! I am totally guilty of stalking Class of 1980; I feel like she’s my slightly older and infinitely wiser fairy godmother sometimes.”

      Don’t believe it, Meaghan. I know 1980 personally and she’s a NUT. ;)

  • MissT

    “I think APW’s message is to encourage you to tune into the needs of your own soul and to make conscious choices about your wedding and your life.” THIS!!! This is why I do tune into APW, because it reminds me that my opinion on my life (and our opinion on our relationship) is what I need to know and use to make decisions for my life.

  • http://linseykitchens.wordpress.com Linsey

    I’m trying to think of how I can tie this: “To choose something because it speaks to you, because it fits your lifestyle, your ethics, and your individual style does not even register as something to strive for. We suffer as individuals and as a society if mindless choices are rewarded with approval and thoughtful choices are questioned.” into my lesson at school tomorrow. Maybe just give them all cupcakes with this message in frosting?

    Brilliant, Class-o-de-eight-oh. And, I didn’t APW stalk you before, but guess what??? :)

    Side note: my F proposed in the middle of me moving out of state. After three bleary days of packing and driving and making crazy last minute decisions, my F asked me to marry him at the base of a beautiful mountain while the sun set all kinds of technicolor dreamcoats. I called my best friend, half-asleep, and exclaimed the good news. “Did he have a ring,” she asked. I wanted to give her shaky baby syndrome. WE’RE GETTING MARRIED! And the first thing she wanted to know about was the ring. I really hated her right then. What really, did/does our love have to do with a ring? I get the symbolism (come on, I teach English) but pluease! Can love and commitments not be serious unless there are copious amounts of bling? Sad. Pathetic. Makes me angry just thinking about it.

    To cheer myself up, I’m going to donate and eat chocolate ice cream.

    • Kristen

      And was her next question “Do you have a date set?” (haha) I swear, even people we love dearly lose their minds when you tell them you’re engaged. I wasn’t even out of, “But I thought my hair would be clean…” shock when people were asking if we had a date set.

      (Backstory: he totally surprised me on an evening when I was at the Oregon coast. When I’m there, I wake up in the morning with no time for this ‘shower’ nonsense. I have stomping around on the beach to do! So I kept patting my frizzy/dirty ponytail and saying, “But I thought my hair would be clean…”)

      • http://linseykitchens.wordpress.com Linsey

        Ha ha. That would totally be me. But wait…I was supposed to have my nails clipped before you did this! Lucky for me he caught me as I was trying fiendishly to get him back in the car, back on the road since we had another 13 hours to drive while all my possessions (including my g-ma’s ring that I’ve always wanted to use as an engagement ring) sat in my packed wagon and I was going to live out of a hotel until I found housing and I had a classroom to unpack and a whole new curriculum to plan and school started the next day, two states away.

        I’m pretty sure my hair was three days dirty. At least. But they still love us, huh? We are lucky girls!

  • http://rentednest.blogspot.com/ sarah

    I’ll admit, I didn’t swim through all the ring posts either- but it occurs to me now that I never thanked APW for reassuring me, way back when my partner and I were in the “pre-engagement negotiation stages” that it was a-ok that we picked my engagement ring out together. My partner was totally lost on what to buy so we started looking together, but there was a part of me that worried (for some bizarre reason!!) about what people would say if they knew I was involved. Through APW and other sources I’ve realized how many couples do this together- why is there this myth throughout society about men surprising their fiances with the perfect ring?! Not only do I love love love my ring, but I was able to make sure that my partner didn’t spend an arm and a leg… I would have been so uncomfortable with something extravagant. It’s just not us.

    • Jen

      Funny! I had everyone ask me if I was going to go with my fiance to pick out my ring so I could get exactly what I wanted, but I wanted the opposite, lol! I really wanted to be surprised because I’m a bit type A and like to give my two cents into every decision we make (and I’m also very observant **nosy** so I tend to guess **ruin** every surprise people plan for me), but I love surprises so I decided I wanted this important moment to be THE ONE actual surprise of my life. (Note: I did guess that he was going to propose that day, but I at least had no idea what the ring looked like)

      It worked out too. My fiance got me a a ring I never would have picked out myself and I love it! We did talk about rings a lot beforehand though and I knew I wasn’t going to get a diamond, but the discussions really led to open honest conversation between the two of us about our future and our values, another reason I valued the surprise tactic because it showed me that he was really listening (not that I needed confirmation, but it was nice!) Truth be told, the myth of my man getting me something which perfectly represented my soul did not come true, but it is a ring a fall in love with more and more everyday!

      Just giving some insight into why someone would buy into the *myth*, lol. (Note: his cousin is going to look at engagement rings with his long time girlfriend and they gave us this uncertain look knowing how our proposal was, in which we responded, “Awesome! Congrats guys!” ::thumbs up::)

  • Laura

    This is such an important topic to discuss – I remember feeling really overwhelmed even thinking about the prospect of engagement rings (around the time of our engagement I was a student and my now-husband is an artist). My husband carved me a wooden engagement ring which meant everything to me. But we would have these conversations about going to look for a more permanent engagement ring at some point… and looking back I think it was to prevent people up from raising eyebrows or somehow trying to diminish or “pity” our engagement (I know it sounds absurd, but I think we all get it here).

    We never did go to get a “real” engagement ring – after all, I had one. What’s funny is that no one has ever asked if we did purchase a replacement – because even though people get VERY opinionated about weddings, in the end they just want you to be happy (well maybe not the wedding industry… they want you to get divorced so you have to buy more rings). It is so important to find what speaks to you and be true to it.

  • http://jolynn.wordpress.com jolynn

    So wise, so well written, and so, so awesome! I love Class of 1980’s great perspective on stuff. You often encourage me to step outside of myself in my assumptions, and to look at things not just in a class/socioeconomic way or a cultural way, but also in a historical context. Which is awesome and has provoked much thought within me over the past few weeks/months/years. (YEARS! It’s about time for an APW love-fest!)

  • Wench

    Love love love
    class of 1980 you were kind enough to comment on my comment on the previous ring post about people’s erm interesting responses to my engagement ring
    I am now 2 days away from getting hitched and wanted to thank meg and the apw community for your sanity – see you on the other side

    • Class of 1980

      Wench,

      The same people who feel emboldened to offer commentary on engagement rings, lose all interest once you are married. Marriage takes all the wind out of their sails.

      • Class of 1980

        And GOOD LUCK!!!