What No One Tells You About Getting Engaged… and Ring Envy

Woman and man kiss.

My proposal story and ring are perfect. The day my fiancé and I got engaged we spent the entire afternoon and evening doing all of our favorite things—picnicking, singing in the car, watching our TV shows, walking around our favorite park, eating pizza downtown. In fact, we ate lunch in the same park that we had spent our one-year dating anniversary; we even sat in the same place and reminisced about how far we had come. I will always remember the silly details of that day—stalling my car five or six times, arguing over missing the turn out of the roundabout, wrapping up in blankets for our picnic on what was supposed to be a warm day. When I finally fell asleep that night it was with my ring nestled comfortably on my finger and to thoughts about how happy the day had been. My ring, too, was exactly what I wanted—except better than I ever could have imagined. All those fears and worries about what if I hate the ring? Gone. It was simple, timeless, and of course sparkly.

Then two things happened. One, people I barely knew started coming up and congratulating me—sweet of them!—and then immediately launching into asking questions about the engagement. How did he propose? Where were you? Let me see the ring! All of a sudden when telling the engagement story I didn’t know what to say. The short version, “We spent the afternoon in our favorite park and got engaged by a waterfall downtown…,” seemed inadequate. But I couldn’t explain the part where we were going to turn right to get to the park but the traffic was so bad we just abandoned that plan and turned left instead—barely making it onto the highway laughing and glad to be alive. And how could I tell them about sitting on our picnic blanket freezing cold and giggling as we pulled the other blanket over our heads like a fort? So instead I offered up, “We went to our favorite park and ate lunch…,” and they were underwhelmed. I showed them my ring and when they asked if it was what I wanted I weakly explained, “We picked it out together…,” because we did. Picking out my ring together was fun, trying, and a growing experience all at the same time. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But how do you share that with a stranger?

Second, other people started getting engaged, and their proposal stories were “better.” The key on the beach that opened a treasure chest five hundred miles away? Check. The clearing in the forest with the torches and antique desk? Check. The elaborate scavenger hunt with complicated clues and expensive gifts? Also check. The girls were surprised, elated, and more than happy to share their story with everyone. Their rings were trendy, gaudy, and glittery—everything that the wedding industry loves to push. I felt an irrational engagement envy. They had the ideal proposals, the fancy rings! How could I possibly live up to all that?

But wait! The ring with three halos and 128 tiny diamonds is not for me, and it never was. I have always wanted a classic solitaire like the one resting on my mother’s elegant gold band, something I could wear forever and it would never be out of style. Similarly, the idea of a surprise proposal terrified me—my fiancé and I have always made all our decisions together and planned our lives as a team. Why would this be any different? We’re a partnership, and our partnership is based on trust and togetherness. My favorite dates are walks in the park hand-in-hand while he listens to me talk about our latest client at work or a project I’m leading in graduate school. I value time spent together, not money spent on me. The fact that he skipped class and ignored his text messages for an afternoon meant infinitely more than a carriage ride through downtown or my name on the Jumbotron.

It’s a work in progress. Sometimes I feel a twinge of envy when I see a photo album on Facebook of a particularly intricate proposal. When another girl at work got engaged, there was a little jealousy to hear the exclamations of “Wow, your ring is huge!” Then I think back to the day in the park; my fiancé’s hand in mine as we walked around the lake; drinking hot chocolate; and stealing more than my share of the blanket to stay warm on the coldest day of the season so far. I look down at my hand and see my amazing ring—my delicate solitaire that perches so elegantly on my finger—and smile. Because no one’s engagement is as perfect as mine.

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  • What a lovely engagement story. Congratulations.

  • Sigh….must absolutely EVERYTHING about weddings be competitive–even proposals? As an introvert myself, I totally understand why your proposal/engagement was absolutely perfect! (I, for one, was drooling over the intimacy of the two of you spending a not-so-ordinary day together.)

    It sounds like you’ve totally got it together–in spite of the moment or two where you were envious (not really) or felt people were underwhelmed. My favorite expression (in fact, I’m thinking of making it my theme for 2013) “Don’t compare your insides to anyone else’s outsides.”

    You’ll probably find that–as the years go by–you celebrate your anniversaries in a more low key way as well. We do and we absolutely love it. In fact, your blog post reminded me of the year we took a bottle of Champagne to our favorite park on our anniversary (in the winter…in Colorado) and renewed our vows in the Greek pavilion there. Just us two, the bottle and a couple of glasses. And a blanket. It was heaven. (Thanks for conjuring up a happy memory.)

    You two are going to do just fine!

    • I really love your story of your anniversary! I’m from Wisconsin, so first of all kudos on Champagne in a pavilion in the winter. I understand how cold that can get! But you’re right, even already we’ve celebrated birthdays and other special days much quieter than other couples, and although it’s taken me awhile, I’m beginning to understand that is more than ok! In fact, it’s perfect for us—and I’m so glad it’s perfect for you too! Here’s to many more happy quiet anniversaries for you.

  • Grace

    Oh my gosh, do I ever understand. I’m the first in my “gal group” to get engaged, which I did last March. When I got the ladies together for drinks to announce it, everyone was SOOOO EXCIIIITEDD. That is, until they asked my “story.”

    I started to tell them about how I was at my grandmother’s house with two of my mother’s three siblings and several of my cousins present, and my friends interrupted me: “No! Skip that, we want the good part.”

    The good part. My family WAS the good part. If they didn’t realize that, the story was going to be meaningless to them. So I said, “he was going to propose over dinner in the form of announcement” and my friends went “OHHHH SO ROMANTIC” before I plowed on, “But because he knows I wouldn’t like that, he decided to take me upstairs and propose to me in private, while still allowing my family to be part of the celebration.”

    My friends: “Were there roses?”

    Me: “He didn’t know where he was going so he settled for doing it in the hallway. No roses.”

    “Did he get down on one knee.”

    “He fumbled around in his pocket for the ring and stammered a lot.”

    “Did you cry???!!!!”

    “I said ‘Are you f***ing serious?!'”


    “Then… We were engaged.”

    Silence and polite nods all around.

    My engagement was perfect because it felt perfect. When the girls are angling for a Story For The Ages, it doesn’t matter how “us” it was. There’s no way to talk about how I felt when I discovered everyone else already knew he was going to do it… And miraculously managed to keep it secret. (Secrets have the shelf life of a grape in big families.) Finding out he’d asked my dad for his blessing while my dad was plaing Age of Empires–my dad’s response had been something like “uhh, yeah, sure,” and he couldn’t have been more Himself in that moment if he’d tried. I get weepy thinking about these things because this is my life, and these are my beloved people.

    The Story is overrated.

    Congrats on the engagement, and I’m so glad you had one that means so much to you!!! That’s truly what matters most. Anyway, I think it sounds like a fabulous proposal.

    • LIZ (SINCE 1982)

      It IS funny how people will ask for your “story” and then give you the prompts they think you want to hear, right? I got a lot of the same “did he get down on one knee?” “did you cry?” when all I wanted to do was to share how it happened in my own way (rambling, awkward, but full of the silly personal details that MAKE the story for me). This feels like it parallels Meg’s experience (in the post she linked the other day) with people asking about her pregnancy – lots of leading questions to give the opening for you to affirm all the culturally expected tropes we associate with these events. The reactions you get when you don’t do that can definitely tell you a lot about the people who asked!

      • Zoe

        I know this “leading questioning” can be annoying… But I really do believe people are NOT doing it to be hurtful. They’re asking because that’s the cultural script we all use, and they are just trying to show interest/be friendly. All we can do is pay attention to our reaction to it.

        • As someone who doesn’t always know how to react in certain social situations, I feel as though I’m expected to ask this question – and many of the others that make us cringe – because if I’ve heard someone is recently engaged, it’s what he or she would expect me to ask in order to show that I’m interested/excited/etc.

          Which isn’t to say we can’t rewrite this script. I know I have started to gauge my litany of questions by the responses I’m getting, and try to adjust them accordingly.

      • Grace

        It’s true. On the one hand I felt guilty for not “playing along,” and I was even tempted to embellish a bit. Then I realized how sad that was.

        I don’t blame my friends in the least. They were excited, none of them have been proposed to before, so what they know is what they see in the media. They’re still excited I’m engaged, of course, even if how how I got that way doesn’t exactly make for thrilling cocktail talk.

        In fact, reading Meg’s post is what nailed this realization down. I was actually a little bit surprised by Meg’s account. Because no one I’m close to has been pregnant since I was too young to pay attention, all I have to go on is what they say in the media. You’re glowing! You’re magical! You’re happy all the time! You get to eat as much ice cream as you want and no one will say anything to you! I’ve heard of difficult pregnancies before, of course, but the “Magical Glowing Pregnant Woman” is a social trope that’s hard to avoid. It’s amazing how pervasive some ideas are. And how difficult to change, even in people who are attentive to them.

    • What I’ve found works for most people outside my closest circle is just choosing a few key bits to talk about with my engagement and then for the rest just smiling and saying it was perfect for us. It gets across pretty well that I’m perfectly happy and that I don’t want to go too deeply into the details of the story.

    • I can completely relate to the “he fumbled around in his pocket for the ring” part. I knew Nathan had put the ring in his jacket pocket, so him trying to unzip it and get the ring box out in hindsight is very funny. :)

      Oh—and the crying question? I got asked that question too. My reply was more like “Umm no, we just took a few pictures and went to dinner?” My tears came later when I felt overwhelmed by the love of close family and friends.

    • Jashshea

      Call “Story”s overrated all you want. I’m still teary from yours. :)

    • Samantha

      I love that you said “Are you f’cking serious?!”

      When my fiance proposed (even though we had talked about it frequently) he was quite cunning and it was a total surprise and my first words were “Are you serious!?” He won’t ever let me live that down. And it became a hilarious part of our unique story. Screw people that don’t understand. Not everyone wants a fancy public display. Kyle proposed to me on top of a mountain, hiking on our 2 year anniversary. It was completely private, totally low-key, and we spent an entire day roaming this cute small town together and going out to eat and didn’t even tell anyone until late that night/ the next day. All of our stories are perfect for us!

      • Kate

        This is the millionth reason why I love APW, you guys are my people! Similar story here:

        We got engaged while hiking right around our 2 year anniversary – it was a TOTAL surprise to me and I was absolutely 100% shocked. When he finally spit out the proposal, my first words were, “for real?!”

        Our proposal actually was not private, we had some friends hiking with us, some of whom knew what was going on and were able to capture the moment with some photos. It’s funny because if you had asked me what my ideal proposal would be, I probably would have said in private, just the two of us, but it was so fantastic to have some friends to share the moment with, & take some nice pics, and share cheap champagne with on a viewless summit :)

  • Laura

    My fiancé had planned a huge elaborate proposal at his dance studio. He’d set it up with the owners and his dance teacher and everything. Except then I threw a wrench into his plans. I showed up at his house after a particularly terrible week of grad school and said, “I’m too tired to go dancing tonight.”

    Even though I’d unwittingly messed up his plan, my then-boyfriend took it in stride and just decided to go ahead anyway. He made me some pasta and danced with me in the kitchen and then proposed. It was a small, intimate moment and I was extremely happy.

    What we ended up doing, just because we didn’t want to disappoint the people who’d set up the plan at the dance studio, was keeping our engagement secret and re-enacting the proposal in front of everyone a week later. I must have done some good acting because people kept saying I looked so “surprised,” hehehe.

    So now we have two engagement stories, the Intimate Version and the Official Version. It’s true that the Official Version wows everyone a lot more than the Intimate Version would, and I haven’t shared the truth of it with many people. But in a weird way, having a story just for us makes it even more intimate, and I like that.

    In short, it doesn’t matter what people’s reactions are. I’ve had people whose facial expressions have shown that they obviously think my diamond is too small, but theirs are so honking huge that I don’t know how they can even put gloves on. It’s just about having the strength to stick to your convictions. Great post!

    • Your engagement story is so beautiful. I also love that you and your fiance have a secret story to share with just each other! I would definitely be keeping that story to myself too :)

    • Copper

      I like the intimate story. The ones that make me happiest are when one partner knows, and is able to give, exactly what the other needs.

    • I’ve shared barely more details than “We both had crap days at work, and he dragged me out to our favorite local restaurant against my will” regarding our proposal story. It was an intimate proposal, and so the details remain between him and me :)

  • anona

    “The Story is overrated”


    We have no proposal story and we picked out my ring together. And I am happy with that, even though some people seem to find it disappointing that we have no romantic story to tell.

    • I can’t wait until doing things as a team like picking out a ring and deciding things together IS the romantic story.

      • Copper

        Most people ask me for my ‘story’, but I was so excited when one friend’s questions weren’t about whether he got down on one knee, but instead how we wound up picking out the ring together. She was also the only person to be excited that I proposed back to him (yeah, try dropping that bomb, see the faces drop!). I should really spend more time with her.

    • Right, because the part where YOU TWO GOT ENGAGED isn’t romantic enough, natch ;)

      • Georgina

        I agree. When I called my sister to tell her I was engaged she replied (tongue-in-cheek) “the punters are going to want more”. Who cares what other people want or expect, getting engaged is a private. Our engagement was accidental and a joint decision but it was totally right for us as a couple.

    • Karyn

      Your engagement is very much like mine – I proposed to him, very quietly, on a Sunday afternoon in between cleaning up our apartment while we were flopped on the bed. I said, “hey, do you want to spend the rest of your life with me?” and he was like, “sounds good to me.”

      This is when people say “AND THEN? Did he do a REAL proposal?”

      Which is when I go “Didn’t you hear the part where I proposed to him? In our bed? Because I’m pretty sure that THAT was the real proposal… y’know… since I was there and I did it myself.”

  • Kelly

    This is so incredibly true. From the silly “just being us moments” to being terrified of a surprise proposal, to the bizarre post-engagement envy, you’ve pretty much captured my feelings on engagement. And while we didn’t get engaged over the holidays, this holiday season has been a whirlwind of seeing family for the first time since we did, and having to tell “the story” and casually say wedding planning is going “well” over and over and over and over and over……. It’s exhausting.

    What I will say is that when I’m asked “how did he propose” and we’re together, I always have him tell the story. This is the strangest thing to me about engagements – it’s his story! Sure, we decided to get engaged together, but at the end of the day (for us) he went out and bought the ring, he planned the whole thing, he did the asking. He has so much more to tell and there are so many important parts of the story that I wasn’t even there to witness – why on earth would people ask me to tell the story!?

    • The “how did he propose” questions definitely segue into “how’s the wedding planning going” questions! I want to stay genuine, but I too end up saying “it’s going well…” What I really want to tell them about is staying up until midnight with my sisters watching half a season of my favorite show and working on tissue paper flowers… but that’s a whole different post :)

  • Gah. Questions and story requests regarding engagement always make me incredibly defiant. So much, that I sometimes worry I’m not leaving enough space for those who _do_ enjoy those kinds of things.

    I mean, there I go, right: Nope, there was NO proposal. Negative, we had NO ring. We had NO.. We did NOT.. There was NO.. We DID NOT do..

    And then, the statement to cut short all other dialogue: “We jointly decided that we needed to be married because he needed citizenship to my country and I needed a visa for his, so it was the only way have a future together.. It made SENSE. It was (and is) the LOGICAL thing to do. Has we not needed these things to be together, we would most likely not have gotten married.”

    Sometimes I feel a little bad because so many people care so much for the romance and the loveliness and the bows and the ribbons and the kneeling and the Official Questions and I’m not giving them what they want to hear. And then I realize that I’m selling myself short. If I offend people by having a very personal and decidedly low-profile way of getting to the point of marriage with Beloved, then the dialogue regarding engagement and marriage needs to expand. I’m just as married (and perhaps I was just as engaged) as anybody else out there, so if people feel the need to question the validity of our love and commitment because (FSM forbid) there was no kneeling and no sunbeam from the sky and no prancing unicorns, then they’re misguided and need to be (perhaps) a little offended to realize that they’re imposing a narrative of their personal preference on my life, which is not a nice thing to do.

    So. Whatever anyone’s engagement story or lack thereof, no matter what expectations other folks may have, it is valid and it is enough in and of itself.

    /evacuates the soapbox

    • THIS!

      seconding from a “perfectly made sense to get married and jointly decided over online chat medium with no rings and less than 3 months to plan”.

      • caroline

        THIS and THIS!

        thirding from a “practical reasons to get married and jointly decided while sitting on couch with no rings and less than 3 months to plan”

        That was my perfect engagement, and people can shove the shaming. There needs to be room for more kinds of stories.

  • KHN

    I think one of the most important things you point out is how difficult it is to explain to a stranger. They don’t know your relationship and what is big or meaningful to you.

    My fiance and I discussed marriage for a loooong time and I knew a proposal was coming, but it was very important to him that he surprise me. When he proposed it was on a Monday night in our home with little (but meaningful) fanfare. It was wonderful, but frankly it was less dramatic than I had expected. He said that he had considered a lot of over the top things, but knew the only way to truly surprise me was to do something super simple and catch me off guard, since I was so aware that it was coming. So for us, the simple was the surprise and that’s what made it “better.”

    • Copper

      maybe then it’s all about the excitement and confidence we show when we tell our stories? They don’t know our relationship, true, but they know how we sound when we tell them about it. And if we go, “um, well, I sort of knew what was going on so there wasn’t really a surprise moment. We just…” that conveys insecurity, uncertainty, not-enough-ness. So maybe if we try to come up with an excited, animated version of it that conveys how happy we all were with our unique, joint-decision, picked out the ring together, non-standard proposals, then people will get on board with our happiness and be excited for us?

      Just a thought. I have a hard time telling The Story to people too, but this is something I’m trying to keep in mind for myself.

      • I suspect you might be on to something. It didn’t occur to me that “our story” was something to culturally be embarrassed about until my mom’s best friend, who is way more blunt than most, said “well, that sounds disappointing.” All the previous times I told The Story, it was met with plenty of “aw’s!” and excitement for me, despite it sounding quite similar to many others’ proposals here.

        He dragged me out of bed to talk a walk in the snow. “Aw!” I was starving and grumpy so I made him stop at Noodles and Company and watch me eat. He was so patient. “Aw!” We then walked to a pretty covered bridge, where I complained about being cold and tried to go back to the car until he stopped me and pulled out a ring. “Aw!” He was so nervous he forgot any of the things he wanted to say and just shoved the box at me and looked at me with really wide eyes. “Awwwww!”

        Not to mention people somehow thinking it was sweet we picked out a ring together and had spent months giddily/terrified…ly discussing whether or not we were ready, and therefore not really being “surprised” when he proposed. I don’t think I run in an unusual circle of people, I think my being genuinely happy and blissfully oblivious to cultural cues made my excitement infectious.

        • Class of 1980

          I’m wondering how old your mom’s friend is.

          The expectation of an elaborately-planned proposal, not to mention a proposal “story” is fairly new in our culture. I think it barely started in the nineties and then gained momentum in the last decade.

          • She’s in her 50’s, but she is very culturally aware/on the cutting edge of information and trends, even if she doesn’t follow them herself. She also expressed disappointment at my engagement ring (basic solitaire, 1/2 carat middle-quality diamond), even though her own ring wedding set is very simple and the diamond smaller than mine. It’s obviously a set she loves, as she and her husband are extremely well off, and could get something more show-offy if she wanted.

            She’s a confusing lady. A great lady who helped raise me, but a confusing one nevertheless.

          • Class of 1980

            I’m in my early 50’s too.

            I’m aware of trends, but I also look at them through the lens of earlier times, i.e. I ask myself … “Is this a good change or a stupid one?”


            No matter what age a person is, it’s rude to express disappointment about someone’s engagement story or ring. BTW, not that it matters, but I think your story is cute!

            Since she helped to raise you, maybe you feel close enough to tell her how she made you feel?

  • Kirsten

    “Then two things happened. One, people I barely knew started coming up and congratulating me—sweet of them!—and then immediately launching into asking questions about the engagement.” Ahhhh! So true! I recently got engaged and this has been one of the most surprising / overwhelming parts. It is both weird and awesome all at the same time. I have quickly learned to turn the tables and ask them all about their wedding (because let’s be serious, it’s almost always a woman who has somewhat recently been married) and take the opportunity to receive tidbits, advice, stories, etc. So, it’s a win-win-win… :-)

    • Meg

      That’s an awesome suggestion! I’ve felt really overwhelmed by all the questions since my engagement, too, and actually a little uncomfortable. It’s really sweet everyone is so involved, but I’m generally a pretty private person . . . great way to turn the tables and make the other person feel invested instead of brushed off.

    • carrie

      The day after we got engaged, my coworker/friend/future bridesmaid met me at Starbucks before work as was our custom, and when she saw me she gave me a huge hug and was so sweet. Another coworker from another part of building saw us and was like, “oh, did one of you just get back from vacation or something?” While my friend’s reaction was fantastic b/c she’s one of my closest friends, I remember feeling really strange that I was automatically treated differently – even if just for a few minutes – by people I knew and by strangers. I also felt like I was wearing the bat signal on my hand.

      • KB

        “I also felt like I was wearing the bat signal on my hand.” – ME TOO!!! Hahaha, this is the most amazing comment.

    • Definitely! I’ve found it’s way easier for me to listen to other people talk about their weddings than to talk about my own—it’s the introvert in me, and it seems like a lot of the other people who have been commenting feel the same way. This is a great suggestion. People love talking about their weddings even years later and always have advice, whether or not you take it!

  • Meg

    I think your engagement story is absolutely delightful — congratulations! It sounds like the perfect day.

    My fiance proposed just three weeks ago, a week before Christmas, and I absolutely relate to so much of what you’ve written here! Though we had a romantic “story,” I quickly realized I had to distill so many emotions and thoughts into a simple soundbite I could share again and again. Others may have been underwhelmed by our big moment, but who cares? It’s not about them — it’s about the two of you.

    Definitely relate to the comparison of rings, too. I have small hands (about the only thing about me that’s “small,” but hey!) and knew I wanted a petite ring. Anything big would be heavy, uncomfortable and look weird. When we initially went to look at rings, the jewelers were continually pushing huge, trendy and sparkly diamonds at us — though I’d made it clear I wanted something simple and vintage-inspired. I mean, it makes sense; they’re in the business. They want to make money. But it was frustrating to feel like my own interests were pushed aside for someone else’s paycheck . . . and we walked out of those commission-based places so fast their heads were probably spinning. Others probably look at my ring and think “tiny,” but I absolutely love it — it’s perfect for me! And that’s truly all that matters.

    • When I went to a jeweler, she had me try on several “blingier” (so not a word) rings. To each one I said the exact same thing “you know, I’m really looking for something simple…” And yet, she still assumed I wanted the two carat diamond with three halos. To those who wanted the two carat diamond with three halos (some of my friends are like that!): that’s awesome! Good for you! But I’m so glad you got the ring that was perfect for you :)

  • Corrie

    A few things. I LOVE this post, and thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Even if you don’t have The (WIC) Story, or a proposal of any sort, it doesn’t mean you don’t have a story. Everyone’s experience of making the decision to be engaged involves a story of how you got to that point, whether it’s the “he got down on one knee and there were fairies and unicorns and sunbeams” or “he needed a visa but we didn’t have a ring but we decided to get married anyway.” My parents engagement story – occurring after a number of years of dating and talking about marriage – involved them sitting in a dive-y restaurant and my dad saying “so, I think it’s time we get married.” While my siblings and I thought it was lame when we were younger (though I understand now), it didn’t stop us from asking them to tell us their story countless times because we still enjoyed hearing about that special time for them.

    The other thing – I am not yet engaged,after 9 years of dating, though we’ve talked about marriage a lot and I know he’s had a ring since October. I thought I had conquered the irrational engagement envy beast (the one in which I’m envious of peoples’ proposal and engagement pictures, knowing that I won’t have those rings, stories or pictures, even though they’re not what I would want anyway), it surprised me over the holidays when the beast reared it’s head again. This time my irrational envy was over all my friends and other people I know who got engaged over the holidays, and yet another year has gone by where I haven’t. Although I’ve always subscribed myself to Sarah’s “There aren’t a finite amount of engagements and this girl hasn’t “stolen” mine from me” line of thought, it caught me off guard to realize that I needed to remind myself of that again. So yes, engagement envy takes place in many forms. (I blame it on the holidays. They do crazy things to people.)

    • Jenni

      This. I spent half of New Year’s Eve being sad that another year was about to end without us getting engaged. I was able to snap out of it and realize, hey, at least we’re spending the holidays together (last year he was deployed). Any day we spend together is a great day, ring or no. We had a lovely evening at home watching the ball drop.

      • This is hard, and I spent months in that first stage of the engagement envy (being jealous of friends who were engaged when I wasn’t). One thing I didn’t realize is that getting engaged wouldn’t just solve everything. I still felt the same envy (in a different form) and competition after we got engaged. Looking back, I wish I had enjoyed the pre-engaged stage more. And I wish I would take some of my own advice and enjoy the engaged stage without envying the married stage now ;)

    • Jen

      I know that beastly feeling so well… It’s so difficult to deal with, but know that you’ll have your moment and it will be awesome. What I had to focus on most was not being dissapointed when whatever occasion had passed without a ring even though I had had an amazing time celebrating or doing whatever it was at the time. Better to enjoy things as they are and what will be will be :)

    • Completely understand part 2. The beast has been bothering me since this past September, when his brother proposed to his girlfriend of six months. I keep trying to remind myself that they are a completely different couple and competition like that is not a good idea, but it’s so easy to get caught up in it (They got engaged after 6 months??? We’ve been dating for 3 years!) One of the hardest things for me is that others started treating their relationship as more serious than ours. It’s strange how “dating” and “engaged” have such different meanings in our culture. Suddenly, our 3 year relationship is being judged as less serious (and almost less valid) than their relationship of 6 months- all because they have a ring! I need to find more things that keep me grounded and uncompetitive. Suggestions?

  • Mary

    My engagement story was SO similar. I never really got jealous of the more elaborate proposals though, only ticked off when someone would discount mine. Like when I called my brother (who had recently proposed with a ring worth 3+ months of his salary, as is supposedly the “rule”, and dinner at the most expensive restaurant in town) right after the proposal and he sarcastically said that everything we did was very “fancy”. I love my brother and it’s been over 4 years now since that conversation, but it still pisses me off that in my moment of elation, he chose to scoff at the sweet, simple nature of my husband’s proposal, rather than offering congratulations and keeping his judgment to himself. We have a sweet and simple sort of romance in our relationship. Arranging to get me out of work, taking me to the tex-mex restaurant where we had our first date, grabbing ice cream and taking it to the park in the neighborhood where I grew up and we had recently bought a house together, proposing with the simple solitaire ring we chose together, and going back to our house where our parents were waiting with champagne? Beyond perfect, even in the imperfections of the day. :)

    • This is SO us too! I love your engagement story! And am I allowed to be a little jealous that you had just bought a house together? I’m definitely looking forward to that :)

      • Buying that house is a MUCH better use of 3+ months salary, but hey, maybe that’s just me.

  • Sarah

    Oh my goodness do I ever need this post today and am I ever glad I found this site. My boyfriend and I have just decided to get married this summer and I’m in the precarious position of booking the key parts of my wedding pre-engagement ring. We’ve already made most of the decisions about what and when and who and I couldn’t be happier with our decision to make it this year (a decision that we made together, as we should have), but I’m bracing myself for the return to work where everyone’s eyes will be trained on my bare left ring finger. We will get a ring, and I know my soon-to-be fiance is worried about doing things “right” ( meaning the way everyone else does) and I desperately want to do things “us”. Thank you thank you thank you for this website. It might be the only thing keeping me from going insane. And it might help reassure my boyfriend that our “official” engagement doesn’t have to be special to anyone else but us.

    • Sarah, HUGE congratulations that you’re getting married this summer! That’s so exciting and I’m so happy for you. Something that really helps me is focusing on memories. When someone says something negative or even just not 100% supportive I think about a really good time Nathan and I had together. You could think about when you and your boyfriend first talked about getting married or conversations you’ve had about your life together in the future. If you can think about what’s TRULY important (ahem, not the proposal or the ring), it’ll help you keep your focus… and your sanity :)

  • I love your story and your take on things! It’s sad and icky to me that a moment as special and personal as deciding to get married has become part of the competitive brouhaha surrounding weddings. An elaborate proposal would make me SO uncomfortable. If that works for someone else, cool – enjoy! It’s just so 100% not even remotely what I would want, and I think the recent trend towards over-the-top proposals has started to perpetuate this idea that we should WANT a huge production of a proposal. And for many people that’s just not the case. Just like for many of us having a huge diamond ring is not part of the equation. As always, I’m the Libertarian sitting here saying “Marry whoever you want! Decide to do that however you want! It affects my life in absolutely no way whatsoever and I’m happy you’re happy!” :)

    • Exactly times a thousand. I don’t even like it when the restaurant staff finds out it’s my birthday, and surround me to sing, so an elaborate proposal would have been absurdly out of the question, FOR US, at least :)

  • Stephanie

    I totally understand. We got engaged in a Dairy Queen parking lot, on a Monday night, eating blizzards in his Jeep. It happened something like this:

    HIM: “You know, I really want to marry you.”
    ME: “Awww, is that a proposal?” (Totally kidding.)
    HIM: (slight pause) “Yes.”
    ME: “OK then. We’re getting married.”

    No ring. No bended knee. No crying – smiling, yes. Lots of saying, “OMG, we are so crazy.”

    So when my BFF got engaged on a trip to NYC, in Central Park, on the lake, in a gondola, right after a carriage ride, I felt a slight envy. Both she and everyone else I know has these HUGE diamonds – like, 1.25 caret, for most of them, and I still don’t have a ring, after more than a year of marriage.

    But then I think to myself, there was no artifice in our proposal. I didn’t know it was coming (neither of us did). And I didn’t have to wait for months or even years, wondering if it was ever going to happen. So I am SO very happy about that. I’m glad that when I do get my ring (soon!), I will have gotten to pick it out, and it can meet all my ethical requirements. And in the end, engaged is engaged, and married is married, no matter what kind of proposal/ring.

    • For me it was like “Ohmygosh we’re totally getting married!!!” And SO many smiles :)

    • SC

      Yes to this. This was basically my story, but on a couch, on a random Sunday.

      Me: What are you thinking about? You seem kinda spacey?
      Him: I want us to get married, it will be good
      Me: yeah I know babe, of course. I can’t wait. One day… (he keeps lookzing spacey)
      Me: oh… wait… like… now? This is it?! Are you asking me? (as I sit up a little straighter)
      Him: Well, uhm, I don’t have a ring or anything, because I wasn’t exactly planning this, but yes, I don’t want to wait any longer, I don’t want you to have to wait any longer… (leans in to touch my forehead with his forehead)… SC… will you marry me?
      Me: Yes, of course!
      cue: cuddling and kissing and smiling, then back to relaxing on couch.

      And that was it. Then we spent weeks researching and negotiating and picking out a ring together, something small, financially affordable, non-diamond, spent weeks waiting for said ring to arrive from etsy jeweler, then had a cute date on a weekend where I was given the ring, and I started wearing the ring.

      I think it was lovely, and so cute, and really us. That same week, another friend of mine had a really similar engagement conversation/decision together with her now fiance, on an airplane, and mutually decided to get married. And another friend recently got engaged on a tropical vacation, in a romantic spot, with a surprise speech… so I think engagements run the gammut. Sometimes I wonder what my man would have said in a romantic speech, and wish I’d have heard something magical, and wish he’d have gotten on one knee just to be abe to answer ‘yes’ to that damn question. But also, I’m proud of us for doing it our way, for doing most of it together, for my man’s spontaneity, and for still being a bit surprised. :)

  • Oh my gosh, I totally get the feeling inadequate about the proposal story. My husband proposed on a Wednesday evening after work–we went out for dinner (me insisting we go to a regular place because it was just a Wednesday night, right?), took a walk around our neighborhood, and he proposed in a little park by our apartment. It was lovely and quiet and felt like us. But people wanted a “story” for it, maybe because there are so many Youtube videos now about big, grand proposals. At first I felt weird because I couldn’t give people what they expected from our proposal story. But I wouldn’t change our proposal at all–for me, the important part is that it was quiet. It could have been a regular evening, which makes all regular evenings seem special.

    • Ours was a Tuesday! Who says you have to get engaged on a Friday night or Saturday, right? We definitely went to our favorite pizza place too :)

      • Anything that includes pizza gets my vote. ;) Hurray for weekday proposals!

        • Jessie

          Yes! Ours was on a Monday night and we didn’t even tell anyone until Wednesday. I liked keeping it close and quiet for a bit. :)

  • KB

    I totally get everyone’s comment about working through the engagement envy – I remember when the “flash-mob” engagement rush started hitting YouTube and I would watch these INSANE videos with music and choreography and think, “Wow, I want that”…until I realized that I actually did NOT want that in real life because, you know what, I would eff it up. I would be that girl who would say, “Wow, look at those weirdos dancing” or “But I don’t WANT to go over there, stop pushing me!!” Tip: you should not be embarrassed when you get engaged…

    Also, I’d like to say that I think the best part of every engagement story is how the person felt. I mean, if you got engaged with a marching band and fireworks, how much left is there to say in response besides “Wow, that sounds amazing.” *crickets* The REAL story is how happy or excited or content the person is to be marrying the person that they love.

    • I think a few years ago the engagement story I most dreaded was the announcement on the Jumbotron. Somehow that has morphed into the flash-mob engagement story, just like you said. My favorite part of your comment is “you should not be embarrassed when you get engaged.” I so agree. I would absolutely mortified if my name came up on the Jumbotron with “Will you marry me?” or if we were walking through Disneyland and twenty people started dancing around me. But I also know some people who would thrive off of that while at the same time still being thrilled to be engaged to the person they love. You hit it right on the head, that’s what really matters.

      • Sara

        Oh the Jumbotron! I’ve literally told everyone I know that being proposed to on Jumbotron is an automatic no just to cover every single base there is. There was an ESPN commercial a few years ago that all my friends sent me saying “this is your worst nightmare’

        (I found it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bANItdkEI4w)

        Not to say that isn’t a romantic way for someone to get engaged, but for me to have 100k people looking expectantly at me to give an answer…I’d rather crawl in a hole.

    • Margaret Thatcher

      Tip: you should not be embarrassed when you get engaged…

      Absolutely this. My first engagement (with ex-FI) was on the morning news. Even the mayor was involved. I was wearing a slightly-too-tight dress and the ugliest tights imaginable because it was clean and I thought I would just be backstage….but nope.

      Not every girl who gets the crazy elaborate proposal wanted one. Not all of the ones who act like they wanted them, did. Some just don’t want to hurt their man’s feelings after so much work went in. The fact that in this culture, men are expected to plan this crazy-grand proposal or else she won’t like it no matter what, and then the women in turn have to pretend to like it BECAUSE it was so crazy-grand…is kind of messed up.

      I am happy for everyone who gets the story, if that’s what they wanted, but know that for every five or ten of them, there’s probably one girl like me–realizing in the moment what is happening, but being completely unable to stop it because it’s too late, and the cameras/Jumbotron are already rolling. And despite the disappointment, you play along, because the show must go on.

      • Anon

        Yup, and there are also ones who received much fancier rings than they’d wanted and who then die a little inside when it’s referred to as “gaudy.” Judgement cuts both ways.

    • Oh my lord, I don’t even like when people sing at me. I think “Oh god, what am I supposed to do? Please shut up now!”

  • Thank you everyone SO much for your comments already! When I wrote this post, it was a way for me to get my thoughts together and work through what I had been feeling in the two months (now almost three!) since we had gotten engaged.

    When I started reading the comments this morning, I teared up to hear all of your words of support. I love hearing your stories—isn’t it amazing to know that we’re not alone even if we think we’re the only one who has ever experienced something? I want to reply to some of you individually, but to everyone I can’t get to, thank you and so much love to you all!

  • Jashshea

    Lovely, Laura. It’s tough for some people to remember, especially with all the candlelit proposals we see on TV shows, that engagements are about (at least) two people. I would have been totally cool with a Jumbotron proposal or a fancy dinner at a restaurant proposal or a scavenger hunt proposal or whatever my super creative husband could have dreamed up. But he’s private and he hates the spot light. And he was SO nervous when he proposed (on a hike in a lovely gorge with about 5 random non-English-speaking tourists around us) it simply wouldn’t have been fair to him to add the pressure of making it an event.

    • This is something I don’t think anyone has touched on yet—when one person in the relationship is an introvert (your husband) and the other is more outgoing (you). For Nathan and I, we’re both quieter people, but for awhile he felt like he needed to do the elaborate surprise proposal. I’m not going to lie to you and say that we had a serious conversation and it was all better. No, we fought and resolved our issues—and fought again and worked through it again. I’m glad that you and your husband were able to have a beautiful simple proposal that both of you loved.

      • Jashshea

        Which leads back to the gender roles/expectations around proposals, right? He (generic guy/proposer) feels like he HAS to top another couple by making your ring bigger and the proposal MORE than someone else’s. I completely understand having the conversation over and over again about WHY he (your fiance) thinks a particular convention/trend is necessary. He surprised me w/the ring, but we had similar conversations (with each other and both sets of parents) when planning the wedding (Why do we need Cake? Why do we need a Church wedding? Why do I need to carry flowers?), so it’s good that you guys have practice :)

        Final note: There’s always going to be someone with a larger ring or a more elaborate story – how could we all possibly keep up with Will & Kate (or Brad and Angelina if that’s more your speed)?

  • 1) Congratulations!
    2) I’m going to be getting engaged this year (ring browsing–together–has commenced) and this just made me all nervous about the whole thing.
    3) But thanks for the reminder at the end that engagements aren’t a competition and ultimately as long as you and your partner are happy, that’s all that matters.

    • Communicate communicate communicate!

      About a year and a half ago, my then-boyfriend and I were attending a dear friend’s birthday -slash- apartment-warming party, and were privy to information that said dear friend was going to propose to his girlfriend. Because it was a birthday-apartment-warming, family and friends were in attendence, so that many important people in their lives would be there for the proposal.

      It was so touching, and my fiance is nothing if not sentimental, that for a long time after, he envisioned doing something similar. In passing I mentioned that I loved the idea of having close friends and family available to celebrate immediately, and I think that solidified this plan for him.

      But then, about six months later, I was out to dinner with his family for his mother’s birthday (we knew we were going to get engaged, it was just a matter of when). Come to find out that everyone at dinner knew he had driven three hours to my parents’s home that morning to ask my father for his blessing, and then drove three hours back, only to have a work emergency that needed attention immediately, thus unfortuantely making him late.

      I was cross with him when he finally joined us, because the story I was fed was that he had stayed too long hanging out with his friends, lost track of time, and needed to take care of the work issue right away (to which I responded THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE COME HOME EARLIER). Feeling guilty, and not wanting me to be mad at him, he spilled the beans, and I went quiet for the rest of the evening.

      Not because I wasn’t thrilled that he went through all of that to get my dad’s blessing, knowing how important that would be to me, but because there were suddenly so many unexpected emotions vying for my attention and I was surrounded by people who expected certain reactions, and I wasn’t sure I could give them convincingly. And I realized that, no, any sort of public proposal would not be for me. Because the emotions would be stronger, and I wanted to be able to work through them on my own, not have to worry about displaying the emotions everyone else expected.

      This…turned into a much longer comment than I originally intended…

      • Hahaha no worries. Communication will not be an issue because he is the last of his dude friend group to get engaged and so he has heard my commentary on every one of his friends’ proposals and I think by now he’s figured out what will and what will not work for me (giant public proposal in front of all my friends and family would not work for me, I don’t do well with public displays of sincere emotion AT ALL). I’m pretty low key so I’m mostly worried he might go TOO BIG, but, yeah, communication is good.

        The one thing that has been made 100% clear is that I am NOT allowed to propose to him. This is the one thing that he wants to be all traditional and dudelike. He wants to get me a ring. He wants to ask. I’d totally do it myself because of feminism and not being all that traditional myself, but part of me is touched that he wants to get old school traditional with this, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the ride.

  • Yvi

    Oh, that sounds like a wonderful proposal!

    My proposal story is a lot less spectacular – I had it planned as being pretty romantic (spending our anniversary in a small French village, then proposing next to a castle), only I kept chickening out and only just managed to squeeze the question out minutes before the now-husband wanted to go to bed. At least I led him onto the balcony first? Couldn’t even get down on one knee for fear of falling over from being so nervous.

    And in the 18 months since then, with the wedding now 6 months ago, not one person (not even our families) have even asked for the proposal story. I guess people around me are just so very used to engagements being joint decisions made over dinner conversation instead of the grand gestures I hear about on the internet. Not sure if that comes from being German or from working in IT – possibly a combination of the two :). (I also only know one person who even has an engagement ring – sometimes it’s strange how our countries differ)

    Oh, and as for the intro: “The second line of chatter is, very simply, that if you get proposed to by a man, you are not a feminist ” Really? I have never seen/heard that argument. Wow, that’s a strange line of thinking… And I say that as one of the rare women who proposed.

  • MC

    This is so awesome to read. I had a traditional engagement with my fiance (who is from Ghana) and he had no concept of this proposal story/circus/rom-com nightmare than can be the engagement here in the US. We had family members all around, everyone knew about it in advance. We sang, and prayed and our families vowed to always support our union. I definitely cried.

    But telling this to my girlfriends here gets me the alien stare. No story? No surprise? No fireworks coming out of his backside and he bent down and offered you a ring the size of the moon?

    Nope. Sorry. And I love it just the way it is.

  • Kait

    Laura – my partner and I got engaged in November and I can’t say Exactly enough about how much I can relate to this post. Our story is the furthest thing from glamourous but I can’t imagine it any other way.

    I’ve always wanted an antique/vintage looking ring and that’s exactly what I got. It doesn’t get the oo’s and awww’s that others get but it and our story are perfect to us!

    Since our engagement two family members have also got engaged and are both planning their days before ours. I hate how it’s already started a family competition. Our day will be perfect because it’s uniquely us – not because our favours are x amount more than Janes.

    • Engagement competition goes right into wedding competition. From who has the better proposal and ring—to who has the best ceremony and centerpieces. With four months to go to my wedding, I’m definitely feeling that pressure. My cousin got married just last weekend in a wedding so uniquely different from any wedding I’ve ever been to—but I also have friends who are getting married right around the same time. It’s a constant battle to keep my focus on what’s really important!

  • Rachael

    I live in a rural, very traditionally minded community. The night he proposed, I had gone to the store to buy some really good seafood. He drove the 90 minutes to my house and then cooked dinner for us. We sat down to pan seared sea scallops and couscous. After dinner, he put on the song that was playing on the radio the first night we met, reached across the table and simply asked, “Will you marry me?” I then asked him to marry me and gave him a silver celtic knot ring I’ve owned (and worn) for years.
    The next day, we went shopping for my wedding band. I didn’t want an engagement ring, but thought a channel set wedding band would be gorgeous, modern, and low profile. Well, we found an engagement ring after all–one that works for me.
    The next day after that, I publicly announced the news. People were thrilled and gasped! What has happened in the few weeks since then has been interesting.
    All of those details are fascinating to my community~ that *he* cooked dinner, *he* wears a public symbol too, I also asked him, *he* is the one considering moving, the design of my ring, and the simplicity of the proposal. As they ask questions, more than a few have responded “Well, that’s different…” Not in a off-putting way, but in a manner where I can tell they’re trying to figure it all out. Trying to find an aspect of my story that fits in with their own so they can process it as somewhat familiar.

    We all have a cultural narrative. Sometimes, it takes someone doing something *other* than what we assume is the natural order to realize it. IOW, my story causes a bit of friction against expectations they didn’t know they had.

  • Melise

    I relate so much to this! Our engagement was not a surprise to me. It was our anniversary, we had a picnic planned, and the timing pretty much made sense with our getting married timeline. But the things that I look back on the most fondly now are the things that surrounded the actual proposal. Like that morning, before the picnic, when we went exploring and he slipped into the river with the ring box in his pocket. The bottom of the box will always be a little water damaged, which I kind of love. Or right afterwards, when we both kept saying “what do we do now?” and ended up sitting on a bench staring at the ring for an irrational amount of time. Or that night, when we could think of no better celebration than ordering a pizza and cuddling on the couch.

    Despite all of those really, truly perfect-for-us wonderful things, I still find myself getting engagement envy sometimes. I think a lot of that has to do with mourning for the other possibilities (I know there are posts about that somewhere on APW). Even though my guy is amazing and I loved the day we got engaged, I will never get to get engaged again. Our wedding will be great, and being married will be even greater, but there’s a little part of me that’s sad that this one big milestone has passed. I think it’s okay to have complicated engagement feelings just like it’s okay to have complicated wedding feelings. Luckily, the memory of him falling into the river never fails to make me smile.

    • Aw yes me too – sad that a big milestone has passed. I feel the same way with the wedding, so excited for it to come and to get married but sad that once it is over I won’t get another one xox

    • Kelly

      You are so right about the little things being what you remember – for me, he came home and insisted we go for a walk right away – I was making soup and not wearing pants. This is literally the opposite of being prepared to get proposed to, but it’s my favorite part. I sort of had a feeling so I just left the pot on the stove, and when we got home hours later all the noodles had swelled and there was no broth left. This is not a part of the story we tell, but it will always be my favorite thing about the proposal!

  • Rachel

    I had a very low-key proposal right before Christmas. It wasn’t a surprise at all (our rings were ordered online; we were both tracking the package in nervous anticipation). As soon as the package arrived, I grabbed it, raced up the stairs and woke my sleeping boyfriend. As we ripped it open, he groggily proposed!
    The ring is a vintage-style solitaire, perfect for my small hands.

    Some close friends and old acquaintances also got engaged; my Facebook feed has been littered with pictures of massive diamonds and proposal tales. I’ve definitely felt those twinges of envy you described. But my ring and proposal reflects my values and our dynamic as a couple, and I would not change it for anything.

  • L

    No proposal here. Talked about it while watching tv and sitting on the couch. Two or so days later I asked if we should tell our families. A few days later my mom mailed me her engagement ring, which is a divorce ring. Done. ;)

  • PAW

    There are so many conflicting stories in the engagement narrative that it is almost impossible to get through the process without feeling inadequate!

    One thing that I have been working very hard to internalize is, “life isn’t a story.” To me, this means that not everything has to mean something; this would be the opposite of a story you tell, where each element has its own reason for being there. In life, not everything is foreshadowing, not everything ties into the same plot. (This probably goes in next month’s theme, huh?)

    The other thing is, I personally have a lot of trouble with grand romantic experiences. I have trouble feeling the correct emotions, and then I feel let down and disappointed in myself. It turns out that a weekend away at a $200/night bed and breakfast feels much more stressful to me than planning a weekend lounging in our comfiest pajamas, in front of a fire, with pancakes for breakfast. Engagements and weddings were like that for us as a couple. By tossing out the narrative that stressed us out, we were able not only to craft something that was better for us (proposal in a snowstorm, yo!), but we were also able to feel freer with it.

    Love this post!

    • You mention the stress that comes with planning a weekend out or an elaborate event—this is SO me. I tend to overanalyze and insist that every detail has to be perfect, so I manufacture pressure on myself. (Even when no one else does!) So a simple proposal or relaxing on the couch takes that pressure off and I’m able to enjoy the moment.

      And a proposal in a snowstorm sounds amazing!

      • PAW

        It was beautiful – the landscape was appearing and disappearing as the snow swirled, and everything was blanketed in silence. It was just us…and the man taking his smoke break outside. But we didn’t see him until after the proposal, so for memories we have the just-us feel, with a touch of humor!

  • We also had a low key engagement.

    As far I was aware it was a pretty normal Saturday, we had lunch, did some window shopping, met friends for a drink, watched jurassic park and then cooked Moussaka for dinner. He came through to the kitchen just as it was almost ready and got down on one knee and then asked and it was a complete surprise. So much so that it took me 10-15 minutes to say yes!! I totally panicked!! So we sat and ate our dinner and had a glass of wine until I was calm enough and ready to say yes!

    He had picked a lovely solitaire ring, but I had my heart set on a cluster like my Mum wore, so after taking my time answering him I then wanted to change the ring. So hardly the ideal proposal, story, it tends to get shortened to “in the kitchen while we were cooking together”.

    Sometimes I worry about my reaction and wish I could have cried and screamed like they do on the movies, but thats not me, I need time for these things to sink in. Then sometimes I wish it had been a grander bigger proposal, but again thats not us. We love cooking and we were in our home we had spent the year renovating so the way it was was much more us. And as for the ring, he was so good about it and I love my new cluster that it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

    • MD Bethann

      I had moussaka for lunch the day we got engaged and he proposed a few hours later. Maybe it’s in the meal? ;-)

      We were on a bus tour of Greece with my family and were touring the monasteries of Meteora that day. We were outside enjoying the view but it was cold and I wanted to go inside and he kept insisting we wait until everyone else was inside (I got suspicious and started taking loads of pictures to mask my excitement). He didn’t get down on one knee because he didn’t want to attract the attention of the other tourists, but we stood at a railing overlooking the misty valley below and he pulled a box out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. It was simple and him – he’s introverted and doesn’t like lots of attention, but he knew I was really looking forward to this stop on the tour and decided to propose there. The most amazing thing was that my parents & sister all knew about the proposal for about 3 days before he proposed and didn’t drop hints or anything!

  • Moe

    I have the anti-story. I was engaged for a total of 10 hours. Half of the time I was asleep.

    After eating cheeseburgers at 2am, my guy got on one knee in our Las Vegas hotel room. We made the decision to marry after a long conversation but he felt that he still needed to propose. In his own quiet humble way he got on one knee and stammered out a proposal that made us both cry.

    The next day we went to the courthouse, got married, and drove home.

    There was no elaborate production and not even a ring. We found two copper bands in a souvenir shop to use for wedding bands. They turn our fingers green. I asked for a new shiny ring but my husband has said that he’d like to hold on to his ring because it reminds him of that day.

    I do have some of that irrational ring envy. I have to be honest. However, I was surprised to see friends ‘swoon’ over the spontaneity of our marriage. “That’s so romantic!! I wish I had eloped!”

  • I didn’t have a proposal, as I didn’t want one. We picked out rings and then set a date when we’d exchange them and tell our families, who we had sort of tricked into coming down to visit us in Houston that weekend…so rather than him surprise me, we got to surprise them. It was so much fun and I’m glad we did it that way! All of our friends and my coworkers knew in advance (they had gotten the invite to the party we were secretly planning to have while our parents were in town) and so we didn’t have to deal with any questions from them about the proposal “story.” It made me feel a lot more confident in my decision and has helped keep any envy at bay.

    BUT. I knew there was one person who was going to want The Story, to see the ring, and to make all the annoying assumptions that I think makes most of us here feel incredibly uncomfortable: the woman who waxes my eyebrows. (I knew this because she was the only person in my life who asked me when he was going to propose.) So I started hiding my hand every time I went in for a wax, because that was easier than getting into why I didn’t want a proposal or what we did instead. Then I just started avoiding waxes altogether, which meant my eyebrows were kind of out of control, but I just could NOT deal with having that conversation with her. After six weeks of avoiding the salon and starting to look reallllly bushy in the brow area, I finally decided I’d go…but I’d take off my ring. That was the day I got caught; she asked me again when I thought he was going to propose and I was forced to tell her we were already engaged. It was SO awkward because now I had waited like THREE MONTHS to mention it, and of course she did ask all the annoying questions, and about wedding planning…ugh, I’m cringing just thinking about it.

    But a good waxer is hard to find, so I put up with it.

    • Moe

      I love that you wouldn’t find a new waxer!!!! They ARE very hard to replace once some one gets it right!!! LOL

    • First of all, your waxer story is hilarious. I can totally see that happening!

      I also love that you planned together to surprise your family. Nathan and I kind of did this too—we called our families together and teased them about it before actually telling them. And when we texted some of our friends we had fun being intentionally vague. Honestly, that was one of my favorite parts of the day!

  • Martha

    This is such a great post – when I got engaged (just over a year ago) it was in no way elaborate. I had known for a month or so that he had a ring stashed somewhere and he just proposed in our bedroom after work one day – I was frantically changing my clothes so we could go out to dinner and he just asked while sitting there waiting for me.

    I’m sure others have elaborate stories (some my friends) but who cares? You’re engaged and if you’re happy about it (as I was) then just be happy! No one can take anything away from your engagement or your ring. If other people’s stories and rings make you truly, truly jealous and upset, than you might have bigger problems.

  • Moe

    Oh, and on a sidenote, I frequently see photos of romantic proposals on Pinterest with comments by the pinner saying “My guy had better do this, and hire a photographer to capture the moment, and my friends will help him pick out the ring.” Blah, blah, blah

    Annoys the hell out of me. Could you be anymore high maintenance?

    • MissStumptown

      I feel the exact same way! Like has this really become a thing so many women want and expect? I’ve always wanted to repin those and change the comment, but felt it’d be unnecessarily snarky. I just vent to my FI whenever I see one and that makes me feel better!

      • Moe

        I’m just one comment away from becoming a wedding troll on Pinterest.

        • I have a board called “Worst of Pinterest.” It keeps me sane.

          • Moe

            What an awesome idea!!!!!

        • Jessie

          Oh Pinterest. I have to restrain myself in the very same way! The one that gets me is the “requirement” that their nails are done. Uhhhhh…facepalm. I just want to comment, in screaming caps, PRIORITIES LADIES!!.

    • Seriously! Because committing to a shared life with a person you love isn’t exciting enough?

  • Jo

    We don’t have a proposal story and I never had an engagement ring. We gradually started wearing cheap matching rings we found at a gem shop one day (which we still wear as wedding rings) and had many conversations about whether and how to get married. There was never one moment and there’s no story (not even a “lousy” one).

    Traditional engagement never made sense for us, and it’s just the way our relationship is and the way we’ve rejected gender roles to be an even partnership I guess.

    But I understand the occasional jealousy when I hear elaborate engagement stories (or see them in movies – hello “RomCom” talk next month!).

    Here’s my solution:
    I encourage my husband to do surprising romantic things for me at other times – times like my birthday when it feels okay to me for it to be one-directional. And for our anniversary, we plan fun romantic things where we surprise each other.

  • Nicole

    My husband lost the ring during the proposal. Everyone who hears the story cringes and apologizes, but it was just so appropriate for my absentminded man to lose an engagement ring. The ring wasn’t expensive (it works out that I only wear silver and don’t like diamonds), and I laughed until it hurt when we realized the ring had fallen out of his pocket. So many people thought it was a such a sad way to get engaged, but we were engaged! And even without the silly replaceable ring, and it was perfect because, well, we were engaged!

    • Maddie

      This might be my favorite thing ever.

  • Granola

    Just had to scroll down and leave a comment because I don’t have time to read everything at the moment.

    I can empathize with the writer’s feelings about hearing other people’s stories. I get that way when I see great wedding photos on Facebook, and I wasn’t really crazy about mine. But I try to let myself off the hook by only judging the subsequent action I take. It’s not fair to beat myself up over a kneejerk jealous reaction to a friend’s good news or engagement story. But as long as I subsequently do the right thing and congratulate them heartily (or whatever appropriate reaction I can muster) then I think it counts as OK.

  • mimi

    My guy and I got engaged the Saturday before Christmas and it was nothing elaborate either, but it was perfect because it happened. It was early Saturday morning, we were barely awake, and I didn’t even realize he was proposing at first. He asked if we could wake up next to each other every day forever and I was like “yeah”, and then asked if I wanted to marry him and I was like “yeah”, and then he told me to look in his hand, where I found my beautiful vintage ring from Turtle Love Co. I knew he had bought the ring, but I was completely caught off guard by the timing of the proposal. Everyone who has heard the story has thought it was very sweet, just like I did.

    • “It was perfect because it happened”


    • YES to this! I love that he asked you if you could wake up next to each other every day forever. And I’m with Kristinyc—love your quote :)

  • Ashley

    Your proposal is perfect (both of them), and I don’t have to see your ring to know that its perfect for you!

    My proposal was perfect because he tried. I love surprises and he can’t keep anything from me. That he tried to keep it a surprise wowed me all the more. I also get interesting reactions when people see my ring. I love my rings, they stand for what we believe in and its his gift to me. I look at my ring and smile everyday.

  • Your story sounds lovely! Congratulations!

    Mine was something that was very “us”, and exactly what I wanted -private, at home, romantic, and special. And it involved a lot of googly eyes, which is a reference to the night I started liking him. So sweet, even if it didn’t involve a hot air balloon or a beach.

    As far as everyone else goes – most people just ask because they’re happy for you, and weddings/engagements are fun to talk about (maybe moreso when they’re someone else’s). Yes, some people will be judgmental about it it, but that’s their problem. You’re the one wearing the ring, and you’re the one marrying your fiance. And if you and him are happy about it, that’s all that matters.

    After our wedding, whenever someone who I thought might be judgy about the size/location/whatever else asked about the wedding, my usual response was, “IT WORKED! We’re married!” That shut them up. Because at the end of the day, the size of ring/engagement story/wedding all don’t really matter. If you end up happy and married (or happy and not married), it was a great story.

  • Hannah

    I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to other couples – it’s not a competition! But I also think we need to be supportive of other’s choices and genuinely happy for their joyous occasions. If the jumbotron proposal with “the ring with three halos and 128 tiny diamonds” fits you and your partner then more power to you! Just because something is ” trendy, gaudy, and glittery—everything that the wedding industry loves to push” doesn’t mean it’s not something you authentically like.

    When my partner proposed this Christmas I was totally shocked. The proposal was perfect and my ring is perfect. Almost everyone has exclaimed “it is PERFECT for you!” Have I already gotten a few questioning eyebrow-raises about my black diamond? Yep. Do I care that a black diamond may be “trendy”? Nope. Because the ring is perfect for me. The proposal was perfect for our relationship. I can’t compare what we had to what other people had because no relationship is the same.

    • I totally agree. I have friends who really love the large diamond with a halo (or any kind of trendy ring/proposal). But at the same time, they’re committed to their partner and want to have a life with him—and that’s what’s really important. I am genuinely thrilled for them even if it’s not for me.

      Just like I dreaded people looking down on me for my simple engagement and ring—I don’t want to be guilty of looking down on others for their elaborate engagement and ring.

      • MD Bethann

        I have a fairly simple blue sapphire with small diamond chips on either side. We got engaged a few months before the royal wedding, so of course I got comments like “oh, you got a ring like Princess Kate” or something, which had nothing to do with why we picked out the ring – he likes white gold and I wanted a warmer stone than a diamond on white gold, so voila! deep blue sapphire! Can I help it if the British Royal Family has similar tastes to my American ones? ;-)

  • [Pre-engaged lurker here] It’s so frustrating to me that people were underwhelmed by your wonderful, perfect for you, engagement! It’s like everything associated with weddings is expected to be overwhelming, and if it isn’t you’re doing it wrong.

    For example, my boyfriend’s grandmother gave him her engagement ring on Thanksgiving. He told me a couple of weeks ago he wants to have it reset for me this month and asked if I wanted to help design the setting. So I started looking at engagement rings. And then I got upset and sick to my stomach. They were all so gaudy, huge, sparkling, and just OVERWHELMING. As I scrolled down the pages I just pointed at each one saying “gross,” “gross,” “gaudy,” “disgusting,” “eww.” I’m tiny. I don’t even weigh enough to donate blood, these 4 carat monstrosities would double my body weight.

    After a while of this, and near tears that I couldn’t find anything I liked, I blurted out, “just make it a solitaire.” Because man, if you’re valuing your relationship based on the size of the rock and the flashiness of its setting you’ve got bigger problems. Diamonds or not I just want to spend the rest of my life with the love of my life.

    (Note: big flashy rings are just not my style. If you can rock that sh*t then more power to ya!)

  • sandyliz

    My engagement story was so simple, and I’m so happy it was.

    We knew we were going to get married, and that it would be at his uncle’s farm. Just the when was missing.

    Over breakfast at our favorite diner the morning of a trip to the farm, I asked if he thought we should talk to the uncle about what time of year works for a wedding. He had the strangest look on his face, and I thought maybe something was wrong. He said “I was just thinking the EXACT same thing.”

    So we decided to get married. And we decided it together, in a really ordinary moment, at one of our favorite places. By being on the same page, and talking about it.

    Then I went out and bought myself a ring.

    • Jen

      love it!

  • Isn’t it weird that the whole relationship-engagement-wedding phase of our lives causes astronomically more (for me, anyway) gut checks than other phases combined?

    “But wait! The ring with three halos and 128 tiny diamonds is not for me, and it never was…Similarly, the idea of a surprise proposal terrified me…”

    My ever-present gut check is about my wedding dress.

    Also, love this sentiment: I value time spent together, not money spent on me. I’m totally embracing this, henceforth!

    Lovely, insightful story, Laura! Thank you for sharing!

  • I am very fortunate in that I had a seemingly elaborate and over-the-top proposal to sate people’s appetites for romance and glitz and glamor, so I just get to say “he sent me on a scavenger hunt!” and leave it at that, and that’s enough for most folks to get off of my back.

    But in reality, I missed some of the scavenger hunt clues, got really confused, showed up too early, hadn’t showered, was wearing gross clothes and didn’t cry. Though I did cry later.

    It was very us, very messy and very funny. I do get the envy sometimes, but I’m so shy it almost pains me to think about a big shebang.

  • Oddly, my husband feels this envy/insecurity far more keenly than I do. In the year since he proposed a lot of friends have gotten engaged as well, and about once a month he’ll ask me if I feel sad or disappointed that he didn’t do something more elaborate. He sees our friends (or acquaintances on Facebook) posting Instagram pictures of amazing food, skyline views, and ski chalets or slick photos of an elaborately planned extravaganza complete with professional photographer, and it makes him feel like he did something wrong, somehow.

    It also doesn’t help that I was asked to Senior prom more elaborately than I was asked for my hand in marriage. Poor men can’t get a break with these expectations beginning in high school, I swear.

  • Abby Mae

    I’ve been a lurker for a good year now and I’ve finally worked up the nerve to post here… This post really hits home for me! I do have a proposal story. It was sweet and perfect for me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    But, when all my co-workers and friends asked to see my engagement ring they looked so sad for me. I even had a co-worker reach for my hand to see my ring and she began gushing “Your ring is BEAU…….oh, it’s pretty!”

    It didn’t matter that I did not want a gargantuan diamond with a diamond encrusted band, And it didn’t matter that it meant a lot to both of us because it was the engagement ring his recently deceased grandfather gave to my fiance’s grandmother. It didn’t matter because everyone expected the ring to be a bigger deal than the promise. And it’s not.

    I understand the engagement envy and have such a hard time trying not to give in to it (especially in the Weddings Section on Pinterest). But, I have to remind myself that it’s also much sweeter to me to have his earnest and humble promise than anything else.

    • MD Bethann

      I think it is pretty sweet and wonderful that he is giving you the ring that his grandfather gave his grandmother. Someday maybe your grandchild will use the ring the same way. A ring passed down through the generations is incredibly romantic when you think about all of the love and hope and promise that has been witnessed by that ring. May that joy and happiness bless your marriage too!

  • dragonzflame

    Am I the only one who thinks it’s rude to ask people’s proposal stories? I think it’s a private experience between two people, and that others should only be privy to it if one chooses to make it so.

    Maybe it’s the way I was brought up – I don’t know my parents’ proposal story because my mother’s always been very cagey about it (that’s always sent my imagination into overdrive!) – but I get very uncomfortable when people ask me for ‘my story’, and I really bristled when a lady I’d only just met asked me about it. All those little things – the nervous boyfriend, sand in my feet, the grazes I had on my legs from a hair-removal accident the day before, the resulting stinging from the ocean, being interrupted from prattling about dogs to be asked the question – are all part of the experience, without which it’s stripped of all colour, but how do you put it all into a neat and tidy story?

    And why should you have to?

    • KEA1

      Hear, hear. If I’m gonna get engaged, I really don’t want anyone else around, and don’t want to discuss the “story” with anyone afterwards either, because it just seems way too intimate for me to be willing to share. How we met? Sure. How we decided to make one of the most important decisions of our lives? No.

  • Lily

    YES! I love this post. I love it!

    My husband and I picked out my ring together. He had initially wanted to surprise me, but after a few “hell no”s to rings he had slyly shown me, he decided it would be better to bring me into the process than have a big surprise. We agreed not to tell anyone that we were getting engaged until he proposed. It was hard for me to not tell anyone, but great because I got to try on my new ring whenever I wanted, knowing we would be engaged soon, but without having any of the stress or expectations. And getting to surprise my family ended up being way more fun than the stress I would have had from him surprising me. Honestly, I probably would’t have said yes (or been able to speak or think clearly) if he had proposed out of the blue.

    My husband was also super sweet about the proposal itself, and this post has been a really excellent reminder of how much I liked it. We went out for a fantastic dinner in San Francisco on my birthday, drove home, slept in, and the next morning in bed, before we got up he asked me. No down on one knee, no elaborate speech about our history, just “I can’t go another moment without you being my fiance, will you marry me?”. Its still a little scandalous, even though we were already living together (In bed together! Oh dear!), so its really hard to tell the story to people, especially older or more conservative relatives. Since then I’ve omitted details and switched timing so that people don’t think I’m a total harlot, and because its odd to talk about things that happen in bed. But I loved it because it was so intimate and it made me so happy.

    We had already had a million discussions about why we wanted to get married, so it made sense for him not to have crafted a sonnet about our prospective union, and I remember being so relaxed and cozy and warm when it happened. Since then, when friends have gotten the intense, over the top proposals, its made the pit of my stomach feel a little odd. This post really, really reminded me of the feelings I had when the proposal happened, and how they are really the most important part.

    • In writing this post I remembered all those amazing feelings too—and I remember them every time I read my own writing and everyone’s comments. It’s so special to me to hear your story (the real version!) and know that there’s someone else (a lot of someone elses) who understand and feel the same way! Keep holding onto those feelings :)

  • Dana

    I wanted to “Exactly” your entire post. I am also recently engaged and our “proposal story” is not spectacular or elaborate. I don’t think I have engagement envy so much as I feel like people are unfairly judging our engagement as if it wasn’t good enough.

    It was perfect for us, why should it matter to anyone else? He asked, I said yes.

    Does anything else really matter?


    Congratulations to you!

  • jes

    We were in the middle of watching Battlestar Galactica. :-) You can see it paused on the t.v. in the background of the camera phone photos we took.

    It was so us. He’d gotten my grandma’s ring, so that was the biggest surprise. Plus it fit perfectly. I knew the proposal was coming, because we’d discussed marriage; but when it actually happened I was still floored.

    Each of your stories are so wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jen

    Such a lovely story, and the stories in the comments are awesome :)

    My fiance (wow still getting used to *that*) proposed on Christmas at his parents’ house, it was sweet and he caught me by surprise (a special feat indeed), but to explain the entire line of thoughts in my head during that short minute that didn’t seem so short feels like such (indecent) exposure. We’ve been together for almost 9 years now and upon announcing our happy news I felt incredibly overwhelmed – people asking for all of the details, wanting to see the ring, and proclaiming “finally!” (grumblegrumble). I’m somewhat glad to know perhaps it’s not an unreasonable response to have been so overwhelmed.

    The part that I noticed of myself that made me a bit ashamed was that I started noticing the size of other family women’s engagement rings… mine is small and simple and everyone else’s is so not. There’s that twinge of envy flaring up, but I think to myself that I am a modest person and I wouldn’t feel right having a large/expensive ring – in fact I’d be mortified that I’d lose it or damage it and probably wouldn’t want to wear it – and Randy gave it to me, he picked it out and took such pride in it, that is worth more than any flawless 2 carat diamond with halos and whatever else you could throw on could be to me.

  • Tall Kate

    I’m sorry, I didn’t have time today to read all the comments, but I want to affirm the author’s experience SO MUCH. My fiance and I actually decided to not do an engagement ring at all, and it’s amazing how ridiculous some people have been about that aspect. And then there’s the fact that I proposed to him, in private, at the end of a not-especially-anything day, because the moment felt right and I wanted to.
    When I tell this story, of course, it apparently breaks ALL the engagement rules, even the girl-proposes-to-a-guy ones because she’s still supposed to make it a special day instead of a special moment. You can probably sense my frustration here, but I’ve been dealing with reactions to this for well over a year and have just about heard enough of “Well it’s getting done all kinds of ways these days!” I know for a fact that a generation ago (from my parents’ story that was even less “romantic” than ours), and two+ generations ago, that this wasn’t such a huge deal.
    But, as echoed by others on here, it was perfect for us. I still get all warm and fuzzy when I think about it, and that’s all that matters, right? And it IS kind of a funny story in its entirety. :)

  • Jess

    I would have loved this post about 3 weeks ago. My now fiance and I had been secretly looking at rings and talking about engagements for a few months. We finally found custom designers to make rings for both of us, since we decided we wanted him to have an engagement ring too. And we figured we would just wait the month or two it would take to get them made, then get engaged.

    Flash forward the night of our respective companies christmas parties, when we met up at a bar with some friends for an after party. We started talking about how we didn’t know what to do about the mutual engagement ring proposal situation…does one propose, then the other? What if one proposal interferes with the other? Do we plan something together? Are we racing? Eventually, he grabbed my hand and started to take off another ring he had given me, and asks me if I’m ready to be engaged right then. I hesitated for a second, and I think he started to assume I was thinking, “No you jerk, I want a “real” proposal.” He couldn’t have been more wrong. I just wanted to sober up a bit.

    An hour and a half and many glasses of water later. He got down on one knee in the bar and asked if I would marry him. I pulled him back to his feet, laughed, and told him he couldn’t ask me that question as though he didn’t already know the answer. The next question came from me and was “Are you ready to be engaged? Are you ready to be f–in’ awesome?!” Of course his answer was yes.

    We have our “temporary” rings now. Mine happens to be an all silver ring in the shape of a diamond solitaire, and his is the nozzle of a faucet. And I think this is the most awesome story EVER! So it’s been a bit disappointing to get the “Omg, what did he plan?” and “Is that the real ring?” and “Male engagement rings…so that’s a thing now?” and “Did he really propose in a bar with everyone there?” And I would just love love love if people didn’t seem so disappointed when I say we decided together, or we’re designing rings together, and that yes, we sat at a table to sober up while our friends drank heavily by the bar so we could be engaged as soon as possible not waiting another day. I guess the fact that it makes us ridiculously happy will have to be enough.

  • megan

    I love your story and it’s nice to hear from other women who revel in their simple rings and comfortable, loving (if not showy) proposals. My fiance proposed to me on a bench after we went apartment hunting. He didn’t get down on one knee because he knows I don’t like being the center of attention and there were other people at the park. It’s not the world’s most exciting story but it’s one that makes my heart feel warm every time I think about it.

    Congratulations to the two of you – it sounds like you’re a good team.

  • Rebecca

    Not engaged yet, but I once asked my mother how my father proposed to her, and after thinking about it for a little while, she said, “He didn’t. We were sitting on a bench in the park talking about our life plans and all of a sudden, realized they included each other. So we picked out a ring and that was that.” I’ve always thought it was the most romantic thing.

    • Miranda VanZ

      My mom had never received flowers from my dad so she told him that was her requirement when he proposed. So when he showed up at her door with flowers she ran into the house crying and locked herself in the bathroom. He stood at the bathroom door asking for her to come out. When she finally did he asked her and she said yes.
      You don’t need to spend a lot to have it be romantic and special. My dad got her a ring with a baby diamond on it for their 10th anniversary and she wears it with her wedding ring like an engagement ring. We just had a big celebration for their 25th anniversary!

  • Amber

    I don’t think it’s fair to act as if there are only two extremes to a proposal: “boring” or over-the-top. Or that you’re only allowed to say your proposal was perfect even if you were disappointed.

    I didn’t want anything crazy, but when the time came I didn’t even realize he was asking. He didn’t say anything about loving me or wanting to spend his life with me. I don’t even remember what he said because it was said in such an unimportant way.

    No, it’s not a competition and you shouldn’t feel bad if your proposal wasn’t a huge ordeal, but I don’t feel like our proposal was perfect for us and that should be OK too.

  • Rachel

    My proposal story is similar to yours in that we had an ordinary day for the two of us, at home, cooking dinner, and he proposed to me in our living room while the food was cooking. It was incredibly meaningful to me, but it wasn’t over the top, which is exactly what I wanted. He also knew I wanted to pick out the ring together, but I also wanted the proposal to be a surprise, which meant we went ring shopping the next day- which by the way was one of the most exciting days of my life, and an experience I am so glad we got to share together. When I see really elaborate proposals on facebook I do experience a similar pang of jealousy, but what I have realized is that it’s not their story I am jealous of, it’s the excitement of being freshly engaged. The few weeks following our engagement were so exciting- telling loved ones, being celebrated and congratulated- it was like a month long high of joy and excitement. And I agree that people definitely judged our proposal as “not elaborate enough,” but I knew our quiet moment at home together,and my little antique engagement ring are exactly what we wanted. I am pleased to realize that when someone has an over-the-top-treasure-chest-on-the-beach proposal, I look at the pictures and know I was just as excited as they now are, and that our moment was perfect for me.

  • Wanda

    Unfortunately, looking back on my proposal bums me out. I’m seeing lots of “it was simple and sweet and perfect for me!” comments, but the truth is that mine was none of those.

    We had been talking about marriage for months. We had embarked on the journey of designing a ring together, got midway through some serious design conversations with a local designer, and then bolted when they gave us a sneakily updated bottom line cost. When we resumed the quest with another vendor, I could tell that my fiance was getting a bad taste in his mouth from the endless hunt, minute details, and hefty price tags. I think you could call it “ring fatigue”… I don’t blame him. I ended up making a snap decision on a solitaire that I figured I could swap into a new setting in a few years time. Bottom line: I picked the ring, he had lost the ability to care to provide input.

    When he did propose, it was during a vacation we had planned months before to Germany. We had finalized the ring a few weeks earlier, so I knew he had it. I was essentially just waiting for the moment during the trip, but when he finally did it, it was during the afternoon on a day when we had been in silly arguments that morning. We were in a palace courtyard that I had been bothering him to go to… beautiful scenery, no one else around…. but I knew it was coming. I was chanting in my head, “please don’t, please don’t, not now!” He told me he had a surprise and to close my eyes, then when I opened them there was the ring. He asked me to marry him in as many words. No loving declarations of forever and soulmates. There was no emotion on either end. We weren’t in the mood, the ring was no surprise, and there was no fanfare of any kind.

    We ended up having an awkward afternoon and evening followed by an awkward discussion of how we were both disappointed in what happened. The following day we went back to the spot he proposed and both started sobbing while we poured our hearts out about how much we love each other. THIS is the part I try to remember, and THIS is the part that really reflects the dynamic of our relationship. However, I can’t help but feel like I was cheated out of “the most wonderful moment of a girl’s life.”

    I feel like I’m now overcompensating to try to make our wedding as perfect as possible due to this perceived failure…………..

  • Beth

    I love this essay. My partner and I have been talking about getting engaged. We decided we wanted a somewhat traditional he proposes to me start to our official engagement, so right now I’m waiting for him to save up for the ring. But I fluctuate between excitement over the future and anxiety about the proposal. How long will it take to save the money? What if the proposal isn’t romantic enough and I’m disappointed? There’s a lot of social pressure for it to be a Big Thing. APW in general and this essay in particular are helping me keep some perspective on the whole situation. Thank you!

  • Aner

    Here’s an engagement story that will make everyone feel better about theirs. :)

    Not only did we not have a proposal or an engagement ring, but we didn’t formally have a marriage talk one day either. We started assuming we’ll get married after about 2 years together, and talked about it casually as a given. It was just that no date was set or announcement made because we were long distance for a while and busy with our careers. On my visit home last December, my mother asked me when I was getting married. (She’s been nagging me for a couple of years now.) I briefly thought about it and figured we have no reason to wait now, and told her it’s going to be this summer. This was while my now-fiance was thousands of miles and many timezones away! I then e-mailed him to say that we’re getting married in the summer, and he was thrilled. (I know for sure he wasn’t planning a proposal, so it’s not like I pre-empted him.)

    To be honest, I can’t say that was the perfect way for us to “get engaged.” A traditional proposal with fanfare would weird me out, but a mutual talk on a quiet, special evening, perhaps with some allusions to memories or our shared interests, would have been perfect. But my fiancé isn’t big on romantic gestures, and I guess I’ve expressed my cynicism of over-the-top sentimentality enough that he assumes I don’t care. And I don’t. But still.

    I just saw a professionally edited video of a Facebook friend’s proposal that had a flash mob of friends, both families gathered together, everyone dressed up in glamorous evening wear, the guy going down on his knee with a long soppy speech, a pretty ring, and to top it all, fireworks that went off the moment she said yes. I can’t help feeling at teeny bit envious.

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