Ok, now you have the ring. What’s next?
In Part 2, I’ll address why and how to propose, choices for wedding bands for both of you, and care of your rings. And if you are already married and wish you could do it all over again (hopefully with the same person), I’ll give you some ideas for that as well! Please read on.
She knows she’s getting the ring. Why should I make a big deal of proposing?
If you are like many of us Gen X and Y-ers, you know that living together with your partner before marriage is considered completely normal and even a smart thing to do. Like this we know whether or not our partner squeezes the toothpaste from the middle or bottom, whether they wash the produce before they peel it (or at all!), if they organize their sock drawer by color, whether they are a toilet-seat-up or-down person, and many other have-to-know facts. The down side of being armed with so much information of course, is that some of the mystery and romance can be lost. So what’s a guy (or girl) to do?
Unless you’ve been married, it is hard to imagine that being married will be work. Every “romantic” moment you have together is like money in the bank, in my opinion. Build up your balance from the beginning and try to keep it constantly replenished, because there WILL be lots of withdrawals in the future. A meaningful proposal is a valuable deposit towards your romance account!
If you’ve shopped for the ring together, you can still create a meaningful proposal. Have the store call your cell or business phone (not the home phone) when the ring is ready to be picked up. Then think about what you do together that is special for you both.
♥Recreating a first date is often the proposal of choice for many people. My former boss and good friend David Liska did exactly that when he proposed to his wife with a platinum and yellow diamond ring that he had made for her. With the assistance of the staff at the Milwaukee Art Museum, he had the ring displayed under glass as a “work of art” complete with a description card which read of course, Will You Marry Me?
♥Proclaim your love in a big way. This is not for everyone, naturally, and you had better be pretty sure of the answer when you pop the question. My husband was once asked to turn to the audience from the podium as he was conducting a Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Pops concert and say (names have been changed), “John has a very important question to ask Mary…” (My husband said that he never heard Mary’s reply, but we’ll assume that they lived happily ever after.)
♥Surprise her. Again, not for everyone, so make sure she likes surprises. One of my friends asked me to size her ring finger because her boyfriend told her that he was going to get her a “friendship” ring. Then he surprised her with an engagement ring.
♥Go traditional. Another friend was delighted when her boyfriend packed an elegant picnic dinner to take to the beach (lucky them, they live and work in Hawaii) and dropped to one knee in the sand to propose with the ring.
If you can’t think of something yourself, ask her closest friend for ideas. Or browse the internet for ideas, or ask the jeweler where you bought the ring to tell you their favorite proposal story – they will have plenty!
Is it only a guy’s job?
In Part 1 I provided a link to engagement customs around the world. Without knowing, when I got engaged I followed very closely the Spanish custom where the woman gives her fiancé a wristwatch at the time of engagement. Like many women, I had a sense that the proposal was coming. I also felt strongly that I didn’t want the engagement to only be about me “getting” something. So I went out in search of a meaningful, luxurious, and manly gift for my now husband and presented him with a silver travel alarm clock. I had the case engraved with, “with love ’til the end of time“. Thankfully, we’re not superstitious because when he opened it, it had stopped working! (Other ideas for reciprocal gifts would be cuff links, a handsome tie-clip, an elegant lighter if he smokes, a beautiful pen or his favorite electronic gadget.)
Wedding band shopping. Should they match?
It is not unusual today for the focus in an engagement to be on finding HER engagement ring. However, since often the only jewelry many men wear is their wedding band, it is a shame if their band is an afterthought in the whole engagement process. Some designers have branched into creating trios of matching rings – her engagement ring and wedding band (often containing diamonds as well), and a similar style gents band. Matching the style of a gents wedding band to a ladies diamond-encrusted eternity wedding band isn’t easy, but there are ways to find common design elements if you want your bands to match. In addition to browsing the list of sites from Part 1, you should ask your jeweler for advice. They should be able to provide you with a source book that you can browse in-house for both ladies and gents bands from simple to ornate.
Some suggestions for creatively matching bands…
♦If her engagement ring/band is platinum with milgrain detailing on the edges and you prefer to have a yellow gold band, one option would be a yellow gold band with milgrained edges, or a yellow gold band lined with platinum (or other white metal) that has milgrained edges.
♦If her ring/band has lots of diamonds and you want diamonds yourself, then check out manly settings such as this dazzling gent’s band by Simon G.
♦If her ring/band has diamonds, yet your taste in choice of metal and design is radically different, you can flush-set a diamond on the inside of your band where only you and she know it is there. Even more clever is this take on the hidden diamond band which could easily be a unisex ring.
Care of your rings.
Make sure you ask your jeweler how to take care of your rings. Most jewelers will offer free yearly cleanings and inspections for the rings they sell. Prongs will wear down over time, and your diamond(s) could become loose or fall out, so you are wise to do the yearly checkup. In the meantime, you should avoid getting your rings (especially diamond rings set with prongs) excessively dirty. I cringe when I see Food Network chefs kneading sticky dough with their diamond ring encrusted fingers! Please use common sense. Gardening, housework, messy cooking, swimming in a chlorinated pool (chlorine eats through metal), and vigorous sports will put strain on your rings. I even take my rings off when I sleep and do so for two reasons; 1). my hands tend to swell at night, and 2). even rubbing your rings on the sheets as you sleep can apparently wear them down. For you concert/opera/sports fans…if you wear rings on both hands, keep in mind that clapping your hands can ding the rings and misshape the bands.
Note: if you do take off your rings to perform any activities, it is best to put them in a designated spot (best is their original box) AWAY from open drains.
Cleaning your ring at home is best done with either designated jewelry cleaning liquid, an at-home ultrasonic machine (please see my post Ultrasonic Cleaning. Is it safe?… for more information) or mild detergent and an old soft clean toothbrush. ALWAYS close the drain if you are working near a sink. Small items in soapy fingers do have a tendency to jump up and disappear down the drain. Also, this way, if a diamond has come loose and falls out, you can retrieve it in the basin before it goes down the drain!
Sometimes we wish we could have a “do-over”. Maybe the ring our partner picked out for us wasn’t exactly what we had in mind, or you were both stressed at the proposal time and the proposal felt like an afterthought, or maybe life has been hard since then and you want to relive that wonderful moment again. If you have made it this far in the relationship, be brave and ask for what you need! Good jewelry designers and custom jewelers love the challenge of doing “redesigns” . They can make use of the “old” metal in your ring (provided that it is fine metal) and credit you the value after scrapping and refining the metal. Quality gemstones, especially diamonds, can withstand being popped out of their current setting and set in a new setting.
Since a proposal isn’t really about the ring, but is about making someone feel loved, respected, valued and cherished, we can recreate that every day if we want. My humble advice for both of you…find something each day to genuinely appreciate in your partner. They want to be loved and respected and feel safe in the relationship as much as you do.
And, if you want to get down on your knee and redo the proposal, then by all means do it!