There is a problem with how we propose. I have so much conviction in the out-of-date and out-of-touchness of engagements and weddings that I co-authored a book about it, The New Wedding Book: A Guide to Ditching All the Rules.
If we look to pop culture for a how-to on proposing, it is clear: Hollywood has done an excellent job of typifying one type of proposal, which you will, of course, recognize: He’ll take her someplace spectacular and already asked for her father’s or family’s blessing (because remember, she’s just the recipient of this experience, not an active participant). He’ll get down on one knee, she’ll start to cry, then he’ll present a ring that she’ll love while exclaiming “YES!” Magic, right? We think this is traditional, but it is really just a construct invented by the wedding industry, which really took off post-WWII.
But what if your financial goals don’t include jewelry? What if your beloved doesn’t want a surprise proposal? What if you’re part of a same-sex or non-binary couple and don’t see yourselves in this? What if this doesn’t feel like you? What if you think, quite simply, that this sort of proposal is played out?
Do we accept these alternate ways of marking an engagement? We do.
An Art Piece
Celebrate your romance by falling in love with a piece of art, which could spark the beginning of your art collection as a couple. The art you hang in your home makes such a statement about who you are as a couple, why not mark your life together with a piece that you both select together?
Statement Jewelry That’s Not A Ring
Jewelry designer Anna Lengstrand is seeing a trend for couples getting engaged without rings. “I’ve been noticing that more and more couples want to share my Sámi bracelets as ‘promise jewelry’ with each other. Want some statement jewelry to mark your engagement, but not into the idea of rings? A pair of classic watches make a bold statement.
A Custom Wine Bottle
Some couples are forgoing rings in favour of starting a wine cellar, from which they can open a special bottle every year on their anniversary. Roxanne Chapman, Co-Founder of Eight Kilos, has seen custom wine orders go from being a go-to wedding gift to a way that couples are choosing to mark their engagement.” Couples are taking more time to share their passions in their engagement gifts, and we’ve really seen an increase with wine lovers who want to invest in starting their wine cellars.”
A Ring With Input
Toronto jewelry designer Laurie Fleming has helped both couples and solo proposers choose rings. “A lot of couples now like to work together with us on their rings, which we find is a very fun way to go about it.” The result, Fleming says, is often a more special and enjoyable experience when the couple selects their jewelry together.