During a recent conversation, the topic came up again, whether it is acceptable for a woman to propose to a man. This discussion came about based on the announcement of the Olympic ski racer, Lindsey Vonn proposing to her boyfriend over the Christmas holiday and even presenting him with an engagement ring. Ed even went on to state that he felt a man does not need an engagement ring, it would be two months of salary and that is expensive for a man’s ring or something along those lines, however, he does feel it is completely acceptable for a woman to propose to a man.
This sparked another conversation, as, I was confused, “why does an engagement ring have to cost two months’ salary?”. He stated, its tradition and that’s the rule. Okay, that is a little contradictory. A man proposing to a woman is tradition, shouldn’t that be the rule?
Who makes up these rules or traditions? Why must we abide by them? Personally, I have never received a “formal” or “traditional” proposal.
Secondly, I have never received an engagement ring, bought by a man that was worth two months of their salary, let alone a “true” engagement ring for that matter.
If we are sticking with traditions, initially the father would have a say in who his daughter dates, then the groom to be would ask the father (or mother) as a sign of respect, permission to marry, once approved, the groom to be would then get down on one knee and present the bride to be with a ring and ask for her hand in marriage. Then the announcement to friends and family comes, an engagement party, then the wedding plans, then the wedding. This is the Western culture, correct? This is the tradition?
Much has changed throughout the years, the bride now has a say in picking out her ring, if the engagement is going to be a long, the ring may be larger and more expensive, she may even be a little materialistic. If the wedding is going to be a little faster, the ring may be smaller, to allow more money to be spent on the actual wedding. It’s truly up to the couple.
I was reading an article called “Marriage Proposals Are Stupid” https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/03/marriage-proposals-are-stupid/556403/
In this article, it discusses how women want the spectacle of an elaborate scene or the “story” of a proposal, for show. They want a back story to show and tell their friends, to blast all over social media. This stems from movies and the romanticizing. Maybe that is where my vision comes from? Too many sappy movies. Too many chic flicks.
In other cultures, around the world, traditional marriage proposals differ, I found another article that is very interesting and gives some of the most unique marriage proposal traditions, that I have personally ever read.
“10 Marriage Proposal Traditions from Around the World” https://blog.theheartbandits.com/10-marriage-proposal-traditions-around-world/
- Fiji – The male must present the father with a whale’s tooth for permission to marry
- Ghana – The groom and his family knock on the door of the potential bride’s door in the “knocking ceremony” only one week before the wedding ceremony. This lets the bride and her family know that the groom wishes to marry her.
- Chile – Both the man and woman wear their engagement rings on their right hands and only at the ceremony are they moved to the left hand.
- Norway (England, France, Russia, Germany, and India), also wear their engagement rings on their right hands.
- France – The couple goes shopping for the engagement ring AFTER the proposal, TOGETHER, however, the woman is NOT allowed to wear it until a small group of her friends and family gather to give it to her.
- Greece – The male MUST ask the father’s permission and the couple goes through a minimum of 3 counseling sessions with a priest. Once completed, friends and family gather for a blessing over the couple.
- Argentina – Wedding rings are not exchanged. Only engagement rings at the time of the engagement.
- Northern Kenya – Certain colors of beading around the neck, prepared by Samura warriors symbolize engagement. All the beadings are very detailed.
- Ireland – Typically the Claddagh ring is given and worn on the left hand with the heart pointing towards the fingertips and on the day of the ceremony/ wedding, the heart is then turned towards the wrist. Claddagh rings represent love, loyalty, and friendship. It is also worn for other meanings and reasons besides engagements/ weddings.
- Native American Tribes – Mainly Northern American Tribes, wear silver engagement rings adorned with natural gemstones such as coral and turquoise.
Additional interesting proposal ceremonies and traditions can be found in the link below:
I did read that in Ireland and Scotland the woman can propose to the man only on leap year (February 29), Finland has the same rule, with additional stipulations.
In England, Queen Victoria had to propose to Prince Albert because she was a monarch. Also, in the United States, 5% of proposals now are by women.
There are even proposal planners…. seriously? This is a big business.
I went on a search via Google. Where do these “traditions” come from? It was boggling my mind. Who set these “traditions” and “rules” into play?
In one article “Engagement Traditions and Their Origins” https://www.engagementringbible.com/engagement-traditions-and-origin/
- Asking permission to marry was a contract between families in the beginning because children were going to be involved and names passed down. If the father said “no”, the courtship ended. Women were not seen as equals; therefore, they did not have a say.
- The “2-3-month salary rule” is not even a rule. That’s right! It was a marketing campaign, thought up by DeBeers jewelers in 1936. They were one of the world’s leading jewelers and advertisers of selling “rare diamonds”, which are not rare at all. DeBeers is one of the largest diamond exploration, mining, manufacturing, and trading companies in the world. They have faced controversy over fixed pricing and rates and increasing diamond pricing.
- On bended knee – Medieval times, yes, Knights would kneel before their Lord to show respect, loyalty, and obedience. It was somehow woven into proposals.
- The engagement ring – Catholic! in 1214 Pope Innocent III, introduced a law that stated there must be a timeframe between the proposal, engagement, and the wedding ceremony. Couples were ordered to wear a ring during that time and ceremonies must be held in a church for the wedding to be official.
- The diamond – The Archduke Maximillian of Austria, set his sights on making his Mary of Burgundy his wife. He wanted a diamond ring in the shape of an “M”. During that period, the diamond mines and diamonds were rare and very expensive,
- Why do we wear the ring on our ring finger– The vein runs straight to the heart. It began with the Ancient Egyptians. It symbolized commitment.
- The engagement announcement – again Catholic! In 1215 Pope Innocent III, decreed that there must be a formal announcement. This gave others plenty of opportunities to intervene if the relationship was “incestuous”, thus bringing in “speak now or forever hold your peace”.
So, as you can see, these so-called “traditions” or “rules” are just hogwash for the most part. If you wish to follow them, it is up to you. They are not set in stone. I guess if you are of the Catholic faith, there is more meaning and tradition when it comes to the engagement ring and engagement announcement and the church wedding. If not, you are free to do it your own way!
Here is where I stand on the traditions and the rules of proposals, rings, and traditions of marriage:
- If you are in love with each other and you have spent the time with one another to know you want a life together, why wait to propose? Get engaged, wait for the wedding, give it a year or two before setting a date or don’t set a date. Engagement is just a promise to get married “one day”.
- Do it in your own timing. Elope!
- The ring should be special, the cost should not matter. Diamonds are traditional; yes, however, they are not required. Personally, I love gemstones and uniqueness. Something that looks like it was made for me or meant to be on my hand.
- I am not sure that I could propose to a man. I just feel that it is something a man should do, kind of like taking out the trash. Now I do take out the trash 95% of the time, but I want to be wanted and I want to be asked.
- Weddings should be about the unity of the couple and a celebration of that commitment, not spending unsurmountable amounts of money to fulfill a fairytale. That money could be used for a house, traveling, or savings.
In the end, all that matters should be the love between a couple. Being you are a traditionalist or not. Make your decision before it is too late, tomorrow is not promised.
You don’t need a perfect time, there isn’t one.
You do not need two months’ salary saved for an engagement ring; the ring should be special.
You do not need an elaborate wedding, you need a commitment to your partner, to love, honor, be faithful, understanding, patient, and supportive through the good times and the bad.
Don’t complicate it. Love can and should be so simple, let it be.
♥♥Two hearts, beating as one, living the rest of their lives committed to each other, unified, collectively as a partnership, emotionally, physically, and legally.♥♥
Where do you stand on the topic?
I could go on and on about other facts I found out, from the dress to the vows, to the ceremony, etc… maybe another blog.
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