Note: I originally wrote this post for A Practical Wedding, but I want to post it here too because it generated a ton of really awesome comments and conversation from brides and women in all stages of life. If you want to read more personal engagement stories and encouragement, I’d definitely check it out!
Photo by Niki Marie Photography
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 where 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 500 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 stories 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.