Engagement Etiquette

Engagement rings date back to the ancient days of marriage by purchase when gold rings were circulated as currency.  The groom-to-be would offer his bride-to-be a gold ring as his partial payment for her and a symbol of his intentions…a type of lobola really.  The engagement ring is placed on the third finger on the left hand since in ancient times this finger was believed to be the only one with a vein running directly to the heart.


Most engagements are exciting but can also be a little stressful.  It’s an important occasion that can raise quite a few questions.  Most people plan to get engaged and married once in their lives so doing in correctly is important to them.  Below are some common questions…
Does my ring have to be a diamond?
Traditionally engagement rings are diamonds but today’s rings can be any gemstone and style that suits you personally.  The most important thing is that you are comfortable with the ring that you have.
What if I dislike my ring?
This could be a dilemma if you didn’t have any input on the style of your ring but your fiance spent a lot of time choosing it.  To avoid hurt feelings or hidden resentments, it is best to be honest and discuss the situation (though perhaps not immediately as it is slipped on your finger).  It is important to remember that the ring is symbolic and when you put it all into perspective the most important things is the intention and commitment.  However, in theory, you will be wearing your ring for the rest of your life so you should be happy, comfortable and proud to be wearing it.  When broaching the subject make it clear that you don’t question the emotion behind the gift, but the style simply doesn’t suit you.  Perhaps suggest incorporating the ring you were given into a design that you feel more comfortable with.  A tricky subject, but one that you should be able to discuss with the person you intend to spend the rest of your life with.
Is it ethical to split the cost of a ring?
Tradition dictates that the man pays for the ring.  However, these days many couples are already sharing a home and expenses and might as well share this expense too.  Budgeting for the ring and sharing the engagement rings cost guarantees that the couple discusses financial planning long before the marriage.  Whatever works for you as a couple.
Does my wedding band go on before or the engagement ring?
Again, it is a personal preference but traditionally, the wedding band is worn closest to the heart.
Who do we tell first about the engagement?
If you want to go by the rules of engagement ring etiquette, the brides parents are told first, followed by the grooms parents.  Close family and friends can be told soon after.

Still to come in “Marry Me? Week: Polls, proposal stories & e-sessions.

Image credit:  Kathy Rosario

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