The wedding proposal blues

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If you watch anything wedding-related on TV, pretty soon you're going to start thinking that anything wedding-related is a contest. And if you watch any romantic comedies about relationships, you may find yourself thinking that the proposal you had planned simply isn't good enough.

Never mind that there are so few movie and media outlets that deal with girls proposing to guys or girls proposing to girls. There's all that trouble with the wedding industrial complex pushing a certain sparkling rock on you, and there's all this talk about “the best day of your life.” First the proposal is the best day of your life. Then the wedding. It's all supposed to be so special, so wonderful, so perfect. But where are the rom coms that deal with the stress of coming up with something so “perfect?” Where are the rom coms that deal with the potentially ugly reactions from family members?

Despite the fact that my girlfriend and I have discussed marriage and I know she's going to say “yes” when I pop the question, there's still stress. She assures me that whatever goes down will be perfect because I'm the one doing the asking, and yet there's still worry. What if she doesn't like the mystic fire topaz engagement ring that I chose for her, and wants a diamond instead? What if she doesn't like my idea to propose to her at a horror movie con with the help of one of her favorite actors? What if it doesn't make a cute story? What if our families jump on the “you haven't known each other long enough” bandwagon? What if it turns out we have more homophobic family members than we anticipated, and nobody will congratulate us because we're a same-sex couple? What if a personal decision that we make as adults is subjected to criticism and turns from a happy occasion to an annoyance?

What if. What if. What if…

What if I stop worrying about whether or not she “needs” a diamond and realize that the ring is not the important thing?

What if I trust her when she says that whatever I do will be perfect?

What if I stop worrying about how other people will react to an engagement story, and focus on her reaction — the yes?

What if I ignore the nay sayers, and work on strengthening our relationship instead of defending it?

What if I focus on the reactions of the family and friends who I know will be happy for us?

What if I make a conscious choice to focus on the positives?

Marriage isn't always easy, so I guess it makes sense that the proposal and engagement shouldn't be all bunnies and roses either. I like to joke with my friends that planning a proposal has given me new respect for straight guys (and all those awesome straight girls who propose to their boyfriends). There's a lot of pressure from the media and films to make this a happy, special, and unique occasion, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who worries or who deals with less-than-enthusiastic family members. Hey, there's one in every bunch, right?

Sometimes, you have to let go of the stress, the worry, the wagging tongues, and even the research. Eventually, you're going to have to get to the point where you know that the right decision was made for you and your partner. So what if Aunt Lue doesn't like your fiancée? She doesn't have to — you do. So what if Grandma thinks it's too soon? If you know it's not, then that's all that counts. So what if the proposal doesn't go exactly as planned, or is different from the ones in the movies? Your fiancée will still love you.

Life is rarely as easy, as romantic, as well lit, and as, well, let's face it, bland as the rom coms. And maybe that's not a bad thing. My girlfriend and I will face hiccups, but we'll choose to write our own script and smile for the camera, knowing that the only ones we have to prove anything to are each other.

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Comments on The wedding proposal blues

  1. LOVE THIS!! My boyfriend actually has expressed similar concerns, I will be showing this to him. Thank you so much for this post 🙂

  2. It never even occurred to me that this could be an issue. My boyfriend is going to propose some time in the coming year and I never realized how much pressure he might be feeling. Thanks for pointing this out!

  3. My husband proposed at Busch Gardens Williamsburg during Christmas time. He didn’t get on one knee or make a big show of it, just quietly turned to me and asked if I would marry him. Because we both love amusement parks, I thought it was perfect and beautiful!

  4. My fiance proposed with a scavenger hunt and chocolate. He didn’t get down on one knee and it was still perfect.

  5. I looooved reading this 🙂 We didn’t even end up with a proposal at all.. just a mutual ‘I want to marry you’ and I couldn’t be happier 🙂

  6. Great post! I also want to point out that the new-ish movie “5 Year Engagement” had a pretty hilarious (and somewhat more realistic) proposal scene that goes against the standard rom com grain.

  7. It will be perfect, and your partner will love whatever you do. My engagement ring is an opal, chosen by my husband, and I love it to death because it’s different, but also because he chose it for me.

    When he proposed, he also did so without the ring (he had it waiting in the background ready), because as far as he was concerned, he was asking me to marry HIM, not whether or not the ring was enough to sell the idea. The ring was just a bonus.

    So however you do it, it will be amazing. Forget what hollywood says about proposals. You are not a cliché hollywood couple, and you need to do what runs in line with what the two of you love. And what you’re suggesting here sounds amazing and unique and memorable from my point of view!

  8. Its just the same as planning an offbeat wedding – think of stuff that has meaning for you as a couple and work from there. If that means popping the question at a Con, go for it!

    My partner and I aren’t into fancy restaurants, so the whole movie cliche didn’t work for us. We like old cars, trawling garage sales and vintage stores and scenic drives. On the day I proposed we got up at 5am to go to a hot rod swapmeet, then went for a drive and checked out some vintage stores, had a swim at the beach followed by fish and chips for lunch, and then I proposed by the water. It was all of the things we love doing together which is why I want to spend the rest of my life with her, and its somewhere we go to regularly and its nice to revisit. Simple and meaningful to us.

  9. My husband didn’t even ask me when he proposed! He just gave me the ring and I put it on. I joked with him I wasn’t sure we were engaged he didn’t ask while we were walking back to the car (We were at a park) so he just said “Marry Me?” I said yes and that was it! We had been talking about getting married and at that point I was patiently waiting for him to ask. It was perfect 🙂
    No matter how you do it, she will love it!

  10. We agreed while drunk one night that it would be a good idea, and went ring shopping together the next day. We had to wait for the ring to be resized and in the meantime, he surprised me with a ‘proper’ proposal with a fake ring, tied to our puppy’s neck with a ribbon. So I suppose it wasn’t a very traditional way to do it, but it suited us just fine and there was no pressure!

  11. I loved hearing all the stories of your proposals! When the time came to pop the question, I ended up deciding to do it in the privacy of her home so that we could share a moment together, although I still gave her the puzzle box that I had decorated for the con. Everyone was right – she loved the proposal because it was me doing the asking, not because of anything I did or didn’t do. I now look back on the stress of planning the proposal as growing pains, if you will, and I’m glad I got to have that experience.

    • Something similar happened between me and my partner. I’d been trying to come up with the perfect proposal, making plans, calling amusement parks. And then one night we’re sitting on the sofa, talking about how much we love each other and want to always be together and it just felt right. So I ran in my room and got his necklace and just asked Judging by his shit eating grin, I don’t think he minded the lack of flair.

  12. Hopefully your lovely has dropped at least some hints. I said two things…. Colored stone and nothing public. I got those two things and the rest was giant wonderful surprise. I was the girl who was so excited she forgot to say yes. And had to be asked twice. But about the rest….. I was expecting a battle royale over out wedding choices etc…. The thoughts in my head sounded much like yours and I was proved delightfully wrong. Flat out. I learned that I needed to give people a chance to love us for who we are. They do.

  13. This made me smile. My husband and I got married in May. His proposal to me didn’t exactly go as planned.
    In fact, I’m not really sure what he had planned.
    It was the Saturday before Memorial Day weekend two years ago. He wasn’t feeling well, so he stayed home in his apartment and I went for a hike.
    Shortly after I got to the trail head, I got a text from him. We continued texting each other until I got to just past the top of the hill I was climbing. I could see the entire town below me.
    That’s when he texted me that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.
    In jest, I asked him if he was proposing.
    “Well I hadn’t exactly planned to do it this way,” he texted back.
    So my husband proposed to me by text message from about 10 miles away. I was laughing and crying the whole way down the hill.
    Especially when he texted me that he had gone out on his balcony and shouted to the neighborhood “She said, ‘Yes!'”
    In other words, don’t worry about the details. If the two of you think it’s time, it’s time.

  14. I told my fiancé the same thing – no matter how he did it, what kind of ring he chose (although I did point out the styles I liked! Lol), what he said or where he asked, I would love it no matter what because it came from him, his heart, his mind. We has been planning a trip to New York several years in a row for Valentines day but every year something came up and prevented us from going – finances one year, his dad passed away the next year, etc. So in Sept when my parents arrived in town for my daughter’s 6th birthday, he took us all to Love Circle in downtown Nashville (a hill that overlooks the entire Nashville skyline) to watch the sunset and take some family photos since he knows we rarely have chances to take family photos. He then pulled out a box, quoted a line from our favorite movie “When Harry Met Sally”, said his little speech, hit down on one knee and proposed. He cried more than I did and my mom got pictures of it all. It didn’t go perfect though as my daughter didn’t understand what was going on and kept interrupting my fiancé to ask what was in the box! Lol so congrats on your engagement and just roll with the punches!

  15. My now-fiance bought me a mystic fire topaz ring for our first dating anniversary. He told a friend of his beforehand and the friend exclaimed “whoa, that’s serious! Are you sure about that?” Needless to say, fiance was sure, and so 7 years later we had it resized and moved it to the “official” finger. That was it, no hullabaloo, and it was just perfect.

    Your injection of perspective is so welcome in this world of crazy pressure to do things “right” all the time. WIC be damned! Do what is truly you!

  16. I was just thinking this weekend how sad is makes me that I know how much all of my friend’s husbands or fiances make based on their engagement rings -or at least I know who’s broke and who ain’t.

    I’ve only had one couple I know opt to go without a ring, and put a down payment on a car instead. I wish the ring business would go the way of the dodo. Most of me doesn’t even want a ring but there is an ugly little bit of me that fears I would feel sad when I tell people I’m engaged and have nothing to show. Bleh to mainstream expectations.

    Congratulations on your engagement!

    • I’ve already told my bf that if we opt to get a ring when we get engaged I want to pick it out and pay for half (which my mom also did in the 70s). For me, I want to make the decision as a team like we always do.

      Another post here recently made me reconsider my plan to pay for half and instead buy him a big gift with my half, like that new drum kit he needs.

    • Eh, we didn’t get my ring until a betrothal ceremony. In the meanwhile I wore around a ring that I bought for a costume. When people asked to see it I just showed them that. Most people don’t know enough about gems to be able to tell a $12 ring from a $1200 ring.

    • No ring for us. I did the proposing, and anyway our finances are already merged and pretty tight. I do like sparklies, so I may opt for a gem on my wedding band.

  17. My fiancee’s proposal was very sweet and simple. It wasn’t a surprise at all, because a couple weeks beforehand we went and picked out the ring together. The following weekend I was going to visit my sister who was doing a competition, and I asked my fiance to wait until I got back because I wanted my sis to have the spotlight.

    Two days after I came home, hubby-to-be and I were at our local outdoor mall feeding the ducks and he pulled the ring out and got on one knee. Like I said, it didn’t come as a surprise, but it was perfect for us.

    Also, I want to add that my ring doesn’t have a diamond as the center stone, either- it’s a blue topaz with LeVian chocolate diamonds as accents. It’s perfect for us as we realized after we got it that my fiance’s birthstone is blue topaz.

  18. My fiance had planned a big proposal with a tower and kept trying to do things to make it even bigger, but none of the big stuff ended up working out. In the end, he woke me up from a nap with a cup of coffee (that he spilled) and an empty box (because the ring was in a pocket somewhere). It wasn’t his plan but ended up being perfect for us.

    It sounds like a line, but whatever you end up doing will be perfect. Good luck!

  19. This I totally understand. My fiance proposed to me a year after we’d been dating (about 8 months online, long distance and 4 in person). Absolutely no one in my family supported us. Our friends were happy but it seemed like everyone else only had “advice” that was really cleverly (or not so cleverly) disguised criticism and biases. That really got both of us down to the point where we gave up the idea of having a wedding altogether and just decided to do something simple in a courthouse. Though, after my family heard that I think it finally dawned on them the kind of poisonous atmosphere they were giving our plans and now they’re all support. There may be people who don’t like what you’re doing but in the end, you’re not doing it for them. You’re doing it for your relationship as a couple. Either they’ll change their minds or they won’t but if you stick together you can pull through it ^ ^

  20. The word perfect is so relative. My manfriend proposed to me in what most would consider a very normal way. He took me to my favorite restaurant, popped the question after dinner, and gave me a diamond. Any one of those things could have been different and it would have been the most amazing night because he asked me to marry him and those four words were what made it “perfect” not anything else. Screw everyone else’s expectations. Just do it. She’ll love it no matter what.

  21. First of all! Super hugs!!!

    (not to scare you but…)When my FH proposed to me, nothing he planned worked out. He wanted to propose to me on Valentine’s Day on a bridge, where he knew I was the one (1st date) but it was too cold to go walking, and also it was the Friday before. (He just couldn’t wait.) He kept trying to get me to go for a walk but I thought it was too cold. What ended up happening, is we were in the bookstore, where I first laid eyes on him,in the Science Fiction section and I turned to him to ask him a question and there he was on one knee (something I know is really hard for him because of an old knee surgery.) He asked and I just nodded. It was perfect for us.

    So I guess what I am saying is that like (I) expect for the wedding, something is going to go wrong but at the end of the day as long as you are engaged/married, who cares? You want to marry her/ she wants to marry you! That is all that matters!

    • Haha, I had a similar thing happen! We were in “negotiations” about a ring (I kept stressing to him the design of the band was more important than a gem and was trying to be more cost friendly, linking 100 rings on Etsy, etc, lol) and he caught me by surprise at home.

      Little did I know that he had wanted to propose while we were on vacation at the coast but the ring wasn’t ready yet. Then he wanted to take me to a romantic picnic but I was out of sorts because of work and an overall sourpuss. So finally he got fed up with life’s delays being flung at him and he proposed when were home, comfy in our pj’s, about to play some videogames and it was perfect. ^^

      I’ve seen the outlandish and elaborate proposals folks have done and while I can admire them, I wouldn’t change the proposal I got for anything in the world. 🙂

      You got this, OP!!

  22. Weird Al. That’s the reference.

    My boyfriend wants to have a Weird Al song as our first dance, whenever we get enough money together to get married. I said yes, of course.

    We’re between “Good Enough For Now” and “You Make Me.” Thoughts?

    • You win the prize! I’m so glad you got that reference.

      I prefer “Good Enough For Now” – the beat is better suited for a first dance, I think.

  23. UHF!!!! I love that movie. kudos to sara, my husband and I chose “Good Enough For Now” to be our official theme song.

  24. Yeah, our rings were about $13 each (made of food-grade aluminum!), and I proposed to my partner by flinging the ring box at him as he was getting into an ambulance and saying “put this on so they let me in your room!”

    There is *no* perfect proposal. ;c)

  25. Love this!! I proposed to my boyfriend! I never wanted a ring anyway (he knew that years ago) so I put a nice watch in a hollowed out baseball leather, wrote “will you marry me” on it with a sharpie, and asked him to hold out his hand. It was right after the 7th inning stretch at the Mets game during out NY vacation. No jumbo tron, no fanfare, just us.

    And he said yes! And now we’re planning a wedding!

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