Elena

My half sister is getting married. Yay! I have found the whole process fascinating to watch. Not just on a family level, but on a human one as well.

If you were to propose to you girlfriend/boyfriend would you know what the traditional engagement etiquette is?

Her fiancee did. And he made it a very public display and chose to include both family. Risky, but it paid off for him.

But for an engagement there are a couple of things that I wanted to point out. The engagement ring is typically given by the man to the woman when the proposal is done. Often, this ring is a diamond ring.

Typically, the woman will want to be surprised on some level prior to the proposal, however most couples will already know they are essentially engaged (i.e intend to marry each other) prior to the actual proposal itself.

I know some women who would want to know every single last detail of the rings and proposals and some who would prefer to stay completely in the dark. I suggest it would be a good idea to have an idea of what your lady wants before making any solid plans either way.

Typical engagement lengths can be anywhere from 6 mos to 2 years. Anything longer than that, people will start saying it's a long engagement.

The wedding bands are usually chosen by the couple together, at some point before their wedding. These are the ones that are exchanged during the vows.

In most cases, she will wear the engagement ring for the rest of her life, so you want to really get an idea of her style before you buy it. That, or buy a temp and then exchange it for a real one that you both pick out later (many places will do so for no charge).

The Engagement Party

An engagement party is not the same thing as getting engaged. You will hold this later. This can be a group celebration or only include the parents of the bride and groom.

An engagement party is not the same thing as a wedding shower which also includes both the bride and groom.

Many people frown on a wedding shower, thinking that a couple shower is avoiding traditional values.

Remember that every tradition and practice surrounding engagements and weddings is totally socially constructed, and you can do whatever you and her want.

What I'm saying is, maybe you should discuss the process with her first and see what she wants.

For instance, I didn't want an engagement ring, and I would have felt really weird if my husband had proposed to me with one.

I also have friends who wanted very specific types of engagement rings (like a family heirloom ring) and would probably have been bummed if they didn't get to use it.

And please do not buy into that stupid rule about need to spend a large portion of your salary on a ring. If you want, ask her parents for their blessing. It's not mandatory but a sweet gesture.