An open letter to all the ladies expecting an over-the-top marriage proposal (and why they’re ridic)
Dear Single Ladies,
If you've been binge-watching viral proposal videos on YouTube, taking quizzes to find your ‘perfect engagement ring’ and have multiple jewelry stores bookmarked on your smartphones, please stop.
And to your future fiancés- you’re welcome.
A study of engaged, married and divorced women found that twenty one percent were disappointed by their marriage proposal. In other words- an entire fifth of women who were asked one of the most intimate and life-altering questions were unhappy with a) how the question was asked, or b) the ring they were offered.
Now, before I go all-out "just be happy someone loves you so much they want to see your face every day until they die," I’d like to give a good fist-waving at society for helping to perpetuate your unrealistic expectations.
We’ve all heard the slogan "a diamond is forever," which has been around since De Beers first coined it in 1947. Since then, marketing and sales efforts towards women have turned weddings into a multi-billion dollar industry. Traditional advertising for TV and web contribute heavily to this staggering statistic, but one of the newer sales tactics, "social selling," has shaped societal expectations for a perfect engagement and wedding. There are thousands of proposal videos on YouTube, the most popular of which received over thirty million views.
I’ll give you a sec to think about that number.
In addition to viral proposal videos, Pinterest has become a key component of social selling for the wedding industry. Many women create boards and pin inspiration for their future weddings and engagements before they are even in a committed relationship. Other women who are in relationships use the tool to share photos of engagement rings and proposal ideas with their partners. This is all well and good, except that the internet provides thousands of resources for items that are beyond the average person’s financial means. If you’ve ever caught yourself pinning a pair of shoes you later find out cost a whole month’s salary, or a beautiful wedding gown that turns out to be the latest season’s Maggie Sotterro, you know what I mean.
Don’t even get me started on the "Say Yes to the Dress" franchise, where "average" women on the show have dress budgets upwards of five to ten thousand dollars. But, I digress.
The point is, all this marketing and social selling has led you to believe that bigger really is better, and the otherwise unattainable is a realistic choice because "you only get married once- so do it up!" But I didn’t buy into it, and neither should you.
I have experienced the blank look and accompanying "that’s it?" after telling my own engagement story. And for the record, I’m quite happy with how it went down:
It was a Tuesday evening in mid-November, and I had just gone to change into my fat pants while my fiancé-to-be started making dinner. And this wasn’t a fancy, date-night-at-home dinner, it was fish sticks and macaroni and cheese. All stereotypical romantic gestures were on the back burner.
My now-husband hollered for me to come downstairs, that dinner was ready. As I descended the staircase in my slippers, he was down on bended knee with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen- mainly because I picked it out myself a few months beforehand.
We smiled and kissed and called our moms, and then we went back to doing what we usually do-eating dinner on the couch and watching a mediocre standup comedian on Netflix.
And I’m beyond cool with that. But my hairdresser, a few family members and a couple of friends…not so much.
"It’s supposed to be special," and "something you’ll remember for the rest of your life," are generally how most women feel about marriage proposals. But how do flash mobs, Cinderella’s castle, and pricey proposal-planning services actually fulfill these expectations? The short answer- they don’t, necessarily.
Here are four reasons why over-the-top proposals are overrated:
1. They’re a consumer trap.
Couples are spending an average of four grand on engagement rings, and most weddings cost way more than twice that amount. Why should your future fiancé fork out a minimum of three hundred dollars just for a brainstorming session with a proposal planner, or even more for a customized and fully executed plan? A simple proposal is fiscally responsible, and a good sign for your post-wedding bank account.
2. Your high expectations might cost you a proposal.
Not only is a marriage proposal one of the most heavily weighted and highly anticipated questions one human could ever ask another, but now your future fiancé must worry about the size and style of the engagement ring, whether or not to ask for your family’s permission and choosing exactly which words to say. Combine that with fear about your impending answer, and that’s a tall order for stress. It’s possible that any over-the-top expectations about the wedding proposal (like organizing a flash mob, composing an original song, or training a kitten to mew "marry me?") could prolong your wait or put off the proposal altogether.
3. Your proposal story should be unique.
Sure, you could get engaged on a yacht at sunset, or have your name flash up on a jumbotron, but these romantic plays have been overdone and will likely continue to be used in the future. However, I can without a doubt say that no one else will ever be proposed to while wearing my slippers.
4. Marriage doesn’t have an audience.
So neither should your proposal. If you’re more excited about showing off a diamond and posting the perfect engagement selfie, you might want to reconsider what you’re looking for. After the ring starts to lose some of its sparkle and all your friends and family have been notified, you’re left facing the giant task of planning a wedding- and you better hope you’ve got the right partner to tackle it with.
A lot of effort, time and money may go into some of the over-the-top proposals you can find on YouTube, but that doesn’t make them any more significant or unique than a simple, understated story like my own. So let’s stop treating them that way.
Besides, if you think you’re the only person who wants, no- needs to get proposed to in front of Cinderella’s castle, you’re in for a rude awakening. Disney employs staff full time to orchestrate princess-approved proposals that can be chosen from an available list.
As for me, I approve of my own "boring" story.
A Happy Wife