Before there can be a marriage, before there can be a wedding, there must be a proposal. Some men are better at this than others. If you have not yet been given an engagement ring, if all you’ve done so far is talk about “someday” when you’re married and have children, if you’re just exploring the idea and questions have yet to be asked, that’s great! You have time to plan this major turning point in your life, too.
The traditional way to propose is on bended knee, perhaps in a restaurant or with the woman seated on a park bench among strangers on the beach or in a city park. Or privately, with the woman sitting on her couch and the man getting down on one knee to beg for her hand in marriage.
There are as many ways to propose as there are couples. Men, know your woman and know what she will appreciate. Don’t propose to her during the seventh inning stretch at a White Sox game unless you know she’ll be impressed by your public declaration of love. Don’t rent a billboard that she passes every morning on her way to work unless you are quite certain she’ll be amused and excited and flattered by the expense and the audacity of such a stunt.
And do I even have to tell you: Don’t propose in public unless you are 100 percent certain of the answer. Remember the scene in Crocodile Dundee where the longtime boyfriend makes an elaborate proposal in front of friends and family at the dinner table? He had lots of confidence…he just didn’t know his woman as well as he thought he did.
A proposal can be done in many different ways. It isn’t always even the man who gets down on one knee; it could be the woman who does the asking. And, of course, in gay unions, it doesn’t even have to be one of each gender participating in this ritual. And, as I mentioned earlier, asking may not even be the way it’s done. But presenting the ring is what we are thinking of when we use the word “proposal,” and as with all presentations, it should be done with some flair.
Beware of your surroundings as well. Proposals on snow covered mountains and in the middle of quiet lakes are beautiful but excited hands can easily drop engagement rings never to be found again. A friend became engaged during a ski trip in Colorado only to spend the next four hours hauling hot water from their cabin to the spot of the proposal because the ring had slipped from her nervous fingers into several feet of snow! While the persistent couple eventually found the ring, it was not the romantic moment either of them had in mind.
I have some suggestions for how not to give someone an engagement ring, though. Presenting a ring by wrapping it in foil and placing it in a box of chocolates is a romantic gesture. Hiding it in the mashed potatoes, ice cream, or chocolate pudding is less so. Think about it: If your idea for presenting the ring in a surprising way involves putting it in food and having to rinse the ring off before your beloved puts it on her finger, maybe you should reconsider. Freezing it in an ice cube isn’t a very good idea either. Three words come to mind: tacky, tacky, tacky.