6 rules for proposing. What a concept. It developed, as all unrealistic demands related to weddings do, on Pinterest. This was before Pinterest’s algorithm change made it as personalized and non-commercialized as Facebook. Those halcyon days of your home feed filled only with pins from people you actually followed. The good old days.
And once upon a time, in one lowly jewelry blogger’s home feed, was a grainy pin with a picture of a pretty engagement ring. In bold, typewriter font, a series of edicts declared to all the Millennial world the 6 Rules For Proposing.
THAT BLOGGER WAS ME. And thus was my reaction:
Really, I shouldn’t be surprised. But I was still annoyed. And so I wrote a blog post. You can see a snippet of it in the caption. Alas, that’s all that remains. That post – and the pin above – went viral. But my annoyance didn’t end there! Because yesterday I discovered that the internet ate that particular post. It no longer exists anywhere – not in my archives, not in Google, certainly not saved on my desktop (who’s stupid now? Me.) So my annoyance at this pin is freshly renewed. Like Hemingway before me, I’m hoping that the replacement post is better than the original. I hope you’ll agree. Here, once more before the new year, are the 6 rules for proposing and why they are stupid.
1 . Ask for my parents blessing.
Here’s where you’ll first notice a recurring theme of “plan your proposal for the person you’re marrying, not based on arbitrary rules.” Works for your ring budget, works for popping the question. So, obviously, this first point depends on who you’re planning to marry. Are they on good terms with their parents? Both of them? Which one do you ask, then? Or perhaps they view the asking of the parents as a modern continuation of trading brides around like cattle, and would be ROYALLY offended if you did this. Maybe you’re both fine with asking, looking forward to it even, but you know that Mom will find out and spill the beans before you can P the Q. Or maybe, their father’s been dreaming about/dreading the moment someone they deeply respected and admired came home and asked to both join his family and take his child into a new one. Maybe he has a special bottle of scotch stored in the back of his liquor cabinet for just such an occasion. Only you know your future father-in-law, how many guns he owns, how long he can hold a grudge, and how optional this “rule” is.
New rule: Think about what this proposal means to her family, to yours, and to the new one you’re creating. Let interested parties in on the exciting news accordingly.
2. Make it a complete surprise.
Has no one ever seen this? Or Gilmore Girls? Or any sitcom EVER where the guy totally surprises the girl with a proposal? Bad idea. If you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, presumably you’ve chatted about the concept before. Sussed out a reaction. Decided that your partner was or was not ready for you to propose. Therefore, your proposal shouldn’t come as a complete surprise.
New Rule: Make it special.
3. Use my full name.
There’s nothing wrong with this (unless you hate your middle name.) But the issue stems from needing to remember to do this. In my highly scientific polls of asking my friends’ husbands and fiances, plus the guy who married me, they all said they were so nervous they don’t even remember what they said in retrospect, but it definitely wasn’t the speech they rehearsed in the mirror 800 times. Even my hair stylist, unflustered in the face of that time I accidentally dyed my hair orange, fearless and fierce business-owning bosslady, totally spaced out on her speech during her meticulously planned proposal.
New rule: Just hope they remember how to form sentences at all, and gently remind them to actually ask if you’ll marry them. Then let them return the favor when you forget to actually say “YES!!!!” while you’re happy crying.
4. Get down on one knee.
Eh, maybe. If you’re both adamant about this tradition then go for it (remember rule 1 with the planning-it-for-your-unique-situation?) But are you really going to say no if he forgets to do this? And on a somewhat related note, I’ve seen two proposals recently where nothing stopped the guy from getting on one knee – not rocks, not snow, not the river they were hiking in (do you hike in rivers? maybe they were fording the river IDK). Do you think those guys were terrified by these rules and thus knelt, fearing the repercussions of disobeying Pinterest?
New rule: Get down on one knee if you’re not in a freezing cold lake. Or don’t. Whatever.
5. Have someone catch it on camera.
If you want to do this, GREAT. I love me some How He Asked, and I admire the ninja skills of those photographers. But some of the most romantic, heartfelt, and meaningful proposals happen without an audience at all, not even a skillfully placed iPhone to record. Your great-grandfather didn’t propose to great-grandma with a film crew in tow, and if you ever got the chance to ask her how they met and how he asked her to marry him, she probably described it just as fondly, wistfully, and beautifully as the young bride who has the photos of her own proposal.
New rule: If you can, it’s a great way to cherish the moment forever. If you want to plan something quiet, intimate and just-you-two, don’t stress. It’s something you’ll never forget anyway.
6. Make sure my nails are done.
In some relationships-of-a-certain-tenure, this rule flies directly in the face of rule 2 and the dire need for it to be a complete surprise. Judge accordingly. However, I’ve seen the manicure incorporated into some beautiful, thoughtful proposals. It’s up to you (sensing the theme again?)
New rule: Make sure the moment is right. Let her share the good news with her manicurist if she’s due for a no-chip.
The new rules might not be Pinterest-perfect, but then again maybe your proposal won’t be. And that’s okay. Your wedding might not be Pinterest-perfect, and that’s also okay (No one tell Style Me Pretty.) What matters is that they are right for both of you and your marriage, which I can guarantee you won’t be Pinterest perfect. But if you’re lucky, it’ll be better. It’ll be real.