Engagement Ring Etiquette

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 Here are some common questions that guys have about engagement ring etiquette.

1) Who pays for the ring?

Sorry guys, but you are supposed to foot the entire bill. Plus, you can use this as leverage for the next fifty years when your wife asks you what you’ve done for her lately. You can point to her ring and recount the many hours you toiled saving up for it. If your financial situation sucks, consider gettting a less expensive ring now and upgrading later or taking out a loan. Is it fair? No, but life isn’t always fair.

2) Must the engagement ring be a surprise or does the bride pick out her own ring?

The ring does not necessarily have to be a surprise. In the past, engagement ring etiquette dictated that the man choose the ring, and then presentit if the woman accepted his marriage proposal.

Today many couples purchase the ring together. Or, the woman may drop some hints about the kind of ring that she wants, so that it is still somewhat of a surprise. It is always kosher for the groom to present the ring as a surprise. He may want to enlist the help of her friends or family members in choosing a ring that she will love and fits with her style. There is an episode of Sex and the City where the lead character Carrie comes across the engagement ring that her man is going to give her in the near future, while he is in the shower. She gets physically ill when she finds out that it is a pear shaped diamond on a gold band. Luckily, one of her friends tactfully intervenes to help him out with the ring purchase. The pear-shaped ring is returned and replaced with one that is more Carrie-esque.

3) Do I have to call her parents beforehand and ask for their blessing to go ahead and propose?

I would strongly recommend that you do. It is a very classy way to seal the deal. Her parents will feel respected and it is a good way for you to begin your relationship with them. After all, they will become members of your family after the wedding.

4) Does engagement ring etiquette call for me to get down on one knee when I propose?

It is romantic and chivalrous to get down on one knee and propose. If you don’t do it and I wouldn’t sweat it too much, but it is a nice touch. Keep in mind that it is pretty much guaranteed that your woman will be asked by one of her girlfriends in the aftermath of the proposal if you did.

5) Who do we tell first about the engagement

If you want to go by the rules of enagement ring etiquette, the bride’s parents are told the news first, followed by the groom’s parents. Whatever you do, don’t keep the news from parents, as this will only start things off on the wrong foot. Close family and friends can be told soon after, followed by an announcement in the local paper.

6) God forbid one of us breaks off the engagement, what happens to the ring?

Do I sell the engagement ring?  It depends on the woman you are dating as well as the state you are living in. If a woman breaks off the engagement than engagement ring etiquette dictates that she should promptly return the ring. However if the guy breaks off the engagement because it’s just not meant to be, it’s a little more questionable. Engagement ring etiquette dictates that if the guy is a gentleman, he may tell the woman to hold onto it, depending on his financial circumstances. Of course, what woman really wants to hold onto an engagement ring from a guy who just dumped her. (This happened to a girl in my sorority and she kept the ring but turned it into a pendant). However, I think if the engagement is being broken off because the guy has done something heinous (i.e. cheated on his fiance with her best friend) than he should let her keep the ring. The actual laws on returning engagement rings vary from state to state with some requiring that the ring must be given back because it was a gift with other states viewing engagement rings as unconditional gifts that the bride can keep regardless of the circumstances. A friend of mine ended up going to court over her ring after the engagement was broken off….yikes!…it’s a long complicated story! Hopefully this is not something that you will have to even consider.

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