Being engaged, popping the question and planning a wedding are all big milestones that many to-be-married couples look forward to. But sometimes when we think about the way proposals and engagements go down in the movies (or on social media), we can’t help but get a little queasy. Is that really what a proposal or engagement needs to look like? Absolutely not! We’re here to bust those engagement myths wide open.
Here are 10 engagement myths you no longer need to believe and the real truth behind them.
Myth: Only the man can propose
Obviously, this is one of the biggest engagement myths out there. Almost every proposal scene on screen is a guy down on one knee proposing to a girl. But that’s not how it has to work in real life. For starters, what happens if there isn’t a man in the relationship? Or what if there are two men? Or what if neither partner identifies with a specific gender? None of these situations fit the heteronormative myth that the man always has to propose.
So, throw it out. Any partner, regardless of gender, can propose. You’re not less of a man if your girlfriend proposes to you. And you’re not stealing his thunder or hurting his ego if you propose to your boyfriend.
Myth: Drop hints until your partner knows you want to get married
We see this one all the time. The female lead in the movie will start dropping hints so her boyfriend knows it’s time to propose. She’ll leave ring websites open on the computer or accidentally order a bridal magazine to the house. She won’t be able to stop talking about the wedding they went to last summer. She will casually mention her ring size, y’know, just in case. And then she’ll go to brunch with her besties and complain that her boyfriend isn’t picking up on her hints.
Quick reminder: Your partner is not a mind reader! They cannot be expected to magically know when you want to get married, even if you think your hints are so obvious. And, more importantly, you shouldn’t have to drop hints to get proposing on your partner’s mind. You are both adults in a grown up relationship. If you want to get married, have a conversation about it.
Myth: Your partner should know how to propose and what ring you want
Again, we go back to: Your partner is no mind reader. You can’t expect them to know exactly how you want the proposal to go down and what your dream ring is if you’ve never told them. Even if you’ve been together a long time and your partner really knows you, he or she might not know you think twinkle lights are cheesy or that you prefer a princess cut to an oval cut.
If you want your dream proposal and/or ring, then you need to voice that to your partner. Of course, you can still leave some elements as a surprise. But it’s a good idea to have a conversation about the aspects that are important to you. That way, you’re both on the same page and no one ends up disappointed. If you can’t wait to show off your ring to everyone you know, you should have a hand (pun intended) on deciding what it looks like.
Myth: The proposal needs to be a BFD
One of the biggest engagement myths is that the proposal needs to be a BFD (big freaking deal). It needs to be planned months in advance, it needs to be expensive, it needs to happen in public, it needs to be captured by a professional photographer, and everyone you know has to be invited to celebrate with you. For some couples, that’s exactly what they want in a proposal. And for other couples, that sounds like a nightmare.
There is no right way to propose. If you and your partner want something more intimate and casual, that’s totally okay. You can get engaged at home, just the two of you. And if you do want something lavish and public, that’s okay too.
Myth: There needs to be a proposal
Did you know you can be engaged, plan a wedding and get married without a proposal? While some couples really enjoy the idea of getting down on one knee, it’s absolutely not mandatory. You can become engaged while sitting on your couch and discussing your future over cups of coffee. Or you can decide to elope spur of the moment and skip the engagement all together.
If a proposal, or at least the traditional proposal we see on screen, doesn’t suit you, then don’t do it.
Myth: You have to be engaged for 18 months
Not true! There is no right amount of time to be engaged. Some couples are engaged for years and some couples skip the engagement all together. Your engagement can be as long or as short as you want it to be.
The reason we hear 18 months is because this is often quoted as the amount of time needed to plan a wedding. It’s true that planning a large wedding can take a lot of time and effort. And some venues and vendors do book up 18 months or more in advance, especially for popular dates. So if you have your heart set on a specific date, venue or vendor, you may need to book many months in advance. But if you’re more flexible, you can plan a wedding on a much shorter timeline.
Myth: You have to wear an engagement ring
While we’re used to seeing engaged couples sport a little bling, engagement rings are absolutely not mandatory. You don’t need a ring to pop the question or to show off that you’re planning a wedding. You don’t love each other any less and your wedding and marriage are no less important if you don’t have a ring.
If rings aren’t your style, you can always find something else to symbolize the start of your engagement period. You could opt for an engagement necklace or watch, if you still want to have some jewelry. You could get matching engagement tattoos, or spend the ring money on an engagement vacation or new couch. Or you could celebrate with a glass of bubbly and forget the ring or ring-substitute all together!
Myth: The ring has to be a diamond
If you do decide you and your partner would like an engagement ring, you might assume it has to be a diamond. After all, that’s tradition, right? Well, it wasn’t until 1947 when De Beers launched its now classic slogan, “A Diamond is Forever” that diamond engagement rings became the norm. Before that, European nobility would exchange rings with multiple small gemstones, Ancient Romans would exchange gold or iron bands, and Ancient Egyptians would exchange rings made out of braided reeds.
So if you have a problem with the commercialism of diamonds, the price tag, or the unethical mining process, don’t feel pressured to buy or wear a diamond ring. There are plenty of other gemstones that would look beautiful, and far more unique, on an engagement ring. And if you really like the idea of a diamond, you can look into lab-created diamonds as a cheaper and more eco-friendly alternative.
Myth: You can’t talk about your wedding or marriage until you’re engaged
Engagement myths like this are not only incorrect, but they can be really destructive to a relationship. The first time you discuss marriage should not be at your proposal. Your wedding, but more importantly your marriage, should be an on-going topic of conversation long before you get engaged.
We often see the trope on screen of a woman who is scared she will frighten her boyfriend away if she even says the word “wedding” too loudly. So instead she avoids the subject, drops hints, and eventually tricks or guilts him into a wedding. They never discuss the wedding beforehand – let alone the marriage!
Let’s leave that trope for outdated romantic comedies, shall we? In a modern relationship, you can and should discuss your hopes for the future. We’re not saying you need to nail down your wedding colours on your third date. But you should never be scared to talk about your future within your committed relationship. You won’t ruin a surprise proposal by talking ahead of time about what you both want your wedding and your marriage to look like.
Myth: There is one right way to be engaged
By now, you know we don’t believe in one right way to do anything. We always say, “Your wedding, your way.” And that’s exactly how it should be for your engagement. Whether you propose on bended knee in a romantic restaurant or at the top of a ferris wheel; whether you wear an engagement ring or opt for an engagement bicycle instead; and whether you’re engaged for three years or three days – there is no one right way to be engaged – there’s just the way that’s right for you.
Congratulations to all of the engaged couples! We’d love to know what engagement myths you’re busting wide open. And if you need an officiant for your wedding day – you know who to call!
written by Riana Ang-Canning