Picking out an engagement ring

I think we need to take a moment and backtrack a bit from wedding planning to talk about the proposal. Naturally, the ring is a major part in that so it is worthy of discussion.

Many grooms-to-be begin this journey clueless of how to buy a ring. After all, many have never done it before and, hopefully, will never do it again. And this is one area where fathers don’t seem to be able to pass on their knowledge.

There was a television news story last year talking about the fact that many modern brides want – no expect – huge diamond engagement rings. The young men featured in the story were perplexed and discouraged because they didn’t have the money for that type of ring.

I indeed felt sorry for them and wanted to scream at the television that they should run very quickly away from that girl.

It is sad that girls today do, in fact, insist on a celebrity diamond ring. The reason for this is simple: they want to show it to their friends and make them jealous. It’s a way to tell everyone they are better than you and, I think, is a sign of insecurity and immaturity.

With that said, a man should strive to get the love of their life a ring that will make her happy. They should put some thought into it and, yes, sacrifice a bit of hard-earned cash.

The idea is that a man is thoughtful enough to give a token of love that matches his bride. Women want a man who knows what they want without them needing to tell them.

Practically, such traditions have always proven to the woman the intended groom could afford a secure life for her. A bit old-fashioned, true, but somehow it is built into our psyche.

The first known recorded engagement jewelry is in Genesis 24. In the story, a servant of Abraham swore to him that he would find a proper bride for Abraham’s son, Isaac. The man traveled back to Abraham’s home country and found Rebekah. He gave her a nose ring and two bracelets, all gold, and asked about her parents.

Naturally, her father was impressed and gave permission for her to marry Isaac. She left her family the next day to travel back with the man to her groom.

The moral of the story is the ring is important if you want a “yes.”

The most important aspect of the ring is to get one that matching the woman’s personality. This is where one must pay close attention because it is crucial, regardless of the size of the diamond. The one thing women want most is to think their guy understands them.

When Chef Mike and I were talking marriage, I had a set idea of the ring I wanted. It wasn’t a certain size or a special designer, but was a certain style. A unique style. Something I hadn’t really seen before.

As we were looking in jewelry stores, I tried to point out some rings I thought were close and described what I liked and what I didn’t like. Mike kept going to one particular style I had absolutely no interest in. It looked like his mother, not me.

After a few days of this, I asked if he had already gotten the ring and if it was that style. He said not really, but after some interrogating I discovered the conspiracy plan.

Mike’s mother had upgraded ring sets over the years and so she had a two or three older sets she no longer wore. His dad had suggested that Mike give me one of those sets, saving money, grief and time.

I was appalled.

My reaction was so volatile that I wasn’t sure if Mike would still want to marry me. However, he felt ashamed after I explained my feelings and apologized.

My thoughts were that to give me one of his mother’s old sets was like giving me  hand-me-down clothes. There was no sentimental attachment to those rings. They were discarded for better ones. The thought that Mike shouldn’t spend any money, time, or thought into picking out my engagement ring made me feel like his family – and ultimately him – thought I wasn’t worthy of the effort. I had waited a long time for marriage and felt I was certainly worthy of more effort than that.

Plus, the style was totally not me and wearing one of those rings would be like wearing his mother’s shoes when I’m a size five and she’s a nine. It just wouldn’t fit.

Mike ended up buying me a ring through a jewelry wholesaler connection. He designed it himself and – bonus – only paid about half of the retail value. Being a frugal person, that made me very happy.

Here are some things to keep in mind when buying a ring:

  • Don’t go into debt over it. You should be able to pay for it in cash. If you need to wait to save for it then wait. Don’t put it on credit.
  • The younger the couple the smaller the ring. You are just getting started in life and need to put some money toward your life together, like a house or furniture. Don’t expect to have everything at 22 that most people get at 40.
  • Consequently, the older the bride the bigger the ring. Older couples have careers, have investments, and savings. An older bride will expect a larger ring because she knows you can afford it. They also feel they deserve it because they have waited a long time. If you chintz, she will feel like you don’t value her.
  • Understand your bride’s personality. Look at her hobbies and that will give you a clue into the style she would want. Her clothes are also an indicator. You are marrying her, you should know her well. You can also get one of her relatives, like a cousin or brother, to help pick out a ring


Dealing with parents

One of the main issues during the whole engagement/wedding process is dealing with parents and future in-laws. The strange part is that most couples are surprised at this.

There are as many reasons for this phenomena as there are guests on the Dr. Phil Show. Some fathers have trouble letting go, some moms have trouble letting go, there are control issues, tradition issues and—here’s the big one—financial issues. I’ve found that the more involved parents are in financing a wedding, the more power they feel they have over decisions. There is some truth to that old saying “money is power.”

The simple answer is that weddings are a big deal. They not only unite a couple, but unite two (sometimes extremely different) families.

That is why I want to spend some time talking about the engagement. Many of this issues can be eliminated early in the process.

The most important thing—I repeat the most important thing—is that your parents approve of your fiancee. While some of you may scoff at that statement, saying it’s way too old-fashioned, I would say it is far more sensible than old-fashioned.

I know there are some parents who will never be happy with any choice. And I know there are many now days who are completely absent from their children’s lives. I am not talking about those. I am talking about the average ones, the mainstream.

Age of the intended couple is also irrelevant on this issue. A couple still needs to have parental support and blessing no matter what age they marry. The reason is clear: Parents and in-laws can make life hell for the couple if they don’t approve of the marriage.

Ultimately, the decision is up to the couple. However, I would advise that a couple who marries against a parent’s wishes moves far away and understands they are never to ask or expect those parents for any type of support (financial or otherwise) to sustain their marriage or existence.

There is another very good reason for seeking parental blessing: to make sure you are making the right decision.

I had a very good friend, who at the age of 22, decided to marry a man. I was rather concerned about her because she had just broken up with the love of her life and seemed a bit too anxious to get married. However, I kept my mouth shut and was supportive.

Her parents, however, had similar concerns. On top of that, they were going through a divorce. They spoke to me privately and prodded me to attempt to convince her to postpone the wedding. Not cancel her plans. Postpone. For one year. They also really wanted her and her beloved to go to pre-marital counseling.

I agreed with them, feeling it was a wise decision. I will point out none of us had a problem with her chosen. We just didn’t know him very well. He didn’t seem like her type. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something was amiss.

Long story short, my friend hit the roof. I was ousted from the wedding party, but I really felt she should have listened to her parents. We did make up before the wedding (which was not postponed, but instead was moved up with only a four-month engagement) and I became good friends with her husband. We are still friends.

However, I was not really that surprised when my friend called me six years and two kids later to tell me she was divorcing. She said she should have listened to all of those telling her what she didn’t want to hear.

The fact is that love is blind. We fall in love and tend to overlook some obvious—and some not so obvious—red flags. Parents and friends see these warning signs where we can not. Sometimes, they can sense trouble when we are oblivious. This is the very reason we need their honest and heartfelt blessing.

Reasons vary why we marry. Sometimes we don’t plan on it and love just happens. Other times, we talk ourselves into being in love out of a need to be married, a need to have kids, a need to be “on track” with our lives. Those aren’t necessarily bad reasons to marry, if we are honest about it, make a good choice of spouse, and don’t try to make our partner into something they are not.

However, I have witnessed many female friends fall into the “29” trap or the “39” trap, feeling they have to marry NOW. Typically, they choose the wrong guy because their husband is simply the guy who is around at the time. They become very disenchanted early on when they realize they can’t make their husband into the man they want.

Some divorced. Others decided to live, albeit, unhappily with their choices.

In every one of those cases, the parents weren’t in favor of the marriage. Those parents knew the reason for marrying wasn’t the right one and the guy wasn’t a good choice.

Their daughters simply didn’t listen.

Melody Dareing

Event Coordinator

Dareing Events Catering Inc.

Marrying the Right One

Ok, it’s been a while. Two years since I got back into this blogging thing. Mostly, my delay has been in wondering if anyone was really reading it (besides the robo posters) and I admit discouragement is a bit of an incentive to pause.

However, I know my advice has helped some people and now with our company Dareing Events Catering Inc. concentrating on social media, I figured this is as good a time as any to start back.

There are some couples I meet with about marriage details who simply should not be getting married. I can always tell it right away too.

Usually, she appears very nervous about making any plans even though she is excited about the wedding. Then I meet him. He usually runs late, appears non-interested, and criticizes everything at the tasting. He doesn’t understand why they must pay for wedding services and usually says no to every suggestion she makes even when she is trying to compromise.

This is a guy who really doesn’t want to get married.

Usually, this situation happens over time. The woman keeps “reminding” her man about how much she wants commitment, how long they’ve been dating, and how much she would love to be married. The man gives in – quite frankly – to shut her up. This kind of relationship, however, is headed for doom even before the wedding.

I say this not to cast a negative spend on marriage. I love marriage and certainly love weddings. After all, my husband and I spend our life planning and catering them. However, a negative relationship will only get worse and the wedding gets closer. There are a lot of details and a lot of stress. All of this throws any normal relationship into a bit of a turmoil, much less a toxic relationship.

This situation certainly causes issues with me as a wedding planner because I then become the negotiator, peace maker, and life coach.

Once, many years ago, long before I met my husband, I dated a wonderful guy I’ll call T.J. We shared the same values and had a great time together. After a almost two years of dating, I started to hint about marriage. Where was this going? What time frame was he thinking? Was he thinking about marriage at all?

Truly, he liked things the way they were and didn’t want change. So, T.J. went along with it. He talked about a ring. He talked about a life together. He talked about proposing.

But he never did any of it.

After three years of dating, I decided to question him – really question him. I had been a reporter so I knew how to ask tough questions. The answer wasn’t really what I wanted to hear.

I wasn’t what he was looking for in a wife.

It was a hard break-up because there wasn’t a clear answer as to what exactly he was looking for. I didn’t understand why he couldn’t have figured this out and told me the truth after a year of dating rather than wait three. I was in my late 20’s and really looking to marriage and family. I had a schedule and my biological clock was ticking.

Later, I realized I was as much to blame because I didn’t lay out my needs, goals, and desires early on either. I just thought we would date, fall in love, and get married. I didn’t realize back then that part of falling in love is realizing that your future plans are going in the same direction.

That is when you know it’s right – when you have the same mindset on the life you want as a couple, same overall goals and values. After, you want to become one flesh. That starts with how you think about life together.