The engagement period is more than an excuse for your fiance to show off her engagement ring and be the centre of attention. It takes a lot of time to plan a wedding such as picking a day, picking a location, reserving the location, deciding who to invite, sending invitations to people, planning the menu, picking out bridesmaids’ dresses, picking out flowers, tuxes, cakes, etc. The wedding can be quite a logistical operation that requires time and planning. Also, perhaps, more importantly, the engagement period is a time to plan the marriage. Getting engaged is a formal commitment of two people to merge their lives together. This merging process may have a tremendous impact on living arrangements, careers, finances, worship practices, etc. The engagement period may also be a good time to partake in premarital counselling.
The marriage has a special place in every society. Due to that, there have been various rituals in each culture. Engagement tradition is one of these rituals on the road of marriage. Since old times, the engagement ceremony has been organised so that the couple and their families could be closely acquainted with each other before marriage. After asking a girl’s hand in marriage and agreement to marry, both families arrive at a consensus about engagement’s date, place, rituals, and their mutual expectations. Of course, old engagement rituals has ceased to exist in some way or another. Many couples prefer that ceremony of the agreement to marry, and engagement is organised on the same day and disregard other engagement rituals.
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What is the meaning of getting engaged?
The mutual promise of two people to marry is called engagement. With engagement, the couple testifies to their desire to marry. It does not matter whether the partners are the same sex or different sexes.
The ritual of proposing is an ancient tradition that has been practised for several hundred years. In the past, it was common for the future husband to negotiate the terms of marriage with the bride’s father.
If both agreed, the groom handed over the so-called marriage dowry to the bride’s father in ancient Germania (until around 300 BC) – a kind of down payment. This was considered an official engagement.
Later the reverse exchange of goods became common, the bride and her family brought in the marriage dowry.
Today – at least in western countries – an engagement is an emotional and romantic occasion.
The exchange of goods has changed to the exchange of an engagement ring. The meaning, promising to marry one another, has remained the same.
What is the point of engagement?
Getting engaged is an official announcement of the intention to marry. With the acceptance of the marriage proposal, both partners express their will to marry each other.
Engagement is, therefore, no more and no less than the public (not secret) announcement to marry each other. With the wedding ceremony, the plan is put into practice.
More than 80% of couples celebrate their wedding within one year of getting engaged. For many couples and their families, the proposal is the starting sign for the wedding preparations to begin.
History of the engagement ring
It is claimed that the history of the engagement rings dates back to 2000 B.C. In Ancient Egypt, people used to carve some plants as a ring, because it was believed that the circle shape symbolises eternity. In this way, they thought that they symbolised immortality of love. In the Roman Empire, they preferred iron rings rather than rings made from plants. However, during this period, only women used to wear rings. By the way, as far as we know, there is only one common point among all civilisations: the ring is always worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. People believed that the vein in the ring finger on the left-hand runs directly to one’s heart. As time passed, the rings were started to be made from more precious metal like gold. The engagement ring and wedding ring were separated in 860 A.D. by Pope Nicholas I. It is known that he entailed the couples to wear gold rings to symbolise their marriage. After this decision, the engagement and wedding rings were separated completely. What about a diamond ring? Diamond was the first precious stone added to the engagement rings after the Archduke of Austria gave a diamond ring to his fiancée. Diamond engagement ring tradition that still continues is associated with the Archduke. The wedding rings have been designed in many different shapes and patterns until now. And after this long journey, the engagement ring even today connect fingers of the couples who promise each other to share the life. And even today, people continue to follow this tradition.
Check out our list of Wedding Ring Shops to help you find the perfect wedding band.
Planning an Engagement
When people fall in love and know that they’ve met the one, it is natural to start dreaming about a future together. Yet before couples get engaged, they should make sure that they are both ready for marriage and have compatible life goals. The right timing can make all the difference in planning a happy engagement. The following steps can help you make sure you have your bases covered.
Determine Readiness for Marriage
Before proposing, it is helpful to make sure each person is ready for marriage. Marriage readiness is about love, commitment and a decision to merge two lives together as one family. Once a person realises that he has found the right person to start a family with, it is important to discuss marriage with his girlfriend to find out if they are both ready now. A couple can be very in love and committed to a life together, but one person may prefer to get engaged at a later time. For example, some people prefer to graduate from college or spend a year or two working before getting engaged or married. Other people may want to get engaged to formalise the commitment even though they will not be ready to marry for years, such as after finishing graduate school.
Discuss Future Life and Family Goals
Couples who are considering a lifelong commitment should discuss their individual future goals and expectations of marriage. This information can help a man figure out if his girlfriend is ready to accept a marriage proposal. Married life discussions should cover issues such as the desired number of children, parenting styles and lifestyle expectations. For example, if a woman wants only one child and a demanding career but her future husband envisions her as a housewife caring for four children, it is important to discuss these conflicting views before marriage so that the couple reach a compromise. Discussions about the expectations of married life can also help couples determine how to merge their individual goals into family goals.
To know more, check out our post on Tips for Newly Engaged Couples.
Plan the Marriage Proposal
Once the time feels right for both people, the man traditionally begins planning a marriage proposal. Since this is a special event that both people will remember forever, it can be a little stressful to plan. If a man makes a woman feel special and takes the time to incorporate things that are significant to their relationship in the proposal, there is no way to go wrong.
Here are some proposal ideas:
- Engagement Poems: Propose with poetry. Include a classic love poem or a modern engagement poem in the proposal or write an engagement poem, especially for her.
- Family Proposals: Ask for her hand in marriage during a family gathering as a way to welcome her into her future family. This can be a special way to propose if the bride-to-be is close to her future husband’s family.
- Holiday Proposals: Propose during a holiday such as Christmas, Valentine’s Day or her birthday.
- Creative Proposals: If many of the traditional proposal methods don’t seem right, creative research proposals. There are many creative ways to propose that range from skywriting to spelling out the proposal in flower petals.
Talk to the Bride’s Parents
Traditionally a man requests a woman’s hand in marriage from her father before proposing. Today, this tradition is no longer required. However, it can add a romantic touch and many parents appreciate the respectful gesture. A modern twist on the tradition is to ask both parents for permission to marry their daughter.
Shop for a Ring
A man can choose to select an engagement ring prior to the proposal or wait to shop for a ring with his fiancée. Many women prefer to receive an engagement ring during the proposal. However, some women have strong feelings about selecting their own ring. A way around this issue is to casually look at rings with a girlfriend before she suspects a serious proposal is on the way. A groom-to-be can also ask the advice of her friends or family about what type of ring his girlfriend would like.
One of the last steps in getting engaged is proposing marriage. When a proposal is accepted, the couple enters into an agreement to make a lifelong commitment to each other. Now that the happy couple is engaged, it is time to announce it to family, friends and the public.
Announce the Engagement
The final engagement step is announcing the engagement. Traditionally, the couple tells both sets of parents first, then grandparents, siblings, extended family and friends. If either person has children, the couple should tell the children before anyone else.
After verbally telling close friends and family about the engagement, couples can choose to announce the engagement to extended family and friends in some methods. Announcement methods include:
- Announcing engagement at a party
- Sending out formal announcements
- Placing an announcement in the newspaper
- Telling people by phone or email
Once the engagement is announced, it is socially recognised as an official engagement.
Old Traditions Are Still Helpful
Understanding the steps in getting engaged can help couples figure out how to plan an engagement. Even though modern couples can get engaged in any manner they choose, engagement traditions are still helpful guides. Learning the engagement steps can help a couple focus less on the tedious details and more on the joy of the occasion.
A short engagement (six months or less) really only makes sense if you have already been with your spouse for a long time and the marriage is just a formality. Otherwise, especially for couples who have been together a year or less, a long engagement — more than one year — is very important.
Here are five reasons to be engaged for more than one year:
You have your whole life to be married.
When you are first getting married, you want forever to start RIGHT NOW. But trust me, 10 years into this whole marriage thing, you are married a long, long, long time if you are lucky. There is no reason to rush into it.
Weddings are stressful.
It takes time to plan a wedding. If you are eloping or having a small wedding, by all means, have a short engagement. But some venues book up two YEARS in advance. So if you have your heart set on it, it’s best to wait.
Sorry to burst your happiness bubble, but as someone who was engaged two times before the third one stuck, I can tell you that engagement is hella easier to call off than a marriage. Give it time. Let it settle. Plan together.
It’s a fun time.
You are only engaged for one (most of the time) VERY brief period of your whole life. People are happy for you and loving and excited. It’s a special time in anyone’s life, so why rush into the marriage portion of the show that will, if you are lucky, last longer than even the unmarried part!
You need to know each other.
For some people, six months into a relationship, they get engaged. Six months later they get married and then six months later they are pregnant. Eighteen months together is NOT enough time to know you’re compatible as partners and parents. It just isn’t. I have heard that it takes three full rounds of each season (three years) to get to really know one another. That’s a good rule of thumb.
How long should your engagement period be?
Your engagement period should only be as long as it takes for you to get your wedding together. You only need to be engaged for two months if you can put your wedding together in two months. Again, engagement is not supposed to get you ready for marriage – it is a time for you to get your wedding ready! Long engagements are a bad idea because any couple that is madly in love and has committed to marrying each other will want to have sex. The longer you’re engaged, the harder it will be to keep your hands off each other. Trust me, and the old Devil will try to convince you that you are actually married when you are not. He will tell you that you do not need to wait until your wedding night to unwrap your marriage presents.
It would, it’s true, be cheaper to skip some of the endless engagement preliminaries: the parties and showers, the often fraught buying and giving of the ring. It might be more practical to dispense with the formalities and, as two adults, agree to plan a wedding and/or a life together.
Personally, though, I liked getting engaged. Even though my boyfriend and I already lived together when he proposed, agreeing to get married in a formal way was a vital preliminary step for us, a way to signal our seriousness to each other and the world and to start asking some hard questions of ourselves. Though we didn’t do showers and parties or an expensive ring thing, we continued growing up together in those 15 months between proposal and wedding; and being engaged was a more profound experience than I would have ever expected.
I wouldn’t dispose of engagement as a relationship stage altogether. I know too many folks for whom betrothal has been helpful: either to bring them together in a new way or to uncover fundamental differences over which the couple agreed it was wisest to part. But everyone’s needs and desires are different. The conversation is certainly one worth having, and I’m glad so many people are reshaping marriage / life-partnership to fit our brave new world.
Wedding planning is a strange, stressful, and often asinine experience composed of linen samples, justifying your newfound alcoholism, and vomiting a little when you find out how much stamps cost in bulk.
However, the months leading up to your wedding are some of the most important months of your life; and not for a reason, you may think.
Your engagement has nothing to do with choosing the perfect flower arrangements or fitting into that one-of-a-kind dress. It has nothing to do with cake tastings and picking a trendy colour palette.
The engagement period, the period between “Yes” and “I do,” is transitory, a life-changing transition. We spend a lot of time focusing on the big day. It is, after all, supposed to be the “best day of your life.” There are magazines, websites, and blogs dedicated to this monumental moment, but few people talk about the importance of simply being engaged. Marrying another person is a big deal. A lot comes with that commitment.