’Tis the season of marriage proposals. Though I am nearing twenty-eight and my love life mirrors that of Jennifer Love Hewitt more each year, I delight in the glowing couples, premature planning, and friendly debates over calla lilies or hydrangeas. I am a proud lover of love.
I beam when a freshly engaged friend flashes her shiny new ring, a promise of forever from her real-life Romeo. When you really think about it, a proposal is pretty much the greatest compliment we chicks can receive. The man you are seeing not only enjoys your company, takes you on dates, and holds your hand in public, (that’s all I’m askin’ for right now, boys) but he wants to partner up with you as long as you both shall live. That’s pretty fantastic.
The only part of this “I’m Engaged!” scenario that makes me cringe is when someone, usually a giddy, well-meaning girlfriend, fires that classic response at the bride-to-be faster than it took Kim Kardashian to say, “Nevermind, I Don’t.”
“Sooooo, how did he propose?” the bride is asked. The pressure slowly mounts as the seconds pass. Her dreamy, lovesick friends wait with anticipation. She then feels compelled to present some elaborate, He-Proposed-In-Central-Park-Under-A-Crescent-Moon narrative. This always makes me nervous, because what if there isn’t a magical, creative story to reveal? What if her fiancé asked for her hand under the fluorescent lights of Super Target because that’s where they met? Isn’t it just as meaningful? It’s still two people pledging to spend their lives together. Why are we let down when we hear of no trip to Paris?
I haven’t always felt this way. At some point in high school, I realized I had never heard about my parents’ engagement. Married for thirty-plus years, it surely must be an enchanting tale, I thought.
“You never told me how Dad asked you to marry him,” I prompted my Mom one day after school, as I inhaled Nacho Cheese Wow! Doritos.
“Well, there’s really no story,” she admitted, chuckling. “We just decided it was time and picked out my ring together.”
I was crushed. I probably said something snotty as I wiped the olestra grease onto my jeans and started my Spanish homework with a scowl. I vowed to one day have a passionate, made-for-a-Kate-Hudson-movie engagement story to tell.
No longer a consumer of lethal potato chips, my thoughts regarding marriage proposals have also evolved. I’ve realized that the marriages I respect the most have often started with a simple, sweet, personal proposal. Treasure hunts, flash mobs, and 5-carat stunners are swell, yes, but shouldn’t be required. My best friend got engaged to a real catch over a nice Italian dinner, not in Italy. My brother-in-law got down on one knee in his living room, and he has proven to be a hard-working, respectful, loving hubby to my sister.
Am I against public proposals that require planning, thought, and money? Absolutely not. I still deem them lovely and romantic. If you’ve got a lengthy, sentimental engagement tale to share, I’m your girl. Tell me every last detail, from the chandelier earrings you rocked to the way his chocolate eyes sparkled when he popped the question. I’ll gobble up every word. I’m just saying it shouldn’t be the first thing we ask upon hearing engagement news. Why don’t we replace “Tell me your proposal story!” with five other words: Congratulations! I’m thrilled for you.
Friends, whether you get engaged on New Years Eve wearing a shimmery ball gown or on a Tuesday afternoon in dirty Chuck Taylors, I will be ready to celebrate with you.