What I Won’t Ask You If You Tell Me You’re Engaged

’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. TC mark

image – ilovebutter


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  • Sunny

    “When you really think about it, a proposal is pretty much the greatest compliment we chicks can receive”
    …seriously? SERIOUSLY? 

    • Reid

      Why not?

    • Ugh

      relax. take it exactly as seriously as the author did when she wrote it. relax.

    • http://twitter.com/g_kayy Glenn Kisela

      Guess who won’t be getting proposed to anytime soon?

      • MNC

        Don’t be catty. =) 

    • Anonymous

      It is kind of. Isn’t it extremely flattering that someone wants to vow to spend the rest of their life with you? 

      It’s maybe not what you want out of life, but it still is a very big compliment

    • Sophia

      but actually, though. What’s a better compliment than a person wanting to spend the rest of his/her life with you? I don’t understand your indignance at all. It’s so true.

  • guest

    oh i love this. and i also fully agree with the sentiment that a proposal shouldn’t be about impressing your would-be fiancée – frankly if she needs all of that fuss to be wow-ed into saying ‘yes”, you’re probably getting married for the wrong reasons.

    jim’s proposal to pam on “the office” made me cry. i mean a gas station. so romantic. 

  • wonderstruck

    i thought this was so poorly written, but i get it.

  • Anonymous

    I personally love those simple proposals, like a friend of mine who proposed to his girlfriend during a game of monopoly.  

  • Lora

    Disappointed you chose to say that being proposed to is the greatest compliment “we chicks” can receive. It is a compliment, and I’m sure you didn’t mean to be demeaning, but that statement is a demeaning one. How about getting the huge promotion you’ve been working years for? How about your child’s college diploma after you spent years saving and scrounging to send her to the best school possible? Please think a little more about what you’re saying next time.

    • katie

      a diploma isn’t a compliment..just sayin’..

    • Marina

      She said greatest compliment, not greatest achievement. Don’t get your panties in a bunch.

    • Eliza

      Oh Lora, take it easy.

    • Guest

      Uh, I think you need to review your definition of  ‘compliment’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/grc15r Gregory Costa

    Jenna, will you marry me?  I don’t want to die alone…and I want financial stability. 

  • Katie

    I got engaged 2 months ago, and I absolutely hate when people ask me that question. My Fiance asked me one day as we were walking by a jewelry store, “Do you want to go in and look for a ring?” We found one, he ordered it, and I went with him to pick it up. I picked out the ring of my dreams, and he wasn’t stressing about how to perfectly ask me. 

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous


  • http://www.facebook.com/jamaicamalangmojica Jamaica Malang

    This article gave me the impression that Ms. Coy here is the ‘nicest’ TC writer. Everybody else is just snarky.

  • KBM

    I have a friend who got engaged to her husband in Target because they worked together there. They’ve been happily married for 6 years, florescent lights and all. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/Andlikethecatihaveninetimestodie Heather Mckown

    My girlfriend asked me to marry her by writing it in my notebook.  She wrote Marry me?  Check box yes or no.  and i checked yes and then we didn’t discuss it for a few months and then one day i said “so should we get rings?”  And we did and i’m not sure if the initial question was serious or not, but now we are engaged and plan to get married when it’s legal in california.  

  • Kate

    So true. My husband proposed with no ring at all. We were up late talking and he said, “I think we should get married.” I agreed. That was five and a half years ago.

    But then, this blog was posted on the exact day he moved out. Not to be a drag. I just like irony.

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