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Engagements Are the New WeddingsKmo139 / Flickr

Engagements Are the New Weddings


Nov 20 2013
When did popping the question become such a big deal?

It used to be that the most important decision a man had to make (after choosing the girl) was what type of ring to buy. Now he's got to plan a knockout proposal—at least something cool and clever enough to go viral on YouTube. Planning a proposal has become a booming industry itself, from the creating perfect proposal video to hiring a proposal planner.

A recent article on Converge discusses how our wedding-obsessed culture has grown engagement-obsessed, too. In some cases, it seems we've become more concerned with the proposal than the actual marriage.

Writer Nicki Lamont suggests we slow down a bit and think about why we actually want to get married in the first place:

It seems to me our generation has become infatuated with celebrating the act of becoming engaged, rather than celebrating the act of two people committing their lives to one another. The proposal pictures we gawk over on HowHeAsked.com keep us so fixated on planning our weddings, that we start to forget one important fact: weddings turn into marriages.

The rise of the over-the-top proposal is probably owed to in part by the high number of couples now living together. When unmarried couples already share their lives (and beds) with each other, the wedding night may become less of a milestone. Now, engagement becomes the "next step" to celebrate. There are entire boards on Pinterest devoted to the "perfect" wedding. And who hasn't seen an engagement ring show up on her Instagram feed the morning after the long-awaited proposal? (It's about that time of year again…December is the most popular month to get engaged.)

The heightened expectations for proposals affects how we date and choose our future spouse, how we view and navigate our own relationships. When it seems that everything is supposed to be spectacular—with filtered photos and sparkling diamonds—what happens when your relationship feels just a little bit ordinary? How do you know if it's love? How do you know if he's the one? We may be tempted to measure our passion against relationships we see on social media feeds or in movies. We may judge a guy by the aww-factor of his proposal, instead of the content of his character.

These larger-than-life proposals fail to give us an accurate picture of reality, and in some ways, they can be setting us up for future failure and disappointment.

I'm thankful for my proposal. It was sweet. It suited my husband and his personality. On Christmas Eve several years ago, we had been talking about engagement for a few weeks. I was under the impression that he might propose around my birthday, a month and a half later. Instead, he got on a plane, flew to my parents' house in Florida, and staged an elaborate proposal that I was hardly expecting and was definitely not ready for—I was still in my pajamas. In the post-Facebook age, we got it all on video and posted it for all to see that afternoon.

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