Getting Engaged

getting engagedIt used to be the tradition for a man to first approach his sweetheart's father to ask for her hand in marriage and once his request had been accepted, he would approach his hopefully future wife and ask her to spend the rest of their lives together while at the same time producing a beautiful engagement ring and place it on the third finger of her left hand if she said 'yes'!

Getting engaged can be listed high as one of life's experiences with an understanding of commitments between two people that a marriage will take place.

It's a time when couples feel they really know one another and that they have found' the one' person they know they can happily make further commitments with by setting up home together, maybe even starting a family and planning ahead for the future.

You may also be interested in our article on the Marriage Proposal

No Age Restrictions

Although there are age restrictions for those wanting to get married, there are no minimum age restrictions for getting engaged. 

You are able to get engaged to somebody else if you are already married and awaiting for your decree absolute to be granted.  An engagement is not legally binding but more of an agreement between two people.

There are no set rules on how long an engagement has to last for and periods of months to years can take place from the moment of the engagement until the wedding takes place. 

The time of engagement can be used as an advantage inasmuch it's a time to meet each others families and communicate on what you both expect and want from your future lives together as man and wife.  It's a time for saving and planning / building your home together as well as getting to know each other even more than you do.

Celebrating and Announcing Your Engagement

celbrate engagementIt's obvious that you want to shout out about your exciting news from the roof tops and tell the world.  Traditionally it used to be both sets of parents that were informed first about this wonderful news (usually the bride's parents before the groom's) but in today's lifestyle of divorces and separations the modern way can be and is very different. 

It could be that you have already set up home together and your engagement to many of your friends and family may come as no surprise to them, albeit that they will be very happy no doubt and want to share in your happiness.

You can tell people in different ways and however you wish.  If you want to tell them together you can invite a selected few for an impromptu dinner party or drinks and announce your engagement to them sometime during the evening.

An engagement party can be fun and exciting and another way to tell everybody you know by sending out invitations.

Taking out an announcement in the paper will let others that you are not in close contact with, but still wish to know your news, as well as your local community that you have become newly engaged.  If you do not live in the same town, it can be a nice touch to put the announcement in both home towns.

If either or both of you have children from a previous relationship, you can make it a special night for you all when you tell them the news that their lives are about to be changed and they are to be getting a new mummy or daddy.

The Engagement Ring

engagement ringOver the years the engagement ring has undergone many changes from a simple metal band to gold, silver and platinum with precious diamonds and gems being added; all with different meanings.

During the 1400s in Medieval Italy the diamond engagement ring was not unlike the modern rings of today and it was during the 18th and 19th Centuries that coloured gems became more popular within the ring. 

A three part ring with two clasped hands on it was called the 'Gimmal' and this was separated into the three sections and worn by the future bride and groom plus a witness.  On the day of the wedding the three parts were rejoined and this was the bride's wedding ring.

The engagement ring (and the wedding band) has been placed for hundreds of years over the third finger of the left hand as it was understood the “vein of love” ran in that particular finger and travelled directly to the heart and is therefore closely associated with love.  (In other countries such as Germany, Ukraine and Poland, newly engaged women wear their ring on their right hands).

The giving and receiving of the engagement ring traditionally symbolises a promise of a future together and in days gone by it was taken as a serious pledge of marriage which if broken often resulted in the innocent party being sued under the 'breach of promise' law.

The engagement ring symbolises purity, devotion and everlasting love.

Engagement Titbits

  • If an engaged man living in China died before the wedding took place his intended bride was treated as a widow.
  • Future brides in Finland went door-to-door with a pillowcase to receive her gifts.  An elderly married gentleman with an umbrella used to accompany her in case it rained.  This is where the tradition of an umbrella being used for decoration at today's weddings derives from – it symbolises protection.
  • In India an engagement holds a lot of significance in the wedding traditions.  Both sets of parents, relatives and friends all meet (sometimes for the first time) to bless the couple.  The future bride and groom exchange golden wedding rings and offer sweets and garlands to each other. 
  • In Russia there is no such thing as an engagement.  No rings are given, announcements or parties do not take place and only close family and friends are informed.  If the lady is lucky, she may receive flowers from her intended.
  • Although no longer practised today, a dramatic engagement gesture was made by Filipino men to throw a spear onto the steps of the front door of his sweetheart's house.  This indicated to all and sundry that she was spoken for.
  • A traditionally engagement gift in China is a whole roasted pig which is given as a gift to the bride's family, by the groom's family.
  • The engagement ring's original purpose was to signify that a woman had been purchased and belonged to the future groom-to-be.

Caring for your Engagement Ring

Your engagement ring is one piece of jewellery you will wear for the rest of your life and no doubt cherish it. 

It is going to be on your hand and have to deal with the day to day punishment of grime, dirt and dust and it is important to keep it as clean and sparkling as you possibly can.

Keeping your Engagement Ring Clean

You can clean it yourself with some of the products that are on the market today.  Always follow the instructions carefully and check you buy the correct fluid/cleaner for your particular type of metal/stones.

You can use an old soft toothbrush with warm soapy water to gently remove any dirt and grime.

You can have it restored by a professional who will re-polish and replace any lost chips/stones.  Over time your ring may lose some of its lustre and this again can be restored by a jeweller.

Never immerse your ring in hot water if it has emeralds or opals. These stones are soft and any sudden change in temperature may crack them.

Keep the receipt (or ask your fiancé) and don't forget to add it to your household insurance. It would be a sad day if you lost it or had it stolen.

Break-Up of an Engagement

If sadly an engagement ends, any property that belongs to the couple should be divided between them.  If an agreement is not met that makes them both happy, you will be able to let the courts decide the issue as long as it placed before them within three years of the broken engagement. 

In the UK, the female may keep the engagement ring unless her partner stipulated on their engagement that it was to be returned in the event of the engagement not lasting. This would also apply in the man's case if he was given a ring by his fiancée.  If the ring was given as a special gift then it remains just that and would not need to be returned.  Each case will of course be different in the way it is handled, how and what is done. 

Anything on a grand scale that has to do with property or businesses that you set up together as an engaged couple should be dealt with by taking legal advice.

The ring is a circle that has no beginning and no end, which is how marriage should be.