The lady proposal: It’s not all romance and fireworks

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON LIVE4, 14 AUGUST 2014

Last year, I proposed to my fiancé. It’s not so uncommon these days for a woman to propose to a man. Sandra Bullock did it in The Proposal and so did Amy Adams in Leap Year. Yes, all very sweet. But things are different in real life. In real life, there’s this thing called ‘logistics’, aka the antithesis of romance.


Before we get into proposals, let’s talk about the actual concept of marriage. Most couples nowadays probably already live together, have been together for a while and have amassed many, if not all, of the domestic duties previously only reserved for married life (the collective washing, the shared bills, the burden – ahem, privilege – of being appointed as an emergency contact). And what with the practical recognition of de facto status et al, marriage has become redundant or superfluous.

But alas, I am a romantic. An old-fashioned romantic. I believe in the sanctity of marriage, I believe in sharing a union publicly with the community, I believe in social structures, I believe in an invisible stability on which to base a family framework. And so my old-fashioned romantic self decided that I wanted to spend the rest of my life with this man I call my partner. Thus, I decided to make an honest man out of him and pop the question.

Now what?

I’m going to propose! Awesome! Great. All righty… now what? Ah, reality. How do I do it? Do I buy a ring? Do I call up his best friend to help me pick out rings in secret? Do I get down on one knee? Do I try to emulate the dream proposal he’s been fantasising about since he was 12 that’s unlikely to even exist? There aren’t any other examples from which I can derive ideas about this stuff. Where in mainstream culture does it show alternative approaches to popping the question apart from the whole engagement ring, one-knee shindig? Without much to base anything on, I decided to just wing it.

Put a ring on it

I’d get a ring. Then I realised I didn’t know his size. How do I find out the circumference of his ring finger without him noticing? Crafty genius me did it the only way possible – I bought cheap rings of many sizes online, pretended to be pissed when none of them fit my dainty lady fingers (“Dammit I will never buy anything online again!”), then coyly said to him, “Hey, do these fit you? You can have them,” proceeding to playfully slip them on and off his fingers. Two cheap rings later, I found a match. Needless to say, he didn’t take the rings because they were butt ugly.

Awkward much?

Equipped with newfound anatomical data and tenacity, I set out to find the perfect ring. And find it I did. But nearing the purchase, more questions came a-niggling. Do I buy just one ring and then put it on his finger should he accept my proposal, setting off a snowball effect of emasculating scenarios? Do I get two rings and put one on his finger, then put mine on by myself in an awkward silence, unless he becomes awash with initiative and slips it on me? And then, do I buy two identical rings? Or one plain ring for him and one gemstone-adorned one for myself? In which case, would it be indulgent of me to buy myself a diamond ring?

Agh! This be some bullsh*t, son. I ended up not buying a ring.

All you need is less

With all the kerfuffle in which I managed to entangle myself while planning the perfect proposal, it was evident that I would fail the Sandra Bullocks and Amy Adams of this world. I accepted my fate and retreated into my humble vestibule of defeat. This is when I remembered what this was all about in the first place: I love this man and I want to grow old with him. Period. It was that simple. And that simple but powerful concept became my proposal.

One Sunday morning over croissants and coffee, I said to him, “Hey, I love you and I want to grow old with you. Marry me?” He jumped across the table and hugged me, shouting, “Yes! Oh my God, yes!” Cue glassy eyes, Meg Ryan’s laugh-cries and an imaginary David Foster serenading us in the background.

Then he jokingly asked, “Hey, where’s my ring?” So that cheap, butt-ugly ring from the online shop came in handy after all.

Postscript: we ended up designing our rings together, discussing what we liked and didn’t like, sketching up rough drafts, choosing materials and creating mood boards. It took us three weeks to agree on the right ring design, and then we had them made. I didn’t have to bear all that fuss alone. All it took was a bit of teamwork and collaboration.

Gee, sounds a bit like marriage.


Image: Live4