engagement

Alternatives to Diamonds for Engagement Rings
Diamonds are beautiful, however there are many beautiful stones that exist.

Though diamonds are a girls best friend, there are plenty of other beautiful stones out that are more budget friendly and will surely stand out.

Wedding and engagement rings have a long history, probably from Roman customs where a woman would wear rings attached to small keys, which demonstrated her ownership by her husband. Women were considered property for many years, and we’re fortunate that this has changed. The first rings with diamonds were recorded in the late 1400s. Maximilian I, the King of the Romans and Holy Roman Emperor, commissioned a diamond ring for his betrothed, Mary of Burgundy.

Maximilian is responsible for the diamond engagement ring trend, but it was the Victorians who popularized the ornate designs and beautiful settings that we know today. However, diamonds were largely inaccessible to the masses until De Beers began mining in the late 1800s. The demand for diamonds dropped during the Depression, but De Beers Company fought back by using the movie stars of the time to advertise the diamonds.

Are Diamonds Really a Girl’s Best Friend?

In the 1953 film, “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,” Marilyn Monroe sang:

“The French are glad to die for love.

They delight in fighting duels.

But I prefer a man who lives

And gives expensive jewels.

A kiss on the hand

May be quite continental,

But diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”

Diamonds might be considered traditional, but not everyone can afford these rare gems. Some people don’t want to support the industry. There are a lot of other gemstones that can be made into beautiful rings. Here are some of the best alternatives.

Alternative Stones

  • Garnets come in shades of pink and red most commonly, but you can also find them in other colors. Although garnets aren’t as hard as other gems, only a 7.0 on the Mohs scale (a diamond is a 10), you’ll be able to get a bigger gem for a fraction of the cost.
  • Sapphires are most commonly a blue gem, but you can find them in other hues. The best part is that sapphires are generally one-third of the price of diamonds. You can get a larger stone, but make sure it’s well cut.
  • Emeralds come in beautiful shades of green, and although they aren’t one of the more popular gems these days, they can look chic and timeless in a ring setting that will last forever.
  • Pearls are an iconic look, but they do tend to scratch and tarnish easily. You can find very elegant pearls at a good price, but don’t plan on wearing the ring every day to make it last.
  • Opals can reflect the entire rainbow as they move in the light. No two opals look the same, but they are in the middle of the Mohs scale. Opals don’t stand up to daily wear like a diamond might, but they still make a beautiful ring.
  • Onyx is generally black in color, but it can come in a variety of colors for fine jewelry. The black stone pairs with anything you wear and it looks timeless and chic.
  • Sunstones are a very abundant gemstone and come in a variety of shades including peach, red, orange and green. Many are found just south of the border in Oregon.
  • Amethyst is a pretty, purple gem that is durable but less expensive than diamond. The gem is beautifully paired with gold or silver for a classic look.
Wedding Engagement Announcement Etiquette
Taking the first steps towards an engagement.

Every engagement started somewhere. For some, it was dating a friend; for others, dating websites played a crucial role.

According to some experts, about 40 percent of wedding engagements occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter when you get engaged, you’ll want to spread the news far and wide. It might sound like a childish notion to have a plan for sharing your engagement news, but you’ll want to make sure that your mom hears your announcement from you, not Aunt Sally. Here are some etiquette tips you might want to consider.

Who Do I Tell First?

Before posting on social media, you want to make sure your family and close friends know. If you have kids, you should talk to them first and give them some time to process their emotions before making the big announcement. Social media and/or newspaper announcements should follow your own verbal notices.

Can I Post Pictures of the Ring on Social Media?

Modern etiquette experts all recommend not sharing a picture of just your ring on social media, although it is very common to see close-up pictures of rings on Instagram or Facebook. The best way is to take a picture of your left hand that includes you and your fiancé. It’s more gracious and focuses on your announcement instead of focusing on the consumerism of how big the ring is.

Dealing With Uncomfortable Questions About the Ring

If you get asked about the price or size of your ring, you may be uncomfortable discussing that particular information. You don’t have to tell someone how much the ring cost or how many carats the diamond is. It is good to have a general response to any questions to be able to deflect the discomfort you feel. “Brad spent more than he should have, but we’ll have this treasure forever.” “It’s not the size that matters to me.” Humor is a good tool to have in your arsenal. Quickly change the subject to some other aspect of the wedding.

Who Should Be Invited to the Engagement Party?

You might want to invite all your friends and family to your engagement party, but wedding etiquette dictates that everyone who is invited to pre-wedding events should be invited to the actual wedding. This is one reason to keep the engagement party small. Although anyone can throw the celebration, traditionally the parents of the bride host the party. The best man and maid of honor should not be the ones hosting this party, because they are responsible for other parties closer to the wedding.

Do Brides Have to Wear White to the Engagement Party?

It is traditional for brides to wear white to the party, but that shouldn’t limit your wardrobe. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and enjoy the party and your friends. White puts you in the spotlight, and it will be a nice reminder that those pictures are from the engagement party.

Etiquette for Those Who Have Been Informed About the Engagement

If you’ve been chosen to get the information before it’s been posted on social media, hold off on posting anything on social media about the wedding until after the couple makes an announcement. It’s tempting to want to break the news, but it’s just good etiquette to wait. Don’t ask about the size or cost of the ring. If the bride and groom want to tell you, they will.

You also shouldn’t approach the couple to ask whether you’ll be in the bridal party. It puts the bride and groom in the awkward position of having to say no if they’re planning a small wedding and not including you. Just wait to let the bride ask you. You aren’t obligated to get engagement gifts for the couple, but gifts are customary. Choose affordable gifts that fit within your budget and communicate your happiness.

Budgeting for the Wedding – Who Pays for What?
A person budgeting for a wedding

Proper budgeting is essential.

The cost of a wedding can approach the expense of new car or even more, depending on any number of items. According to The Huffington Post, a wedding in Quebec can run about $8,400 for just 77 guests, but one survey found that the average amount spent on a wedding was about $23,000. That figure does not include the engagement ring or honeymoon. Today’s couples have to make sure they have budgeted for their wedding. Traditionally, families were expected to help with the expenses, but in today’s environment, that isn’t always the case. Although the lines of who pays what for a wedding are definitely blurred, there are some customary divisions.

The Groom and His Family

The groom and his family have the easier burden when it comes to the wedding. The groom generally pays for the engagement ring and bride’s wedding ring. He should also expect to be responsible for:

  • His attire
  • Boutonnieres and corsages for his side of the wedding party
  • Officiant’s fee, plus accommodations and transportation
  • Marriage license
  • Bride’s gift
  • Gifts for the groomsmen
  • DJ or music at the reception
  • Liquor at the reception

Because the groom’s family traditionally hosts the rehearsal dinner, he or his family should expect to manage all the expenses associated with it.

The Bride and Her Family

Generally, if it isn’t in the groom’s list, it’s the bride’s responsibility. This includes the ceremony and reception expenses, as well as all of the planning, invitations, and photography. Most of the big ticket items are under the bride’s purview. The bride’s family is generally the one who hosts the engagement party, and the bride’s parents are considered the hosts of the reception. This is one reason their name is listed first on the invitation. If the bride hosts a luncheon for the bridesmaids, it is her responsibility to pay for the party.

The Attendants

Although the bride and groom are responsible for most of the expenses associated with the wedding, the attendants should pay for their own attire and accessories. Considerate brides and grooms may offer to assist with costs if the attendant is not able. The bride and groom may also need to provide attire for younger attendants such as the ring bearer or flower girl who do not have discretionary income.

The attendants generally work together to host the bachelor or bachelorette party, and the maid of honor and bridesmaids may host the bridal shower. Attendants should also arrange their own transportation to and from the wedding. Sometimes, the attendants chip in together for a gift for the couple, but it isn’t mandatory.

Contemporary Views of Who Pays

More couples are waiting until they are older and settled into a career and home before they tie the knot. This lets them contribute more money to their own affairs and not ask their parents to cover any expenses. Some families are splitting the bill in thirds, where the groom’s family, the bride’s family, and the couple each pay for one-third of the wedding.

Instead of looking at traditional lists of who pays for what, it’s important to consider the abilities of each party. Adult brides and grooms who have been managing their own finances should not expect parents to cover any of the costs. If the parent offers, then consider it a blessing and don’t ask for more. Second-time brides and grooms are pretty much on their own when it comes to wedding expenses.

Instead of making your wedding about money, take the time before you ever make plans to work out a budget and know exactly what you and your future spouse can afford. Stay within your budget to get started on the right foot without going into debt and dealing with a truckload of bills in your first year of marriage.

Canadian Couple Plans Unforgettable Wedding Proposal

57012306Getting engaged is one of life’s most important milestones. Some people prefer to go the more traditional route of popping the question during a romantic dinner or on Valentine’s Day. Others want to do something totally unique and over-the-top for their proposal. Yannick Martin of Blainville, Quebec opted for a unique engagement idea when he asked his girlfriend to marry him in January.

A Silver Screen Proposal

Berenice Lejars was not expecting anything out of the ordinary when she agreed to a movie date with her boyfriend, Yannick Martin, but he had other ideas in store. Martin, with the help of friends, had made an elaborate animated movie trailer in which he asked Berenice to marry him. He located a theatre in St-Eustache that was willing to play it before the feature film. Right before the trailer began, Martin pretended he needed to answer an important call and left the theatre. A surprised and slightly confused Berenice watched the trailer by herself. At the end, the animated character Yannick proposed to the animated Berenice. When the trailer was over, the real Yannick returned to the movie theatre and proposed in person on bended knee, with a lovely ring, before the theatre audience. Berenice said “yes” and the happy couple did not stay for the movie. Click here to watch the trailer and live proposal (YouTube Link).

Other Creative Ways to Propose

While following Yannick’s footsteps may not exactly be your style, there are many other ways to do it:

  • Take It on the Road

Proposing somewhere like an iconic landmark, beach or foreign country can make the occasion all the more memorable. Some places to consider (if you want to spend the money) include the top of the Eiffel Tower, overlooking the Grand Lagoon in Venice, a private capsule in the London Eye carousel or the Taj Mahal.

  • Do a Role Reversal

In heterosexual relationships, it is customary for men to propose to women. In this day and age, it is not necessary to adhere to this tradition. If you go this route, it will make a great story later.

  • Purchase a Unique Ring

One way to help ensure your proposal is extraordinary is to buy a ring like no other. Diamonds have been the de rigueur stones of choice for engagement rings for many years. However, colored gemstones are much rarer. They can also be very costly, so be sure to confirm the return policy in case your beloved has different ideas on engagement rings.

  • Hire Professional Help

If you want to plan an unusual marriage proposal but don’t think you can pull it off yourself, you can always hire professional help. Many wedding planners will plan your proposal as well your wedding.

Advice For Popping the Question

If you are hard at working trying to plan the logistics of the perfect proposal, here are a few tips to keep in mind for when you actually pop the question. This one event will stick in the mind of your future spouse forever. It needs to be good because you can’t do it over.

  •  Know the Answer in Advance

It is not advisable to propose marriage unless you are certain you will get the answer you want to hear.

  •  Think Twice About Doing It in Public

Even if you are certain your will get a “yes” when you pop the question, public proposals can be very awkward unless the participants are comfortable in this type of setting.

  •  The Setting Is Key

You don’t have to spend a fortune or travel to an exotic destination, but it is important that your proposal be romantic. An intimate candlelit picnic may be the perfect choice.

Yannick Martin was certainly innovative when he asked his girlfriend to marry him. It was a very personal proposal and his future wife will never forget it.