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The Rules of Engagement
Member Name: collingwood21
Advantages: Finding your partner can still be romantic after 9 years together
Disadvantages: Hangover from the champagne
Yet, I can’t help but notice a second trend alongside these gloomy doom-mongering warnings of our slide into moral degradation: weddings seem to be more popular than at any time I can remember. Has anyone else noticed how weddings are everywhere you look at the moment? Aside all the “celebrity” weddings that are splashed across all available forms of media these days, there are TV programmes such as the BBC’s “Wedding Stories”, whole racks of magazines and countless websites devoted to the theme, and all sorts of new “wedding services” popping up. Weddings are terribly fashionable these days, darling. But if they are so fashionable, why are we apparently having fewer of them? Partly I think it is because of the trend to get married abroad (where there is no requirement to register your marriage upon return to the UK) and partly because of expectations of lavish nuptials (with the average cost of a wedding now at around a staggering £15K, it is going to take you until 30 to save up enough money!). However, I think a lot of this contradiction is because there is a greater emphasis now on weddings rather than marriage: weddings are getting so ostentatious, are such big business, that this is all we seem to see. And I think that, sadly, many people get hitched now just to get the wedding and don’t look much beyond the honeymoon.
Personally, I have always seen things the other way around. My parents have been happily married for over 30 years and were an excellent model of the benefits of marriage for me as I was growing up. I like the idea of marriage: of standing up and saying you will stick with someone through good and bad, you will always be there for them, you will support and be supported by them. Although I am ambitious to have a good career, I don’t think that marriage need be a hindrance to it – rather it can be a source of support and security while I pursue my career. On the other hand, I have never been keen on weddings. I am not remotely girly, and I find anything involving dresses, flowers, jewellery and me wearing make-up to be a huge turn-off. I have actually had nightmares about wearing a wedding dress! The thought of having a wedding of my own has therefore been a vaguely scary rather than a happy prospect, but one that I never really thought I would have to face. Even when my Other Half drunkenly admitted that his thoughts had turned to marriage a couple of years ago, I just thought that it was the beer talking and he would never actually go through with it.
All of that changed 7 days ago.
The two of us had taken advantage of the unseasonably warm weather to have day trip to Bamburgh castle on the Northumberland coast. The setting of the castle is quite superb, overlooking a stretch of beautifully unspoilt coastline with views across to the Farne islands and Lindisfarne from the castle mount. After touring the castle, he persuaded me to take a walk along the beach with him before returning to our car. We soon came across a quite unexpected meadow area hidden amongst the towering sand dunes, secluded and private with the castle as our backdrop, and only the sounds of the sea and the local wildlife to be heard. As I settled down for a bit of relaxation in this peaceful spot, he wandered off into the dunes with his suspiciously large rucksack; admittedly the size of his bag had triggered my “he’s up to something” sensors, but I was still deeply surprised when he emerged dressed in a tuxedo and got down on one knee to ask me to spend the rest of my life with him. Apparently I looked like a rabbit caught in headlights…but I said yes! How could I refuse such a good proposal? It was romantic, in a wonderful setting, the mood was right, and it was very personal. It was also unique – I doubt those dunes have witnessed anyone else removing their trousers for quite such a romantic endeavour! Take note any would-be proposers reading this: a proposal is something that you and your intended will remember for the rest of your lives, so going to the effort of doing something special will help create a memorable occasion for the both of you. Choose something that the person you are proposing to will appreciate – if you are intending to marry them, you should know them well enough to find something right. My Other Half (ooooh, fiancé now!) has been with me nearly 9 years and knew that (1) I find castles romantic, (2) I really wouldn’t like a public proposal, and (3) I love him in his dinner suit, so this was perfect for us. Knowing my eccentricities, he also immediately reassured me that we could have a small wedding and we could do whatever was needed for me to not find it scary.
Tradition now dictated that a number of things should happen. Firstly, that my father’s permission for the marriage should be sought. This was all well and good in the days when a daughter was her father’s possession, but as I am 28 and have been living with my partner for 5 years already, we considered this to be a bit redundant. After all, he would probably be glad to be rid of me by now! Instead, we proceeded straight to phase two – informing our parents of our engagement. We were admittedly a little nervous of this, but I suppose given that we had been together for so long it was hardly unexpected, and they were all really happy for us. With that hurdle cleared, we were free to announce our engagement to the world. We chose not to place a formal announcement in the paper, but to spread the word informally through seeing friends, phone calls, emails (and reviews on dooyoo, of course). The traditional meeting of the parents was also not necessary; we had met each other’s parents and they had met each other years earlier.
A lot of people were by now asking me about “the ring” – and I bet a lot of you are wondering why I haven’t mentioned it. After all, isn’t “the ring” the key part of the whole engagement process? It is “the ring” which seals the engagement, which symbolises the engagement of the woman to the world, and which gives the woman something to flaunt. Truth is, I didn’t want one. I don’t like them aesthetically, I am not girly enough to carry one off, and I don’t fell comfortable expecting my partner to buy me something so expensive when our budget is so tight. Someone I once worked with literally almost bankrupted himself buying a fancy engagement ring for his girlfriend, and I couldn’t bear to put that kind of pressure on my Other Half. Besides, engagement rings were bought largely to prove that the man could afford to support his prospective wife (he can’t), and to act as an insurance policy against him breaking the engagement (I would be better off selling his rare books on ebay in such an eventuality). And you know what? I am just as much engaged without a ring, and not buying one meant we could afford a nice meal out and a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Much better!
This past week has been a surprising and happy one. I feel closer to my (lovely, patient, understanding) man than ever before, and am proud to be engaged to him. As we have lived together for so long, I’m sure there will be readers questioning the point of getting engaged. Surely it won’t change anything? Well, I think taking this momentous step will offer something extra for our relationship, as we will be each other’s family rather than just people who live together. I am very glad to live in a society that permits us to test our relationship by living together before committing the rest of our lives to each other; I know that living together first doesn’t work for or isn’t the choice of many couples, but it has been great for us and I find it reassuring. I can get engaged knowing it is to someone I can live with as well as be friends with, and past experience has taught me that enjoying someone’s company doesn’t necessarily mean that living under the same roof as them will work. I would like to recommend getting engaged, but what matters is that it is to the right person at the right time. Getting engaged because of family/peer pressure, because you have “been together ages”, because you want a wedding, or because you are afraid of losing someone is not a good idea. Becoming engaged for the right reasons can be one of the happiest and most romantic times of your life, however, and I hope that many other dooyooers find it the case.
(P.S. I would love to hear about any other good/bad/romantic/funny proposal stories dooyooers have!)
Summary: Collingwood21 gets engaged