Proposal shaming: When people say you need to do over your proposal

Guest post by SparksinKY
By: Meme BingeCC BY 2.0

I avoid talking about the “proposal” part of our life because a lot of people don't understand it. We are in the age of “ommggg look at this YouTube flash dance wedding proposal that went viral and is now being featured on Good Morning America!” Our story just doesn't fit into that American narrative.

It was simple, I was a part of the conversation, and it was nothing big and romantic. It was more of just us agreeing to make it official, tell our families, and seal it with a bad-ass ring for my hand.

We recently got back from a week in the Bahamas where we chartered a boat and lived on it for a week. There were some crew members we got to know as well and they asked me how my fiancé proposed. I told them, and they made such a big deal about how bad it was. “You need to do over your proposal. Give this babe a proper engagement to remember!”

I know they were doing it more in good fun, but it made me feel so bad for my future husband. He was being ridiculed, and a little bit shamed, and I was being pitied. I tried to defend him by explaining it better, but how do I tell people who I've known for a week that we are a couple that does things a little more alternatively, and that I don't feel like I'm missing something here? You can't, so I don't bring that part of getting engaged up unless asked.

Getting engaged and wedding planning has made me more private than ever. Or maybe growing up has made me more private. I don't want people to know every little thing anymore (this coming from a former Facebook addict who liked to think she perfected the humble brag). It went from that over-share level to not even wanting to post about our engagement on there at all. I think it's weird when near-strangers ask me questions about my proposal or wedding plans, and I don't really want to talk about it all the time.

It does my five years of getting to know this man a true disservice when I have to sum it all up in a few sentences about one night of our lives. He gets defined by that one night last summer. (I don't even remember the date of when we got engaged, that's how inconsequential that part is. Sometime in August?)

Maybe my new answer to the people who ask will be, “That's private, just between us.” Then they can imagine wild scenarios for themselves while we continue on in our own understanding of each other and our relationship.

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Comments on Proposal shaming: When people say you need to do over your proposal

  1. Oh, our was a simple proposal in a restaurant. I was pregnant and we had already decided that we were going to get married after the baby was born. So I didn’t expect a proposal and a ring. It was very very simple, the ring was cheap, because we don’t have much money and we had a baby on the way, there was no singing, just him asking shyly.
    And a few weeks later a close friend of mine got engaged on London Eye and a few months later, another one on the Eiffel tower. And I was like – what?! I am going to marry the most uncreative person in the world. But then I slapped myself and remembered that I had chosen him to be my husband, the father of my child, because he is the most nurturing and loving man I’ve met. He cared and still does about me, he adores our son and I’ve never felt so safe and secure. Which is kind of important as I was divorced before I met him. And yes, all these singing and dancing proposals, or proposals on landmarks in front of ton of people may make me cry a little, but as they had pretty ordinary weddings, I had a person who agreed to (almost) all of my crazy ideas. Being the more creative, I am happy to live with a person who leaves everything art related to me. YAY!:)

  2. I hate getting the “How did he do it?” question so much. I was really happy with how it went down, even though I knew it was coming and even showed him which rings I liked. He actually gave me a toy detective’s badge at first instead of a ring because of an inside joke in which I’d point out something or figure something out and he’d tell me, “Good work. You’ll make detective yet.” At some point, it became a goofy metaphor for a promotion from girlfriend to fiancee so he gave me this goofy speech about the hard work I’ve put in and how I earned this promotion before he handed me a jewelry box with the badge inside. That part of it was completely unexpected. When I started laughing, he then pulled out the ring box that I was expecting.

    But when I told people about that part of it, they thought it was weird. So I started leaving it out and just saying vague, “Oh we were sitting by the river before dinner and he just asked.” I feel like I’m supposed to prove how much we really love each other and really want to get married by sharing this elaborate, romantic story. It’s a very weird sort of pressure. The story itself is pretty underwhelming, but it’s perfect for us so I’m getting married with a toy detective’s badge pinned to my dress and anyone who thinks it’s weird can shove it.

    • “Weird” and “underwhelming”?! What?! Reading this made me tear up a bit, the detective thing is absolutely adorable! Anyone who thinks your proposal story is lacking is shallow and needs to screw off! … in my humble opinion. 🙂

    • It IS sort of weird and quirky. But it’s YOU. Other folks don’t have to get it.

    • That is so sweet. If some idiot doesn’t understand, it’s their problem. It means something to just the two of you and that’s more important.

    • I love the inside joke part of your proposal! It’s the personal touches that make things special!

    • I LOVE the detective badge story! That’s so sad that you’ve gotten negative reactions to that – haven’t those people ever had inside jokes like that with people they were dating? I think it’s adorable and to proves how much you love each other and are right for each other!

    • That makes me smile. Our proposal had an inside joke in it as well. And I agree people just don’t understand that part, and it makes telling the story awkward. He asked me if I was ready to trade in my miles. And no one had to tell me what that meant, and I’ve come to realize that it’s totally fine that I’m the only one that totally gets it, and loves the entire story.

  3. I’ve had to stop telling people how I was proposed to because I got tired of all the crappy responses. Apparently me being happy about it wasn’t the important part, I should have had some HUGE thing surrounding it instead of in a parking garage being asked if I’d play the Old Republic with him. *eyeroll*

  4. Kudos to you and your fiance’ for doing what feels right for you. I was proposed to with a loud, dancing, very public flash mob that was both filmed and photographed, put online, and leveraged for a very public blog post. It wasn’t me. But I said yes. But you know what? Our relationship was dysfunctional and she wasn’t the right one for me. A few years later we called off the wedding and broke up. I secretly envied people whose proposals were simple and sweet, and most importantly felt authentic and true.

    The people who give you a hard time don’t know you, they don’t know your fiance’, and they don’t know your relationship. In this world where “pics or it didn’t happen”, the people who give you a hard time about your quiet decision – they’re bringing their own stuff, it has nothing to do with you. And there could be a little envy mixed in with their teasing.

  5. I think that kind of attitude just feeds the big bridal business, in that having someone ask you to spend the rest of your life with them isn’t enough on it’s own. It has to be all big and flashy and YouTube worthy. It’s so silly. It’s ONE NIGHT out of the rest of a couple’s life together. Who cares HOW it went down when the focus should be on just the fact that two people found each other in this big ol’ world and love and like and respect each other enough to want to commit to each other’s quirks and craziness for forever.

  6. He said “I was going to propose today, but now I’m freaking out about it.” Then we had a short conversation about whether or not we should get married. Out of nowhere: “fuck it, let’s get married.” Me: “Are you serious?” Him: “yeah. WAIT.” *runs to get a cheap ring I bought myself for sizing out of the bedroom so he could “do it proper”*

    We lucked out I guess, because people said “he would” when they heard our proposal story. 😛

    (Plus that cheap ring? Graduated into being my wedding band. Accidentally. But 2.5 years later, I wouldn’t change it for a “real” one. The story is worth so much more.)

  7. I usually just tell people that it was simple, and very “us”. If I feel like giving details, I say we had dinner at the restaurant where we had our first date, got ice cream sundaes and took them out to the park in the neighborhood where we’d just bought our first home (which is also the neighborhood where I grew up), and he proposed there. I usually only give the details to people who understand us as a couple. My brother had just proposed in a lavish way shortly before we got engaged, and he scoffed at my husband’s proposal when I told him about it. I’ve rarely been so angry.

    • I do the same, Mary. I tell them it wasn’t anything fancy, but it was totally “us.” He proposed at my apartment one night after we’d come home from a friend’s birthday party. It was perfect and I wouldn’t have him do it over again. Ever.

  8. When I proposed to my wife, I kept things simple. A few days after the matching rings I ordered came in, I couldn’t bear waiting anymore and simply proposed to her when we got out of the shower one day. No preamble or whatnot, I just asked her if she would marry me as I slid the ring on her finger. (Needless to say, she said yes ^_^ )
    While it certainly wasn’t flashy or clever, I wouldn’t trade that moment for the world, and I don’t think she would either.

  9. My husband and I are also pretty non-conventional and had a very non-conventional (some would say boring/lame) proposal that suited us perfectly. I also did not divulge the proposal story unless specifically asked, and even then I knew people wouldn’t “get it” so I would keep it short and sweet. For example, “It was at home, just the two of us. It was really sweet.”

    My husband, on the other hand, loves making up grandiose stories. Like telling complete strangers who ask how we met that we found each other at rehab to make them feel uncomfortable. Even going into detail about our “drug of choice”.

    I find either method usually works to get the conversation flowing in another direction.

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