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The Engagement

In most cultures, to become engaged is a customary preamble to getting married. It is a rite in which a man, and sometimes a woman, asks the question, "Will you marry me?" To solidify the act of becoming engaged, the one being asked must answer in the affirmative.

The traditional purpose for becoming engaged is to allow the couple time to get to know each other. If the couple is already living together, there may be no need for a formal engagement. If there is a formal engagement, a public announcement is usually made to family and friends.

In real terms, a proposal followed by an engagement period, is a promise to marry. It covers the time between the proposal and the actual recitation of the wedding vows.

In many cases, an engagement party is then given by friends or family. It gives both families a chance to meet and intermingle. With luck, there will be common ground and inlaws won't become outlaws.

Traditionally, when a man proposes to wed, he takes his prospective bride's hand, kneels to one knee, and then asks the question. If the answer is yes, he then slips an engagement ring onto her finger, and by accepting the ring, the prospective bride declares that she accepts the marriage proposal and wants to become his wife. At that point, the man becomes the fiance and prospective bride becomes the fiancee'.

The classic engagement ring is usually made of gold, or silver, with diamond settings. It is worn by the prospective bride as an indication of her engagement to be married. The ring serves as a formal expression of agreement to a future marriage.

In countries around the world, the hand on which the ring is worn may differ, with some on the left hand and some on the right. In western countries such as the United States, England, Canada, Australia and others, the ring is worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.

Today, it is not uncommon for some women to buy a ring, called a promise ring, for her husband-to-be at the time of the engagement.

An engagement ring is traditionally offered as a token of ones serious intentions to follow through with the marriage proposal. In some countries, to break off an engagement might lead to legal and financial consequences.

Once the proposal has been made and accepted, the next step is to pick a date for the wedding ceremony.


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