Getting Engaged 101

Guys - this post is for you... 
Ladies - this post is for you to "accidentally" leave open on the desktop.

This is your guide to getting engaged

The Ring!
1. Cost
How much you drop on the e-ring will depend mostly on the amount that you earn but you should also consider the priorities of your fiancé-to-be. Does she normally spend a lot on her clothes and jewelry? Have you seen her gawk at friend's large engagement rings? Or does she suggest that it would be overly showy for her?
The average American engagement ring costs $5,392 (see chart below). The general rule of thumb here is 3 months of your salary (although this varies depending on who you ask - a jeweler has told me 6 months is the new standard but of course he has his motives). Keep in mind that while your fiancé will definitely want to show off her new rock, she is agreeing to be your wife which means your finances will be her finances, so hopefully she wouldn't want you to put yourself in the poor house with this purchase.
If you live together already saving up money secretly can be tough. You can open up a separate account and start your savings there or you can look into a small loan specifically for the ring. Also, most jewelers will have financing options - just make sure you do your homework and are going with the loan that has the lowest interest rate.

2. Style
 There are THOUSANDS of different cuts and settings so I'm not going to be able to give you too much advice here. A good idea is to ask her mom, sister, best friend (someone who knows her style) with you to the jeweler to help pick something out - and bonus points will be earned for getting her loved ones involved on the big surprise!
Also, have you heard of this little site called Pinterest? Your girlfriend probably has one and she probably has a wedding inspiration board named something like "One day..." or "Dream Wedding" or "Don't tell my boyfriend about this board" where she may have pinned a ring that she loves!

3. Size
I think this is a pretty important element of popping the question....what a bummer if you can't fit your ring on your finger on your engagement day! You can always grab one of her rings from her jewelry box and take it to the store with you or you can use a pencil to trace around the inside of the ring on a piece of paper. But the problem with this can be that some girls have rings that they wear on different fingers but you have to make sure it's the size of her LEFT RING FINGER!
If she's a deep sleeper like myself you can probably try the old string tied around the finger trick and bring that in to the jeweler. You can enlist one of her friends to go shopping with her and have her try on rings for "fun" and have her report back on the size that fits (yes, girls are crazy - it is fun for us to pretend we're trying on engagement rings and wedding dresses).
When in doubt, size up! You can get the temporary spacer too so that she can wear it until it is permanently resized.

Planning the Proposal
Bad news - there is a lot of pressure on you for this day. She is going to be telling this story to friends and family for YEARS so you want it to be something she's proud of. The good news is that if you know your girl well, this shouldn't be hard to do. We don't expect you to write it in the sky or do something over-the-top (or maybe some girls do but most of us just want something sweet, romantic, and personal). It is also possible for you hire an event planner to help you get everything together like   Here are some essential tips for planning your big day:

1. Hire a secret photographer or videographer
This is SO important. It's something we can't really come right out and tell our guys so I'm telling you now: we all want this moment photographed. There's just no duplicating the look on her face when you pop the question! You can have the photographer be hidden away with a long lens or, like the couple to the right, you can take posed portraits under the guise of a Christmas card or gift to your mom when you propose.

2. Event Planner
This is a luxury. If you can afford it, it can make your job a lot easier. This is especially helpful if you are planning to propose on a trip away from home where you can't quite get the whole surprise together yourself like {this dude did} in NYC on New Year's Eve. 

3. Setting: Think about it!
Don't just take her to a fancy restaurant and have them hide the ring in her desert. No girl wants to admit that her man is that unoriginal (no offense). Really sit down and think about the special parts of your relationship. What locations are meaningful to you? What activities do you enjoy together? Would she prefer it to be in front of other people? Or more in a private situation like a bridge on a rainy day like below? What does she like? I love twinkly-romantic lighting and think that would add so much to a proposal! Is there a trip you've been saving up to go on or a place you've both always wanted to go to? Destination proposals can be so exciting!

                                    {from Two Bare Feet}
4. Get down on your knee
Yes, you have to do it. We don't care if you think this is antiquated: DO IT! 

5. Be eloquent. 
This can be tough to accomplish when you're so nervous that you feel like you could barf but what you say is important! We grew up on Disney Princesses and Hugh Grant rom-coms and we want you to say something mushy. But still be honest!

{found at Emma Tyler's Pinterest}          
6. Plan a party after
Not every girl will want this, and it could be impossible to do if you decide to go with a destination proposal but a lot of us would be stoked to know that our family and friends are waiting to celebrate with us right afterward. It doesn't have to be anything fancy - a backyard BBQ will do - something fun. I'm lucky that my man is very creative and would probably love planning this but if you feel like you need help, I'm sure her mom/sisters/best friends will be more than happy to plan this part for you. Maybe even have a friend set up a photobooth too! Keep it small because you don't want your fiancé to figure it out! 

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