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Creative Proposal Traditions from Around the World

Modern Couples Guide to Proposing
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You love to spend time with your partner, and you can’t wait to spend your lives together. If you’re ready to propose this spring, and you are looking for creative proposal ideas, think about bypassing the more common down-on-one-knee proposal. Instead, consider modifying wedding and proposal traditions from other cultures around the world.

Rings of all kinds have been exchanged to symbolize engagement or marriage since ancient times. The Egyptians believed that the round ring symbolized eternity, and they advocated wearing the ring on the fourth finger of the left hand as many Americans still do today, because they believed that a vein in the ring finger leads directly to the human heart.

The first documented exchange of a diamond ring to signify an engagement occurred in 1477 when Austrian Archduke Maximilian proposed to Mary of Burgundy, but until the 19th century, engagement rings were not as popular as other engagement gifts, such as sewing thimbles or livestock. Since the 19th century, though, diamond rings have become the standard symbol of engagement in America. Today, 80 percent of American women receive (or help choose) a ring when they become engaged, and they wear a wedding ring set that includes both an engagement ring and a wedding band after the marriage.

Choose a beautiful and affordable wedding ring set that includes an engagement ring for your bride-to-be. Then read the ideas below to help inspire a creative proposal that your girlfriend won’t forget!

Chilean Proposals

In Chile, it is customary for both men and women to wear engagement rings leading up to their wedding day. Both partners wearing a ring on their right hand (a gold wedding band for him and an engagement ring for her), and when the day comes, they exchange vows and move their engagement rings from the right to the left hands.

Chinese Proposals

The families of the bride-to-be and groom-to-be have traditionally been very involved in the proposal process. Once the couple decides to get married, the families often get together to exchange gifts: money wrapped in red envelopes, tea, wine, and sweets, such as a double happiness cake decorated with traditional Chinese symbols. If you want to modify this tradition, gather your families together for an Asian-inspired evening complete with a double happiness cake from your local bakery. Pop the question with the whole family there to share in your happiness.

French Proposals

How many people that you know have chosen to shop together for their rings? For some, this may seem like a dream come true, and for fiances in France, it is! It is customary for couples in France to have a proposal first. Then, with the bliss of a romantic proposal on the brain, the couple will go shopping for their wedding rings together!

Kenyan Proposals

Wedding and proposal traditions vary widely among different African cultures. In the Rendille tribe in Kenya, a man sends beads to the woman he is interested in marrying. If she keeps the beads, then the couple is considered to be engaged. The woman’s family then gives her a special ornament to add to her beads if they also accept the engagement. If you wish to copy this tradition for your creative proposal, consider purchasing a special fair trade necklace in addition to a conflict-free diamond ring.

Swedish Proposals

In Scandinavian countries, men and women often both wear a ring to symbolize their engagement. If you want to copy this tradition, pick out a ring for yourself to coordinate with your fiancée’s ring. This ring can double as your wedding band, or you could pick out another ring as a wedding band. In Sweden, men also give their brides an additional ring at the wedding, the ring of motherhood. If you choose to use these traditions, a more standard wedding ring set package would not work for you, but your jeweler might be willing to work with you to customize a set.

Women’s Proposals

Although it is still traditional for men to propose to women, there is one day a year when women have historically proposed to men. Ladies, if you want to propose to your fiancé, the traditional day is February 29. The English traditionally considered this day to be outside of law, which meant that it was a day when women could be free from conventional gender restrictions. The next leap year is less than a year away, so start planning now if you want to surprise your boyfriend with a creative proposal in 2012.

Zoom Proposals

As the world adjusts to the unprecedented changes of the Coronavirus, many couples have had to roll with the punches and change their original proposal plans. To make the best of the situation, couples who had planned to propose to their partner surrounded by family and friends have turned to Zoom as a virtual alternative to create a similar experience to their original proposal plans. Couples are inviting their friends and family to tune into their surprise proposals in their living rooms, in their backyards, on their hikes, among other locations, and once the question is asked, let the celebrations begin! A zoom proposal allows for a couple to share the moment with their loved ones, show off the engagement ring, and start the celebrations right away! Not a moment to waste!

What are the most creative marriage proposals that you’ve heard about?

Modern Couple's Guide To Proposing
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