It's more normal than you think.
Donovan Groves Events Surprise Proposal Idea
Credit: Adam Donovan-Groves

When you become engaged, one of the first questions your family and friends with bombard you with is, "Can I see the ring?" After all, what's a proposal without an engagement ring? As it turns out, it's still a proposal-and it's often an equally well-meaning and romantic one. It's true that not all proposals involve a shiny, bright diamond (alternative stones are becoming increasingly popular in the world of engagement rings), but it's a pretty widely accepted fact that there will be some sort of ring presented after the bride accepts. Although some women are perfectly fine with the idea of a ringless proposal, others are open about the fact they're not crazy about it. Just take supermodel Emily Ratajkowski for example. The recent bride said she turned down her now-husbands first proposal because he didn't have an engagement ring.

This all begs the question: Does your significant other actually need to present a ring when he pops the question? Although it's traditional, it's not necessary. The question that needs to be answered instead is whether or not you need the ring. And there's really no wrong response. For some women, the ring is an entirely necessary aspect, as it honors a long held tradition and shows the level of commitment their partner is ready to make. For others, it's unnecessary, albeit nice, way to mark their newly-engaged status but not something that would make or break the idea of marriage. To further demystify the idea of a ringless engagement, four women explain why they were more than happy to accept proposals that came without jewelry.

Sedaria W. says that being proposed to without a ring was one of the best feelings in the world. "It was the simplicity of how he asked at that moment, sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River watching the sunset. If he would have had a ring, I would believe he wanted to impress me more than propose to me," she explains. As it turns out, her now-husband hadn't seriously considered marriage until about a week before he popped the question, and since he knew his then-girlfriend didn't wear much jewelry, he thought she'd be happier without an engagement ring. "He said wanted to get me the wedding ring of my dreams, and he did!" Now that Sedaria does have her wedding ring, she cherishes it as a symbol of the love she and her husband share.

Lauryn H.'s now-husband popped the question on her birthday, and though she was entirely fine with the lack of engagement ring, she does admit that it did leave her questioning whether or not the couple had just gotten engaged. He took her to the park where they had first met, set up a picnic blanket with all of her favorite foods, and played a video of her closest friends wishing her a happy birthday. "I was crying by that point, and then he pulled a box. In it was the necklace from the Lord of the Rings Arwen Evenstar Pendant," she explains. "When he pulled out the pendant, he said, 'Just like how Arwen gave up her immortality to be with Aragon, I would give up my life to be with you.'" She asked him to clarify if he was proposing-he was!-and he later explain that he's always wanted to pop the question with that pendant. Once she understood what was going on, Lauryn wouldn't have had things any other way.

For women like Sarah S., a ringless proposal just made sense. She and her fiancé had been friends for years before getting together, and he knew just how big of a perfectionist his future wife was. After two years of dating, Sarah knew a proposal was around the corner, and she suspected it would happen around the time the two vacationed in St. Thomas-but they were nearing the end of the trip and he hadn't gotten down on one knee. "A few hours before they had left for the airport, he suggested that they take one last walk on the beach," she explains. "He was antsy and by then I knew what he was doing. He made a speech, got down on one knee, and said in complete earnest, 'I have seriously underestimated the time it takes to buy an engagement ring, but I'm hoping you'll say yes anyway.'" As soon as they were back home, he took her to choose her own diamond. "As a Type A woman who likes equal say in all things, including the ring I wear every day, I have no complaints!"

After 22 years, Samantha M. is still happy her husband didn't propose with an engagement ring. "It just wasn't the important part of the whole thing. He was a student, I was working as an intern, and the marriage was more important than a piece of jewelry," she says. "Looking back, I felt fine then, love trumps shiny things! We have so much more wealth now, but I never felt like I was missing anything." Before she met her husband, she had been given plenty of jewelry by would-be suitors, but once she found him, the jewelry didn't matter. "We do have plain gold bands-the ones two students could afford-and wear them today with pride!"


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