What Does It Mean to Get Engaged? (And How to Get Started)

Whether you’ve experienced the proposal or are only just thinking about it, you may be curious what it actually means to be engaged. Does engagement guarantee a future wedding? What does the “engagement process” even look like? Your friends at Shane Co. have some answers to help clear things up.

What is an engagement?

An engagement, also known as a betrothal or fiancer, is the period of time between a marriage proposal and the marriage. It also encompasses the relationship of the two partners. The length of an engagement may vary from a very short amount of time to many years, depending on the wishes of the couple.

Did you know?

In arranged marriages, it’s common to experience longer engagements, as some couples may be “arranged” to be married long before they are even of marrying age.

How did this tradition get started?

Engagement in European countries is typically traced back to marriage practices written in Jewish law. In this section of the Torah, marriage was composed of two separate acts: erusin, or kiddushin, and nissu’in, or chupah. The first signified what we now know as the engagement period, while the latter was the actual marriage ceremony. The idea of a pre-marriage period became popular in ancient Greece shortly afterward, including the tradition of presenting a ring at the wedding and gifts at the engagement party.

The engagement process

For better or for worse, there are a few steps that go into making a lifetime commitment to your partner, starting with making sure they’re the right person for you.

Step one: Determine if you’re ready for marriage

Before proposing, both parties in a couple should think deeply about what marriage means to them, whether they feel ready for it, and what they want their future marriage to look like. Some couples can be very much in love but not be on the same page about vital issues — or you may be going through different times of your life, causing one member of the partnership to be ready while another is not. Taking time to think about whether you’re truly ready for marriage is an important step in getting engaged.

Step two: Talk with your partner

Discuss all the things that go along with marriage before you ever decide to get engaged. This includes imagining your future life together, your family goals, parenting styles and lifestyle expectations. You will certainly have to compromise on some things — everyone is unique, and there’s very little chance that you’ll agree on everything, but make sure you both figure out what you’re willing to compromise on before entering into an engagement.

Step three: Plan the proposal

Whoever is doing the proposing in the couple should take the time to plan a proposal that means something to their partner. For example, if they hate public displays, then arranging the proposal during a baseball game probably isn’t the best move. Incorporate things that are specific and significant to your relationship, and they’ll be sure to love every moment.

Step four: Shop for a ring

This step is totally dependent on how you want to approach it. Do you already have an idea of what your partner likes? Great — then you’ll probably want to surprise them by shopping for the ring on your own. Not sure what they’ll go for? Ask their friends and family, drop clues, pay attention to what kind of clothes and jewelry they currently wear, or even go shopping together to ensure you’re getting something they’ll love saying “Yes” to.

Step five: Propose to your love!

Once everything is in place, you can finally go through with this life-changing moment. Once you get the answer you’ve been waiting for, it’s time to move on to step six.

Step six: Announce the engagement

Lastly, it’s time to share the good news with your family and friends. It’s traditional to tell the closest members of your inner circle in person (or on the phone, if you don’t live near enough to each other) first before announcing it to the rest of the world. Nowadays, it’s common to post about the engagement on social media to make it officially public.

Other engagement traditions

Asking for your hand

Many people still think it necessary to ask the bride’s parents for their blessing before officially proposing. This dates back to when marriage was less of a “romantic” event, and more of a business arrangement between the two families. This contract was sealed by having the family of the bride agree to allow her to marry.

Down on one knee

The reason why we often get down on one bended knee when proposing to our partner comes from way back in the days of knighthood, when kneeling was considered a sign of respect and loyalty. It was also used during religious ceremonies, which were heavily linked with marriage for hundreds of years. Despite no longer following these customs, the tradition stuck!

Announcing your engagement

The engagement announcement actually comes from Pope Innocent, who, in 1215, decreed that all couples who intended to marry were required to formally announce it. The idea behind this was to give those who disapproved of the marriage-to-be the chance to intervene. This is also where the “speak now or forever hold your peace” moment at the wedding comes from.

Ready to move on to step four? The experts at Shane Co. can help you find the perfect ring, with helpful tools like our MatchMaker and style finder quiz, as well as our dedicated noncommission sales associates. Start shopping for your dream engagement ring at ShaneCo.com, or begin planning the perfect proposal with these helpful proposal ideas.

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