Photo courtesy Novia Distinctive Photography
It's Leap Day. Meaning today is the one day, according to an old Irish tradition (or lore, depending on how you look at it), that a woman can propose to a man, worry-free of breaking any social statutes. So, in honor of this legendary practice, we take a quick look at the customs of proposing with Jennifer Kontomerkos, owner of The Finer Things Event Planning, and discuss where the lines of tradition have begun to blur.
Although she hasn't known any brides to ask the question, Kontomerkos thinks the girl is more likely to propose now than ever before. "There are girls looking for a different twist on their love story," she says. "I'm sure there will be plenty of women out there who think, 'Why not do something nontraditional?' "
But on the flip side, she's got a solid theory on why ladies may not be rushing to ask. Namely, for many girls, this is the moment they've dreamed about. "At the end of the day, for all brides-to-be, there's something about that magical moment when this man is asking you to spend the rest of your life with him," she says. "For a lot of girls, that moment would be difficult to give up."
So, women may not want to relinquish their chance to say yes, but there are a few customs that have fallen by the wayside-such as the element of surprise. Ladies typically know the proposal is coming.
How is that possible? It's no act of clairvoyance. Much of it has to do with the open discussion couples have about marriage, Kontomerkos explains. It's strategic. Pre-plans are made. Timelines discussed. So much wedding talk has taken place, in fact, that some clients hire Kontomerkos before the proposal even happens.
Other tells are simpler, such as the bride-to-be helping pick her engagement ring-a sure break of tradition. However, Kontomerkos adds, the majority of her male clients are relieved to have his to-be fiancÚ there. "I've seen guys walk [into a jewelry store] and they're sweating. They think, 'Oh my gosh, what if I disappoint her?' And there is such emphasis on personalization of rings. For guys it's a sense of relief."
Proposals have also become more personal, she continues. Guys opt for a more intimate setting over a public proposal. These personal spots usually come with special meaning, such as a first date location or favorite hangout.
But regardless of who's popping the question, with what ring and where, there's one tradition Kontomerkos says should never change-showing excitement for the actual engagement, and not getting too caught up in wedding planning. Enjoy the time together. "Don't take for granted any moments," she says.–Beth Stallings