In terms of our own relationship, we kept the appearance of tradition in some ways because Jeremiah had been excited about proposing. So yes, he did ask, and we did not call ourselves officially engaged until he did. However, we were already planning our wedding by the time this occurred. We had been talking about getting married more and more seriously over a few months’ time (really, it started after we’d only been dating a month; we got engaged four months from the beginning of our relationship and got married about six months after that). Finally when we were flying home from the second of two summer trips to meet each others’ families, we picked a date for our wedding.
Some of our best friends and family members knew we were almost engaged already, and we told some of them about the date. We also started investigating reception sites and rings and other such things. But we were not publicly engaged for another couple weeks. Of course, I knew it was going to happen after no more than two weeks, which actually made things more fun. We talked openly about the coming proposal, and Jeremiah enjoyed stringing me along wondering which day he would pick and how he would do it.
When the proposal did come, it was simple and private. Jeremiah had ordered a wooden puzzle box from ThinkGeek, got me excited about it, but acted like he didn’t want me working on it. Of course, that made me want to solve it before he did. I think he intended to pique my interest but then for me to work on it in his presence. Unfortunately for him, I solved it really fast while he was using the bathroom or his back was turned or something,though he was back in time for me to discover the note he had written and tucked inside earlier (when, unbeknownst to me, he had solved the box himself). And we said some things. I don’t remember what was said, but it was fairly casual—though heartfelt—without any sentimentality or show. For goodness sakes, we were sitting in regular clothes after a regular day on my regular couch in my regular one-bedroom apartment. Like any good 20-somethings, we then changed our Facebook relationship statuses to engaged, and that was that.
In many ways I did not have a “feminist” proposal. I did not propose, as I had long imagined (and secretly hoped) I might someday. We didn’t do Wicoff’s proposal month (as we hadn’t heard of it). And ultimately, yes, Jeremiah didn’t get the experience of being asked, and I didn’t get the experience of asking. However, I have never been particularly distressed by our proposal because it was really only a formality.
The proposal allowed me to have a fun surprise which Jeremiah enjoyed planning, but the actual decision to marry was one we made together before the proposal after a series of discussions we approached as equals. And I think this is what mattered to me most as a feminist: as much as I might like to change our culture’s traditions relating to proposals, for me it was most important for the proposal’s significance to change rather than the gender of the asker.
This series is continued in Pt. 3.