Image: Elk & Fir via Relaxed Beach Engagement at Yeppoon

Weddings are steeped in tradition. Some of these traditions we just follow blindly without even realising how silly they might be (something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue… anyone?) and others, well, others we tend to err more on the side of the old adage: rules are meant to be broken.

This month, I’d like to talk about engagement rings, or more accurately, a lack thereof.

A planned proposal hinges very heavily on two things: 1. the ring and 2. the answer being in the affirmative. Tradition would dictate that the ring is purchased before the proposal and that it makes an appearance when the question is popped.

When it came to proposing to Mrs Houndstooth, I kept with tradition but it took me a couple of visits to the jeweller before I settled on the right ring.

The only reason I felt comfortable with choosing the ring was because I’d already established which one of my future Mrs Houndstooth’s rings fit on her ring finger so that I could borrow it at a later date to get the correct ring size.

a bride and groom hands on laps with rings

Image by Phoebe Powell via Jade & Dexter’s Utterly Romantic Churchill Wedding

I had also subtly been figuring out what style of rings she liked. This took some tact and to avoid giving the jig away, I settled on this much information: white gold and classic style.

Turns out that was enough though and when the day came the ring fit and it was the right style too!

But is there any reason to stick with tradition and buy the ring before the proposal?

And who says you need to buy a ring at all? Perhaps you want to wait until finances are a bit more forthcoming (something we can all relate to at the moment!).

I decided to go to someone in the know to find out more: Zoe Pook, owner at Zoe Pook Jewellery is a classically trained jeweller who works closely with clients to design and select the perfect ring.

Zoe has a unique insight into the decision-making process of newly and about-to-be engaged couples.

She says about 50% of her clients are going it alone in selecting the engagement ring and the other 50% decide to select the ring with their partner after they have proposed.

A Zoe Pook engagement ring

Image via Zoe Pook Jewellery

As for the benefits of the latter option, Zoe says there are many.

“Getting the size right is probably the most obvious one,” she says. “It’s nigh on impossible to guess the finger size when you are being secret squirrels about the whole thing.”

Getting the design right can also be quite nerve-wracking especially if you’re going it alone, something I experienced first-hand.

“We work closely to help develop ring design and often clients have a good idea of what their partner wants but ultimately, you are making a decision for someone else’s style which is always tricky,” Zoe says.

As it turns out, there is an unexpected benefit to picking out a ring together.

“It’s fun! The design process, the consultations, picking a gem, trying things on, it’s a fun thing to do,” Zoe says. “We offer a proposal package, where you can ‘propose’ with either a gem or a proposal ring and a certificate detailing that you and your partner are booked in for an engagement ring design consultation where they get to design their perfect ring.”

But, as Zoe said, there are 50% of you out there who still opt to go it alone. No judgement here, obviously. I did the same thing. If you’re about to embark on this more traditional proposal adventure, Zoe has one word for you: “research”.

Image: Angus McKern Photography via Sidney & Chris’ Sunset Engagement at Mount Canobolas

“Have a look at the jewellery they wear, talk to friends/family members for ideas, think about colours for possible gems, colour of gold, practicality for everyday wear and importantly have an idea of your budget, look around at how much rings cost and what you are comfortable paying.”

Sounds like a plan.

And if all of the above still doesn’t sound quite right to you, there’s always the option of going quirky. Remember back in 2019 when AFL footballer Adam Cooney proposed to his partner with a Burger Ring? And remember when Bill and Ted proposed to their partner’s with plastic novelty heart rings? A most excellent proposal.

Or perhaps, an engagement ring is one of those traditions some people might choose to do without? Everyone and every relationship is different. If you are not a traditionalist, or want to propose but don’t like the idea of a ring, or, perhaps you just can’t get all your shining ducks in a row – how about just asking the one you love to spend their life with you. No added sparkles, just real love.

Remember, the rules are: there are no rules.

Ms Floral Says: Do it your way, I say! Traditions are great if you dig them, but if they’re just not for you, feel free to make up your own rules. Plus, designing a ring together could be a lot of fun!

About Mr Houndstooth: I am a happily married man. I enjoy a fine whisky, a new suit and swashbuckling around town with my beautiful bride. Looking back on my wedding day always makes me smile, even though it began to rain just as I said ‘I do’.