There are plenty of engagement traditions that people follow without ever really knowing why. Whether it’s popping the question with a diamond ring, or dropping down to one knee, every engagement tradition has a fascinating historic origin. If you’ve ever wondered why we observe these odd customs, we’ve got the answers. Continue reading to learn more!
Asking for Her Hand
Before popping the question, tradition says the groom should first seek blessing from the bride-to-be’s father. This is common practice in many cultures, and likely originated during a time when women weren’t exactly seen as equals. Nowadays, engagements and marriage are all about romance, but historically, marriage was a social contract between two families. A bride’s primary purpose was to reproduce so that a family’s name could be carried down to the next generation. If a prospective suitor was denied permission from the father, a couple’s courtship was considered over and done with.
The 3 Months’ Salary Rule
While the history of this rule is a little fuzzy, it seems to have stemmed from the idea that diamonds are rare and therefore, very expensive. Diamonds actually occur quite abundantly, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from promoting them as a scarce commodity. In fact, the De Beers diamond company is credited with controlling diamond supply and demand since the late 19th century, when massive mines were discovered in South Africa. These new, substantial sources threatened the value of diamonds, contradicting claims of their rarity. De Beers took swift action, monopolizing the industry of diamond manufacturing and trading. By taking control of the entire enterprise, De Beers was able to accumulate generous quantities of diamonds and strategically sell them for a premium price. By doing so, they’ve managed to maintain the misconception that diamonds are available only in short supply, and are inherently valuable. It’s no wonder the general population still believes they have to spend a small fortune on an engagement ring. But, the truth is, there are no real rules to how much one should spend on an engagement ring. The most important thing is that your bride-to-be is thrilled with her ring, and that you didn’t dig yourself in debt to buy it.
Getting Down on One Knee
You’ve probably heard that chivalry is dead, but this popular engagement tradition proves otherwise. The custom of proposing to your sweetheart on one knee dates back to the medieval days of knighthood and ceremonious courtship. Getting down on one knee is a gesture of respect and loyalty, and in the case of a proposal, is a declaration of love and devotion.
The Engagement Ring
Surprisingly, rings are one of the oldest engagement traditions in history. The idea was introduced in the year 1215 by Pope Innocent III, who ordered that couples intending to marry must wait for a short period between the betrothal and wedding ceremony. As a symbol of this betrothal, couples were expected to wear a ring, typically made of some sort of inexpensive metal. Rings made from precious metals were worn exclusively by the elite, indicating to others their wealth and social status.
Most women imagine their ideal engagement ring set with a dazzling diamond. However, diamonds have not always been the quintessential emblem of engagements. This practice originated around 1477, when Archduke Maximillian of Austria commissioned a diamond engagement ring for his beloved, Mary of Burgundy. It’s believed to be the first diamond engagement ring ever created, and is thought to have inspired other wealthy aristocrats to follow suit.
The Ring Finger
Everyone knows that engagement rings are worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, but not everyone knows the reason why. The origins of this tradition can be traced back to Ancient Rome, when it was believed that the vein in the ring finger ran directly to a person’s heart. They referred to this vein as the “vena amoris,” which translates to “vein of love.” Needless to say, this finger was a natural choice for the placement of an engagement ring, the most romantic symbol of love and tenderness.
Announcing the Engagement
This engagement tradition ties in with the exchange of engagement rings. When Pope Innocent III mandated couples wear engagement rings, he also ordered them to make a formal announcement of their pledge to marry. The reasoning being that if anyone had any objection to the union, there would be ample time to protest and intervene. Nowadays, most couples just announce their engagement on social media, which makes it easier for their message to reach all of their family and friends.
Plan the Perfect Engagement with Help from Leo’s
Before popping the question and announcing your engagement to the world, the first step is finding the perfect ring. And what better place than San Diego’s #1 jewelry store, Leo Hamel Fine Jewelers? We’ve been helping happy couples celebrate their love story for more than 40 years, making us the experts on engagements! Our selection of engagement rings spans every decade and trend, so you can find the ideal design to fit her personality and style. Visit us today and let us help you plan the engagement of her dreams!