Confession: I picked out my engagement ring, twice.

By Joelle

Every girl dreams of that “OMG!!” moment when her boyfriend surprises her with a diamond and asks her, on bended knee, to be his wife. She’ll scream, then cry, wipe a tear from her eye and exclaim, “yes!” as he slips the ring onto her delicate finger.  They’ll hug, kiss and then stare at the sparkler.

She’ll say she loves the classic round diamond and that the solitaire setting is perfect. However, inside, she’s secretly wishing he picked the princess-cut stone with intricate band that she hinted at every time they passed the jewelry store in the mall.  Was she not obvious enough?

Surprise proposals are beautiful. Surprise diamonds? Not so much.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m really not that materialistic, but I think every bride-to-be has the right to pick out at least the style of her engagement ring, if not the actual ring. After all, she will be wearing it with pride ‘till death- or let’s face it, divorce – intervenes. The moment she accepts that marriage proposal, her ring becomes a future family heirloom. Don’t you think it should represent the bride’s style?

I do.

I picked out my engagement ring, twice.

I basically forced my first (ick) husband to propose. I needed to know our relationship was going somewhere; otherwise I wasn’t going to waste my precious husband-hunting years. We had been together long enough and I was a few years away from (gasp!) 30 years old. He kept talking about marriage and even suggested I browse bridal magazines. Knowing he was a procrastinator, I pushed things in motion. I didn’t want to keep talking about a wedding that wasn’t even happening. Mistake number one, but that’s a different blog post.

We actually booked a venue before we got engaged. In retrospect, maybe that was my way of forcing him to buy a ring. Obviously, it worked.

He went to his family jeweler and picked out a few of his favorite settings before bringing me for approval. I picked the ring that was his favorite, as well.   The vintage-style setting was totally unique and even came with an interlocking wedding band. It had the “wow” factor and everyone raved over it.

If only all “learning experiences” brought us diamonds. I took this photo on my wedding night.  Poor, delusional girl.

I didn’t feel bad about picking out my ring, but I did feel that the proposal lacked any thought because of it. I was definitely jipped in the romance department. That is my only regret about picking out my ring in advance.

After we decided to end our marriage, I basked in the glow of something just as glorious, though: cold, hard cash.

Bling, bling, I sold that ring.

Fast forward a few years:

I’m engaged again! And I didn’t have to motivate my fiancé, Frank to propose. He wants to marry me just as much as I want to marry him.  But I’m detail obsessed, perhaps even more so this time around because I feel like I already had my dream wedding (just to the wrong man) so I need to top that event in my mind. Everything has to be better, especially the engagement ring.

Frank wanted direction. So I sent him on a hunt for a princess-cut solitaire. Then I decided I didn’t want such a simple ring. I’m hardly a simple girl. I could not have a ring that potentially a girl in line before me at Sephora was wearing. I shudder at the thought.

However, I really tried my best to let Frank pick out the ring. I wanted him to have his “man” moment. But I could only restrain myself for so long. Eventually, I began hunting online and sending him links. We decided I should try on styles in person to see what I liked best. And what do you know? It wasn’t a princess-cut ring at all.

While browsing, my eyes locked on a marquis-cut, halo set ring set in a vintage-style band. It was the ring. Frank knew it, too. In all of his trips to jewelers, he hadn’t seen anything like it. And it was on sale that day. So we bought it.


It’s OK to stare. I do, every day. Excerpt from our engagement photo shoot. Picture by Jenna Zee


Did I feel bad that once again I picked out my engagement ring?


Did I regret it for days and think I ruined my surprise proposal moment?

Of course.

Did I try it on every night when he wasn’t looking?


But then he hid the ring and I had to patiently wait for the proposal.

And guess, what?

I was totally caught off guard! It truly was a hand-placed-over-my-mouth “OMG” moment. (I don’t want to spoil my upcoming book, Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s, so I can’t spill any further details!)

Recently, Frank and I went for coffee and as we were paying at the register, the cashier looked at my left hand and asked, “Is that an engagement ring?”

“Yes,” I replied.

“Did you pick that out?” she asked Frank in disbelief.

We both smiled and said, “no.”