Getting engaged is the first step in your lifelong journey together. We explore some engagement traditions from around the world, from rings and spoons to dowries and parties.
Customs for engagement rings vary according to time, place, and culture. It’s only since the 1920’s that the diamond industry introduced the diamond engagement ring concept. Prior to that, a poem, necklace or lock of hair was given as a pledge of one’s love. In Wales, a young man carved a wooden spoon for his lady to wear as a “locket” around her neck, signifying their engagement (the origin of the term spooning).
Today, diamonds have become a major part of the engagement tradition and an expected prerequisite to marriage. The Romans used to believe that the left ring finger was connected to the heart and therefore contained the “vein of love” hence why most of us wear an engagement ring on that finger.
Before choosing the ring you need to do your research – Always start by identifying the metal you want. It’s a simple choice: do you want a silver appearance (platinum, white-gold) or gold? This simple decision will help with your engagement ring choices, as the metal color can have a great influence on the appearance of the diamond. Next you need to decide on a budget that you’re comfortable spending. This should be done before you look at the different styles of diamond engagement rings, as you may be tempted to spend more than you can afford. Start your search online – F Hinds offer shoppers a unique and comprehensive experience – from a wider selection of diamond engagement rings to more affordable options.
In Nordic countries such as Finland and Norway, both men and women exchange engagement rings. In Brazil, there is no tradition for the engagement ring. Both men and women wear the wedding band on their right hand whilst engaged, and, after they marry, they move the rings to their left hands.
In Egypt the bride get’s her wedding band, her engagement ring and her wedding ring – The only difference is that she get’s them all at the same time – locally known as Shabka! Since there is rarely a romantic proposal, they get the “wedding band” first, to show they are engaged. “Shabka” literally means that you are committed to someone. During the engagement period, you wear your wedding band on your right hand ring finger. When you get married, the wedding band moves to your left hand ring finger. As an engagement present from your groom, you now get an “engagement ring” – which is similar to a wedding ring we would expect in the UK or US. Next comes the big one, this is the “wedding ring”, the bling, the solitaire, the three-stone – the one that everyone is waiting for. The band is what you wear everyday use, and the other two rings for special occasions. Shopping for the Shabka is a family event, the extended family all visit the jewellers to choose together.
In Japan families of the engaged couple will get together and present each other with nine gifts, each with a special significance that’s been handed down for centuries. Once the gift exchange is complete, the groom-to-be will then give a large betrothal gift to the bride’s family, which is like a reverse dowry. Dowries used to be a popular means of engagement even throughout Europe, as marriage then was seen more as a business transaction than a union of love. Fathers of daughters would tempt rich and important husbands by offering sizable dowries that could include money, land or livestock. A dowry ensured that a groom would have the things he needed to support his new wife and their children to come.
Traditionally engagements were announced at an engagement party, hosted by the bride’s parents. These parties were normal parties at which a surprise announcement of the engagement was made by the father of the bride to his guests. Therefore, it is not recognised as a traditional gift-giving occasion since no guests were supposed to be aware of the engagement until after their arrival. Nowadays, engagement parties often celebrate a previously publicised engagement.
Remember, an engagement party provides an ideal opportunity for you and your betrothed to introduce family and friends to each other. That way, when the wedding takes place, everyone will be ready to have a great time!