I learned a man spends an average of $5229 on an engagement ring, because, supposedly, as a rule, jewelers recommend shelling out about three months of their salary, depending on financial situation. This statistic is per Brides magazine, which I read because my job as a bridal sales consultant semi depends upon the knowledge said print media provides. However, excuse me? The answer is no. Five grand? I would rather take a honeymoon worth five grand, not wear it on my finger. The reason for that, though, is entirely selfish and unrelated. Ask me about it and I will elaborate.
Second, if I hear one more bride, or friend, tell me she knew all about the proposal or had a general idea of when he was going to propose, I may flip. Maybe this makes me old fashioned, but come on…it is supposed to be one of the three surprises that actually exists in our lifetime: whom we marry, the proposal, and the gender and number of your children. As long as my handsome man knows I will say yes, I do not want any other information from him. Timeline. Nothing. Propose how you see fit (minus involving a bunch of people in a public song and dance number). Leave her out of it, unless you want her involved in the ring selection (even that I waver on because I want the surprise through and through, some brides do not). Consult friends or family if you must but choose wisely (especially in my family). Some secrets are vastly important.
Listen, I know romance still exists, despite no first hand experience.
Do not tell me it does not.
I see it won, and occasionally lost, every day.
I have listened to the stories and stumbled into the conversations.
They are, in fact, some of my favorites.
4th July 2013, while at the Maroon Bells, I saw a man go on bended knee in front of his young lady. She covered her face with her hands. A pair of friends that had come with them were taking pictures and, hopefully, filming. The dozen of us there applauded when she reached for him, to kiss him, and he came up to meet her. I fancy she woke up that morning, at o'dark thirty, dressed warm for the chill, ran a comb through her hair before putting it up, maybe put a touch of mascara on to look a bit more awake as we do, and got in the car with her boyfriend and friends to drive to the Bells to take pictures at sunrise. I am hoping, by her reaction, she had no idea it was coming that particular morning, or at 4:30am I doubt it crossed her mind.
It was classic.
Maybe this is me challenging you to prove it. Maybe this is me saying that you can be clever without giving hints. Hints constitute cheating. Maybe this is me verbalizing that in the last year of hearing proposal stories, sometimes two or three times a day, often five or six days a week, I have yet to hear a proposal as good as the one I saw on the 4th, in Aspen, feet away from one of the greatest views I have ever beheld.
You want to know the other great part of this story? The footage of that proposal, that I am convinced exists, is not on Youtube or Godvine or Vimeo. It was photographed and recorded for posterity. For the two of them. For their family. For the friends with whom they choose to share it. For their children. Grandchildren. Great grandchildren.
In every sense, that proposal was a proposal that should have ended up on the Colorado news. Instead, it is a story that they get to tell. Them and the dozen people that witnessed it. But me, unlike them, I can only write about it. I can only attempt to communicate that that proposal sticks in my mind. Every time I see a photograph of the Bells, I remember.
And the truth is, I almost missed the whole thing. If people lined up with their DSLRs mounted on tripods along the lake shore had not gasped, whispered far too excited for 6 in the morning, and begun clapping, myself, seated on a rock a handful of feet out in the water, would not have turned around in time to see him ask or hear her say yes.
I know romance exists.
And I know there are men alive, raised to perpetuate it.
I have come to the conclusion that I would like such a man, however self-serving such a wish is.
I would like to be told more engagement stories like that in a dressing room.
The stories are one of the reasons I love my job as much as I do and why it will be hard to give it up.
I would like to see my brides laugh and blush and smile and tell me the details while stepping into the first ivory gown I am holding out to them. To set the scene while I lace-up the corset of the dress they ordered months ago that arrived just last week.
Because one day, in the unknown number of days to follow, I will get to step into my first dress at a try-on. My consultant will have asked me what I like, when I am to be married, and what I want to spend. Five thousand dollars will not be my answer. My mom told me years ago what my dress budget was. She is nothing if not prepared. I will step into that lace or satin dress and my consultant will ask me what my fiancé's name is, how I met him, and how long we have been together. She will ask me if we have selected a venue and the size of our bridal party.
And if she is anything like I am, she will ask how he proposed. I will smile, most assuredly blush, and say, "He's a secret romantic."
"Oh yeah?" She will say. We all say it.