The engagement’s over, isn’t it? Not at all, sir. If traditions have changed a lot, many couples still decide to get engaged. One only has to think of all those starlets showing off their rings to understand that this ritual is still very much alive.
At the time…
In the past, the young man’s father would ask the girl’s parents for her hand in marriage. Once the dowry agreement was reached, the coming union was celebrated at the girl’s parents’ home. The young men were now engaged. The marriage was normally celebrated within a year. During this time, the bride and groom got to know each other better. The families got to know each other. The girl wore a ring, offered by her future husband, on her left ring finger.
Nowadays, our morals have changed a lot. The engagement has taken on many meanings. For many, it is still a confirmation of the intention to marry. For some, it is simply proof of love and commitment. For others, it clarifies the situation and confirms the seriousness of the relationship (“This time it’s the right one!”).
For stepfamilies, engagement can be used to reassure children that their parent’s new relationship is serious. It does not necessarily lead to marriage. Many couples will remain engaged for the rest of their lives.
They are numerous and vary from region to region and even from family to family. But here are a few constants:
Only the bride wears a ring. It is usually a gold ring set with a diamond. She wears it on her ring finger with her left hand (on the Vein of Love, which is said to lead directly to the heart).
A gift for the fiancé
The bride-to-be usually gives a gift to her fiancé. A watch, cufflinks or a good bottle of wine can be given.
There’s no official engagement ceremony. You can choose to do it in private or only in the presence of your family. The engaged couple can, if they wish, have the ring blessed at a mass or organize a small religious ceremony for this blessing.
Traditionally, the reception was taken care of by the bride’s parents. It was held in their home.
The engagement and the law
Engagement is an enduring tradition. There is no legal framework surrounding it. They can, therefore, be broken off without any particular procedure. Good manners dictate to return the ring if it is a family jewel. Otherwise, if the ring was bought for you, you can keep it.