My Experiment

For my friends and family who have followed the link that I posted on my Facebook looking for some juicy wonderfully romantic engagement story, my apologies–I am not engaged.

*cue my evil laugh*

MUAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!

The ring is an experiment.  I will of course explain–

About a week ago, my mother asked if I would like to accompany her  to a local bridal show. My mother secretly loves going to these shows for reasons unbeknownst to me.  I think she’s always wanted to be a wedding planner.  Maybe it’s the free food.  Whatever the reason, she can’t justify attending a bridal show by her lonesome when she’s 30+ years into her own marriage.  So what does she do?  She asks her two unmarried daughters to go with her.

She told me that the admission to the event was five dollars.  Unless, of course, you are a bride-to-be.  Brides?  They get in free.

….I like that word….

It might just be my favorite four letter “f” word.

Well, I’m a chea…er….frugal college student.  If being engaged is what it takes to get into a free event involving free food and candy and pens and bags–well, goshdarnit, I’M ENGAGED!!!

So, the plans were made.

A few days ago, I was dilly dallying around Wal-Mart when I came across a stand in the jewelry section selling $8.88 “engagement rings”.  Of course they weren’t “real” (in the sense that they were made out of ACTUAL gems or diamonds or even had any real metal in them at all).  But standing approximately a foot away from them–they looked pretty darn real to me.  And, granted, I don’t know my bling.  But it made me think just how many people do.

It got me thinking how men spend anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars on that perfect ring for their future wife,  And then I thought—why?

Let’s take a small look at the history of the engagement ring.  A man presenting his bride-to-be with a ring can be dated as far back as ancient Rome (whoa!).  The involvement of diamonds in a ring came about during the Renaissance.  The notion that a man should spend one month’s salary on a ring arose in the 1930’s due to a marketing campaign to increase revenue in the jewelry business.

Marketing campaign?  Really?  Sounds pretty commercial….

Back to my experiment:

I scooped up that $8.88 ring.  At first it was to enforce my image of pretending to be engaged at this bridal show I was to attend.  As I thought more about it, however, I had this desire to see just how many people

a.) noticed my ring and

b.) could tell it was fake.

Fast forward to today–bridal show day.

I walked into the town center where the event was held at the designated “bride” entrance.  There was a desk where I had to register and write down all of my information.  The two women at the desk probably lived their entire year in anticipation for this event because I was suddenly inundated with

“Congratulations!”

“You must be the bride!”

“When’s your wedding day?”

“What a beautiful ring!”

I simply smiled and said thank you.  I took careful observation of the woman’s facial expression when she asked about my ring.  Was she speculative?  Did she do a double take?

Nope.  She took one glance at thought it was beautiful.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get another comment on the ring until the end of the day as we were leaving.  One of the last tables we stopped at on our way out the door was a small business who specialized in making wedding videos.  We let them do their marketing spiel (it’s just rude not to).  And once more I was attacked with

“When’s your wedding day?”

“When did he propose?”

“What a lovely ring!”

Again, I graciously smiled and mentally documented the facial reactions of all parties.  Not one person analyzed my ring closer or inquired any further about it.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that my experiment was terribly successful.  I imagine that the setting had a tiny bit of influence on my results.  I mean, I was at a bridal show for goodness’ sake!  EVERYONE was wearing engagement rings!  Maybe a better idea would have been to hold off writing this blog and see what my employers, classmates or teachers had to say after a week or so.

(I did text the featured picture to my best friend.  She responded “SQUEEEEEE!!”)

(….and then I promptly received a death threat from her when I revealed the truth…)

But I believe I have still made my point and can state my opinion.

What are engagement rings, really?  They’re a SYMBOL.  It’s a symbol that a woman has agreed to a man (or, hey, even a man has agreed to a man, woman has agreed to a woman, etc.) that she will marry him.  That’s it.  THAT’S ALL IT IS.  It’s not a status symbol.  It’s not a representation of her (/his) fiancee’s wealth.  It’s a symbol of love for the person they have promised themselves to.

So why has it gotten to that level?  Refer earlier in the post–a marketing strategy.  A corporate, commercial strategy to obtain more money.

Women–stop dreaming of that diamond ring.  I’m not saying that you’re not going to get it.  But stop expecting it.  Do you want a big expensive rock and a big wedding?  Or do you want a marriage?  If you want the former, you might want to reevaluate your priorities and rediscover the person you really are.

Men–stop feeling pressured to spend one month’s (actually, I believe that the recent development has reached two month’s) salary on her ring.  Remember what the ring really means.

Personally?  I’d be happy if I got a ring pop.  It’s the question and idea that means the most to me–

“Will you marry me?  Will you be my wife?”

I’m sure there are pretentious snobby people out there who can tell from a mile away that my $8.88 ring from Wal-Mart is a big fakey-fake.  And if they can, they’re probably not people I would like to associate myself with.

But you all couldn’t.  After all–isn’t that why you’re reading this right now? 😉

Rachel……OUT.

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