H&H Weddings

etiquette / q & a Oct 2 2013


With gay couples, does the person who was proposed to have to “propose back” with a ring?


This Q&A is brought to you by the fabulous Bernadette Coveney Smith of 14 Stories. Across the nation, she is the leading same-sex wedding planner. She trains wedding professionals around the world, showing them how best to service LGBT couples. Bernadette is doing a three part feature for H&H Weddings. The first part is a commonly asked question in regards to engagements of LGBT couples.

With gay and lesbian couples, there’s no right answer about who proposes, who gets a ring, and what that ring looks like.  

I’ve seen rings that are a mirror images of each other, rings that had a fingerprint imprinted on them, rings that were formed from family jewelry; and simple platinum or steel bands. I’ve noticed that many lesbian couples don’t want a “rock”—a big diamond engagement ring. I’ve seen femme lesbians present their butch partner with cuff links instead of an engagement ring. That’s a very cool idea!    

If you and your partner are talking about marriage, don’t be afraid to have a conversation about the ring. It’s better to know what your partner likes so you can be prepared.

In many cases, gay and lesbian couples have been together for so many years that they already own rings that symbolize the permanence of their relationship, and those are the rings that they will continue to wear after their marriage. Conversely, many couples that wear rings that are a symbol of their relationship choose to pick out new wedding bands together—bands that symbolize the next chapter in their lifetime journey. In my experience, couples who’ve been together for a while are less likely to have had a traditional “pop the question” proposal experience, and hence they don’t buy or give engagement rings.

So while there is no standard “gay-engagement ring” or “gay-wedding band,” this can be one of the first areas where you as a couple can express your personality through your wedding. In my observation, many men will wear only one ring, not two. In this case, the engagement ring will often double as a wedding band.   

I’ve found that younger lesbian brides (those under forty) are likelier to wear two rings. For example, my wife Jen, like many lesbians, wears her engagement ring and wedding band next to each other on the same finger. This is very common, and of course, traditional. My engagement ring doesn't have a stone (my choice), so my engagement ring is now on the ring finger of my right hand, and my wedding band is on the ring finger of my left hand.   

Whatever decision you choose, walking into a jewelry store with your fiancée or fiancé looking for a wedding band can be intimidating to say the least, particularly if you would like a nontraditional band. Call around ahead of time to gauge the attitude of your local jewelers about working with same-sex couples. They may be great, or you may encounter an awkward pause, or even outright homophobia—but at least you are dealing with it on the phone rather than face-to-face. If you do have a great phone call, make sure you catch the name of that associate so that you can work with the right person when you stop by the store.

- Bernadette Coveney Smith

Tagged: engagements, etiquette, 14 stories
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