By Brecken Branstrator
Marriage has changed a great deal in the modern world. With the marriage equality movement, more people are allowed to get married, and with living together before marriage no longer stigmatized, more people are waiting longer to say ‘I do.’

And yet the tradition of proposing for straight couples—in particular, who is expected to take charge to pop the question—has not evolved along with it.  

Now, Engagement 101 wants to help bring the tradition of the proposal into the 21st century and tip the scales towards women’s empowerment by bringing the suitor into the spotlight.

The brainchild of Engagement 101 founder and Editor Severine Ferrari, “Propose Too” is an initiative intended to update the proposal tradition to match today’s societal norms and to start the conversation around who’s proposing: namely, to encourage women to propose first or propose back.

“In the past five years, the biggest revolution in the proposal planning world has been that women have become very involved in the engagement ring selection and purchase. In parallel, in larger cities, more and more women are getting married/engaged in their late 30s,” she said.

20181017 Ferrari headshotEngagement 101 founder and Editor Severine FerrariSince women today are making their own decisions and looking for a partner who is their equal and will support their path, Ferrari said, the tradition of waiting for the man to pop the question “is bound to become a thing of the past in the near future.”

“Truth be told, it’s already happening behind closed doors, and the more these stories will be shared through our platform, the more it will convince other women to do the same.”

Since Propose Too launched, she said more women who proposed to their boyfriends—many of whom previously would not release their names and pictures for publication—have become open to sharing their stories.

Ferrari herself popped the question to her now-fiancé and documented the occasion for readers on Propose Too.

When asked whether she was influenced by the initiative or if the initiative was influenced by her own action, she said it went both ways.

“My relationship is an equal partnership and my boyfriend is a feminist, so we both decided to get engaged. Then while my ring was being made, I was working on launching the movement so I decided to propose first.”

Multimedia is a huge part of the initiative, particularly since Engagement 101’s audience connects the most with the platform on social media, through following, like and commenting but also behind the scenes through direct messages and in private groups.

For this reason, sharing all kinds of content on social media is key for the campaign.

“We are starting a conversation,” Ferrari said, “and we want it to go viral.”

Engagement 101 has produced videos for the past 10 years, but Ferrari said she wanted to come up with fresh content just for Propose Too that could show how romantic a woman proposing to a man could be.

Engagement 101 Director Lisa Hammer, who also proposed to her now-husband, came up with short movie called “Double Proposal,” posted on its YouTube channel.

Ferrari said she intends to make more short rom-coms this year with Hammer and other female directors. Propose Too also features unique content, research and testimonials.

Adding to the question of why straight men are still expected to be the ones to propose in 2018, Engagement 101 also is questioning why women are the only ones wearing engagement jewelry.

To counter that, she collaborated with jewelry designer Chris Ploof and others to create a special line of products sold on the website that were designed for the woman to return or initiate the gesture of a proposal.

When it came to making jewelry for the man to wear as an indication of his commitment prior to the wedding day, Ferrari said she wanted to look beyond the “mangagement ring,” which has gained little traction.

So she worked with Ploof to create unique merchandise to signify the male engagement.

“I approached Chris Ploof (the metal master, I like to call him) with the idea and I love the pendant he made. James, my fiancé, never takes it off. We decided to collaborate together to offer a version of the pendant for sale to inspire other women to propose back or first this engagement season.”

Ploof and Ferrari designed a proposal pendant that the bride-to-be can gift to her suitor after he says yes or that can be used to initiate the proposal.

It’s a reversible dog tag-style pendant in stainless steel featuring an “Engaged” engraving on one said and a 1.5 mm diamond on the other ($99).

“Making these Propose Too pendants is an amazing feeling,” Ploof said. “To challenge and change social norms and to be able to help a couple celebrate the very first steps in their union is truly special.”
20181017 Ploof pendant

Additional Propose Too merchandise includes a cotton “I Put A Ring On It” T-shirt ($25) and a Propose Too pin bundle by Engagement 101 x Pizza Ships ($29).

Ferrari said she hopes that, as Propose Too picks up speed, not only will she have more stories to tell of women proposing first, but also that the jewelry industry will find a way to support the movement, including coming up with more proposal jewelry options for men.

“I think retailers should talk about it with couples purchasing an engagement ring ASAP. Why not get a nice add-on sale Jewelry designers should start thinking about creating proposal jewelry for men that could work within their lines/style.”

After all, more engagements only means more opportunity.

“If everything goes according to plan, double proposals = double the jewelry,” Ferrari said. “We started this collaboration with Chris Ploof to show how it could be done one way. However, as with the engagement ring, proposal jewelry for guys could become bespoke, one-of-a-kind. A women texted me today telling me she was planning to propose with a vintage Viking ring. How cool is that?”

TAGS:   Weddings
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