Should I bring the engagement ring?
January 29, 2009 10:39 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to ask my girlfriend's parents for permission to marry her. Should I bring the engagement ring along?

I'm not really worried about the process of asking. I figure I can just wing it. What I was wondering is: are you supposed to show them the ring itself, as a show of intent? or is just telling telling them enough?
posted by orville sash to Human Relations (44 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You don't need to bring the ring.
posted by BobbyVan at 10:44 AM on January 29, 2009

(Also, good luck!)
posted by BobbyVan at 10:45 AM on January 29, 2009

Well, you don't need to bring it, of course, but speaking as a mom, yes, bring it! It's exciting and does definitely demonstrate serious intent. Just don't expect them to keep the secret from her for too long.
posted by thinkpiece at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

If it's your first time meeting them, maybe bring the ring. If they actually know you, you're probably OK.
posted by GuyZero at 10:46 AM on January 29, 2009

I suppose it depends on the parents; how traditional they are, what they expect, yada yada...

Off the cuff, I think it would be wise to have the ring with you, in case an excited future mother-in-law wants to see it. But I wouldn't bring it out unless asked about it - unless it's some major spectacle of a ring.
posted by terpia at 10:47 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bring it. I doubt they'd ask about it or to see it, but if they get excited (and they probably will) you can offer to show them.
posted by JuiceBoxHero at 10:48 AM on January 29, 2009

As a female, I'd want to be the one to show my parents the ring for the first time! I'm not sure about the etiquette of this situation though.
posted by katybird at 10:51 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

I just wanted to check. Have you asked her yet?

That is how people do these things, right?
posted by demagogue at 10:54 AM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: We've discussed the whole thing, and while we both agree we want to get married, I have not actually proposed to her yet (gonna do that in March, in Vienna! How romantic...) She made it expressly clear to me, however, that I have to ask her folks for permission first.

This will not be my first time meeting her parents. I see them a lot more than I see my own parents, as they only live about 40 miles away.
posted by orville sash at 10:58 AM on January 29, 2009

My mother-in-law freaked out when I showed her the ring (in a good way!) Easy way to score brownie points with the in-laws. Why do you need to score brownie points with the in-laws? Babysitting. Gotta think long-term, here...
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:02 AM on January 29, 2009

I think there are two schools of thought here. I did not ask my wife's parents either, even though they ARE extremely traditional. My thought, also, is that the girl should be the first to know. But if this guy has decided to be traditional, don't rain on his parade. And frankly, I very much doubt your wife would have said no. If that's true, I would say you might want to reconsider your relationship...
posted by fusinski at 11:02 AM on January 29, 2009

That depends on your relationship with her parents and the type of people that they are. In the worst case, you may be inviting judgment of your income, character, and commitment to their daughter based on the size of a piece of rock.

If, on the other hand, you get along well with them and they are not the type to put too much stock into DeBeers' marketing scheme, then by all means bring it along. Personally I wouldn't show it off unless they ask, but it can't hurt to have it handy if they ask to see it. Since you'll be in Vienna for the proposal, I assume that they won't be able to see it for a while following the proposal, so giving them a chance to see it now is a nice gesture.
posted by jedicus at 11:06 AM on January 29, 2009

There's some seriously weird subtext to bringing the ring... it's halfway between 'based on my ability to pay for the shiny rock contained herein, am I worthy enough to take the burden of caring for this person away from you and transfer it to me?' and 'this trinket represents the monetary value I have assigned to your daughter.' That might not be the case with you, depending on what your relationship with them is, but I'd be a bit wary if it were me.

Past the creepiness factor, I would also imagine your soon-to-be-fiancée might be less-than-pleased that she wasn't the first one to get to see her ring.
posted by Mayor West at 11:09 AM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

I didn't have a ring to show my girlfriend's parents. I think (and I could just be looking way too far into this) is that if you have a ring before you ask them then you're essentially telling them that you're asking because you think you're supposed to but you really don't care what they say because you're going to ask anyway.

They didn't ask to see the ring. Granted, it was just her dad in the room when I asked and I haven't seen her mom without my girlfriend in the room so she hasn't exactly had a chance to ask about it.
posted by theichibun at 11:09 AM on January 29, 2009

The ring? No.

But I will second not trusting them to keep the secret long. When I called my future FiL to ask, I thought he was going to faint. Luckily my wife-to-be was waiting at my sister's place and we all went straight out, because I think her mom would've spilled the beans. :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 11:11 AM on January 29, 2009

I third that once you tell her parents, they might have a hard time keeping it a secret.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:16 AM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

as a gal, i'd want to be the one to show my mother the ring first (if i were an engagement ring kind of girl).
posted by nadawi at 11:20 AM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

Aww, how old-fashioned and sweet. Let her show them the ring, though.
posted by ottereroticist at 11:43 AM on January 29, 2009

From the variety of responses you're getting here, I think you'd be safe either way. As a girl I agree with others who would prefer to be the first to show off my new ring to my parents, but it wouldn't be the end of the world to me either way.

Incidentally, unless the parents are super traditional, I think the current preferred term is "asking the parents for their blessing" rather than "asking the parents for permission". Small difference, but it matters to some people.
posted by vytae at 11:44 AM on January 29, 2009

There's two answers you're going to get here: Bring the ring? [Yes] [No]

Put me in the [No] category.
posted by dunkadunc at 11:45 AM on January 29, 2009

Kind of surprised nobody else has mentioned it, though you did say that it's your SO's desire that you ask her parents permission first...

...but I didn't ask my (now) wife's parents for permission - our getting married was not their decision to make. And I, like you, knew what her answer would be.

I expressed my intent to ask for her hand to them, and asked for their blessing. That made more of an impression, I think, than asking their permission would have. (that, and the weekend trip across country to do so).

Anyway, just my two cents. Your situation might be completely different.
posted by pkphy39 at 11:45 AM on January 29, 2009

Drat. Beaten to the punch by vytae
posted by pkphy39 at 11:47 AM on January 29, 2009

It should be the bride-to-be's pleasure and right to show her ring off. Don't show anyone before she sees it.
posted by jgirl at 12:03 PM on January 29, 2009 [3 favorites]

You don't need to bring the ring. The father will just be happy that you asked permission/blessing (since you already have a good reputation with them) and her mother will just be thrilled to know. They won't be able to keep it a secret, however, so don't ask until right before you leave on your trip to Vienna.

Now, if her parents are actually worried that you'll be able to provide any sort of income to your future household, a ring might make it look like you're able to make some money. However, if that isn't an issue, the showing of the ring depends on the mother/daughter relationship. Are they close? Do they like to show each other clothes, rings, accessories? Do they like to get excited over each other? If yes, then let your future fiance show her family the ring.

If, however, you are nervous about asking them and are thinking of using the ring as a prop (you don't ask, you just bring the ring out and then let the conversation out), I'd suggest not doing that unless you don't mind your future father-in-law telling you he's already married.
posted by Stynxno at 12:07 PM on January 29, 2009 [2 favorites]

I would also like to add that the whole asking for permission thing seems way off. Sure, it might earn you brownie points, but then your wife's parents might not be the kind of people you want to establish a subservient relationship with.
posted by dunkadunc at 12:09 PM on January 29, 2009

My fiancee' brought the ring to show my dad and my sister, but skipped over my mom (who was miffed, but she would have found something to be miffed about anyway.)

Bring the ring. It demonstrates you're serious.
posted by medea42 at 12:13 PM on January 29, 2009

Response by poster: My girlfriend asked me to do this not so her father can leverage power over me, but because she thinks it would mean a lot to them, her father specifically, as he did the same thing. The whole asking her parents thing is on the up and up and I have no fears about it becoming an issue. I was just wondering about ring etiquette.
posted by orville sash at 12:14 PM on January 29, 2009

Don't bring the ring. They shouldn't get to ooh and aaah before your girl does -- she gets to show them HER ring.
posted by desuetude at 12:21 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

@ Shohn:

Dad? Is that you?
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 12:25 PM on January 29, 2009

Leave the ring. It's hers, she should be the first to see it. Let her show it off to everyone when it's on her finger.

I asked my future FIL for his blessing (a spectacularly awkward & short conversation while my SO was down the hall in the shower) and I like to think it was a nice bonding moment between he & I. I didn't propose for another week, so my future MIL was upset that he knew this was going to happen and didn't tell her.

I heard back through channels that he was impressed that I asked, although also heard he wasn't impressed that I moved in with her after we got engaged.

Congrats to you both.
posted by Wilberto at 12:30 PM on January 29, 2009

Best answer: Don't bring the ring. Its your wife's (presumably), SHE gets to see it first, and SHE gets to show it off to her parents. Not you.

Also, I'm sure the 'rents love you and all. But a cool thing to do would be to ask for their "blessing" rather than their permission.

If they don't approve of this, would you still get married? If so, you need a blessing. If not, you are asking for permission.

Good luck and congratulations on your decision to get married.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:38 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

The potential downsides of bringing the ring (fiancee mad at you) are greater than the potential downsides of not bringing the ring (future mother in law mad at you).
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 1:05 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

We didn't have any secrets about it -- I knew we were getting engaged, I helped pick out the ring, but I didn't get to see the stone set in the ring before the actual engagement. My partner took the ring with her to "ask" my dad's permission, though we all knew I was going to do what I damn well pleased. I think it made a favorable impression -- he knew we were serious about this -- AND it heightened the anticipation for me, since he and several other people got to see it, but I hadn't!
posted by fiercecupcake at 1:05 PM on January 29, 2009

Don't bring it! Let your fiancee have the pleasure of showing it off for the first's a big deal and I think it would take away from her moment. It sounds like you don't exactly need brownie points and this is just a nice gesture, so no need to go over the top and possibly detract from your fiancee's excitement.
posted by Grimble at 1:19 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

As a female, I'd want to be the one to show my parents the ring for the first time! I'm not sure about the etiquette of this situation though.

From what people have been saying, the main reason to bring the ring is so the mother-in-law can ooh and aah over it.

Seems to me that if you offered to visit with your fiancée the day after you propose, that would be a pretty good substitute from the mother-in-law's perspective.
posted by Mike1024 at 1:46 PM on January 29, 2009

Keep the ring in your pocket, and if they ask to see it, let them see. If your girl wants her family involved in the blessing, she would definitely approve. :)

Her folks will be thrilled to be part of the conspiracy, and when she calls them excitedly from Vienna (perfect place!) they will have something even more to ooh and ahh over.
posted by mochapickle at 2:20 PM on January 29, 2009

Nthing the advice that her folks may not be able to keep the secret for long. When mr. ambrosia called my dad to ask for his blessing, my mother spent the next 18 hours just about ready to asplode! with excitement!

My parents live many hundreds of miles away, so the conversation was over the phone, thus no question of showing them the ring. I don't think the ring is as important as the gesture of including them. If you can figure out some discreet way of swinging by their place shortly before you leave for Vienna, that would be ideal. Don't count on them keeping their mouths shut for more than 48 hours max.
posted by ambrosia at 2:37 PM on January 29, 2009

my wife LOVES showing people new things, be they her's or not.

let her show her ring, your future inlaws wont expect to see the ring till its wrapped around her finger
posted by phritosan at 3:30 PM on January 29, 2009

Bringing the ring seems gauche, as if you're "proving" your financial ability to pay a bride-price, or even just showing off. You want to be demonstrating your sincerity, your seriousness, your maturity, your fidelity. Showing a ring seems to send the opposite message, not one about your innate qualities, but about your social/financial standing. And the ring is for your fiancee, not her parents.
posted by orthogonality at 3:34 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

Do not bring the ring. In november i asked my fiances father if i could marry her. Just the act of asking her father will make the father happy. The ring doesn't matter.

Heck i had my fiance pick her own ring out (shes the one who has to wear it all the time).
posted by majortom1981 at 3:58 PM on January 29, 2009

Wow, what a weird set of answers. Bringing the ring along is really an unseen desire to "prove up" to Dad that you can provide for his daughter? Complaining about the permission thing? Jeeze, lighten up. It's just a weird social tradition that is meaningless, except to give her dad a sweet moment.

Anyway, I wouldn't bring the ring. It doesn't seem relevant. Objects don't show intent, only actions.
posted by gjc at 4:29 PM on January 29, 2009

I brought the ring, and everything went great, with my in-laws and with my fiance/wife. The proposal and the ring were both surprises, and since onlyconnect's folks live around five hours away by car it was a big and happy surprise when she found out I put so much effort into letting them have a secret cheerleader/booster role. Because of the distances involved, I had to wait a single day to propose after seeing her parents, and it turns out that onlyconnect's mom was ready to burst, in the best possible way.

Other points:
I asked for their blessing, not their permission. The real decision was between me and onlyconnect, and asking is just a (slightly risky) way sharing some of the joy.

When she accepts your proposal, then the ring becomes hers. Until then, it is yours.

I chose the ring very carefully to reflect onlyconnect's sensibilities, and her father commented on that, which colored and enhanced their appreciation of our connection.

As for her being the first to see it, not unless you made it yourself. Other than that, many people have a role in getting the ring to you, and heirloom rings are certainly no less meaningful for having a history.

Good luck!
posted by NortonDC at 8:50 PM on January 29, 2009 [1 favorite]

No. (Unless you are going to ask them to marry you.)
posted by chunking express at 7:41 AM on January 30, 2009 [1 favorite]

i didn't. i took her dad out for a pint and told him in the pub in front of the rugby.
posted by gonzo_ID at 4:49 PM on January 31, 2009

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