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6 things that don’t actually matter in a marriage proposal

National Proposal Day was this past weekend and that means if you’re anxious for that ring, now’s the time to start dropping hints. In fact, the day was actually invented to help egg on partners who are taking their sweet time working up the courage to pop the question. The day’s inventor, John Michael O’Loughlin, came up with it to help his cousin finally get a proposal from the guy she had been dating for years.

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O’Loughlin said he chose the vernal equinox for the love-inspired holiday, because “day and night are of equal length worldwide, symbolizing the equal efforts of the two required to comprise the successful marriage.” Wow. That is perhaps the loveliest sentiment I’ve heard with regard to proposals since I got engaged myself.

What’s not so lovely is trying to distill down what the general population is looking for in a proposal. However, because it’s officially spring (aka the start of wedding season), that’s what various social media apps and lifestyle sites like to do to pique the interest of the wedding-crazed people out there. It’s important to realize that while the world obsesses over these details, they’re not what really matter when it comes to getting engaged. In the end, it’s the person you say “yes” to that matters most, not the ring shape or proposal locale.

1. There is no time limit on when you should be engaged by

According to a 2013 study by Lambrini, 25 percent of women expect to see a ring on their finger after just 24 months of dating. This is just giving long-term daters heart palpitations. Every relationship is unique, thus the “right time” to pop the question is different for everyone. My guy and I dated for eight-plus years before he nailed me down with a ring, meanwhile my best friends got engaged after just one year together. There’s no right or wrong here — just different people and different sensibilities.

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2. A public display doesn’t make the proposal better

If your partner sets up this crazy, elaborate happening to your favorite song in Central Park featuring all your best friends and family, that’s awesome, but it doesn’t mean it’s the perfect proposal for everyone. My fiancé took me to a beach on Cape Cod, and proposed when no one else was around. There were no pictures, and the sun was so bright I couldn’t see the ring. I almost tripped over driftwood, but it couldn’t have been more perfect for us. You have to choose what’s right for you as a couple, but remember, big and bold doesn’t automatically make it great.

3. You don’t need to prove you’re engaged by posting it to Facebook

Believe it or not, according to the David’s Bridal survey, 37 percent of recently engaged ladies post a photo of their ring within an hour of their partner dropping to one knee. I mean, I know it didn’t happen unless you post it on Facebook, but don’t you think the moment should just be between you two for a little longer? It’s so much better to hold onto that precious, once-in-a-lifetime feeling for as long as you can rather than race to tell the Internet. The world will find out your headline soon enough. And while updating your relationship status to “engaged” with the obligatory ring photo is exciting, it shouldn’t be the most exciting thing — your gigantic mutual life step should.

4. There is no perfect time of year

It’s probably not surprising that a proposal spike happens around the Christmas/New Year’s holiday season. Think about it. It’s a particularly festive time of year, gifts are already expected, and lots of family members will be in attendance anyway. But does that mean you need to wait for it to come around if you feel like giving her that ring while you’re unpacking groceries? Absolutely not. The holidays are already filled with so many stressful things — why add a presentation-style proposal in front of Grandma to the list if you don’t want to?

5. The size (and cost) of the ring does not represent how much you love each other

Today, couples are picking out engagement rings together more and more, which means there’s that much more pressure on the price it ends up being. Either the buyer will feel obligated to spend more, or the receiver will feel like they can’t ask for anything too expensive. However, at the end of the day, it’s not about how much you spend on the ring; it’s about your decision to take this leap together. If you’re both cool with a two-carat solitaire diamond, that’s great, but it doesn’t mean a couple who chooses a small moonstone are any less in love.

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6. The ring makes the place important, not the other way around

The Lambrini survey says 22 percent of women want their guy to get down on his knee on a deserted beach. While that happens to be what went down for my proposal (except the down on one knee part), I would’ve been just as thrilled if we had been walking down the street, or lying in bed in our pajamas eating Oreos. Wherever it ends up happening for you — on the beach, by a lake, in the mountains, on your couch — it’s about you and your person, not the surrounding environment.

In the end, every couple is different, and if you’re thinking of popping the question (or hoping your partner will soon), just remember it’s the overall feeling of the moment, not the details that will stick with you. Those little eccentricities that set you apart as a couple are what you’ll be most thankful for, not the size of the ring or the number of people present.

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