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Today's word on journalism

Friday, January 20, 2006

Variations on "truthiness":

"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please."

-- Mark Twain, author, newspaperman and humorist (1835-1910)

MENTORS WANTED: Media professionals in all fields wanted to serve as email mentors for journalism students. If interested, send email slugged "Mentors" to Ted Pease (

Marry me? There must be 50 ways to pop the question

By Natalie Naylor

December 22, 2005 | I used to think that an engagement ring was traditionally delivered in a small package, a nice velvet box possibly wrapped with a bow. I found mine tied to the forelock of 1,200-pound equine by the name of "Jeffery," a much-loved horse who was given to me the day of my engagement.

My cousin's sparkler fell from the bandages of her boyfriend's sprained ankle while she was re-wrapping his injury. A neighbor of mine popped the question to his girlfriend in Hindu after purchasing a diamond in India. I keep hearing more and more stories about creative and elaborate marriage proposals and wonder if I have been mistaken in my assumption or if unique proposals are becoming a trend.

According to an article about wedding statistics on there are approximately 2.3 million weddings every year in the U.S.: that breaks down to nearly 6,200 weddings a day. With those numbers the wedding industry is raking in about $72 billion a year.

According to the book Rings for the Finger by George Frederick Kunz, "The custom of bestowing a ring upon the betrothed brides had been traced back in Rome to the second century B.C. Plain iron rings were first used for this purpose and they were still favored even when the wearing of gold rings had become general among certain classes of the Roman citizens." The book also states that the "the placing of the betrothal or wedding ring upon the fourth finger seems undoubtedly to owe its origin to the fancy that a special nerve, or vein, ran directly from this finger to the heart."

The tradition of a diamond engagement ring did not get its start until 1866, when an enormous diamond mine was discovered in South Africa by the De Beers mining company, says author Nancy Eaton in the book Your Vintage Wedding. After that De Beers began promoting its newly found gems to the society elite. The De Beers gained (and still maintain) a near monopoly on the diamond market, positioning them as rare and exclusive with expensive price tags. By the turn of the twentieth century, any woman who wanted to be fashionable needed to have a diamond atop her wedding ring.

Nowadays almost 83 percent of brides receive a diamond engagement ring, according to, and a widely accepted guideline on how much to spend on an engagement ring is two-months salary. That would mean someone who made approximately $30,000 a year should consider spending roughly $5,000. This rule however, is really considered more of a guideline and is not strictly adhered to.

Not only have engagement rings evolved over the years, so have the ways to get engaged. Suitors are constantly coming up with creative or elaborate ways to ask for their loved one's hand in marriage.

Natalie Watkins, a recent graduate of Utah State University, was proposed to in rhyme when her then boyfriend made up some of his own words to the children's book Oh, the Places You'll Go! , by Dr. Seuss and instead titled it Oh, the Places we'll Go!

"He was halfway through the book before I realized he was proposing to me," Watkins said.

Melinda Abel was proposed to in the Skyroom restaurant at USU. "He (her boyfriend) asked me to meet him for lunch, I had a sinking feeling he was going to do it but I didn't want to get too excited," Melinda said.

Her husband Nick Abel said although they had talked about marriage, the proposal was actually spur of the moment.

"That morning when I woke up I didn't know I was going to propose," Nick said. Between classes he said he picked up a ring and made reservations for a candlelit table. With a small audience of wait staff watching, Nick got down on one knee and proposed to Melinda.

According to an on-line article written by John Pagliaro titled Ten Tips to Proposing, proposing down on one knee is a thriving tradition that originally began in the day of knights and chivalry when it was customary for a knight to bend down on one knee to show servitude to his lover.

Another long standing tradition according to Pagliaro is the groom asking the bride's father for approval before whisking his daughter away. Eric Noble, a USU student from Oregon, called his girlfriend's father and met with him for lunch to ask permission before proposing to her later that evening. What can be a nerve-wracking experience for some future grooms wasn't much of a problem for Noble.

"It wasn't too bad because I had spent a lot of time with her family," Noble said.

For those future fiances who are having trouble thinking of the ideal way to ask the big question, provides helpful advice, tips and ideas for creating a special wedding proposal. According to there are four key elements one needs to take into consideration before popping the question. They include the setting, the scene, the script, and the props. Following a brief explanation of each element is a list of about 30 different romantic ways to ask, including renting advertising space at a movie theater for an onscreen proposal, getting Chinese take-out and hiding the ring inside of a fortune cookie, or hiring a plane to skywrite a proposal the day of an outdoor family picnic.

Of course there really isn't a need for an extravagant proposal, a relationship is built on a solid foundation will still be able to survive the test of time even if the engagement is quite simple. My own grandparents got engaged in a phone booth after WWII and are still going strong after almost 60 years of matrimony. provides some partnership tips from the pros, highlighting some of the great quotes about success in marriage. One quote originally taken from the book 12 Hours to a Great Marriage simply states: "There is probably no better way to keep love strong in your marriage than through friendship."


Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
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