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Engagement Ring Protocol

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

I am planning to propose to my girlfriend, but I haven't asked her father for her hand. Should I do this in secret so I can surprise her with the ring? Also, as far as the ring, I do not want to ask her what kind she likes because it will give it away. Asking her for her finger size will give it away too. What is the proper protocol for all of this?



Dear Clueless,

First, it is best to make sure that you and your girlfriend are on the same page. Have you discussed a long term commitment and marriage? Does she want to marry you and does she want you to ask her parents for permission or for their blessing? Generally, you do not need to ask the father's permission to marry his daughter, unless she comes from a very traditional family.

Often couples shop for engagement rings together. But, if you wish to surprise her with the proposal and an engagement ring, then here are some suggestions.

1. Engagement ring choices. Consult with a jewelry store about your options for engagement rings and keep within your budget.

2. Ring Exchange. Find a jewelry store that will let you exchange the ring if she would rather have a different style. Do not be offended if she wants to exchange the ring. Everyone's taste is different.

3. Resizing the ring. The ring does not need to fit exactly when presented to her, but get a size that is large enough to fit on her ring finger. The ring can be resized at any time.

4. Proposal Site. You can propose at any time and at any place. A romantic dinner in a nice restaurant is a popular location for marriage proposals. Hiding the ring in dessert or champagne glass is not necessary unless your girlfriend likes that type of thing.

5. Parent's blessing. It would be a nice gesture and show of respect if both of you approached her parents and asked for their blessing either before or after you propose to her.