Weddings 102: So, You Got Something Shiny?

If your idea of presenting the ring and asking her to marry you on bended knee is all you’ve got, please read on.  If you need inspiration or some cool tips, also please read on!

We understand that you’ve been running around town trying to get “The Ring,” but you have to understand that things have changed dramatically, and weddings nowadays are sometimes over the top…

No comment…

So the shiny thing in the box, why not present it in true romantic fashion?  Here’s some good ideas on how:

Great engagements don’t have to be expensive, they have to be creative.  It’s in the details that a generic proposal becomes amazing.  So, that said, let’s start with one of the most important parts of the proposal.  And that is the surprise factor.  The biggest secret ever needs to be kept a secret, and for that to happen, it’s best if you keep things to yourself!  The more people you talk to about the proposal, the higher the chances are something will slip.  Everyone should be on a “need to know” basis.

The duct tape is probably overkill.

To spark your imagination, we pulled out a proposal we found and like so much, because this brother really did his homework.  Find what it is that brings the two of you together, something that reflects you as a couple and is unique to the both of you.  Be creative, have fun and think outside of the box.  This is your time to shine!  Well, at least until she opens the box!

“…Tanvi and Danny met on New Year’s Eve a few years ago while she was traveling, and she extended her trip a few extra days to spend time with Danny.  After a long-distance relationship between New York City and Miami, Danny told Tanvi to meet him at a hotel because his parents were coming to town.  But as she entered the suite, instead of seeing his family, she saw an acoustic guitar playing their song, ‘You are My Sunshine.’  Danny had also prepared a runner inscribed with the phrase, ‘to a lifetime of adventures together,’ leading to a world map, a collection of vintage trunks, antique globes, and paper airplanes with memories of their travels written in calligraphy, and vintage prints of their travel photos.  Danny proposed, and Tanvi said ‘yes.’  At dinner, their place settings had printed cards: ‘Tanvi’s Future Groom’ and ‘Dan’s Future Bride.’  At their suite at the end of the night, the room was covered with rose petals and with a final surprise: an engraved compass and leather-bound journal that read, ‘to a lifetime of adventures together’.”

The end!

Do we really need to say more on this one?  Just make sure it’s representative of your relationship, and of the two of you.  After all, leather bound adventure journals don’t make much sense if you’re a pair of homebodies!

And here are good ideas on when:

The day that you decide to pop the question will be one of the most memorable of your life.  This is why many men decide to choose a special day for their proposal.  But which are the best days, and which ones should you avoid?

You will be surprised to hear that Valentine’s Day is not the best day for a marriage proposal.  Great!  Just when you thought you have this girl thing figured out.  “Isn’t Valentine’s supposed to be the most romantic day of the year?  How can it not be the perfect day to ask my girlfriend to marry me?”  The biggest reason not to propose on Valentine’s Day is that it is clichéd.

Extra points if you get the ring inside a chocolate teddy bear that plays “I Will Always Love You” when she bites into it.

Remember, we told you to think outside the box.  She is special, and so should be the day you propose to her.

Another common day, at least in a guy’s mind, is to propose on her birthday.  Way better than Valentine’s and definitely more significant, just remember to do something for her birthday, too.  After seeing the ring and her delirium of joy has wore out a bit, she will be looking for her birthday gift or cake.  In fact, the ring could be her birthday cake topper.  Mmm!

Christmas is another big day for marriage proposals.  After all, it is the season of giving, and for some reason, everyone is in a great mood.  It presents unlimited amazing ways to present her the engagement ring or ask the question.  Electronics as presents are great allies.  We know of someone who gave his girlfriend an iPad for Christmas.  When she turned it on, he had uploaded a picture of a church where he wanted to marry her.

New Year’s Eve is another holiday that many men choose to pop the question.  There is a lot in favor of a proposal on this day.  So festive and celebratory!  Also, if you ask your girlfriend to marry you on New Year’s Eve, it will be the perfect start to the New Year.

Remember, any day will be special as long as you do your homework and propose to her in the most unique, thoughtful, loving way possible.

This is real.  A guy actually asked a video game company to program a wedding proposal (by way of a sarcastic robot) into his copy of a game that he played with his girlfriend.  THAT is creative!

For added points…  Proposing to her on the anniversary of your first kiss or first time you said “I love you,” if you remember it.

Whichever day you decide on, make sure you document it: smartphones, flipcams, whatever it takes.  You’ll be glad you did, and so will she.

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Weddings 101: The Ring

Once upon a time…  Scratch that, it goes more like “once upon a diamond.”  So you finally decided to “pop the question” and start your intoxicatingly sweet life together and live happily ever after?  Hmm, quite nice, but before you get on your knees, you know you have to get that little box, and that little box must be filled with something pricey-  Shiny!  We mean shiny.  …Okay, both.

And if mysterious, glowing writing appears on it, put it back in the box and back away slowly!

The modern Western practice of giving or exchanging engagement rings is thought to have begun in 1477, when Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, gave Mary of Burgundy a diamond ring as an present for their engagement.

Buying a diamond can be overwhelming sometimes.  Especially if this particular one is for the hope of eternal happiness.  Needless to say, you must find “The One.”  And while both of your tastes and personalities and your budgets (if any) will play a big role, knowing what you are paying for is a MUST.

That said, we want to give you a little Diamonds 101 and a must/must not guide to making a great, mind blowing, one of a kind, sweep-her-off-her-feet proposal.  And remember, this is a guide.  You, my friend, from now on are on a 007 secret mission (be aware of your allies or the cousin that talks too much and will spill the beans).  And, most importantly, pay attention.  At this stage of your relationship, she is probably already done planning the wedding.  There should be plenty of clues around.

“What? I bought it for… For clubbing! Yes, for clubbing! …At that wedding-themed club Downtown.”

So, the ring.  According to the Gemological Institute of America, this is what you need to know: what is commonly referred to as the “4Cs.”  Cut, color, clarity and carat.

Cut
the most important of the “Cs.”  This is where your eyes get blinded with sparkles and you get the most for your money.  A properly cut diamond will look larger than a deeply cut diamond of the same weight.  Probably the only time when bigger does not necessarily equate to better.  Cut is all about craftsmanship.  Cutting the diamond to make the best use of light.  A diamond cut to perfect proportions refracts light from one facet to the other then gets dispersed through the top of the diamond: bling!

Pictured: too much bling.

Color
Color refers to the absence of color in a diamond.  A gift from nature having nothing to do with man.  It ranges from colorless to yellow.  The less yellow within the diamond, the higher on the alphabetical scale the diamond will be graded.  Colorless diamonds are D-F, near-colorless are G-J, faint yellow are K-M, very light yellow are N-R.  S-Z are light yellow.  The less color the diamond has, the more you will pay for it (except for fancy colors like pink and intense yellow diamonds).  Most likely, she will like a white one or a colorless one.  Anything higher than an I (i.e., D to H) will appear white enough for even the most discriminating eyes.

Clarity
An indication of a diamond’s purity.  When a rough diamond is extracted from carbon ore, tiny traces of natural elements are almost always trapped inside.  These elements are called “inclusions,” blemishes that interfere with light passing through the diamond.  Though they’re sometimes referred to as “birthmarks” because of their uniqueness.  A diamantaire will examine the rough diamond to cut it in the most flawless way, or with the less inclusions, and, therefore, the highest clarity.  Please note that most of these inclusions are not visible to the naked eye.  The Gemological Institute of America has established 11 clarity grades: the highest grades are “Flawless” and “Internally Flawless.”  “Clarity” refers to the totality of the number, size, placement and nature of inclusions and/or surface flaws.

Carat: the most intuitive of all the “Cs”
Directly from the experts: “diamonds and other gems are weighed using metric carats with one carat weighing about the same as a small paper clip, or 0.2 grams.  Just as a dollar is divided into 100 pennies, a carat is divided into 100 points, which means that a diamond of 50 points weighs 0.50 carats.  But two diamonds of equal weight can have very different values depending on the other three characteristics of a diamond’s 4Cs: clarity, color, and cut.  The majority of diamonds used in fine jewelry weigh one carat or less.”

And last, but not least we will share some of our own notes:

First of all, for more info on GIA grading methods, download the GIA 4Cs iPad free app.

There are some rules out there about cost…  They say 2 or 3 months’ salary, but if budget is on your list of concerns, follow what your bank account is telling you.  The important thing is not to get in debt, especially when you are about to start a long journey with the love of your life.

“I’m so glad you love the ring, honey! On an entirely unrelated note, I hope you’re excited for dinner at McDonald’s!”

Remember, she will wear it every day, so think of everything.  Will it get tangled in her hair?  Would it be too hard for her to keep her fingers together while wearing it?  How about clapping, and so on?  We said everything, and we mean it.

If the size of the diamond makes a difference, then you may prefer a shape that reveals more surface area than depth to maximize the appearance of size, such as a marquise or an emerald shape.

Don’t make this common mistake, to think that the shape and cut are the same.  It’s an easy mistake to make, since you hear the term “emerald” or “princess” cut diamonds, but those are actually diamond shapes.  Cut is really the craftsmanship applied in cutting and polishing the diamond.

The choices in diamond shapes and settings may seem overwhelming at first, but there are ways to narrow the field immediately.  Diamonds come in a variety of beautiful shapes: round, princess, marquise, oval, Asscher, cushion and heart, to name the most popular.  Remember, 007, she most definitely had one picked out, you just have to find the clues.

Ask her friends, 007. …Wait, you’re 007.  Stay away from her friends.

Don’t get too excited about how great it looks at the store, think of her hand and how it will complement her.  Ultimately, that’s the look you’re aiming for.  For example, on a small, delicate hand, a round diamond may look more beautiful than a marquise that covers more of her finger.

Also, white or yellow gold?  Is she traditional or more conservative?  Simple and subtle versus elaborate and very busy and flashy.  You should know your lady here.  This is more than a ring, this is showing her you care and that you are paying attention.  Don’t know her ring size?  Make an imprint of one of her rings on a bar of soap.

Finally, wondering why you are placing that ring on her “ring finger”?  We can thank our dear Romans, who wore the ring either on the right middle finger or the left ring finger, believing that these fingers were at the beginning of the “vena amoris” (the “vein of love”), the vein that leads to the heart.  Also, ancient Egyptian physicians thought that a nerve on this finger led directly to the heart.

Science!

Halftime?!

The Super Bowl.  Such a stupendous and grand event, which started with something as petty as two leagues arguing over who was really #1.  In 1967, this argument gave birth to what is today the most anticipated and viewed sporting event in the U.S.  The rise of its popularity has turned the whole event into a tradition that many wouldn’t miss for the world, while others prepare themselves to monitor it for “offensiveness” at all cost (the Parents Television Council comes to mind).

Anyway, we were wondering how we got from squeaky clean marching bands and musicians to nipple shields and middle fingers in just four decades.

Guess which one people were offended by!

Halftime, the name given to the interval between the two halves of the game, is typically just a brief period used to swap the ends of the fields of play for the teams, and allow competitors to rest briefly in the midst of a decidedly physical sport.  Somewhere along the way, this innocuous event became the love child of mass media and marketing.

The first Super Bowl halftime shows featured marching bands from universities, and then, as they got bigger, performances by Disney and Broadway stars, with themes ranging from tributes to America to tributes to football.  Back then, a commercial segment during the broadcast was just $42,000, and we could be certain that expectations for a grand halftime show weren’t at their highest, either.

Production companies and marketing teams are playing all their cards, nowadays.  With big-ticket spenders (the average price of tickets for Super Bowl XLVI was $4,000) and commercial segments going for $3.5 million for just 30 seconds (plus around $2-3 million for production and celebrity fees), expectation for EVERYTHING in the Super Bowl now reaches stratospheric levels, given that we live in a society that has seen it and heard it all, or so we think.  It’s no surprise that everyone wants more.

Pictured to the left, a Kansas City Chiefette in 1967. On the right, “more.”

It is in wanting more that we might have ended up with more risqué or vulgar scenes during halftime.  It is with wanting more (if you are paying $3.5 million+ for 30 seconds) that commercials are getting, according to some, a bit too hot, offensive and even sexist.  A whole campaign went off during this just passed Super Bowl to tag commercials that viewers might consider sexist under the #imnotbuyingit tag.

But with all the controversy from past mishaps or Janet Jackson’s infamous Super Bowl XXXVIII “wardrobe malfunction,” there is still out there a crowd that is getting harder and harder to please, and production and marketing teams that are overwhelmed with trying to find ways to please without offending.

So, the next time we see a Super Bowl commercial involving whipped cream, a couch made of bikini clad women, Beckham in underwear or Adriana Lima in a state of relative undress (which is always good), we can thank all the people behind multiple marketing teams trying to please us and their bosses.

We also can thank the halftime producers who are on a mission since we evolved beyond marching bands to provide shows that blow us away (or make us double take), with top performances by the best artists: Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, Sting, U2, No Doubt, Janet Jackson, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers and The Black Eyed Peas, to mention just a few.  And, of course, Madonna, who’s Super Bowl XLVI performance ranked as the all-time most watched halftime show in TV history, with 114 million viewers.

Behold, the most watched gigantic headwear of the night.

We are sure there will be more bumps in the road ahead just as classy as flipping the middle finger to 114 million viewers, as well as more amazing performances as flawless as Diana Ross’ halftime performance in 1996’s Super Bowl XXX, which ended with her departing by helicopter, hanging from a ladder as she was lifted off!

Your move, Super Bowl XLVII.

We are also sure that more regulations and fines are ahead, so secure your bra, hold down your finger and chill a bit, or we are going to end up watching marching bands again!

P.S. – Marching bands are amazing, just not when you’re paying four grand.

Pictured: $4,000 worth of entertainment.

Just Hideous…

During the festivities of Super Bowl Week, we could not help but think about old and sometime current NFL (and AFL) uniforms.  Some more than others because, well, aesthetically speaking, they did NOT make the cut, and we are enormously happy that we don’t have to look at all of them every Sunday (well, except when some smarty pants thinks it’s a clever idea for a throwback week, which they often do).  In any case, we could not help but play a little fashion police with them.  Here are the worst offenders!

There is so much wrong with this one, a throwback to the original Broncos uniform, but let’s just leave it at this: stripes and more stripes are not friends, never ever.  Not even in football!  In fact, these uniforms, the original Broncos uniforms from 1960, were so hated by even their own players, that they burned them in a bonfire at the end of the season!

Dear Cincinnati Bengals: Tony the Tiger wants his outfit BACK!

The Cleveland Browns... Jail jumpsuit orange is only acceptable for inmates.

The Houston Texans' alternate uniform, all red à la Red Riding Hood. À la super wrong, too!

Green Bay's throwback version of the 1940s Packers uniform. What's up with the helmet? And where is the green in Green Bay?

The Seattle Seahawks' alternate uniforms. Highlighter colors are just to highlight words, not uniforms, thanks!

The Broncos again, this time from around 1965. If superheroes had a football team, this would be their uniform. And wow, that horse on the helmet looks hungry! In a very bad way!

The old alternate Dolphins uniform, all aqua. We get the aquatic themed thing, just NOT in a monochromatic edition.

Ahhhhhh! Our eyes! Thank goodness the Bucs went from creamsicle to pewter back in the '90s...