Whether you're seeking advice on buying engagement rings, have recently bought a ring and are planning to propose, or have just got engaged and are after advice on announcements and engagement parties, congratulations! You have just taken the first steps on a journey into married life with the person who will be your companion, lover and friend. With effort, determination, love and teamwork, it is a journey that will last a lifetime, and one which will bring year after year of happy memories and good times.
But what exactly do engagements entail?
Once the decision has been taken to get engaged, the quest begins for the perfect ring! Like a scene from a Tolkein classic, acquring the ring is no mean task, but unlike Frodo and friends, the chances are that you won't actually know what you're looking for in the first place, let alone have sufficient cash put aside to pay for it.
Engagement rings can be costly, and traditionally the rule of thumb was that they should cost the equivalent to one month's salary. However, as time moves on, the focus is far more on getting the perfect ring, rather than one focussed solely of price.
Diamonds are the default gemstone of choice for engagement rings, but other stones - notably rubies, sapphires and emeralds, are also commonplace in modern engagement bands. Typically, the size of the gem will go a large way to dictating the price, but with diamonds in particular their cut, colour (yes, diamonds are't all the same!) and clarity will effect cost too, as will the band they are teamed with.
Once you have an idea on the design, use stealth and any means possible to determine the ring size then head off to Mordor (or even our online jeweller directory!) to complete your mission.
With the engagement ring in hand, the next task is to determine where and how you'll pop the question.
The words you'll use and whether you opt for getting down on bended knee are solely down to you, but the location and style are often determined by budget, trends as well as your preferences.
Far flung locations in exotic global destinations are far from unheard of these days, with traditional overseas venues such as the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Trevi Fountain in Rome and the Empire State Building in New York still proving as popular as ever.
Of course you needn't travel far to be romantic.
'Will You Marry Me?' messages towed by airplanes, tucked inside fortune cookies or simply clipped on to the cat's collar are classics, whilst slipping the ring into a champagne flute, attaching it to a 'fiance / fiancee' Xmas card or simply placing it onto the finger of your loved one whilst snuggled up in bed work just as well.
Wherever and however you propose, the most important thing is that your partner says 'yes'!
Once your partner has said yes (and this aspect is very important!) then it's time to spread the joy with your friends and family at home and around the globe.
Formal newspaper announcements are still done, but modern technology has allowed for tweets, facebook postings, texts and emails, along with more tradtional phonecalls and face-to-face annoucements to be the norm.
However you choose to tell the world, just make sure you cover everyone!
By no means essential, but a heck of a lot of fun, engagement parties are a great way to formally celebrate the beginning of a new chapter in your life. From a simple meal with close family, to a more elabotrate shinding at a venue of your choice with all and sundry invited, engagement parties are a fitting way to conclude the engagagement process (at the same time providing you with a some handy gifts along the way!).
If you'd like to find out more, our sister site - Wedding Planner Pro - has a whole host of unique engagement articles packed full of expert information and helpful advice, whilst our online Wedding Directory is filled with jewellers, bespoke ring makers and more.
For friendly tips and helpful advice, take a look at our Engagement Forum and Engagement Q&A's or check out the rings for sale and the 'links to pages & websites you may like' below.