December, The Month of Engagements, What You Need to Know

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December is the most common month for engagements. Celtic Jewellery Site has compiled facts, statistics, and trivia everyone should know before getting engaged. Explore the history of the engagement ring, the average age of brides and grooms, and when to hold the wedding.

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December is the most popular month for engagements, accounting for about 1 in every 5 proposals. Before “popping the question”, here are some statistics and trivia everyone should know.

Engagement rings traditionally were a simple band braided out of copper. In the middle ages, men gave betrothal rings known as “posy rings”, which they would inscribe with messages or poems. The first person to receive a diamond engagement ring was Mary of Burgundy, who received the ring from the Roman Emperor Maximilian I as an engagement present in 1477. The smallest known engagement ring was given to 2 year old Princess Mary, daughter of King Henry VIII on her betrothal to Prince Dauphin of France in 1518. During the Renaissance, gimmel rings were popular, which consist of 2-3 interlocking rings that are divided amongst the groom and bride and occasionally a third for a witness. King George III introduced the “keeper” or guard ring in 1761 as he presented the band encircled with diamonds to Queen Charlotte. During the reign of Louis XVI, the diamond cluster ring was popular. In the 17th and 18th centuries, a heart ring, like the Celtic Claddagh, was popular and often featured rubies. There was also a time when the “princess ring”, which contains 3-5 diamonds in a row across the top, was forbidden to anyone outside royalty or clergy. As the South African diamond mines were discovered in 1870, diamonds became more affordable and were now accessible to a greater amount of the population.

Statistics show that 99% of proposals are given by men. About 74% of all brides receive a diamond engagement ring, although today Sapphire, Emerald and Ruby are also common. Over half of the bride-to-be's help pick out the ring while a small percentage actually pick it out themselves. According to the Diamond Industry, it is suggested to spend about 2 months salary on an engagement ring, with the average being about $2000. The most popular engagement ring has a round brilliant diamond. The average women’s ring size is 6 and the average men’s size is 10. The ring is worn on the left hand fourth finger because it was believed that the “vein of love” ran directly from this finger to the heart.

Some famous engagement rings include the 2 carat ring set with emeralds given by John F. Kennedy to Jacqueline Bouvier, the 12 carat emerald cut diamond ring given to Grace Kelly by Prince Ranier, the 3.5 carat ring with 21 additional diamonds given by Elvis Presley to Priscilla, and the 33.19 and 69.42 carat diamond rings given to Elizabeth Taylor by Richard Burton on their first and second engagements.

A popular trend has emerged in giving rings with hidden meanings. Celtic rings offer additional meanings in multiple ways. One of the most popular Celtic Rings is the Claddagh. This ring features a crowned heart held by two hands. Its meaning of love, loyalty, and friendship enhance the vows that one feels when giving an engagement ring. This ring is popular among many celebrities including Jennifer Aniston, Julia Roberts, Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis, Bono, and Sienna Miller. It has also made appearances in several films including "The Doors" as Jim Morrison and Patricia Kennealy exchange the rings in a commitment ceremony, and television shows including "Buffy the Vampire Slayer", as Angel gives a claddagh ring to Buffy. Other popular Celtic rings include those with Celtic Knotwork, which expresses the intertwining of two lives into one, Rings inscribed with Gaelic Phrases with meanings of "Mo Anam Cara" for "My Soul Mate" or "Gra Go Deo" for "Love Forever", as well as Warrior Shield rings inspired by the Ardagh Chalice. The additional meanings of these rings make them even more treasured.

After becoming engaged, the wedding decisions including when to have the wedding are made. Historically, Wednesday was considered the best day to marry. Presently the most popular day to wed is Saturday, which was considered the unluckiest day to marry. It was also said to marry on Monday for wealth, Tuesday for health.

The most popular month to get married is June, with August in a close second. The least popular month to get married is January. There is an old saying that claims to determine the fate of your marriage based on the month that you wed:

"Married when the year is new, he'll be loving, kind and true;
When February birds do mate, you wed nor dread your fate;
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you'll know;
Marry in April when you can, joy for Maiden and for Man;
Marry in the month of May, and you'll surely rue the day;
Marry when June roses grow, over land and sea you will go;
Those who in July do wed, must labour for their daily bred;
Whoever wed in August be, many a change is sure to see;
Marry in September's shrine, your living will be rich and fine;
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry;
If you wed in bleak November, only joys will come, remember;
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last".

Today the average age of a bride is 27 and the average groom is 29. For remarriages, the average bride is 34 and the groom 37. The average American wedding costs $25,000 with 189 guests. In Canada, the average cost is $20,000 with 188 guests. It has become common practice to give out wedding favors to all wedding guests. Queen Victoria and Prince Albert gave out rings engraved with her image to their guests. About 88% of North Americans marry at least once in their lifetime.

A majority of brides plan formal weddings. The most common number of bridesmaids including the maid of honour is 4. About 62% of weddings have a flower girl, while only 56% have a ring bearer. Only 15% of all weddings in the US take place outside of a church or synagogue. In 30% of weddings, the bride’s parents pay for everything. Nearly a third of couples pay for it themselves. Some will share the cost with both sets of parents.

The average amount spent on a bridal gown is $800. White wasn’t the traditional wedding gown color until 1840 when Queen Victoria wore a white gown to marry Prince Albert. Many modern brides are adding at least some color to their gowns. Bridesmaids traditionally dressed similar to the bride to trick evil spirits that may come to curse the bride. Carrying a bouquet and wearing a veil was also to ward off evil spirits. Today, these have become optional accessories.

If becoming engaged this December, one should keep these in mind when looking for a ring and planning their future wedding.

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Rauncie Kinnaird

Shelley Caldwell
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