Can an Engagement Include Ice Cream?


Our oldest, Nathan, proposed to his girlfriend Kat last month. We love her dearly and are beyond excited for them. Cameron married Gracie a year ago this month, so we knew what questions to ask this time.


“Did you hire a photographer? What momentos from your dating history will have you at the proposal site? Where is the proposal site? How will you celebrate afterwards? What does the ring look like?”


When did simple things become so complicated? Today the man must hire someone to capture the moment, preferably with still photos, but videos are an option. He must choose a site, usually a place that’s memorable to both of them. My boys both brought rings that they chose—a bold but risky strategy. They transported souvenirs accumulated from their dating history. 


Cameron got Gracie’s roommates to print photos and create a bulletin board sized collage, then stage it on a bench in downtown San Marcos and drape with flowers around it. Cameron had to arrive early and stand guard over the scene until Gracie walked by with her friends. Afterwards, they had lunch with Gracie’s parents, then he whisked his new fiancée to a surprise engagement party. The whole day stressed me out, and I wasn’t even there! 


What if the young lady says, “No thank you”? Or perhaps, “Thank you, but not right now”? Does the photographer issue a partial refund for proposal rejections? What if someone steals the momentos or the props? Does the hopeful groom chase after the thief, or remain on watch so that no other items go missing? Are these new traditions really a good idea?


Kneeling is a long standing tradition, symbolizing a man’s devotion to his future bride. Both my boys performed this task, but they’re still in their twenties. Older, more mature men should avoid that notion, unless they bring a friend to help them back up.


Roman betrothed women received a gold ring for public and an iron ring for home while they performed household tasks. Oh, those Roman men, so thoughtful!


Gracie’s ring is an emerald with diamonds on either side. She opted out of a wedding band. Kat is wearing my mother’s wedding ring, a round cut diamond on a gold band. She also has opted out of a wedding band, so the two circles of encrusted diamonds are up for grabs. Perhaps a granddaughter will come along and ask for them, or maybe I’ll add them to my setting.


Nathan called me on the way home from the proposal. They’d met Kat’s mother and friends for ice cream, and he was eager to share his news. I congratulated him on the engagement and adding a chilled treat to seal the deal. I asked Kat if she was surprised.


“Oh, definitely! I thought he was proposing next weekend. If I’d known he was doing it this weekend, I’d have worn my black dress instead of my brown.” I suggested they hire the photographer back for the next weekend and redo the entire event. 


She laughed. “Oh, no, that’s fine! I’m sure we’ll do some engagement pictures. I can wear it then.” They opted out of an official engagement party, and we made the trek to Abilene and celebrated.


I can’t wait to see how their wedding plans unfold. Cameron and Gracie had barbecue, with coffee and donuts for dessert. They illuminated lanterns with a unity candle, to demonstrate God’s instruction to be a light unto the world. I’ve attended weddings with food trucks and pizza and mini pecan pies. I think, for engagements and weddings at least, the best traditions are the ones you create.


Jann Goar Franklin graduated Russellville High School in 1989. You can reach her at