dressed up like a lady: Promise Ring

Jun 6, 2011

Promise Ring

Ah, the promise ring, a staple romantic trope. The hero in the story, for whatever reason, can't yet give his betrothed the real thing, so he gives her a placeholder to wear on her finger to signify his promise until he can replace it. The real life tradition goes back as far as the Elizabethan era, when they were sometimes called posey rings.

Robin gives Maid Marion a flower in place of a ring, in Disney's Robin Hood.
Of course, there can be some confusion with this turn of phrase, as the term "promise ring" is also sometimes applied to the phenomenon of the purity ring -- more of a church youth group, virginity related,  "keeping it in my pants for Jesus" type of thing, which some may remember the Jonas Brothers apparently touting.  

I only know this because of Russell Brand.

But that's not what I'm talking about. My love is for the first meaning. The concept is very romantic, after all. It signifies that to the boy, proving his love and commitment is so urgent, it trumps all other circumstance. It says "I'm giving you this, because I want to give you more."

But of course, often in film it also signifies hilarious hijinks. There's a great moment in the Buster Keaton silent film The Scarecrow, where he gets married on a motorcycle, and uses a lugnut in place of a ring.

Perhaps bridging the gap between romance and hjinks, the Joker from Batman once proposed to Harley Quinn in a comic using a grenade pin.

I don't know about you, but I've often heard iterations of this story involving a paper cigar band, used by a guy who isn't rich enough yet to buy his bride a real ring. I don't know for sure how old the idea of the cigar band engagement ring is, but I know it's used in the Debbie Reynolds musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown.

In the movie, after Molly and Johnny strike it rich mining for gold, he replaces her cigar band ring with a real one, made by a jeweler to look just like her original, except made of gold and jewels.  

Anyway, I bring all this up because MC just gave me one hell of a cigar band.

This beautiful diamond ring was MC's grandmother's, given to her by his grandfather as an anniversary gift. Last week, the two of us were talking about our plans in life -- our big choices and desires. And while I'll admit that there's never been a time that he and I didn't talk in terms of "forever," MC has also been tight lipped about the why's and how's of making that official. He's a pretty romantic dude, and to him, part of the magic of all that is in the surprise.

But then last week, life threw us a few big decisions (as it is wont to do) and we found ourselves having this conversation where we were nailing down our hard and fast plans for how we're going to structure our life together. And the more we talked, the more MC just plain looked conflicted. Finally, he went to the other room, came back, and proposed with this ring. 

He said a lot of things. But to summarize the idea of the promise ring, he said "This is not your engagement ring. I have plans for what ring that will be, and when and how I'll give it to you. But I can't let life go on for another minute without giving you this ring, which my family wanted you to have, simply because it will show that much more officially  who and what you are to me. So wear this, and I'll ask you to marry me every day until I give you your real ring."

And he has. Every day. I couldn't be happier.


  1. This brought a tear of happiness & hope to my eye.
    I have been inspired by your blog & style for awhile now, but your love story enriches the beauty of every photo and outfit, and makes me feel that there is still magic in the future.
    A thousand times, Congratulations!

  2. You made me cry damn it. I'm so happy and excited for you

  3. Congratulations :) Thatt's the most romantic story I've heard since a very long time. So happy for you two :) You seem a perfect match!

  4. I've been reading your blog for over a year. I think You and your boyfriend are really great, loving couple, and you perfectly match each other.

  5. wow... i'm not a very romantic person. and i try to find my believe in love again very hard... maybe this story took me back to love- and hope-land a little bit more fast. :)

    congrats! congrats!


  6. Awesome- You deserve happiness Chica!

  7. So very sweet! Happy for you both :)

  8. THIS IS THE MOST ADORABLE MOVING AMAZING THING I HAVE EVER READ. that is so so so so happy-making, i'm crying! such a beautiful post! congratulations!


  9. I seriously teared up reading this story. It's obvious to anyone who has read 1+ post on your blog that you two are meant to be- congrats on finding true love. From one romantic to another, I'm wishing you two the very best!

    This excerpt from Plato's Symposium best describes the feeling Ben and I share, and since youre an intellectual-type lady I think you might enjoy it as well: http://www.anselm.edu/homepage/dbanach/sym.htm

  10. Congratulations Camilla! It's such a treasure to watch your love story unfold. Thank you for sharing it with us! It's so incredibly clear how much you two adore each other, in that magic, "other" sort of way. Not everybody finds that, you know. And it's such a beautiful thing to see. =)

  11. your gift of writing is so eloquently displayed in this post. this story needs to fit into a movie somewhere, or in a journal for your great-grandchildren to read one day. what a wonderful man you have, and what a wonderful woman he has! congratulations to both of you!

    ps his grandmother's taste in rings is exquisite!

    awkwardly chic

  12. So beautiful and so romantic! I just love it. <3 I'm very happy for you and your boyfriend. All the best!


  13. aaaah, congrats! such a sweet little story behind the ring, one you'll be telling your grandkids someday im sure! all the best x

  14. Doesn't your "boyfriend" need to be divorced from the wife he left before you can marry him? Oh, maybe that detail's not important to you in your little fantasy life.

  15. Thanks for your comment, coward -- I mean Anonymous!

    MC's divorce was finalized last September. But of course, how could I possibly expect you to know that? :)

    I would definitely think you would be privy to such information if you actually knew me or anything about me, but don't worry, I would never expect someone like you to actually know something that vital and basic before making a mean spirited ass of yourself in a public forum! To be that grossly misinformed, and yet still think you're in a position to make sad, anonymous comments on a stranger's blog would be quite embarrassing! ;)

    I would only expect that kind of ridiculous gesture from a callow, short-sighted bitch, who inexplicably chooses to roll around on the ground, desperately grinding her body into the long-settled dust and exhaust-tinged gravel of anger, rather than encouraging her friend (who provides such accurate, up-to-date info on the state of her legally ended former marriage) to get up, get in the car, and start driving towards her own happiness.

    Of course, even if I were speaking to someone that unfortunate and rude, I would probably still shake my head sadly at very idea of communicating through anonymous comments. I think I'd encourage someone like that to find a different way to perpetuate conflict, and cling to bitterness instead of moving on. I'm sure you feel the same. :)

  16. HA! Way to lay the smack down on that jerkoff.

  17. Damn straight. Shut up, anonymous.

  18. HELL TO THE MOTHER EFFING YES. I love your blog even more now. If I ever receive a snarky anon comment, can I hire you to write my comeback?


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