Are you brave enough to take the leap today and propose to your man?
Published 01/03/2012 | 06:00
Today's the day that Irish girls traditionally get down on bended knee to pop the question -- but would you be man enough to wear a 'mangagement' ring?
Brave nurse Hannah Ross, from Mallow in Cork, defied convention by surprising partner Tony with a male engagement ring in 2006 -- and it wasn't even a leap year.
And as the loved-up couple get ready to celebrate their fifth wedding anniversary this year, she urged other girls considering proposing to: "just go for it!"
"Proposing to Tony was a totally spur-of-the-moment decision," recalls mum-of-one Hannah (43). "We had just reconnected after six years apart and the spark was definitely still there. I wanted to see how committed he was to us getting back together.
"We hadn't discussed marriage but both knew we wanted to be together, so I decided to pop the question during a weekend break in Kerry," she reveals. "Tony was surprised, but before I even had the words out he said 'Yes!'
"After we got engaged, we drove straight into Killarney to buy engagement rings for both of us, as Tony wanted something to mark the occasion too. To be honest, rejection never even entered my mind because I was more focused on just getting the question out."
Like Amy Adams in Leap Year, more and more women are plucking up the courage to ask: "will you marry me?" according to jewellers here.
"Over the past couple of months, we've had lots of women coming in looking for a mangagement ring for their intended," says Adrianna Doyle, of Barry Doyle Designs Jewellers in George's Street Arcade, Dublin. "The trend has been slowly growing in recent years, but with the leap year it's become even more obvious.
"Our mangagement ring customers range from fashion-conscious twenty-somethings to business women in their forties," she adds. "Some are gearing up to propose to their partners, while others have just got engaged and want to return the gesture.
"One of our most popular choices for men is a white gold ring with 'Marry Me' engraved in Ogham on the outside, which starts at €400."
Britain's largest jeweller H Samuel rewrote the rules of engagement when it launched the 'Tioro' five years ago -- a titanium ring embedded with a tiny diamond described as a man's engagement band.
So could diamonds soon become a boy's best friend too?
"Irish men are getting very into their jewellery," says award-winning jewellery designer Carl Parker, based in Kilkenny. "And while I can't see them wearing big rocks, more subtle platinum or palladium engagement and wedding bands have become very popular with both gay and straight men here who are getting married.
"Some female customers also ask for the ring to be set with diamonds or a secret message that only their partner knows about."
But should men who drag their feet really be rewarded with a rock in the first place?
"Let's be honest, we're in a rough economy," says Chris Easter of theMan Registry.com, an online wedding registry for grooms.
"The groom's engagement band is just a sales tactic invented by jewellers to trick young couples into spending money.
"I don't think we've reached the point where we'll be seeing a man showing off his shiny new engagement ring to his buddies."
Some of Ireland's most stylish men aren't so sure.
"My girlfriend and I are going out eight months, so I'm not expecting her to propose today," says model Darragh Hayes. "But if she did, I'd have no problem wearing a 'mangagement' ring. I'm quite metrosexual anyway."
"I'd definitely consider wearing a 'mangagement' ring," agrees FM104 showbiz reporter Sean Munsanje.
"It'd be sexist not to. I already wear a ring that I got as an anniversary gift though, so if I did get engaged I think I'd wear a different piece of jewellery to let others know I'm off the market."
Meanwhile, happily married Hannah says she'd do it all over again.
"Just last night, I was joking with Tony that I was going to propose to him again today," she says. "Luckily, he said his answer would still be the same.
"I'm not disappointed in the slightest that I didn't get to experience my boyfriend getting down on one knee and presenting me with a diamond ring, like other women do -- I was just grateful that he said yes.
"Tony was impressed that I had the guts to propose and both families were shocked, to say the least."
And as Beyoncé once sang, she reckons if you like it -- put a ring on it.
"My advice to other girls who are thinking about proposing is to just go for it if you think he's The One," adds Hannah.
"Tony and I are a mature couple who got a second chance at happiness and grabbed it.
"Deep down, I think I always knew we'd be together -- no matter which one of us popped the question."