For centuries, it has always been the man who asks the woman for her hand in marriage. The practice dates back to the Stone Age, when a wedding bonded tribes, fathers traded daughters to secure alliances, and dowries were offered as part of the package. Women often had no choice in who they would marry, so men were the ones who sought out brides. Even in today’s modern world, proposals still predominantly remain one sided, despite the fact that more and more women have started taking matters into their own hands and popping the question.
But what’s the protocol when it comes to same sex couples? On June 15, 2015, after gay marriage became legal in the United States, many queer couples were elated, but also were left wondering: Ok, who asks who now? Is it the older partner who pops the question? The person who’s the top? The one who initially asked the other out? Or simply the one who buys a ring first?
Thankfully, this isn’t a taboo subject in the queer community. Whether married, engaged, or committed, many couples are happy to share their proposal stories.
For most, the person that ends up actually asking has more to do with whoever feels it’s the right time and decides to make a move. Montgomery, owner and creative director of cosmetics brand Magari by MN, knew his now husband, Noah Wright, wanted to get married. He was ready for the next step as well, but it was Wright who ultimately got to it first and proposed during a trip to West Virginia, when he pulled out matching rings on a hike.
Something similar happened with The Lead creative director Timo Weiland and his now fiancé Jeff. The two had been dating for nine years when they started to discuss eventually getting married down the line. After that, Timo began plotting how he would propose to Jeff on a romantic trip to France that they’d been planning for later that summer. A job opportunity for Jeff meant they ultimately had to cancel the trip though. “I figured I had a little bit more time, and I kind of put it off,” Timo explains. “We were moving apartments. We had just done a big party for my 35th birthday. There was just a lot going on!”
But then in May, during one of their scheduled Wednesday date nights, Timo came home to find flowers and a candlelit dinner. “Jeff started saying that he had been thinking a lot about the rest of his life and how he wanted to spend it together. I said that I agreed and then he gave me a ring from our favorite Norwegian designer, Tom Wood.” Timo later gifted Jeff a ring by Tom Wood as well, and now they both wear them as their engagement rings and are planning their wedding for 2020.
For others, bedroom politics can dictate who gets down on one knee. Phillip Picardi, the editor-in-chief of Out magazine, recently became engaged to his long-time boyfriend and had no qualms discussing the dynamics of their proposal. “Basically I had always said that I am not going to be the one who proposed and that is because I am a bottom, and I don’t think I should have to do all of that work and also be expected to do all the work of having to find and procure a ring,” he admits. “I kind of think it’s the least he could do!”
Sometimes the proposal is completely organic: For Ron Shkedi and Sagi Golan, an Israeli couple whose wedding was featured on Over The Moon, they both arrived at the decision to get married together. While on vacation in Mexico, they were watching the sunset from their hotel and mutually came to the same conclusion. “We talked about life and said: ‘This is it—we are ready and let’s do it!’” Sagi remembers.
And other times, it occurs only after lots of strategic planning. Ivy Martinez and Felicia Barrett actually picked the month when they each would surprise the other with a proposal. “Once Felicia had a game plan, she said we better tell each other because we often think the same thing, so we did and . . . she was right!” Ivy explains. “We both had picked Cowell Ranch Beach, our favorite hike in the Bay. We decided to wait for a beautiful sunny day and we went out there and each proposed along different parts.”
As for finding the perfect ring, it’s important to speak up. Picardi, for instance, knew he didn’t want something as traditional as a solo diamond because that felt a little too expected. “I really only just started wearing jewelry, so I wanted something that would compliment my stuff from Ambush or Céline.”
He ultimately fell in love with a ring that was disconnected, particularly because he thought it really identified their couple’s dynamic. “We come from very different places and careers and paths and somehow we found one another,” he explains. “I also love this idea of there being two diamonds instead of one, we tried to resist the notion that a couple is a unit and that we are one person. We are two very different and distinct individuals with very strong personalities, each of whom really needs to shine. I really wanted a ring to express that.”
Weiland and his fiancé’s rings also reflect their differing personalities. “We discovered Tom Wood’s store in Norway when we were there three summers ago,” explains Timo. “Mine has a compass with a black diamond in the middle. It’s a modern silhouette with a nautical vibe to it, which I’ve always loved. Jeff’s is a very similar ring, but his has a little bit of an astrology twist to it. It’s a beautiful midnight blue with a constellation-like facade—he’s much more into that than I am.”
As these couples prove, there are no hard and set rules when it comes to popping the question in same sex relationships. The only important thing is to do what feels right, there are no wrong answers. But maybe ask a friend or two for some advice before you go off ring shopping. After all, you don’t want to end up with a Carrie-Aiden pear shaped diamond fiasco, now do you?