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The groom's big job is to pick the right ring

Editor's note: Chuck McGill is the sports editor at The Northern Virginia Daily. He married his college sweetheart on Oct. 4, 2008.

By Chuck McGill -- Daily Staff Writer

Ladies will tell you size does not matter, but don't listen to them.

If you are a man contemplating taking that next step and popping the question, the first, most important and likely only significant role of the male in a wedding is selecting and purchasing a ring.

Sure there are other items on the groom's to-do list, like seeking the approval of your future in-laws (highly recommended), showing up at the right place on the wedding day (also highly recommended), and saying the correct name at the altar (I cannot stress this enough -- highly, highly recommended). But to kick this shindig off in the right fashion, knocking the ring out of the park is imperative.

There are, however, a few hurdles a man must clear ... and not all of us are blessed with athleticism and long strides to accomplish this.

First, determine if this is going to be a surprise proposal. If so, that means you'll be the confused man meandering about the mall in solitude, with no clue about princess cuts or solitaires. Or you can go with my plan, which was to summon the help of my shopaholic sister, who at least pointed me in the right direction as I whittled down my choices.

My wife, Lauren, is a keeper. She's small, subdued and has simple wants. I knew a modest ring would suit her best. After months of prying, I discovered pertinent information in regards to her desired ring, such as the "cut" and how many karats. This is crucial, especially if you are planning a sneak attack.

My best move in selecting a ring was disregarding my budget and instincts, something that has benefited me greatly in my first months of married life. That said, I didn't go well beyond my limits. On the day I purchased the ring, I was down to two choices. They were essentially the same ring, but one was a tad bigger, a cleaner cut and more expensive. That "one" was just outside of my budget, but I went for it anyway.

If the woman you hope to marry is a keeper, you could get down on one knee and propose with an empty box -- or at least one of those 25-cent plastic rings -- and she would still be floored and say yes. But, like I said, this is your big moment: Go for it. She's not going to reject a bigger, prettier, shinier diamond because you splurged to perfect a moment.

The proposal comes next, but keeping it hush-hush is more nerve-racking than doing the deed. I had to hide the ring in our small, one-bedroom apartment for about a week before Lauren and I went to the beach with family. I waited four days once we were there, planning an elaborate day of dinner and shopping before retiring to the hotel before dusk.

As the sun started to slink down the western sky, I grabbed a towel and escorted Lauren to the beach. It was quiet and calm, and naturally, she was oblivious. After delivering a short spiel that basically thanked her for putting up with my nonsense on a daily basis, I revealed the ring.

After she said yes to waking up to my handsome face every morning, the wedding planning commenced -- where the groom is often reduced to nothing more than a necessary figure in the process, like the pastor, organist and photographer. You may be asked several times if you like the color of this or the taste of that, but ultimately the bride will have her vision. If that's the case, be OK with it. You kind of have to be.

The wedding process, however, can be a harbinger of things to come. I was content with Lauren selecting the date, the church, the food and the reception hall; but what she didn't have to do was seek my input on everything from the colors of bridesmaids' gowns to whether we'd have meatballs or stuffed peppers as appetizers. It was an inclusive gesture that made up for the feeling of having a diminished role after the ring purchase and proposal.

The end result -- which culminated with our closest family and friends gathered in Alverton, Pa., on Oct. 4 -- was perfect. And although I had to miss my first home West Virginia Mountaineers football game in a decade, my fingerprints were all over our special day in subtle ways.

From the colors -- gold and blue, of course -- to the food and from the music to the open bar my groomsmen sucked dry, Lauren managed to make it "our" day.

After the wedding, we took a day to rest before flitting off to Florida for a week. We chose Clearwater, Fla., for our honeymoon, turning our nose up at traditional, more expensive destinations for the serenity of an off-season locale not overwhelmed by tourists. All Lauren wanted was a beach and a good book, so I delivered.

In turn, she made up for me missing that Mountaineer game by taking me to Game 1 of the American League Championship Series between the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. After all, I'm a die-hard Rays fan.

The Rays lost a heartbreaker.

But I won the keeper.

Contact Chuck McGill at cmcgill@nvdaily.com


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