Creative dating and dating invitations serve the purpose of taking seriousness out of the dating experience. Creative invitations allow people to avoid rejection through extended effort. Engagements are a whole different animal. Asking for a woman’s hand in marriage is an important relationship decision that can’t be skipped around by a cute pun or an elaborate set up. If she doesn’t want to marry her boyfriend, she isn’t going to do it. So why creative invitations?
In the Special Collections Archive, there are records of engagement stories ranging back to the 1930s. Those early engagements were often just an agreement, made without a ring or any kind of pomp and circumstance.
Around that time, movies became the primary form of entertainment in America. Suddenly, romantic engagements and sparkly rings were available for every young girl to sigh over. Young men suddenly had to compete with fairytale expectations.
As time went on, gradually the ring grew more important, and with the ritualization of the ring presentation became expected, location began to diversify. Instead of proposing on the front porch, a man would take his sweetheart up a mountain or to a nice restaurant to pop the question. Surprise became an important part of the proposal ritual, which turned to young men hiding the ring in a great deal of ridiculous places.
Near the 1980s, when many of the more obvious places to propose had been taken, and the obvious ways to hide a ring had been tried, there came a call for men to either outdo their predecessors or ignore the practice of surprising their future wife entirely. Practical men began to take their girlfriends ring shopping instead of making any attempt to guess what ring would be most well received. To the shock of few, women liked to pick out their own rings more than they desired to be surprised by a ring suspended in red jello.
Focus shifted from surprise to romance, movies featuring exceedingly romantic relations once again shifting what women expected and desired to experience. Elaborate schemes of carriages and rappelling to the dulcet tones of elderly Swiss horn-players accompanied the presentation of a pre-picked out ring. While the most romantic stories were actually the ones where young men took the time to really get to know their future spouses and do something that would be personally, if quietly, meaningful, there has been a major trend in bigger and better proposals.
Creative engagement stories can fall into several categories. Big Gestures are the proposals most influenced by the cult of romance. Little Gestures are the more actual romantic stories about couples who really know each other and love each other dearly. Failed Attempts at Romance often result when normal people attempt a big gesture and fail because of nerves or circumstances beyond their control. Holiday Themed proposals are popular because people feel naturally more romantic around holidays.
Invitations Involving Animals are surprisingly popular, for no discernible reason beyond human’s love for creatures. There is also a sub-variation of invitations that include plush animal toys, which were not included. Jokes and Pranks are somewhat inappropriate proposals that one must be cautious before using because not every woman is willing to let her fairy tale become a comedy.