Read about the new etiquettes of the Rainbow from Rony Tennenbaum, celebrated designer of modern, contemporary wedding jewelry for trend setting couples.
The institution of marriage has been around for generations, while the legalization of same sex marriages has only been around for one decade. It is no surprise that with the Supreme Court’s ruling on June 26 of this year to legalize same sex marriage on a national platform, that we as a community are still playing catch up with our protocols and etiquettes to marriage traditions.
Not that couples have not been getting married, or proposing, or even getting engaged over the past decade, but with federal law recognizing our marriage as equal, the concept of “getting married” suddenly becomes more relevant. The interesting fact is that with no precedent to tell us how previous generations took the plunge (a gay man can’t ask himself “how did dad propose”), many couples struggle with the simplest of questions: Do we get engaged? Do we propose to one another? Do we have to wear matching rings?
As a jeweler who interacts firsthand with both young (and old) same sex couples in search of engagement and wedding rings, I can honestly say many couples are still unclear as to what the emerging protocols are when approaching a topic as “proposing” or “seeking rings”.
One of the most classic questions I get all the time is “Who proposes to whom?”. Consider this: our knowledge of each individual’s role in a couple has been etched in our mind as: man meets woman, man and woman fall in love, man proposes to woman with diamond ring, woman wears diamond, man and woman get gold bands at wedding and live happily ever after.
Today’s dynamic is different. The new landscape of relationships includes two men or two women as a couple, or a transwoman and man, or transwoman and woman and so on. How do we accommodate rules of engagement when no “one” person has a defined role yet for being the proposer or proposee. We are finding out as we go along.
As marriage became a reality, new sets of questions developed: How to propose, Who does it first, Should we both get engagement rings, Can you buy some of the most beautiful engagement rings on the internet, Does protocol dictate I kneel on one knee, Do I ask the father of the bride, Do we wear matching rings, and the list goes on. These are relevant questions we never needed to consider till we were faced with the reality of legal marriage.
Add to that complexity the combination of younger couples growing up with modern family values as a norm vs. older couples that have been together ten or twenty years already and now laws have been established around them. My partner and I have been together 22 years. Do we now get engaged after 22 years of being together? Do we get married? Do we exchange wedding vows? The social issues are endless. And we are slowly beginning to understand and embrace them with enthusiasm as we see traditions evolving around us.
One interesting component is that since the LGBT community has been fighting for so many years for the right to marry, we as a community kind of skipped over that beautiful right of passage in our relationship called: the engagement! So many couples I know never considered getting engaged and went straight for the wedding hall. This is finally beginning to change. I love seeing couples “proposing” more frequently now.
While there is no right or wrong answer to who proposes to whom, I have witnessed trends within couples I have made rings for in recent years. While there are many gay or lesbian individuals who still want to surprise their loved one with a ring and a proposal, I have found more couples wishing each to propose to the other and in turn hear those magical words, “Yes I will marry you”.
As for rings, while the romantic who secretly seeks out that engagement ring to propose to their loved one exists, I find most couples discuss marriage openly first, and then go searching for their perfect rings together. Some couples get matching rings, though I find the norm and perhaps the more commonly practiced path is to get unique rings to match each one’s personality. I am a strong believer that a couple “maintain their individuality within their couplehood”.
Someone asked me recently where I believe marriage is headed. I answered that: “We have lived for centuries with only one scenario for engagement and wedding etiquettes: man, woman, one engagement ring and a walk down the aisle. That one scenario is going to morph and evolve into countless scenarios of man/man, woman/woman, transwoman/transwoman, of entire families with children getting married and so on. The combinations are going to be endless, and with them the “love” will be stronger than ever.
So as we continue forward with new laws established to protect our modern day families, we will find more traditions evolve to suit our lifestyles, our personalities, and our individuality better. I say embrace them. Share them. Create traditions that suit your family. And above all always live happily ever after.
Someday. Somewhere. Is here and now.
ABOUT THE DESIGNER
Rony Tennenbaum is a fine jewelry designer specializing in contemporary wedding jewelry. In 2008 Tennenbaum introduced his own brand label of wedding jewelry targeting the same sex community, an untapped market at the time. While his designs were marketed in his early years primarily to an LGBT audience, Tennenbaum reminds us “there is no such thing as gay jewelry”.
His lectures “The NEW Etiquettes of the Rainbow” and “Buying Diamonds in the Age of Equality”, are an important educating tool he uses to address the growing demand for protocols from the LGBT community.
His wedding jewelry is designed with fashion forward thinking, a trend far exceeding just the LGBT customer. With millennial consumers arriving at engagement and marriage age, Tennenbaum believes contemporary wedding jewelry like his will be in even greater demand over the next decade.
Based in NYC, Tennenbaum continues to develop modern, contemporary wedding jewelry for trend setting couples. Featured in countless articles as well as selected as one of INSTORE’s top 10 innovators of 2015. He writes columns for several LGBT publications on the growing etiquettes in the same sex community and continues to inspire youth on becoming successful in the age of Equality.