I've mentioned before that I'm not a fan of engagement rings. I'd like to put a cap on the spending of my significant other, of $600 or so. I don't need an expensive piece of jewelry to worry about losing/being mugged for.
Now that I've read Meaghan O'Rourke's article in Slate on diamond engagement rings, I REALLY don't want one. Apparently part of their popularity is due to the end of "breach of promise suits." They were to provide insurance against grooms who deflowered their fiancee's and then left. Some states still have laws to this effect, that if the groom leaves pre-wedding, the bride gets to keep the ring. Ick. I can understand the utility in an earlier time, but are we really still putting a price on virginity? Really?
In Jewcy (hooray rekindled love!) Izzy Grinspan talks both about the history of diamond engagement rings in America (slightly less comprehensively than Slate) and contrasts it to her personal experience. She also addresses a lot of the awkwardness involved in being a modern woman in a heterosexual relationship heading towards marriage.
Speaking of marriage, Harley made the best suggestion that I've heard yet for a wedding reception: a BBQ. Combine that with the open bar (thanks Michael) and I think that everyone will have a great time. Except for the vegetarians, and really, their lives suck anyway.