Our life had become steady and we knew we were going to stay together. Somehow we wanted to make our relation more formal. Marriage would be an obvious choice. Barbara actually proposed to me. Well, not really a proposal in a romantic setting. More a statement during a conversation, something like 'I want to getting married next June'.
As we thought of marriage we also realized that Barbara's mother was not going to accept this. We were certain that she would disconnect Barbara from the family. Barbara obviously didn't want this to happen and there was no reason why we should force it. Marriage would not change anything in our lives, we still be living the same way. It would make things only more difficult for Barbara. Also Barbara was still financially dependent of her mother, although my parents probably would help out if we really wanted. Therefore we finally decided against marriage.
Engagement seems the best alternative. We didn't need permission from her mother, she didn't even have to know, and we still could promise each other formally that we stay together.
We decided for a sort formal engagement with a party, rings and a promise. The party was no problem, my parents offered to have the party at their house in the Netherlands. We invited my family including uncles and aunts, our English friends from Cambridge and my Dutch friends, this turned out to be quite a crowd.
Finding suitable rings was a more difficult problem. Barbara wanted a ring with a diamond and I wanted a plain (but not boring) ring. We walked for weeks around in the centre of London looking for suitable rings. And if we found ones we liked, they didn't fit or couldn't be ready in time. We didn't mind really wondering around the centre of London. During winter London is a very nice 'warm' city. With al the shop decorations and the activities on the streets, especially around Christmas time it s very romantic in London. Finally, after seeing nearly every jewelry in central London we found the rings we wanted. Barbara got her diamond and I got my gold ring. I remember them as nice rings, especially Barbara's one. A small ring with a v-shaped crown and a small diamond on top of it.
The party was held in wintertime. I went earlier to my parents house to arrange everything. Barbara came with the English friends later. On the day she was meant to arrive, there were very heavy snowstorms and the journey nearly had to be cancelled. We all had a great time at my parents house. All the friends who had come over from England stayed there. They were sleeping everywhere, behind the couch, in the hallway, in the attic. We went skating, had snowball fights and just hang out together. The snow and ice made it extra romantic, especially when walking through the woods.
The engagement ceremony itself was to be formal. My eldest brother was the master of ceremony and he wanted it to be a traditional engagement. Barbara was very pleased it was organized this way. Being formal was for her a sigh that everybody would take this engagement seriously. Just before the ceremony she was a bit sad, she felt sorry that her mother wasn't here to share this moment with her, as she said that she had never been happier in her life.
The ceremony went as planned. First welcoming al the guest, even my aunt from Australia had come. Then the speech from my brother, the promise we made to each other with the rings, the kiss and then al the presents. It was a long night and Barbara shined all the time. When we came downstairs the following day there were still some guest partying. The days that followed we spent skating and the snowball fights continued. I remember it as perfect, romantic time together, with a very sparkling Barbara.
Barbara never told her mother about the engagement. When her mother asked her about the ring, Barbara told her that it was just a present from me.
订婚仪式本身很正式， 我大哥是仪式主持人。他希望做成一个传统的订婚仪式。Barbara也很高兴有这样仪式形式。对她而言，正式仪式意味着每个人都把这次订婚看得很认真。仪式开始前她有点难过，她说那是她人生最快乐的一刻，她觉得遗憾母亲不能和她分享那个时刻。仪式如计划进行。首先欢迎来宾，我远在澳洲的阿姨也来参加了。然后是我哥哥致词，我们彼此许下诺言并交换戒指。 那晚的聚会延续到很晚。Barbara整晚都光彩照人。我们第二天下楼来的时候，还有些客人没散场呢。接下来的几天，我们还是继续滑冰打雪仗。 在我的记忆中，身边的Barbara闪耀亮丽，那是我们在一起的完美的浪漫时光。
(Thanks to Natalie for the translation)
The beginning of the ceremony 仪式开始
The promise 诺言
The kiss 订婚之吻
One of the more suggestive gifts 有暗示的礼物之一
A very pleased Barbara, proudly showing her ring on what might have been the happiest day of her life.