LIKE “white Christmas,” “happy holidays” and “guaranteed delivery before Dec. 25,” the phrase, “Will you marry me?” is becoming a familiar refrain this time of year. December, traditionally a slow month for weddings, is by far the most popular month for engagements. While only about 7 percent of American couples choose to marry in December, 19 percent of couples become engaged during the holidays, a 2011 study from the Condé Nast Bridal Group reported. That is more than November and January combined, and it far surpasses February, when marriage proposals are often tied to Valentine’s Day.


The harmony of jingle bells, wedding bells and the insistent jangle of change in one’s pocket rings clearly. Engagement ploys often have an over-the-top quality to them. And many would-be bridegrooms view the already crammed holiday season as a ready-made opportunity to stage a memorable event with plenty of witnesses. The parties are already planned, and the Christmas tree and a blazing fire provide the perfect setting for a proposal. Also fueling the propensity to splurge is the year-end bonus, which men of a certain economic stratum can count on to pay for their romantic gesture.


The wedding industry, not surprisingly, has put its full weight behind the notion of the December proposals. Bridal magazines publish special holiday issues. Web sites devoted to weddings list ways to propose during the holidays. (Among them: surprising your girlfriend by dressing up as Santa Claus. Or attaching plastic antlers to your dog and placing the ring on a ribbon around Fido’s neck before sending him to wake your beloved.)


And to be frank, a diamond ring is also a fine present. With an eye on Christmas sales figures and a nose for big spenders, retailers push luxury items this time of year – cars, home theater systems, fur coats. Sales of diamonds, with their emotional weight and obvious significance, receive a huge boost during the holidays. About 25 percent of all diamond purchases in a year come during the holiday season. Some wonder if men plan to give engagement rings during the holidays so they do not have to buy their girlfriends other gifts.


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