Your heart races as he drops to one knee, and you're nodding your yes before he's even finished the question. Your excitement peaks as he peels open the velvet box he holds in his hand — and then, like an untied balloon, the excitement whooshes out of your body in a giant, deflated rush: You don't like the ring.
Keep your mouth firmly shut at first, suggests Michele Velazquez, owner of The Heart Bandits, a company that helps men plan the perfect proposals. "That would really make him sad, and make him feel like he didn't do a great job with his entire proposal," she explains.
After the initial shine of your engagement has worn to the buffered glow of a satin finish, pipe up. "Because every time you look at it, the voice in your head will remind you how much you hate it — and that will cause resentment and annoyance," explains relationship expert Dana Corey. "If you are constantly reminded of your disappointment in his choice, it will color your relationship."
Broach the subject slowly and in private. "Like any sensitive subject, you want to choose a time when you're feeling open and loving, not when you're in a disagreement or feeling upset. It's one of those intimate, vulnerable conversations that will set the tone of your marriage for the decades to come," Corey says. Acknowledge the love and thought that went into your fiancé's choice, and explain that it's not your intent to hurt his feelings.
Consider the sandwich approach of praise-news-praise, says Velazquez, who suggests saying something like: "You did such a great job with the proposal and I felt so special. However, I really think this engagement ring would look better if it were a halo shape. Would you mind if we take it in to fix that? You are so amazing, and I know you worked really hard on making everything perfect."
But be realistic about what can be done. If the ring is an heirloom, or if what you have in mind simply isn't within your fiancé's budget, be happy with the ring you received. Remember: You're getting married to the man, not the ring. "The question I would ask is, 'Are you committed to creating a happy, harmonious life together?'" Corey says. If nothing can be done, or you've upset your fiancé, "breathe, apologize for being materialistic and get over it. Or reconsider your motives, and be honest with yourself about whether you're ready for marriage."