Britney Spears has been through her fair share of trials and tribulations in the media in the past few years, and it looks like there's more bad news in the headlines for Spears today. Many were surprised when the story broke that she and fiance Jason Trawick had split, with the most recent headline involving Brit's return of the 3.5 carat sparkler Trawick proposed with over a year ago. It begs the question no bride-to-be wants to ask herself: Is it proper etiquette to return the engagement ring if the wedding is called off?
Most wedding etiquette experts are in general agreement that the ring should be returned if it was the bride who called off the wedding, or if the ring was a family heirloom. Common sense would seem to agree. But what about an instance where it was a mutual decision, as is seemingly the case with Spears and Trawick? What if it's the groom who calls things off?
The experts at My Wedding view the engagement ring as a gift, holding that the bride is under no social obligation to return the ring if the groom is the one who gets cold feet. However, they also note that keeping the ring may not be healthy or help the bride move on in the long run. Some states have laws requiring the return of the ring, but it's unclear how often these laws are enforced. The end of an engagement is a painful time and hashing things out through the legal system is time-consuming and inadvisable for former couples who want to move on quickly.
It gets a bit trickier when the couple has made a mutual decision to cancel the wedding. The engagement ring can be seen as the symbol of the couple's commitment to legally join in marriage, giving each a vested interest in ownership of it, or in ownership of any proceeds from selling it. Even so, the experts at Yahoo! Shine encourage the bride to return the ring. It could easily be an unhealthy reminder of what once was, and returning the ring can bring closure to both parties and be the best way to get a fresh start.
Here's to hoping that Britney gets the fresh start she needs, and more positive headlines through the remainder of 2013.