Tying the Knot in a Meaningful and Memorable Way (Without Losing Our Savings or Sanity)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Making Choices That Make Sense for You

Matt and I took a pretty nontraditional route with our wedding rings. First, I didn't want an engagement ring. Even though I got many strange looks when my ringless self audaciously announced that I was engaged, I simply didn't want one. I don't wear much jewlery on a day to day basis, so the thought of wearing two rings after the wedding kind of overwhelmed me.

Secondly, since I didn't really want to wear two rings, I definitely didn't want to spend money on one. We were trying to divert as much money as possible toward a downpayment on our first house.

Third, I personally find it a little odd that women in our society publicly declare their engagements with physical objects but men do not. It's just weird to me in principle (although my feelings about the subject do not lead me to judge other women who do choose to wear engagement rings!).

In addition to our whole engagement ring non-traditionalism, we also took an unconventional route with our actual wedding rings. We asked our friends and family to donate their old gold to an eco-friendly company that would melt it down and craft it into "new" rings. Plus, I opted for a super-small gem (2mm, to be exact) because I didn't want it to get stuck on stuff as I went through my day-to-day business. Further, it was a synthetic, orange sapphire, rather than a diamond.

While we were making these choices for ourselves, I definitely felt insecure. I worried what other people would think about our choices--ranging from our families to our neighbors and colleagues. I worried that I would regret deviating so far from the "normal" path.

Preparing for a major life transition, such as a wedding, can be an emotionally tumultuous time, which can elevate one's anxiety or insecurity. In the end, I'm so glad we made the decisions that felt right to us. That's the best any of us can do!

In fact, to live our authentic lives, that's exactly what we must do.

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Sarah said...

I liked getting an engagement ring, though mine was inexpensive and has an aquamarine and not a diamond.

But I gave my now-husband a gift, too-- a custom-made pendant with something important to him on it. And every time someone squealed "Let's see the ring!" he would show off his pendant as well, since he was proud of it, and proud of what it meant. Granted, my ring "showed" I was engaged while his pendant did not, but I was glad to always see him showing his engagement gift off as well.

Kristen said...

This whole engagement ring business is funny :) Once I learned that a lot of the "tradition" and popularity stems from DeBeers' ad campaigns and that diamond engagement rings were not common before that, it kind of lost its sparkle. (see http://www.syl.com/bc/debeersadvertisingcampaigndiamondsareforever.html) I am not a ring wearer either, and am notorious for losing jewelry, so I told my boyfriend that there is probably a good chance that we will have to get a replacement ring at some point in our lives, and I don't want to worry about a crazy expensive ring on my finger. And I am not a ring wearer and pretty much a tomboy at heart, so I wanted something simple that would not snag on everything. We are going to make the engagement ring the wedding ring, too, so there will only be one ring. I had heard of this before, and the custom is to wear it on your right hand until the ceremony, and switch it to your left hand. So, I started wearing it on my right hand after we got engaged, and people were a little horrified by this and insisted that that hand does not mean anything. I finally decided to switch it to my left hand, just because I got tired of hearing everyone remark about it, and it doesn't matter that much to me. We are still going with one ring, and that makes me happy (some battles are worth fighting, others are not). It's funny though, I have seen some funny reactions at my ring because it is pretty small and simple, which is just the way I wanted it. I feel so sorry for the people who have that reaction. I feel like they are missing the whole point of it all. Being with my partner is worth more than a whole truck load of DeBeers diamonds. It's so not about the ring! :)


Katie said...

I had done a lot of research about diamonds and DeBeers's crazy influence,so when my SO and I started thinking about getting married, I informed him that I would not wear a diamond. Not even a conflict-free one because even if no one died producing the stone, I didn't want him spending thousands of dollars he didn't have on a stone that is about as rare as topaz. Lucky for me, he understands my love of re-used, vintage items, and found me a pearl estate ring. Most people have told me that it's unique and pretty--except for one friend whose reaction was , "Oh. It's a pearl? Not a diamond? Why would you want that?" Oh, people sometimes.

Elizabeth said...

We took a roundabout way to figure out our ring preferences. I was adamant I didn't want a ring - I didn't want to have a mark of "possession" like that. But, when I proposed to m husband, I gave him a ring (a locally made sterling silver ring, stamped with "unwedding ring"). Then, after he had been wearing the ring for six months, I got jealous and he went out and bought me a lovely garnet ring.

For our wedding rings - we both took off our engagement rings before the ceremony, and now only wear one ring each - I got a vintage ring with three teeny tiny diamonds, and he got a titanium ring.

We just went with what felt right to us, and so far it's worked out!

Nina B. said...

I love the idea of donated metal for your wedding rings, especially since you talk about community so much here.

We were offered several bands from my husband's grandmother for my band, but none of them were quite right. Had she been okay with melting one (or a couple) of them down to form a new ring, I totally would have done that.

But I also love having my very own band, too.

Unknown said...

My husband and I decided to buy a CZ ring for my engagement ring because we too, were trying to buy a house and didn't want to spend a lot on a ring.

We made our wedding rings in a ring making class that a friend was teaching, and we designed them with paw prints on them because we are big time animal advocates!

At times, I felt like my paw print ring wouldn't be taken seriously - but people who love me totally get it!

Hunter Valley Weddings said...

Engagement rings are a marketing ploy from the 20s to boost the market after the depression. We did enjoy your story thought! Best of luck!

Sasha-Ingenue said...

My fiance and I jointly decided to get married via an emotional conversation - so there was no "down on one knee whilst offering up a diamond" - my engagement ring was about 2 months in the making, and something that came after the engagement itself. We agreed that we each wanted to give the other a (one) ring. He designed his ring, I designed mine. The ring my fiance got for me ended up being my "engagement ring" after my dad offered me his mother's beautiful, small and simple 14k gold wedding band. I've never worn gold, but decided this ring would be an lovely exception. My engagement ring was custom made by a jewelry maker on Etsy - it has a hammered sterling band with a 3mm, square, blue sapphire mounted in 14k gold, to match my grandmother's band. Everything sort of fell into place without a lot of work on our parts - and we feel wonderful about the way it all worked out.

Kristina Jones said...

Ok, so this has nothing to do with rings, but I wanted to point out that I LOVE the pillow in the background! Did you make it?

Dawn said...

I'm just recently engaged (and have been loving reading this blog for all sorts of ideas), and I agree whole-heartedly that guys should get some sign of being engaged as well. I've ordered my fiance a wallet that will have something I wrote for him etched into the leather. Practical, in that he needs a new wallet, as well as being a sentimental keepsake. :)

Lindsey [homegrown spud] said...

We designed our rings...first with recycled agentium silver, then with pallidium white gold...and using my grandma's diamonds that I hold very close to my heart to have her with me. We chose a minimal design, unlike most wedding rings...with actually 3 rings on my hand :) But its funny... almost a year and a half after the engagement, and 6 months after our wedding... I love my ring and what it means to us, but people still judge!! It drives me crazy. I work in a hospital where I need a minimal ring to be able to do my job, and I love it, its simple. Why can't others open their minds up or at least be nice?! So I'm proud of you for fighting the "shoulds" in life, and just doing what feels right.

Hana said...

Well written. I'm not getting married, but I love seeing (reading) about couples that didn't feel pressured to do what they were "supposed" to do.

Allison said...

After learning about the DeBeers marketing ploy for diamond engagement rings, my then-boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to go with non-diamond engagement rings (that's plural - we both wanted to wear one). He proposed at a music festival before we had decided what exactly we wanted our rings to be, and we ended up buying detailed silver bands from a crafts booth for about $15 each at the music festival right after we got engaged. We replaced the silver engagement bands with white gold wedding bands that look similar to our engagement rings. We're both happy with the decisions about both rings, and it makes a nice story.

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