Shopping for an engagement ring is an exciting experience, and with a little preparation it can be free of stress, too. There are options galore for engagement rings, from pricing to stone cuts and everything in between, so it will be beneficial in the long run to take the time to consider each option available to see which rings stand out.
When shopping for an engagement ring, the intended’s style and jewellery preferences should be noted and accounted for, as she’s the one who will be wearing this ring. It is traditional for the groom to purchase the engagement ring for his fiancé, but this is not a ritual without flexibility. If the man proposing is not sure what style of engagement ring his soon-to-be fiancé will want to wear, he can always propose without a ring and with the promise of taking her to the jewellers to select the ring of her dreams.
Once it has been decided how the ring-shopping will go about, it is time to dive in to the actual selection of the ring.
Every couple has their own financial situation to consider, so there is no set price across the board for an engagement ring. Traditionally, it is recommended that the groom spends three months’ salary on the engagement ring, but this is not a modern standard. Some couples decide to split the cost of the ring based on their budget, others look to the average cost of an engagement ring on the market and use that as a way to set their ring budget. Again, since there is no set price for an engagement ring, it is up to the groom or the couple together to identify how much they can and are willing to spend on an engagement ring and let this guide the rest of the process.
Once a budget or spending limit has been set the next step is to break down the engagement ring options available for settings, metals, and stone types to narrow down and identify which ring type is preferred.
Popular metal options for engagement rings are platinum, white gold, and rose gold. Each jeweller will offer classic ring settings such as solitaire, halo, cluster, or pavé, as well as their own jewellery lines or custom pieces. When visiting the jeweller be sure to inquire about what custom options are available, the pricing for customization, and the time needed to get this type of work done.
Once the ring setting and metal type has been decided upon, or even once these have been narrowed down to the top favourites the stone shape can be selected. The following are the most common stone shapes to choose from, and depending the bride-to-be’s style one or many may be big contenders:
Cushion: Just as the name would indicate, it is a pillow-shaped square or rectangle
Princess: Square cut stone
Oval: Evenly oblong with rounded ends
Marquise: Evenly oblong with pointed ends
Heart: The name says it all; it is a heart-shaped stone
Round: Circle cut stone, with no oblong sides
Pear: Teardrop shaped stone with one pointed end
Asscher/Emerald: The Emerald cut is a rectangular shape, whereas the Asscher is a square; both have tiered faces and bevelled edges
Traditionally, the groom would work with the jeweller of his preference to identify which stone, setting, and metal is the best and go from there to select the perfect ring for his bride. To make sure all options are considered, it is advised that the groom shop around until he finds the ring selection and jeweller that suits his needs. After that, all he has to do is propose!
The Wedding Ring
Wedding rings are typically selected by the couple after the engagement, although many jewellers offer the option to purchase the engagement ring with the wedding band so that they match and stack together perfectly. The groom can select a wedding band to match her ring, or he may wish to select a design more suited to his style if it differs. The bride’s wedding band is usually simpler than her engagement ring, and if it has diamonds or other stones they are inset within the band instead of sitting on top so the rings can be stacked together. Alternatively, some brides opt to wear the engagement ring on their right hand and the wedding ring on the right, or even forego the wedding band altogether and stick with just the engagement ring. The choice is personal, so there is no wrong way to go about choosing the wedding band, if at all.
After the engagement has been officially announced to you friends and family, it is traditional to have an engagement part to celebrate your pending nuptials.
The Engagement Party
Engagement parties are held within a few months of the proposal, prior to when any wedding planning would dominate the bride’s schedule. Here is what to know, what to expect, and the essential elements to plan a killer engagement party:
Venue: Engagement parties can be held anywhere from fancy dance halls to rustic backyards, it’s purely a matter of personal preference. Take into consideration the weather, your budget, and you guests and choose the location that suits your needs. For example, if your parents are hosting they may wish to invite everyone to their house for cocktails and appetizers. On the other hand, your friends may decide to throw you an engagement party at your favourite brunch restaurant. Both are great yet different venues, simply chosen based on the style of party the hosts wish to hold.
Attire: If there is specific attire expected, clarify this on the invitation. If your engagement party will be held in a friend’s backyard, casual dress would be appropriate. If the party will be at a fancy restaurant in the evening, cocktail attire would be more suited. In general, your guests should use their best judgment on what to wear, but there is no set standard for how fancy or causal the engagement party should be.
Food: There’s a recurring theme here, and it’s that there is no set tradition for an engagement party therefore the food at the party can be anything. If the location is suited to a sit-down meal, then you may wish to serve actual entrees or sides, or have a buffet available. Alternatively, if the location is better suited toward cocktail hour, you could have appetizers and small bites circulating the room. Engagement parties can be catered, home-cooked, or even potluck-style. Consider the location to help identify which style of food would be best served to the guests and go from there.
Hosts: These days, anyone can host the party, including the married couple-to-be! Traditionally this is something the parents of the bride would host, and often the groom’s parents would either co-host or plan a separate party. Nowadays, it’s not uncommon for the maid of honour or best man to plan and host this party. If there are many volunteers to host the party, consider having a few small engagement parties to ensure all of your friends and family have a chance to celebrate with you.
Guests: Anyone can be invited to the engagement parties, although traditionally the guests invited to your engagement party should also be invited to your wedding. Feel free to bend the rules if you want a chance to celebrate your engagement will all of your friends and family but plan to have a small wedding with just your immediate family in attendance. The best way to ensure no one has hurt feelings or unrealistic expectations is to openly communicate about who’s invited to what. If a lot of your relatives live far away and will already be traveling into town for your wedding, consider their travel expenses when planning the engagement party. You may decide to have more than one engagement celebration—one in your own city, and one when you visit them before your wedding.
Just as it is with selecting the engagement ring and wedding rings, there are no rules that can’t be broken when it comes to engagement parties so do what works best for you and your situation.