published April 28th, 2014
When a man gets down on bended knee and asks you to marry him how do you reach your answer? Do you instinctively know that you love this man with all your heart and want to spend the rest of your life with him? Do you recoil in horror and decline his proposal in a heartbeat? Or do you ask for some time to think about about it as it’s a huge decision and he took you by surprise?
Well there’s no right or wrong answer to his question. Except maybe in his head… he wants you to say yes without hesitation of course, but it’s your call. As long as your decision is primarily based on your feelings for this man then you can’t go wrong.
However, if you base your answer on the quality of the ring he’s planning to slip on your finger then there’s going to be tears before bedtime - or at least before the wedding. If you love this man and want to marry him then you’ll say yes if the “ring” is no more than a Coke can ring pull. On the flip side of that, if you don’t love him then you should still decline, even if the ring was forged in the heart of a dying star and studded with 24 carat diamonds.
The point is that your answer should reflect more the size of his heart and the quality of his character than the size and quality of the ring he’s presenting before you. Asking “How much did that cost?” before giving your answer would be generally frowned upon. As would saying “I’ll say yes, but if you don’t mind I’d prefer the cash to a ring”.
In an ideal world you don’t want to go into debt from the offset. Once you’re engaged to be married you’ll have other expenses to consider, like maybe a house, a car… Oh, and the wedding!
You may have heard rumours that an engagement ring should cost a certain percentage of a man’s income, but that’s basically hogwash. No, the ring should not cost two months salary, or four months salary - this is a ring we’re talking about, not a mortgage. Nor should you remortgage your home to buy a ring!
For some men a “percentage rule” might fit into their budget, but for others it obviously won’t. Every financial situation is different, so you should set your budget around your own personal circumstances, and not the man next door.
Fortunately there are several options available to you if you’re on a tight budget, and you can purchase many resplendent rings at some very reasonable prices. You just need to know where to look…
The Family Heirloom
Here you can take the “vintage” approach by using a family heirloom, perhaps from your mother or grandmother, or something that goes back even further. This doesn’t have to be a ring, it could be a pendant or necklace. If you have a family stone then you could ask a jeweller to set it for you. The great thing about heirlooms that have been handed down the generations is that they’re usually free… unless your mother or grandmother has other ideas and wants cash for it, but that’s an unlikely scenario.
Another money-saving alternative could be purchasing loose or wholesale diamonds and asking your friendly neighbourhood jeweller to set it for you. This may take a bit more time and effort, but it will certainly save you money in the long-run. Just be mindful of where you’re purchasing your gems from. They should be sold via a reputable dealer and not from some guy on a street corner wearing a long black trench coat.
If your intended is slightly more high maintenance and is one of these people that bins their iPhone as soon as a new model is released then she may have her heart set on a new ring. As mentioned above this shouldn’t factor into her decision but it could tip the scales from a “maybe” to a “yes” a lot quicker if she’s dazzled by the engagement ring.
Diamonds may be the most popular and common engagement ring stone, but there’s nothing stopping you from picking another gem such as tanzanite, aquamarine or mystic topaz. These are becoming increasingly popular, and much more unique than a traditional diamond engagement ring.
While the ring may be necessary, the lavish party to celebrate the engagement really isn’t. You can save money by opting for a dinner with family and close friends. This doesn’t need to be anything flash, as simply preparing a meal at your home would suffice. Save the Date cards can also be expensive, but several wedding websites now provide free save the date sites and announcement pages, so that’s another avenue you could go down.
Your engagement ring should be a ring you really love, as you’ll probably be wearing it for the rest of your life. Although most couples can’t afford to spend $20,000 on a ring, there are a plethora of cheaper alternatives out there for less than $1,000. You may need to compromise a little, but as you’re entering into married life then compromising be something you’ll need to get used to!