The engagement ring was only the start of the ring-shopping fiasco, but there are a few things I’ve gleaned from the experience as of late that might make the process of choosing a wedding band (two wedding bands, for that matter) a little bit easier.
1. Conduct some preliminary research and develop a rough idea of what you’re looking for.
I went into the wedding band process blindly, thinking I’d walk into a jeweler’s, I'd be shown a selection of the most-trendy-yet-traditional wedding rings that happened to be exactly what my subconscious mind envisioned, and I'd walk out in 10 minutes with a velvet box in my pocket. That didn’t happen.
The experience seemed all the more overwhelming when I realized I didn’t really know what I wanted. And so I left, knowing that I’d wasted some time but ready to do more research and figure out what it was I actually did want.
Like you’ve probably been encouraged to do for every aspect and minute detail of the wedding, making a Pinterest board of your dream rings isn’t a bad idea, if "Pinning" is your thing. If it’s not your thing, there’s no shame in Googling wedding bands and browsing the selections of local jewelers’ online stores, and taking screenshots of the styles you like the most.
The Knot suggests you begin the process asking yourself a few questions about the style you want, questions that include, “Are you envisioning a simple band or one with embellishments? Do you want your wedding ring to be the same metal as your engagement ring? Do you think you and your partner’s rings should match?” This is a good place to start.
Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind what your engagement ring looks like, if you plan on wearing the two rings together and on the same finger. I initially envisioned a yellow-gold wedding band, but when I slid one on over my engagement ring, it completely clashed with the engagement ring’s white gold makeup. It helped that my fiance preferred the white-gold band, anyway. So a white-gold wedding band for me it is.
Finally, consider your lifestyle. A few months ago, Instagram promoted Enso rings in my feed, and I actually bought a few -- not for the wedding, but just to have some cute, durable rings on hand. Later they were promoted to me again, this time marketed as the perfect wedding band that you could wear to run, climb, work, swim, cook, shower, hold a baby, deliver a baby, save a cat from a tree, rescue someone’s grandmother from a burning building, perform emergency CPR, whatever your chaotic life entails, without risking ring avulsion or degloving and amputation. If this sounds like you, consider a silicone ring today!
2. Develop the budget.
The average wedding ring costs $1,000. Obviously the aforementioned silicone ring is going to cost less than a precious metal engraved with gemstones, but some also opt to use a more durable stand-in ring when traveling or engaging in strenuous activity, while wearing the “actual” ring during more restful periods of life.
How much you spend on your wedding bands depends on how much you can spend + how much you actually want to spend. I would encourage any couple to not be shamed if they do not want to spend thousands of dollars on a ring -- or, hey, to not be shamed if they want to put 85% of the wedding budget toward the rings (as long as the guests are well-fed at the reception, that is).
Someone asked on a wedding-related forum, “How much should wedding bands cost?” Maybe they asked because they didn’t know if they were overpaying or not, but it's more likely that they asked because self-consciousness apparently runs rampant in the world of weddings, specifically on how much money you’re spending, or not spending, on one. My favorite reply was, “Mine was $50 (etsy) and his was $20. The bands are simple and weren't a priority for us since we don't really wear them. We spent that money on things that mattered to us like the catering and our savings for a house.”
Once you know what kind of ring you want, set a budget and find something you like that falls within that budget. Simple!
3. Consider a local jeweler.
When my fiance was working for a nearby TV station, he and a reporter did a story on a little shop called Jewelry by Cottage Studio in Cambridge, MD. He brought me back a “meditation ring,” handmade with a thick silver band and two thinner gold-colored bands around it that can be spun around the thicker band, and I wear it every day. Ever since we first got engaged, I've wanted to visit the studio and buy their wedding bands that were handcrafted right in Cambridge.
We walked into the studio one evening in January, 30 minutes before closing, and were informed by the very kind owner that soon they’d be closing forever. They were moving to Colorado and weren’t making any new rings in the store, or offering any more classes where crafty customers could learn how to do it yourself. That was a sad moment, but the owner did recommend another independent jewelry store, Shearer the Jeweler in downtown Easton, MD, a shop that I really do recommend.
Park Place Jewelers is another jewelry store, with several locations in Ocean City, MD, that offers a variety of wedding bands, many of them beach- and Ocean City-themed.
Kokkinos Creative Jewelers is also local to Ocean City, and they pride themselves on being the only J.A.-certified bench jeweler in Maryland.
I do think it’s cool to have a band that’s custom-made by a local jeweler rather than a large chain, if only because the idea of a locally-crafted wedding band seems more special and unique (even though at their simplest, many wedding rings are just plain metal circles, anyway). Of course, the couple should always put their desires first, whether that means getting a friend to weld a couple of bands in their basement (now that’s local) or picking out the most expensive rings that Kay Jewelers has to offer. It’s not only your wedding but it’s your marriage, and hopefully you’ll be wearing this ring for the rest of your material life.
Unless, of course, you lose it down the drain. It happens.