We’ve started to "pick a seat, not a side." We’ve started to have mixed-gender wedding parties. We’ve—thankfully—seen more women speaking and having prominent roles at weddings. We’ve started to be more inclusive, more modern, and less, well, sexist, than in weddings of the past. Even proposals have started to lose their rigid customs, with more and more women searching for ways to propose to their partners.
There's no doubt about it, weddings have become significantly less traditional and more personalized over the past few years. (Brides American Wedding Survey proved that.) But there’s one area in which tradition has largely held firm: the engagement ring. With heterosexual couples, men have usually purchased the engagement ring for their bride-to-be and that has been slow to change—until now.
With engagement ring prices skyrocketing of late—the average cost is a little less than $8,000—more and more women are paying for all or part of their bauble. From wanting to have the perfect ring to already having shared finances, women might want to pay for her own ring for a variety of reasons. Here’s what real women who paid for their own engagement ring had to say about their decision.
They Wanted Something Specific
For some women, they’ve always dreamt of a certain engagement ring—and they’re willing to pay to make sure the real thing matches their Pinterest dreams. “My very lovely boyfriend proposed with a not very lovely ring!” Susanna, 30, tells Brides. “It was a family ring, and he knew it wasn’t particularly pretty, so I paid to use the stones and buy a few new ones to make it into a ring we both loved. I basically paid for the whole ring myself, but it was worth it.“ She’s not alone; One U.K. survey found that 27 percent of women would pay the difference to receive the ring they really wanted.
It Was About a Partnership
Many modern couples feel it's important to start the marriage off as partners on equal footing. “In practical terms, we financed the ring, and my credit is much better than my husband’s,” Cat, 30, tells Brides. “We also figured that our individual expenses were about to become joint expenses anyway, so it didn’t really make a difference. What I liked most is that it feels symbolic of my retaining my identity and asserting my commitment to being a partner in this relationship. I wanted to show us both that I was going to be an equal contributor in our future.”
What I liked most is that it feels symbolic of my retaining my identity and asserting my commitment to being a partner in this relationship.
It Was Assumed
“My partner and I both bought engagement rings and each paid for them ourselves,” Jennifer, 28, tells Brides. “It was never really a conscious decision with us—we just did it automatically as I would never ask him to buy something like that when it was more expensive than his. We also didn't go over the top with the rings, meaning we had more money to spend on holidays and the house.” As many people are struggling with issues like student loan debt or trying to get on the property ladder, it’s common to cut back on ring expenses and put the money toward starting a life together.
They Were Bucking Tradition
If you’re already ignoring other wedding traditions, then there’s a good chance you might skip the ring-buying as well. “I proposed to him when we were quite drunk, and then bought a £29 ring from TK Maxx that everyone thinks is real at first,” Hayley, 32, who is getting married this June, tells Brides. Though they will be upgrading the rings soon, due to a fortuitous twist. “I have a diamond bracelet that I found on the floor (tried to find the owner, no one claimed it), and we will have it made into the real deal, plus [use the] extra diamonds to put in our wedding rings.”
Some women just want to take a straightforward, no-frills approach to marriage. "My fiancé and I paid for our own rings and picked them out ourselves,” Amy, 27, who is newly married and the founder and CEO of Modern Rebel tells Brides. “No proposal—just a shared moment reaffirming what we already knew to be true. It's empowering! It wasn't a big deal. The wedding industry puts so much pressure on etiquette, and it feels so good to let that go!" By paying for your own ring, you can remove some of the historical context of rings, ownership, and weddings generally—which many women are uncomfortable with.
There are a lot of wedding traditions out there, but some are starting to lose their footholds more than others. Engagement rings are a huge expense with a questionable history, but for some people the emphasis on tradition is still really important—and that’s great, if it makes you and your partner happy. But if you feel uncomfortable with someone buying a very expensive piece of jewelry that you may or may not have any input in, take a different route. Paying for your own ring isn’t for everyone, but it shows one of the most important trends in modern weddings: It's all about what feels right to the couple, rather than what tradition dictates.