While engagement rings usually get all the attention, from finding your style to taking the perfect ring selfie, there are two other rings that are equally as important (if not more so!) that you can't forget about: your wedding bands. If your engagement ring symbolizes the love it took to get engaged, your wedding band symbolizes your commitment to one another, and the future you're building together. It's a pretty big statement to leave until the last minute, no? So instead of aimlessly wandering into a jewelry store with no plan in mind, we turned to Jennifer Gandia, owner of Greenwich St. Jewelers in New York City, for her top wedding band-shopping tips that will take those rings from an afterthought to a symbol you're excited to flaunt.
Contrary to what most wedding planning timelines state, you should actually be looking for your wedding band early on in the planning process. "It's the one thing that's going to last the longest," says Gandia. She recommends buying wedding bands when you've still got room in your budget so you don't fall in love with something you can't afford, or feel limited by whatever funds are left. "People often don't know what wedding bands cost, so shopping before your budget has been stretched will let you consider more options." And don't forget how long it takes to make the rings! "You want to leave enough time for the ring to be created. Wedding bands are often customized or special-ordered, so you'll want extra time to work with," she explains. Whether that means ordering your dream ring in a different metal or having it engraved, shopping during the last few months of your engagement could put you in a serious time crunch. Why the changed timeline? Says Gandia, "Most jewelry stores don't make things in-house anymore, so the process can take longer than it did a few decades ago."
Just like you did for your engagement ring and other wedding details, browse the web for examples of rings you love. Keep an eye out for pairings you love, and bring images with you when you start shopping—this will give your jeweler an idea of where to start. "Don't be afraid to get adventurous, whether it's mixing metals or including different colored stones," says Gandia. Another trend on the rise? Women who don't mind the gap. "Flush-fit bands were a huge trend for a long time, but now more women are choosing straight bands that set their engagement ring apart. It allows your engagement ring to really stand out," she explains. Whether you love the idea or are still drawn to flush-fit styles, gather examples of what you don't like, too. "Oftentimes, the list of what you don't like is very specific, which will help narrow things down even more than examples of what you love," says Gandia.
Go Back to the Source
One of the first places to look for a wedding band is the store where your engagement ring was purchased. "A lot of ring designers are also making bands to match, so if you want a complete set, visiting the store where your fiancé bought your engagement ring is the best place to start," Gandia explains. She also recommends it because it will give you a chance to get familiar with the services that the jewelry store offers. "Even if the jeweler gave your fiancé the low-down on all of their services, that information doesn't always get passed on to you. Go back in to find out what kinds of services you'll get over the lifetime of your engagement ring, such as regular cleaning and services to repair loose stones," she says. Those services usually apply to your wedding band, too. "Wedding bands have even more wear and tear than an engagement ring since they're often worn on their own for everyday activities," Gandia says. "Be sure to confirm what kind of care your band can get, especially if the design has gemstones or prongs that can get worn or chipped."
Set a Budget
Even if you're shopping while there are still plenty of dollars in your bank account, have a range in mind when you head to the jewelry store so your jeweler knows what to show you. You also have a lot of other things to pay for as you're planning, so know what you're comfortable spending. "But stay open—you might get to the store and be surprised or fall in love with something," Gandia says. Your jeweler will be able to show you things in your price range, as well as offer ways to customize things to keep them within your budget if your dream ring has a higher price tag.