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Wants to propose but can't afford ring?

Hi everyone! My boyfriend and I have been together for about 4 1/2 years now and we've had the marriage talk quite a few times.  We both see a future together and it's apparent to everyone around us too.  He actually suggested that we go looking at engagement rings about a month ago, which was very surprising to me. Well I got home from work that night to a very depressed BF... He was upset that he couldn't afford what we both liked at the jeweler's. Albeit, the ring was gorgeous, but I'd rather him put a lot of thought into a less expensive ring than break the bank.  After all that explaining, he is still upset with his budget for a ring. It upsets me that he is hung up about price. What can I tell him to get it out of his head? Help!
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Re: Wants to propose but can't afford ring?

  • bethsmilesbethsmiles Denver, CO member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    You could look into using a gemstone instead of a diamond. If you like the look of a diamond, I know there are a few ladies on here who have moissanite rings that they love. It's a lot less expensive and you could get the look that you love.
     
    Or you can do what @TwoDimes suggest and upgrade your ring when it's affordable.

    Also, you've only looked at rings once. Go a few more times, keeping his budget in mind and see if you can find something you love just as much.


    [Deleted User]Blackbird230
  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    Repeating:  You don't need a ring to be engaged.

    Not knowing the ring or the budget:
    • If you're looking at Diamonds, there are other stimulants that you can look into to help reduce costs (white sapphire or moissonite). 
    • You also can look at places online that may have a lower price tag. 
    • Are you able to contribute to the cost of the ring.


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  • Just wondering.  If you can't afford a ring, how can you afford a wedding?
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  • Dignity100Dignity100 Northeastern Ohio member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    @loves2shop4shoes - a wedding only *needs* to cost as much as the marriage license (and any other restrictions the state may have) which ranges state-by-state - I believe where I'm at it costs $50.


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    mrsfinniediblesprysky
  • Echoing everybody else here: you can certainly be engaged without a ring. :) Tell him to relax and not be discouraged; you've only been shopping once! Try a few different places, chains and local shops, and see what the differences are. Also look online, especially places like Etsy to see what kinds of rings are more affordable. And don't be afraid to go non-traditional on the ring.

    MelissaStrick
  • Blackbird230Blackbird230 Connecticut member
    Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 1000 Comments Name Dropper
    OP, go over to this (CLICK) thread. 

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  • @loves2shop4shoes - a wedding only *needs* to cost as much as the marriage license (and any other restrictions the state may have) which ranges state-by-state - I believe where I'm at it costs $50.
    This.  Plus, some people intend to have a long engagement so they are not even in the "saving for a wedding mode" yet. 
    Sarah71309ediblesprysky
  • PPs have great suggestions. Have you thought about a stone that's not a diamond? Even if you like the look of a diamond, you could get a moissanite or saphire, or even CZ if you like. 
    Other options:
    Let him pick a ring within his price range. Maybe upgrade in the future, but who knows--maybe you'll love what he gets!
    Split the cost of the ring. If there's a particular size/stone/etc that you really want, why don't you offer to share the costs? That does not make it less special
    Get engaged without the ring. It's not necessary and the agreement to get married is the most important part of the proposal. 
  • Just want to reiterate that you don't need a ring to be engaged.
  • @loves2shop4shoes - a wedding only *needs* to cost as much as the marriage license (and any other restrictions the state may have) which ranges state-by-state - I believe where I'm at it costs $50.
    True.  Is the OP planning on getting married at the courthouse in her jeans though?
  • @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    SJohnson82
  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    1) As everyone has already pointed out, you don't need a ring (or anything material) to be engaged. Being engaged means that you have decided together you're going to get married. It's okay to WANT a ring, but if you want to be engaged to your boyfriend, a ring is irrelevant.

    2) I'm not as concerned about the whole, "But how will you pay for a wedding?" part. Our ring budget was $1000k and anything more than that was too expensive. We're having a $25k wedding a year and a half later.

    3) If a ring is important and you don't want to wait around for him to scrounge up the dough, it's time to start thinking outside the traditional ring stores and vendors. I urge you to check out local jewelers; many of them will be able to make something within your budget. A small stone might look tiny in one setting, but huge in another; my stone is 0.3c but doesn't look very small to me because it's in a bezel setting, and the stone itself is pretty flat.

    Maybe have your ring made of silver instead of gold, or have 10k instead of 14k. Lab-created stones are much cheaper than mined stones and are identical in composition (I'm not hating on people with mined stones--I've got one). Moissanite, morganite, cubic zirconia, and white sapphire are all wonderful materials to try if you want the look of a diamond without the price tag.

    Etsy has some great rings as well (my dream rings were mostly on Etsy) if you don't have a lot of local jewelers.

    4) You need to sit down with him and talk about this. It sounds like it's very important to him to give you an engagement ring, which is fine, but it also sounds like neither of you wants to wait terribly long to be engaged after being together for almost 5 years. You need to let him know, explicitly, that you do not care about the ring. Tell him what you've said here, and what we've talked to you about: that you would be just as happy with something affordable, or no ring at all, or that you would like to look at lab-created or non-diamond stones for a ring. Etc etc.
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  • @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    My simple point is that unless you are having a wedding at a courthouse, wearing normal clothes, you will inevitably pay more than the cost of a marriage license.  And if you are so strapped for cash that you cannot afford an engagement ring, you should seriously consider whether you can even afford to have a wedding.
    kaitlynmichelle
  • @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    My simple point is that unless you are having a wedding at a courthouse, wearing normal clothes, you will inevitably pay more than the cost of a marriage license.  And if you are so strapped for cash that you cannot afford an engagement ring, you should seriously consider whether you can even afford to have a wedding.

    This may also be something that is preventing OP's BF from buying a ring...knowing that not only does he have to think about the cost of the ring, but the cost of the wedding as well.

    The day my H bought my e-ring was the day we found out that my dad had been taking money out of my small inheritance from my grandma which was specifically for my wedding.  H almost considered waiting to propose while he planned how to make up the difference.

    So while you CAN get married at the courthouse for just the cost of a license, not many people go that route, so this could be an additional financial concern that is depressing him about the whole engagement process and the OP should probably discuss both budgets (ring & wedding) with BF so they can feel comfortable with moving forward.
    Sarah71309
  • Thank you everyone for all the advice! I'll just have to talk to him again about how the price/materials don't matter as much as he thinks they do. :) Also, I never thought that he would be worrying about the cost of the wedding too.. Interesting, for sure. He is definitely one to think about that...

    We don't plan on getting married tomorrow, though. We plan on waiting at least two years, in order to save, to have a nice, but small, wedding. We are both Catholic so we want to get married at his church, not a courthouse, though that would save us both money. There are so many options out there- that is why we plan on waiting so long.

    All of these suggestions have been so helpful. Thank you everyone!


  • And I guess I didn't state this earlier, but I don't really care whether I have a ring on my finger or not. I've told him countless times that I just want the question, not the ring. I think I've actually said to him that "I don't care if it's a $.50 nickel ring out of those little machines in the grocery store". I just know that he wants to give me what he thinks I deserve.  He knows I'm a very minimalistic gal.
  • edited February 2014
    @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    My simple point is that unless you are having a wedding at a courthouse, wearing normal clothes, you will inevitably pay more than the cost of a marriage license.  And if you are so strapped for cash that you cannot afford an engagement ring, you should seriously consider whether you can even afford to have a wedding.


    So...should poor people not marry? I'm really not being facetious, I'm trying to figure out what you're trying to get at. Most people have a budget for an engagement ring. Many guys are likely shellshocked at the price of an engagement ring when they start looking. Many women wear engagement rings that cost far less than 5 figures. So, how wealthy does someone need to be to be married? 
  • @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    My simple point is that unless you are having a wedding at a courthouse, wearing normal clothes, you will inevitably pay more than the cost of a marriage license.  And if you are so strapped for cash that you cannot afford an engagement ring, you should seriously consider whether you can even afford to have a wedding.


    So...should poor people not marry? I'm really not being facetious, I'm trying to figure out what you're trying to get at. Most people have a budget for an engagement ring. Many guys are likely shellshocked at the price of an engagement ring when they start looking. Many women wear engagement rings that cost far less than 5 figures. So, how wealthy does someone need to be to be married? 
    I think you are missing Shoe's point.   You can be engaged without a ring, and you can be engaged with the free ring out of a Cracker Jack box.  What's the priority?  A flashy ring, no matter the cost, does not symbolize marriage/engagement alone.  

    Yes, ring shopping can cause sticker shock for some men.  Wedding sticker shock is even worse.  The point being all of these pieces should be discussed before hopping on the "let's get married" bandwagon.  If you don't, you are setting yourself up for failure. 

    Have the wedding and engagement you can afford.  I don't care if you have $50 or $50M to spend.  You can easily get married with either budget.   The ring and the wedding are minor players in a marriage.  
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  • edited February 2014
    suzie211 said:
    @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    My simple point is that unless you are having a wedding at a courthouse, wearing normal clothes, you will inevitably pay more than the cost of a marriage license.  And if you are so strapped for cash that you cannot afford an engagement ring, you should seriously consider whether you can even afford to have a wedding.


    So...should poor people not marry? I'm really not being facetious, I'm trying to figure out what you're trying to get at. Most people have a budget for an engagement ring. Many guys are likely shellshocked at the price of an engagement ring when they start looking. Many women wear engagement rings that cost far less than 5 figures. So, how wealthy does someone need to be to be married? 
    I think you are missing Shoe's point.   You can be engaged without a ring, and you can be engaged with the free ring out of a Cracker Jack box.  What's the priority?  A flashy ring, no matter the cost, does not symbolize marriage/engagement alone.  

    Yes, ring shopping can cause sticker shock for some men.  Wedding sticker shock is even worse.  The point being all of these pieces should be discussed before hopping on the "let's get married" bandwagon.  If you don't, you are setting yourself up for failure. 

    Have the wedding and engagement you can afford.  I don't care if you have $50 or $50M to spend.  You can easily get married with either budget.   The ring and the wedding are minor players in a marriage.  


    Okay, but if you read the first post, the OP agrees with this sentiment... She said they have had the marriage talk and are on the same page. It doesn't sound like she is pushing marriage or jumping on a bandwagon. She's been with someone for nearly half a decade and they are taking an appropriate step toward spending their life together. I just don't see how questioning her ability to have a wedding is relevant. 
    PepperallyKeptInStitches
  • suzie211suzie211 member
    250 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited February 2014
    suzie211 said:
    @loves2shop4shoes - saying you don't have an ideal budget for an engagement ring does not equal getting married at the courthouse in jeans.  As I said above, some people have long engagements in order to save for a wedding.  Do you think they're getting married the day after he proposes?
    My simple point is that unless you are having a wedding at a courthouse, wearing normal clothes, you will inevitably pay more than the cost of a marriage license.  And if you are so strapped for cash that you cannot afford an engagement ring, you should seriously consider whether you can even afford to have a wedding.


    So...should poor people not marry? I'm really not being facetious, I'm trying to figure out what you're trying to get at. Most people have a budget for an engagement ring. Many guys are likely shellshocked at the price of an engagement ring when they start looking. Many women wear engagement rings that cost far less than 5 figures. So, how wealthy does someone need to be to be married? 
    I think you are missing Shoe's point.   You can be engaged without a ring, and you can be engaged with the free ring out of a Cracker Jack box.  What's the priority?  A flashy ring, no matter the cost, does not symbolize marriage/engagement alone.  

    Yes, ring shopping can cause sticker shock for some men.  Wedding sticker shock is even worse.  The point being all of these pieces should be discussed before hopping on the "let's get married" bandwagon.  If you don't, you are setting yourself up for failure. 

    Have the wedding and engagement you can afford.  I don't care if you have $50 or $50M to spend.  You can easily get married with either budget.   The ring and the wedding are minor players in a marriage.  


    Okay, but if you read the first post, the OP agrees with this sentiment... She said they have had the marriage talk and are on the same page. It doesn't sound like she is pushing marriage or jumping on a bandwagon. She's been with someone for nearly half a decade and they are taking an appropriate step toward spending their life together. I just don't see how questioning her ability to have a wedding is relevant. 




    Having a "let's get married" talk and what's our wedding/engagement budget are two completely separate things.   Great they've been together almost half a decade, and they agree on getting married.  That doesn't change the fact that there needs to be a discussion on what the ring symbolizes.  She's been given good advice from previous posters on what next steps she should take in conversations with her SO. They need to figure out a ring budget they are both happy with.  It looks like they will use their engagement period to save for a wedding they can afford.  This may be with an engagement ring or not.  They can figure that out.

    Questioning her was not regarding her ability, but questioning whether they thought out the true expense of what they are considering.    As you can see by the OP's response there had been no talks about the wedding cost prior to posting here.  They talked church and potential timeline. It was a genuine response as to why the cost of the engagement ring is a minor factor in a bigger picture.  

    My response was to you regarding the insinuation poor people can't get married.  No one implied she was poor, nor that poor people shouldn't get married.  No one implied a ring needed to be 5 figures either. 
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  • HaileyDancingbearHaileyDancingbear Arkham Asylum member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    My ring cost about $100 and I adore the absolute shit out of it, it's a rainbow moonstone, which is my favorite gemstone due to the way it changes colors and plays with light.  I helped pick out something I knew FI could afford, if you go on Etsy and look up gemstone rings, which is how I found mine, you can find a ton of GORGEOUS rings in a huge range of prices.  Price absolutely does not dictate how beautiful your ring can be if you're willing to do some searching!
    And here's a shot of my super budget-friendly ring, I couldn't be happier with it :)
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    mbross3CLoGreenEyesPeaseblossom55bride2b71614
  • I'm so glad someone understands the point I was making.

    In no way did I say, imply, or mean that poor people shouldn't get married.  Nor did I ever say a ring needed to cost 5 figures.

    Suzie articulated what I meant perfectly.  That talking about budget and setting appropriate expectations is key.  Because if you think you have sticker shock when it comes to rings, you'd better prepare for the heart attack you'll get when the word "wedding" is attached to anything.

    FFS, when I was planning my wedding, DH and I went to Michael's to get colored sand for the sand ceremony.  The sand labeled "wedding" was 3 times more money than the EXACT same sand from the "arts and crafts" section of the store.  And that was just SAND!

    This is why budgets, and making sure you're setting your expectations accordingly, are key.

    *Steps off apparently snobbish soapbox.*
    bethsmiles
  • well first, you don't need a ring to be engaged but I understand if it is important to him. Second, you dont need a 10k ring just find something you can afford and like and then maybe upgrade to something bigger later on. Third, if he is so intent on a gold and diamond ring he cant afford, wait for sales and clearance events. FI bought my ring for less than twice the actual retail price. Also it may not be as fancy or anything but department stores and chain stores have a good selection of pieces and they usually have goof offers. best wishes


  • emmaaaemmaaa North Carolina mod
    Moderator 2500 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary

    Like other PP's have said, you don't need a ring to be engaged. However, I do understand where your BF is coming from. My FI and I had been together for 5 years and living together for a year. We had also been best friends since were were 14 (we are now 23) and known eachother since we were 5. FI and I had the marriage talk when we graduated high school before I statrted college to make sure we were on the same page and we have had it multiple times since.

    I was ready to marry him years ago but we wanted to wait until I was out of college. Well when I graduated we decided he should go back to college. I had told him for years I didn't need a ring because all I wanted was to be married to him. But he was very insistant that he wanted to give me one. So he took me to look and give him an idea but I knew they were out of his price range.

    So I kept insisting that I didn't need a ring and we could just go get married at the courthouse and I would be perfectly happy with that. But he decided to get me a ring and finance it (still in his budget) and I love it. Eve though I told him many times I didn't need a ring, he wanted to get me one. I think it may be a guy thing also to prove he can take care of you. I love me ring. It was in his budget and is exactly what I wanted.

    I would say to keep trying to convince him that you don't need a ring but it may not work. It actually made my FI mad because that's what he wanted to do.


  • @haileydancingbear Your ring is gorgeous!!! When we went looking, I looked at my SO and said, I really don't care how much you spend because that isn't what matters.

    I recently discovered that I have a family heirloom engagement ring that was my great grandmother's. My dad actually told my SO about it and he kindly declined- he wants to pick it out.  He said that it'll be more special to him.  And he WON'T propose to me without a ring- he's already told me that.

    Ah, well, I guess the name of the game is just to wait. You can't rush anything, ESPECIALLY a man. :P
    HaileyDancingbear
  • Can he not use the diamond and get a new setting? I mean, he is stressing about cost, here's a diamond practically being handed to him. It's not "cheap" to go that route, if that's what he's worried about. Nobody knows where it came from, and most people think heirloom jewelry is sweet. My diamond is pretty close to a full carat and is extremely high quality, and no way could H have afforded that when we got engaged without going into debt, which I would have been sooooo uncomfortable with. It's an heirloom from his great grandmother. Not that I cared about size or where it came from. I didn't want a ring. But I like that it's a family heirloom. It had more meaning that way. H had it reset so it was more "me" and I loved it so much it's my wedding ring too. He was able to give me a nice ring, which was important to him, without breaking the bank, which was important to me.
  • I can only offer some suggestions at this point, because PPs are giving great advice. First, you don't need to have a ring to be engaged, but since he's not buying that argument, this is what I would do if I were in your situation:

     I would sit him down and discuss what he's comfortable spending. If you believe that its too high, you should say something. A ring doesn't need to be thousands of dollars, as long as you are happy with it, thats all that counts.

    Then, I would ask what criteria he believes you want in an engagement ring. He might tell you the cut, color, karat etc. If he's over estimating/way off the mark with it let him know. He might be under the impression that you want a very specific ring, with a very specific price. If he hears and acknowledges that he is off the mark, maybe he'll see that you'd be happy with anything, as long as you plan to spend the rest of your lives together. 

    Hopefully this conversation will clarify things for him. If ring is a must for getting engaged (personally I agree with all PPs, its not), it should be a special experience for both parties, not just one. 

    Best of luck. 
  • Love all these open-minded responses! I don't want to negate any of them, because they're fantastic--I just wanted to add another point to the can't-afford-a-ring-can't-afford-a-wedding debate. If tradition is a factor to this couple, you should be considering who *traditionally* pays for things. The prospective groom pays for the ring out of his own pocket, but the bride's family generally pays for most of the actual wedding. He can't (slash won't slash shouldn't) ask her parents for help buying her ring, but there's NO shame, especially in traditional circles, in getting help paying for the actual event! To say "you can't afford X, so you obviously can't afford Y" is snarky, unnecessarily judgmental, and just generally untrue.

    But YES to the whole "planning to save up during the engagement" thing! That's my hope--we're semi-almost-very-nearly engaged. No ring, but we (hopefully) have a windfall coming soon that will enable us to buy an engagement ring. (Have you ever thought about how much everything in a checked bag on an airplane is worth??? We lost a bag recently, and its contents totaled up to almost $3500. Holy crap!!!) And once we have that, we'll start saving for the actual wedding day. With money from my parents and maybe his parents too, we should have a very respectable, healthy budget when the time to pay for things actually comes.
  • ediblespryskyediblesprysky member
    Fourth Anniversary 10 Comments
    edited February 2014
    kaitlynmichelle Sorry, I wasn't trying to say that there should be an assumption of family help on the OP's part. I understand what an undue burden that would be for her family. I was definitely NOT saying "Tradition is definitely the way to go!! Bum off your parents! Free wedding!!!" No one seemed to be talking about that angle of it, that's all.

    However, the other poster was making assumptions about ALL sorts of stuff, like that the OP and her FH would be paying for the entire wedding themselves. Most modern weddings are financed from a variety of sources, not just one single payer. So just because they don't currently have several thousand dollars lying around for a ring, it doesn't mean her parents, his parents, a grandparent, etc, wouldn't be happy to help out with a wedding in a year or so, or that they couldn't save a sufficient amount, all on their own, for the kind of wedding that would make them happy in that time. You just CAN'T know what the OP's wedding funding situation is because she doesn't elaborate. And the other poster obviously wasn't taking that into account.
    Sarah71309
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