• Tue, Mar 11 - 1:02 pm ET

10 Things You Should Ask For Instead Of An Engagement Ring

instead of engagement ringIt looks like the engagement ring might be falling out of fashion for millennials, who are forgoing the tradition in favor of more practical options. There’s certainly no lack of huge engagement rings in the public eye (see the left hands of: Mary-Kate Olsen, Mila KunisKim Kardashian, Emma RobertsScarlett Johansson, and Ciara), but mere mortals like you and me are considering alternatives in big numbers. While some curmudgeons might shake their heads and say that all romance had died, I think there are plenty of romantic, meaningful options out there that aren’t diamond rings.

ERA Real Estate surveyed 1,000 people in committed relationships and found that 50% of female respondents in their 20s would rather forgo a diamond engagement ring and put that cash towards a down payment on a house. (In fact, 18 percent of participants said they had already skipped getting a ring for this very reason.)

Obviously 1000 people isn’t a huge sample size, but I can at least attest anecdotally that most of the crowd I run with will opt out of the engagement ring. While not everyone will put the money into home ownership, that sounds like a pretty smart option, and not at all unromantic.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the engagement ring for me personally (if you have one, want one, or plan to give one, that’s also totally cool). I’m just fussy about jewelry and don’t tend to like diamonds, and frankly, don’t really want an exchange of goods associated with my engagement. For a lot of people, the tradition of gift-giving to mark the occasion is important, and that makes total sense to me. I tend to gravitate towards things that would contribute to a joint future–your home, family, kids, and life together. If you want to have something celebratory but don’t want a ring, here’s 10 things you should ask for or buy instead of an engagement ring.

  1. Downpayment on a home (or, realistically, money going towards that)
  2. Extravagant vacation (or honeymoon)
  3. Dream wedding, if you’re into that type of thing
  4. Downpayment on a new car
  5. A different piece of jewelry–if you love necklaces or bracelets, go for it. Nobody said it had to be a ring.
  6. Fancy shoes you want but don’t need
  7. Weekly professional massages for the duration of wedding planning
  8. A major upgrade on your house (am I the only person who finds re-tiling a bathroom romantic?)
  9. Investment in that dream business idea that you’ve been kicking around for ten years
  10. A puppy, cat, or similarly adorable and wanted pet, complete with pet health insurance

Photo: Brostock/Shutterstock

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  • Kaitlin Reilly

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with an engagement ring, but I hate the idea of wearing an expensive ring everyday that I almost certainly would lose at the gym or something. It’s a nice gesture but not for me.

  • elle

    Agreed. Wedding rings/engagement rings are just not for me. Neither me nor my husband wear a ring. I’ve just always thought there has to be something better to spend your money on. Plus I lose everything: credit cards, check cards, licenses, car keys, cell phones. I would most definitely lose something as small as a ring….

  • Lindsey Conklin

    #1 and #2..all about it!

  • Alene

    My best friend got the puppy AND the ring when she got engaged. Bitch.

  • Megan Zander

    My stepdad bought a ring to propose with. My mom said yes, but made him return the ring so they could buy new furniture. He said it the jewler was very confused when he returned it. I have a ring, which at the time seemed like a big deal – cut, style, size, cost. And I will admit that at the time I was a bit envious of friends who got bigger rings. Now, five years later and two kids in, I rarely think about my ring, but I remember every trip we’ve taken and I love the house we bought. So I’m all for this trend, smart girls!

  • NotTakenNotAvailable

    I think I’d have to be, or at the very least have some marginal interest in, dating to have a fully-formed opinion on this one, but since I’m not much of a jewelry person and think it’s highly unfair that the dude isn’t expected to flash the relationship equivalent of an “Under Contract” sticker on the realtor’s sign, I applaud this line of thinking. Great for you if you’re into rings or that particular tradition, but I’d rather spend the money on something that would provide practical value.

  • Kelly

    I didn’t get an engagement ring until our 13th wedding anniversary. We had more important things to buy up until that point and I didn’t really care about having a ring.

    It wasn’t until a few months before our anniversary when my husband asked if I had any ideas about what I would like that I decided I would like a ring. I never felt like I was missing out on anything before though. I mean, I love it, and he did a great job picking something beautiful and in my style, but I don’t see why some people think it’s soooo important.

  • alpea

    I love my engagement ring. LOVE IT. it does make me a little ill to think its worth more then my car though. But we are lucky enough we get to do all the other things we want and still afford a ring. If it was a ring or a house? or a ring or a new vehicle? or a ring and a honeymoon? I probably wouldn’t pick the ring.

  • Jallun-Keatres

    I didn’t realize 2 rings was a thing. I thought my mom was just special :L I certainly only have one ring and it served as both, TYVM.

  • Choo

    I want a ring, but not an expensive one. I don’t really like diamonds, and white gold/silver look the same to me, so I’m cool with silver. I just love having a ring from a significant other, because when I wear it, I think of them. (I don’t see my earrings during the day, and I don’t really wear necklaces or bracelets.)

    But seriously, if it costs enough to even put a dent in the price of a house or car, I’ll skip it please.

  • JJ

    Rings are beautiful but I just cannot imagine wearing a really expensive one myself. A woman I work with was talking about how her partner said he would buy her any ring she wanted for their anniversary even one that cost $10,000 dollars. And while it was a lovely ring (she showed us the catalogue it was) I just can’t imagine wearing a ring worth thousands of dollars on my hand everyday. And the sad part is that would be considered cheap by plenty of people for a ring. Lots of people pay way more then that for the sake of a gold band and a big diamond. I could have bought a car, put part of a down payment on a house or condo for $10,000-$20, 000 dollars, gone on a month long vacation trip across europe for that. I don’t want to wear that much money on my hand that is most likely going to get wet,dirty at work, risk scratches and potentially lost or stolen. More power to other women if they feel comfortable wearing a ring that fancy but I would personally put that money towards other things instead of jewellery.

  • Eileen

    I like rings, and of all the different kinds of jewelry they’re the kind I’m most likely to wear. But I don’t particularly like diamonds and I don’t like expensive jewelry. I’d rather he save the money unless he actually wouldn’t miss it (my mom never had an engagement ring and she has a happy marriage that’s still going strong), but there are pretty rings to be had for like $200 and that would be perfectly fine with me.

  • Nancy

    How is everyone losing rings you never take off?

    I like the idea of rings & the idea of an expensive one for your income range. Rings last, rings are an investment, rings are pretty, rings are a reminder of the promise you made & was made to you.

    • Lizzie

      because they’re taking them off when they work out, cook, wash their hands, shower.

  • Me-Me

    I would rather get something inexpensive but meaningful and have that $5000 go towards a down payment on a house! I am so unmaterialistic its funny. My ex only bought expensive stuff. He bought his now wife a $6000 ring set. I would KILL my hubs if he did that. I don’t need thousands of dollars on my finger to show and prove I am loved. I have a sapphire engagement ring, with a simple but beautiful diamond band. Couldn’t be happier. Besides if I lost a ring that cost that much, I would feel awful forever!

  • jsterling93

    I got the engagement ring but honestly I sort of wish he had skipped it. I rarely wear it or my wedding band because I am just not a jewelry person. I do a lot of things with my hands and always worry I will damaged or lose it.

  • Shiya

    I got an expensive ring, and that little bugger is insured through my renter’s/home owner’s insurance (depending on where I was living at the time), and it costs me like ~$10/yr. Lost, stolen? Put in a claim! It’s also insured through the jeweler in case it breaks or the diamond falls out or something related to the workmanship. Like, you insure every other expensive item you own, why would you walk around with a car on your finger and NOT protect yourself from bad things happening to it? Though, I’ve worn mine for three years running now, and so far, so good!

    Regarding wiser ways to spend that money… I agree that a house down payment or whatever is probably a smarter option. Hubby and I were renting somewhere and happy enough staying that way for a while longer because we weren’t sure where our life would lead, yet (and ended up moving half the country away a year after the wedding), so we didn’t really have anything else to spend it on at the time.

  • Jen

    My fiance and I are saving for a house and probably 2 new cars in the next 5 years. Rings.. especially expensive ones don’t make sense. I would rather put that money towards our future goals instead of jewelry that I’ll either lose, damage, get tired of wearing, or need to have resized a trillion times a I lose weight. Just sayin

  • Alishmcmalish Dayum

    I don’t like diamonds at all, I think they’re tacky and overdone so I got an opal for my engagement ring. I love it more than any other piece of jewellery I have and he didn’t have to take out a loan to get it. Don’t be afraid to ask for different stones.

  • Steph

    Eh, to each their own. My husband surprised me with a ring, and I loved it and still love it. He chose to get me it, I didn’t make him, and he spent what he was comfortable with. Four years later, we have a house, a car, and are building up our savings to move to a new house, and it’s worked out well for us.

  • Lizzie

    My husband picked my ring and spent less than $1,000 on it. I adore it. every time I see it, I smile and think of him (and that is frequent since we have been married almost 7 years now. It is little sapphires and diamonds in a star pattern. I can totally understand why someone wouldn’t want one- if for no other reason than wearing something tall on your finger makes you prone to ramming said thing into every door frame, car door, etc. I think that if it had cost anything more than that I would have felt very anxious about it. To each their own I guess!

  • Charli Jay

    This is an interesting thought, but some of these things are much more expensive than your average engagement ring. To be honest, I find this idea a bit materialistic. Getting ‘fancy shoes’ instead of an engagement ring? It’s supposed to be a symbol of your love!
    Charli @ Diamond Heaven

  • Pappy

    I could write out all the reasons that engagements ring are a rip-off, but instead I’ll just leave this here…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N5kWu1ifBGU