Love

Sharing The Cost Of An Engagement Ring

Q. Hi Jordan,

I’m from Bolivia, and recently decided to get married to an amazing American guy. My parents weren’t very excited about the news; they think it’s too fast but are doing their best to be supportive. I always wondered: was it hard for you to tell your parents about your [fast] engagement with Kendrick?

My real question is about the engagement ring. I saw on your blog that you and Kendrick chose the ring together. In Bolivia the guy is supposed to pick up the ring and pay for it…but as we are doing it in a different way, should we share the cost of the ring? Is sharing that cost a normal thing in American culture? Did you share the cost of your engagement ring with Kendrick? I have no problem paying half of it, but I also want to know if it is the right thing to do.

Thank you so much! Have fun packing and give a big kiss to baby Indy.

Maria

A. To answer your first question, about our quick engagement (above, that’s us around the time that we got engaged): I think anyone who gets engaged after just a few weeks worries a bit (or a lot) about telling their parents, but I probably worried less than most because my parents got engaged on the night that they met (really). But what it came down to is that while I absolutely wanted my parents’ support and approval (as I generally always do), I felt confident enough about our decision that I didn’t need it, if that makes any sense.

But that’s not to say that really wanting (or even needing) your parents’ support is an indicator of how much you love your husband-to-be or whether or not you “should” be getting married – how you feel about them being on board with your marriage is a deeply individual thing that depends on your particular family dynamic, and I’d say just be patient, try to understand where your parents are coming from, and give it time. It sounds like they really want to arrive at a place where they’re supportive of your relationship, and that’s wonderful.

Now, the engagement ring. At the time we got engaged I was…let’s just say “transitional” (transitioning from acting to bartending while I hopefully transitioned right on into something else)…and Kendrick was in an indie band, so we both went into our engagement very aware that the ring was 100% about having a symbol of our commitment to each other, and nothing else. I mean, I wanted it to be pretty, of course, but a big rock didn’t feel like the goal or the point; it never even entered my mind as a possibility.

We bought our ring (pictured above) at a pawn shop in Vegas for something like $350, but going into the store I had it in my head that if I found a ring that I desperately wanted that felt too expensive (not “too expensive for an engagement ring”, just plain old “too expensive for us”) I would absolutely offer to split the cost with him. Whether he would have accepted my offer, though, I didn’t know, so I was pretty excited when I found a ring that I both loved and that seemed reasonably priced. So I didn’t expect to share the cost, exactly, but I was willing to if that was what ended up making sense for us.

Is it “normal” to share the cost of an engagement ring? You know, I don’t know that it’s super common (although I’m sure that it becomes more common every year) and would be interested in what readers have to say on this subject (did any of you split the cost of your ring?)…but it’s certainly something that I consider A-OK. It’s a nice tradition to have a man go and pick out a ring himself, but with many couples today living together and/or sharing finances long before they get engaged, it’s sometimes just not realistic.

To me this is a big “to each his own” situation: if it feels right for you guys and if both of you are comfortable with splitting the cost, I say go for it. If, however, either you or your fiance-to-be are very uncomfortable with the idea, I’d say to just try to be mindful when ring shopping together so that you don’t accidentally choose a stone that’s beyond what he could reasonably afford. (Also, if you’d like a little unconventional engagement ring inspiration, click here.)

Oh yes, and CONGRATS!

x

J

  •  I would say if to you not having your parents blessing is a deal breaker then that is something you need to address with the guy before you tell your parents. And honestly even if they don’t they probably will get over it. 🙂

    As for ring sharing I hold a thought of WHO CARES if it is done. Do you care? no then go for it. Maybe you can get something nicer than you’d get if he paid for it alone. It is just a ring. It doesn’t make the marriage.

    I got engaged when I was 20 and my husband was 19. We had only lived long distance and were both still in school. Now we are 33 and been married for 10 years. Following the “rules’ is passe’.

  • Maria asked if sharing the cost of the engagement ring is the “normal” thing in American culture, and I would say that it’s definitely NOT the normal thing here. I haven’t heard of anyone who has every shared the cost of an engagement ring, and I actually worked in a fine jewelry store throughout high school and never once saw a couple split the cost. But that doesn’t meant that it’s wrong–if she’s OK with it and wants to help pay, then definitely go for it. Although I agree with checking with the guy first on it, as it may seem unusual and possibly even offensive to him (meaning that it would imply that she thinks he can’t afford to get her a ring without her help).

    One thing to add is that, I do think couples often split the cost of the wedding bands, either by paying half and half or you buying his and he buying yours. So if she wants to contribute in some way without offending anyone, that could be another thing to consider!

  • Corneliusdenise

    Jordan:  when can we here the parents story?

  • Corneliusdenise

    I mean hear*

  • the way I viewed it was- my boyfriend was paying for the ring, but that money was going to be mine one day soon- so I let him know that I didn’t want him spending an exorbitant amount on it.  Aka- why start your married lives together with debt for the ring on your finger!  
    I think Jordan is right on in that- it is a totally each his own situation.  I wanted to be surprised- so I made that clear.  whatever works for you- the important thing is that you are confident and happy in the man you’re choosing to spend your life with! 

  • SuKay

    After more than a decade working in the wedding industry, I can honestly say:  When it comes to engagements and weddings, there’s no right or wrong direction to take. What matters is that you make decisions that you’re both comfortable with–and that you make those decisions together.

    I’ve been married for a little over 9 years (but with my husband for 15 years total) and I paid for half of my engagement ring. Is that “normal” where I live? Probably not, since I live in Omaha and as Nebraskans we sometimes hold onto traditions a bit longer than others. But my husband and I made the decision together and I’ve never once regretted it.

    My advice to brides and brides-to-be is always this: Do what feels right! Whether it’s paying for half of your ring or wearing a red gown for your walk down the aisle, all that really matters is how you (and that person waiting for you at the altar) feel.

    Congratulations on your engagement!

  • OhThatLaura

    “Is sharing that cost a normal thing in American culture? ”

    Cuturally,  I think majority of people still stick to the guy buys the engagement ring and then you can buy eachother the wedding bands.
    That said, if you ask 15 people, you’ll get 15 different opinions…To Adrienne’s point — if you want something that isn’t in the budget and your fiancee is ok with you putting money towards the ring, then more power to you.Congrats

  • SuKay

    PS–Jordan, I’m also dying to hear the story of your parents’ engagement!

  • Rachel

    Would also love to hear about your parents engagement!

    My husband did pick out the ring since he was surprising me with the engagement, but since we were living together at the time, it was kind of “our money” anyway, so in a way we both paid for it? But he knew where our finances were at that time (straight out of college and broke 🙂 so the ring was definitely something affordable so he could pay for it on the spot. Our wedding bands we picked out together, and kept them very simple to also stay within our budgets and paid for them together.

  • Jennifer Klee

    You did such a good job tactfully and thoughtfully answering this question! And I agree with the others- would love to hear your parent’s story if it’s one you feel comfortable sharing! 

    • Meg

      ME TOO! That sounds adorable. My grandparents got engaged on their third date and were married over 60 years. 🙂

  • KV

    This JUST came up with me and my bf! We’re both pretty broke, but he has some major expenses right now. We’re thinking about getting engaged, but I’m uncomfortable with him paying even several hundred dollars on jewelry right now. I suggested we split the cost of an inexpensive ring and plan to upgrade later. I’m not sure he’s going to agree to let me help, but I think it’s the right thing. I don’t need him to prove he can support me; we support each other.

  • Jessie8383

    Its refreshing to hear some alternative views on this here because I feel like my views on this are somewhat atypical, and I find that most of my friend don’t seem to share my opinions on this one. First of all, I think the most common scenario is that that guy pays for the ring himself, and it usually costs a pretty penny (much more than $350!). Before I got engaged, I was adamant about not wanting an engagement ring because — honestly? — I feel like they’re less a symbol of commitment and more a symbol of how wealthy the guy is. In fact, before we got engaged, I told my fiance that I really didn’t want an engagement ring (his friends told him it was a “test”! — it was NOT), and he responded, “But then people will think I can’t afford one for you!” That summarized up my point precisely: there’s way to much of an emphasis on the “rock” and the “bling,” and it kind of makes me feel nauseous. I mean, how many times have I gossiped with friends about how much so-and-so’s ring cost? Yuck. In this day and age of egalitarian relationships, I think its pretty superficial. When I talk to my friends about this — including to ones that are married and have diamond engagement rings — their response is usually, “Yeah I guess it is kind of superficial… but I really wanted a diamond ring and I love mine, hee hee!” To each their own I guess, but I also look down at all of my married friends hands and they all look the same (diamond engagement ring, platinum or white gold band). After I get married, I will wear a ring that my fiance and I had custom-made and paid for together. The stone will be a labradorite (my favorite), which cost $4. The ring itself will cost a little more bc it will be cast in gold. I couldn’t love anything more. But anyway, it’s not that I think everyone should think the way I do, but I wonder why there aren’t more people out there who feel the same way… it seems like everyone I know wants (EXPECTS) a diamond engagement ring. Kind of bugs me…

    • ellen2506

      AMEN SISTAH!  I didn’t want a diamond engagement ring for these exact reasons- there’s so much judgement, and it seems there’s no reason behind it except to impress people.  I have absolutely no idea why people get so into the idea of a bigger ring, because it doesn’t mean anything in terms of the strength of your relationship.  I have a blue “engagement” ring and a $30 dollar wedding band.  I think people should really think about their motivations behind wanting a huge ring, do what actually suits them, and the pressure on everyone to buy an expensive ring would disappear.  My two cents!

  • Your ring is so pretty and it looks like you got a really good deal on it! I love reading stories about how the engagement was all about love and not getting the most insanely expensive ring that sends you into debt before you can even plan the wedding.

  • Leah

    My husband and I didn’t even get an engagement ring.  We got engaged after being together 5 months because we knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together and we felt we didn’t need a ring to show that.  Some people were extremely rude to me about it and of course had their own opinions like how could I possibly be engaged without a ring?! Haha!  I always thought I would want an engagement ring, but having the right man was about a million times better :).  We got married 5 months after we got engaged and we picked out our wedding bands together.  I think nowadays there so much expectation in the American culture about what your courtship/engagement/wedding/marriage “should” be like….you just have to ignore it and do what works best for you as a couple!  

  • Maria

    Hello!! Thank you all for your advices! It made me think a lot and be sure about the desicion we’ll made. In case you are interest, we decided to make the engagement ring and wedding bands at the same time, and we are going to split the cost of the three items together. Last night we talked about it and we both feel very comfortable with it. You all were right! It should be something that works for us as a couple.
    I loved reading all your stories!
    Thanks Jordan!

    Maria

  • OhThatLaura

    Jordan — your engagement band looks very similar to the new ‘My Dior’ jewelry that came out — http://www.dior.com/couture/ecommerce/media/catalog/product/cache/11/image/185×185/7b8fef0172c2eb72dd8fd366c999954c/j/m/jmyd95003_v1_z_1.jpg?___store=en_us

    • jordanreid

      i LOVE that!

  • Andi

    When my fiance and I got engaged, his mother gave him a ring that had been in their family since the 20s. It had a large diamond in the middle. I always told him I didn’t want a diamond; I wanted something romantic and pretty and I didn’t care how much it cost. I did hint that I loved green stones. He had the diamond replaced (with his mother’s blessing) with a green tourmaline and I couldn’t be happier with it. I know a few people think it was crazy to replace the diamond, but now this ring is about us and who we are (and how well he knows me), not about how big of a rock he could afford. Some women love diamonds and would happily help pay for a ring if their boyfriend couldn’t afford it, some would rather be surprised; it’s all about what you feel comfortable with as a couple – people don’t get to judge your future happiness based on a piece of jewelry.

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