A Wedding Planner Turned Bride’s Journey Part 2: Engagement Ring Shopping

One of the first and biggie things that comes with getting engaged is THE RING.

Having an engagement ring is expected.

It’s something that’s expected to be given and received during a proposal. And in turn, it’s something people ask about and want to see after you’re engaged.

But shopping for an engagement ring is a big undertaking.

It requires time, research and of course, money!

So, in this part 2 installment of a wedding planner turned bride’s journey, we’re going engagement ring shopping!

Bride on her wedding day wearing her square diamond engagement ring with planning tips by Passport to Joy online wedding planning course for couples
(Photo credit: Laver Photo)

By the way, make sure you check out part 1 of Stephanie and Kirk’s journey and what it’s like getting engaged during a worldwide pandemic. You’ll also learn why they decided to wait before diving into planning and whether you should too.

So, let’s pick up the story where we left off and the months following Stephanie and Kirk’s engagement…


DOING THINGS BACKWARDS (OUR OWN WAY)

So, you might be thinking, “Don’t people typically pick out the ring before the proposal?”

Traditionally, yes.

According to tradition, a suitor covertly shops for an engagement ring and asks your parents for permission before surprising you with a proposal.

Well, call us untraditional!

In our early conversations about getting married, Kirk and I decided to keep the surprise part and dispense with some of the other traditions that didn’t work for us.

And I don’t think we’re alone! So many couples these days are eschewing engagement and wedding traditions to do things their own way.

And why not? When it comes to planning your wedding, do what feels right for you!

So, we wanted to keep the proposal a surprise because it would make the experience romantic and exciting.

But Kirk was nervous about picking out a ring on his own.

Full disclosure: I might have a reputation for being difficult to shop for… lol.

We casually talked about it one day, and I said that I was a-okay picking out a ring after the proposal.

So, when he got down on one knee, Kirk used a simple gold band as a placeholder. That way, he had something to slip on my finger – because some traditions are still fun!

*PRO TIP: Incorporate the engagement traditions you care about and ignore the rest. It’s 100% ok to do it your own way. Whatever that looks like.

Simple wedding band engagement ring for a proposal ring shopping tips from Passport to Joy online wedding planning course for couples

THE BUDGET

Before we started shopping, Kirk and I talked about how much we wanted to spend.

$5,000? 3 months salary?

Those numbers come up frequently when discussing how much people usually spend on rings.

For us, they seemed arbitrary… and kind of expensive.

So here are the factors we considered when we came up with our budget:

  • We’re saving to buy a house in the Bay Area someday – a major expense!
  • Also newly added to our list of major expenses? A wedding!
  • We’re in a pandemic, and we have to be prepared for some financial uncertainty.
  • I don’t wear a lot of jewelry, but when I do, I like minimal pieces.
  • I’d like something I would feel comfortable wearing everyday.

While the allure of a big rock is hard to resist, a flashy engagement ring just isn’t really me.

I also wasn’t fussy about the 4 C’s of diamond quality either.

But, what was important to me was that the materials were sustainably and ethically sourced.

I also wanted a setting that looked unique. But it didn’t need to be custom made.

And while I didn’t really think too much about the metal type, I liked 14K yellow gold for its look and durability. Which was also easy to find.

So all of that made figuring out our budget easier.

*PRO TIP: How much you spend on an engagement ring (or if you have one at all!) is a personal choice. Make sure it’s something you feel comfortable with so you aren’t breaking the bank from the get go.

Given all the factors, we ended up arriving at $1,000 because it was an amount that we felt comfortable splurging.

It was not so much that it ate into our savings for our house, our wedding, or emergencies, but it was enough that I felt pretty confident we could find something I loved.

I should say that we were flexible about the budget too.

For us, it was more of a general target than a goal. If the ring cost less, great! If it cost more, that would be okay too. (Spoiler: it ended up costing more.)

Wedding band and engagement ring shopping online tips by Passport to Joy online wedding planners

SEARCHING FOR AN ENGAGEMENT RING

Because of the pandemic, our search started and ended up staying solely online.

If times were different, I think we would have enjoyed shopping in person too. But things being what they were, I think our online shopping experience went pretty smoothly!

Here’s how I approached the search…

Like many, I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted, so I started out on Google and Pinterest searching for ‘minimal’ and ‘delicate’ rings. This returned dozens of roundups and hundreds of images.

It made my eyes swim.

I had to cut down on the visual clutter. To do this, I methodically combed through and pinned only the rings I liked, regardless of price at first.

Then I looked to see if there were any rings that Pinterest suggested, based on what I initially pinned. I added any of those that I liked to my board too.

*PRO TIP: The more specific you can be with your search terms the more refined the search will be and the less time you’ll have to spend looking. But, regardless there will be some combing that needs to happen. Stay focused on what you’re looking for and don’t stray, it will save you time.

When that was done, I looked at the rings I’d pinned and began exploring the jewelers behind them.

I checked out their websites and their Instagram accounts. When you search brands on Instagram, the app also suggests other accounts to check out, which was helpful to poke around too.

Checking out jewelry companies was probably the most time intensive part because there are so many.

So, so many websites and so, so many Instagram accounts! And so, so, so many more rings!

At this point, I desperately needed to narrow down which companies I liked, both in terms of ethos and aesthetics, to just a handful of options.

This was admittedly a little hard to do.

An engagement ring is forever.

And I wanted to make sure I chose one that I would be happy with… forever! (No pressure, right?)

Thankfully, I found a few jewelers whose brands and designs spoke to me. From there, I delved into those companies and their options in our price range.

All in all, I spent several weeks of my spare time (maybe about 20ish hours total) going through this process.

It definitely took some time.

But, I ended up with a Pinterest page with under a dozen rings that I liked! Which was a success, in my opinion.

A Pinterest board for online engagement ring shopping for minimalist delicate rings with planning tips by Passport to Joy online wedding planners

TIME FOR A BREAK

Unfortunately, by that point, I was also burnt out.

Although I had narrowed down the rings to a handful options, I felt so overwhelmed by the heaps of time I had spent searching so far.

I really couldn’t narrow down the rings any further.

Or make up my mind about what I liked best.

When I shared the options with Kirk, he thought they all looked great. (So helpful! Haha.)

So I stepped away and took a break.

I didn’t look at my Pinterest board again for maybe a month.

While this might sound like procrastination or avoidance, I’m glad we didn’t have to rush into making a decision.

Because when I felt ready to crack open Pinterest a few weeks later, it was clear this time that there was one option that I liked best!

Looking at things with fresh eyes was all I needed.

*PRO TIP: Decision making can be hard especially when you’re completely wrapped up in it. Stepping away for a little while can be a good way to get some separation which in turn can help you make a decision.

Marquise engagement ring 14K gold by Melanie Casey ring shopping tips by Passport to Joy online wedding planners
(This was the winner! Photo and ring by: Melanie Casey)

2 ONLINE ENGAGEMENT RING SHOPPING TIPS

Shopping online for your engagement ring is a bit different and can be more challenging to find the right one. So, if you’re thinking about buying an engagement ring online, here are two more tips:

Tip #1 – Pictures are key

I found that pictures, and many of them, are important!

It’s hard to judge the scale of a ring when it’s shown by itself, so you have to see pictures of the ring on a model’s hand.

It’s also helpful to see pictures of the ring stacked or paired with other rings.

Bonus tip – Instagram can be a great resource for additional photos if the official website is a little lacking.

Tip #2 – Get the right fit

Something that I liked about the process at Melanie Casey (where we purchased my ring), is that they have a multistep process to confirm your size.

First, you get a plastic ring sizer to measure your finger because sizing between jewelers can vary.

Then, they send you a silver ring in your size and band width to wear for a few days before finally ordering your ring.

This all really helps to ensure the ring you’re buying is a perfect fit.

Whether or not the online company you’re purchasing your engagement ring from provides similar sizing options, make sure you know what their return and resizing policies are.

Because if it doesn’t fit right, you don’t want to end up being stuck with it or end up paying more to fix it.

It’s also good to know what the warranty is and if they provide repairs, just in case.

THE RING AND THE RESULT

Engagement ring shopping online resulting in a delicate marquis gold ring with planning tips by Passport to Joy online wedding planners
(Me wearing my new engagement ring!)

After all of that, we ordered my ring and when it finally arrived, I loved it! It was delicate, sparkly – everything I wanted.

And at the end of the day, I’m pretty happy with how our engagement ring search went!

If we had to do it all over again, it might have been easier to make a decision if we were able to go to a store and physically try on rings.

Shopping in person would have been a fun way for both of us to be involved at the same time too. Because looking online can feel more like a solo effort.

But I think online shopping has its perks!

You have a huge (perhaps overwhelming), number of options to choose from, and it can be nice browsing without any sales pressure.

Whichever way you choose to do it, best of luck on your engagement ring hunt!


Stay tuned for the next installment in Stephanie and Kirk’s wedding planning journey! Till then, if you have any questions, please let us know in a comment below.

And if you’ve gotten engaged recently or a while ago, don’t forget we can help you through your wedding planning journey. You can learn more about becoming a Passport to Joy member here.

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