While we won’t bore you with the long history of the engagement ring (you’re welcome), the executive summary is that it began in Ancient Rome as a symbol of ownership and has evolved to mean reciprocated and mutual love. Lovely!
But, while the engagement ring is still the most recognizable piece for engagements, here we will explore the trend of alternative options for an engagement ring. We are fortunate to live in a time where thinking outside the box really is the ticket to a personalized wedding. Luckily, there is no shortage of ideas when it comes to alternative commitment pieces. So, if ring ain’t your thing, check out our ten other options below.
With or without a ring dangling on the end, a necklace or chain can be a great commitment piece for those who don’t want to wear a ring on their finger. You can customize this option in myriad ways or accept the gift that your partner has given you. It is true, sometimes they know you better than you know yourself. Maybe the reason your partner wants to be involved is because you can’t quite nail their aesthetic and they have a say in the process. Or maybe it just speaks to you both more than a ring. Whatever the case, this is a great alternative to an engagement ring. Next up, for the more daring couple.
This is by far the most popular trend for alternative engagement rings to date. With tattoos more acceptable in public places, even work, this may hold a special meaning for you two. It symbolizes the permanence of your bond without all the stress of ring shopping. And bonus if one of you happens to be a tattoo artist. Just make sure your love is as permanent as that ink! Although many may not be fond of this idea, it demonstrates that you’re both literally both in it for the long term. This is not a ring you can give back. In that way it is considered highly romantic. However, if needles aren’t your thing, then check out our other options.
Another popular alternative to a classic engagement ring, is the use of a memento that means something to both of you. A memento could be a ticket from an event, or a trinket from your first date that you kept. Maybe a stuffy you won at a carnival before that rude lady spilled the milkshake on herself. Oh, how you laughed. She was ok, don’t worry. It could be anything so long as it holds significance to you as a couple. This option demonstrates your commitment is serious and that you want them there for more special moments, forever. Haven’t found the right fit yet? Keep reading, gentlemen.
This option is exciting… if not risky. But it’s your engagement so go big or go home? This one is for the couple who wants to be a part of the commitment piece process together. So, the idea is to propose with an empty ring box as a placeholder. This demonstrates your commitment, and once you carefully explain this is setting a date to go shopping for pieces together, they may accept the gesture. Double bonus points if your partner has explicitly said no rings, and also has a good sense of humor. Best of luck, you rebel, you.
Now hear us out. If they don’t love animals, is this really your person? Kidding, of course. But most people do love pets and maybe your partner has been hinting or even begging for one. Adopting a pet is an incredibly romantic moment and a superior alternative if you are not into engagement rings. Consider even an older animal and not a babe. These vintage animals often get overlooked in favor of the younger ones. Maybe you two can save their life just as you saved each other. Just make sure it’s responsibly sourced by a reputable or local company, either way. In some states dogs are sold on Craigslist or similar for no fee. These are often for fighting rings because they are seen as disposable. Do some research, call the local shelters and make sure to ask if the animal needs special accommodations. If they don’t do well with other animals, or children, it is important to know this for informed consent. And oftentimes the humane society will help out with medical costs if you adopt from them. Just some things to think about.
Although underrated, this is also an excellent alternative to proposing with an engagement ring. It is simple and elegant and highly romantic, especially if you have a way with words. You can get on one knee and express love and devotion to your partner. If you also wish to add any of the alternatives mentioned here, it will be twice as epic. For further details on this option, check out our blog on “Should you prepare your proposal question ahead of time?” Spoiler, the answer is a resounding yes.
A charm bracelet or cuff can be excellent alternatives to engagement rings. For her, you can add charms for milestones like first house, first vacation, anniversaries and so on. This tradition dates back to the 50s for new couples or marriage. So, it is another way to uniquely honor some traditions. And of course, nobody will mind a man with some flair.
A cuff can go either way, to be honest, but is typically more masculine, and leather is a popular choice, but not the only choice for material. Leather has a lovely smell for those familiar, and takes upkeep and polishing. This time can be used to reflect on the health of the relationship, almost like a pulse check. If there are things that you two can work on together, then find a calm time to discuss diplomatically. Or tell them how they have changed your life. We also recommend regular pulse checks to fight complacency. This is just one way to get that ball rolling. Check out the ones below and tell us that’s not alluring. You can also get a nice watch for anyone. Just make sure you know their aesthetic or let them pick it out. Or save the receipt!
Similar to the charm bracelet, this alternative has history. In fact, lockets are an old fashioned if not classic alternative to an engagement ring. A locket is a nice alternative especially if it can be shown or hidden for whatever reason. Surprise wedding, anyone? But obviously have a picture of you two inside of it. If you’re the spooky couple, you can even put a lock of hair in there! No judgments here. Finally, we come to our last option, an engagement ring, and it’s one of our favorites.
There is no rule that you must have a ring or jewelry for your proposal piece. Much like adopting a puppy, this option allows you to support local artists and businesses while demonstrating your love and commitment. This will be something you see everyday and remind you of the warmth your partner brings to each other. If your partner is also artsy, they will appreciate the gesture even if it’s not an original Basquiat. If your community has art festivals, go on an adventure, make a day of it. Art is inherently emotional so it will already be a special trip. If you do not have farmers markets or the like, you can search local forums for galleries and see the style before going in. Maybe you even have a friend to commission for a custom piece. For this option, remember to give guidelines but leave as much space for creative freedom unless requested otherwise. Either way, have rapport with your artist so they can inhabit your vision.
Ah, so the Fellowship of the Rings isn’t quite the jam. We get it, nothing is one size fits all, especially a ring. If you want to personalize your commitment piece, avoid the politics of diamonds, or just want to be different, we have provided ten popular trends to get you started. So, whether you want alternative jewelry, an animal to share at home, a ring tattoo, or art to make your home feel like that one gallery you both loved, it’s all up to you and your partner. As always, weddings and planning the details are becoming increasingly popular as highly personalized affairs. Don’t limit yourself if you have another spin off idea. But, maybe run it by someone first, someone who can keep a secret until you propose. Sorry Aunt Cathy, you have to wait.