Ask Team Practical: Wearing My Engagement Ring

My fiancé and I got engaged over the holidays. (Yay!) We have been together for nearly six years and I can’t think of anything that makes me happier than committing to a life with him. When he proposed, he gave me a beautiful ring and said to me, “You don’t have to wear this, I just want you to know how I feel about you.” And frankly, those words were a relief. Because while I am thrilled about marrying him, I’m not so sure how excited I am to announce it to the world so publicly (like on-your-finger publicly). The feminist in me also thinks it’s pretty unfair that I have to wear my marital status on my finger. Not to mention, I don’t know if I can handle all the weird squealing from strangers and random acquaintances who barely know me. BUT, all that said, the man bought me a BEAUTIFUL ring and I can’t help but think it’s a complete insult to him if I don’t just wear the damn thing. So…is it?

Really In Need of Good Perspective On Proposals


Aw! What a sweetie you have on your hands there. No, not the ring, the guy. The very fact that he said, “You don’t have to wear this,” shows that he knows you so well and thought about how you’d feel.

As with many things, different feminists have different feelings about that little emblem on the left hand. Some are really excited to have that nice little “back off” symbol for guys everywhere, and my own husband (back when he was just a wee fiancé) confessed that he was jealous that I had a visible sign of our engagement and he didn’t.

I really want to suggest something that I always appreciate when people do it for me: Let’s take what he said at face value. He said you don’t need to wear it. He said he just wanted to give you something special. Take him at his word. But, I hesitate. If I gave my mom a drawing and she said, “It’s lovely dear!” while folding it and tucking it under some linen napkins in a china closet drawer, I don’t know that I would believe her. Part of giving her that crayon-scrawled picture is knowing that by displaying it proudly on the fridge, she’d be showing everyone that walked into our kitchen that I loved her and she was proud of that love. How can you likewise show the rest of the world, “This man loves me and I’m proud of that love,” without bowing to patriarchal traditions that make you feel gross?

If you love the ring without the connotation, consider wearing it on a different hand or finger. Even the most elaborate ring won’t be noticed as an “engagement ring” somewhere else. (Right hand rings are a thing now!) And if you’re still afraid you might be spotted by pesky coworkers hungry for a good proposal story, consider wearing it as a necklace—then you even have the added option of hiding it in your t-shirt. Next to your heart. Can you sense that I’m stifling a girlish squeal? Because, ah! Romantic! A secret engagement?! I could sing, “Secret Lovers” to you if you want? You don’t? Are you sure?

Another option, minus the secret romance and plus some modern equality is to buy him his own engagement ring. Fair is fair, no?  This way he’ll be earmarked as “taken” as well (though I can’t guarantee that he’ll be pestered for details of “wedding colors” the way you will).

But, I’m going to suggest what I suggest practically every Friday (why does Meg still pay me?). Talk to him. An open and honest discussion about how much you love the ring but hate the connotation may be all you need to hear his side and figure out how to handle the whole thing. I can just about guarantee that he doesn’t want you in stress or agony over this, and he may be relieved to hear that you have some of the above strategies tucked away. In this conversation, you get the opportunity to make sure he knows it’s a distaste for the patriarchal tradition in general, and not for the representation of being tied to him. Because being tied to him sounds like it’s not half bad.


So, Team Practical, how did feel about wearing your engagement ring? If you had ambivalence, how did you handle it?

Photo: Emily Takes Photos.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com or use the submission form here. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though we prefer if you make up sign-off like Really In Need of Good Perspective On Proposals (RINGPOP). I mean, RIGHT?

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  • Amanda

    Superb advice! Liz, could you please sing “Secret Lovers” to us? I want to hear it!

    I love my engagement ring and seldom take it off. Before we were engaged, I gave my boyfriend my late grandmother’s engagement ring and said do what you will. The result was amazing! The center diamond of my ring was taken from my grandmother’s ring and placed on a smaller band with three small inset diamonds on each side. I have child-sized hands, so the ring actually “fits” my hand quite well. I LOVE it, so I can’t speak to having feelings of ambivalence.


      • Liz

        Thanks, guys, but trying NOT TO GET FIRED, here. ;)

        • Alyssa

          See, I read that as “Secret Love,” as in the song from Calamity Jane, and got this image of Liz standing on the desk belting out ‘NOOOOOWWWW I shout it, from the HIGHEST HILLS!!!”

          Made my morning. :-)

        • meg


  • MadGastronomer

    My fiancee and I both want to wear our rings but we both work with our hands a lot, typing or making things, and they can get pretty inconvenient. So I made us each a little sterling wire ring keeper that we can keep strung on the necklaces we both usually wear anyway, and just hang the rings off those when we don’t want to wear them. They’re still on us, but they’re safe and convenient, and we don’t even have to unfasten the chain to take them on and off.

    I’ve heard from a couple of men who envied their fiancee’s engagement rings. I always wonder why they don’t just get their own, or their fiancees don’t get rings for them. (Whichever. I bought my own ring, as well as my partner’s.)

    • carrie

      Awesome idea!

      • MadGastronomer

        Thanks! Maybe I should make up a few more and put them up on Etsy or something. They’re really simple.

        • PA

          I definitely think you should!

        • You totally should! I would get one. I take my ring off when I’m at my desk and I’m constantly forgetting to put it back on when I leave.

          • MadGastronomer

            OK, I will! I’m at ClockworkEgg there. There’s nothing in the shop at the moment, but give me a day or two and I’ll post some. You can also contact me through there and let me know if you want gold-filled instead of sterling (because I’d have to go out and buy that). I might do a few with decorations, too. I’ll have to see what I’ve got.

          • MadGastronomer

            All right, you asked for it, you got it. As long as I was awake-ish, I tossed off a few of them. Here they are. Sorry the pictures are crappy. If you want one in a gold color, or with some specific decoration, or if I run out and you want one, contact me through Etsy, and we’ll see what we can do.

    • Claire

      For the majority of our (short) engagement, my husband wore a ring and I did not. That’s because I purchased the wedding ring he picked out from a local artist. My ring was in the process of being designed and machined by my husband so it wasn’t ready until shortly before our wedding. He loved getting his ring early and getting asked if he was married & proudly telling people that he was engaged.

      • MadGastronomer


    • Teffer

      My gentleman’s parents both had engagement rings, and he had no idea engagement rings were usually just a girl thing until his friends started getting married and he realized the guys didn’t wear engagement rings.

    • I love this idea! In some parts of Germany, if there is an engagement ring at all, often men will wear one on their left hand as well. It is sometimes the same ring that turns into the wedding band (shifted to the right hand during the ceremony, because the wedding band is worn on the right). I like the symbolism and equality in that tradition.

  • I didn’t have an engagement ring. I proposed to my guy mostly on the spur of the moment (I’d been meaning to plan something but hadn’t), so there was no ring for him either. We decided not to get rings, and we ended up getting matching leather bracelets instead. Those say a lot to me without saying a lot to others.

    Now that we’re married, we do both wear matching rings. We found something that worked for both of us. It’s pretty low-key, so I don’t get any ooh-ing or ahh-ing (no bling), but it still reminds me of the commitment.

    Y’know, hardly anyone asked me about wedding colors or other wedding details, and I had very few of the issues people talk about here (folks railroading their wedding decisions). And I think not having an e-ring was a big part of that, because random people couldn’t really comment if they didn’t know, could they? Any questions I did get, I just responded to in my own way (like “oh, yes, we’re doing a winter wedding colors palette inspired by these birds” <— not as fancy or pretentious as it sounds).

    OP, I say wear it from time to time, especially if you're trying to look nice. If you find you really like wearing the ring, feel free to wear it more without betraying all womanhood. But if you decide not to wear the ring, that's okay too. Just find somewhere nice to put the ring where you can see it regularly so your fiance knows you appreciate his gift.

    • Claire

      Love the matching leather bracelets.

    • Lana

      Hardly anyone asked me about wedding detail too, and I DO have an engagement ring. Perhaps it’s because I work with mainly dudes, or maybe it’s because people realize I’m not really a “bride” sort of person, but with the exception of a few acquaintances (who are also currently planning weddings) no one really asks for details. Yes, everyone wanted to see “the ring” when I first got it, to squee and congratulate and be a part of it (I think), but once the first look is done and the novelty wears off, everything goes back to normal.

      And for the record. I’m not a jewelry person and I started wearing my engagement ring because it was important to my fiance. But now I catch myself looking at it periodically and thinking of him (while I’m at work or where ever) and being reminded of how lucky I am that he loves me.

      Good luck in finding your comfort zone though, I’m sure whatever you (and your fiance) choose will be great!

  • Carbon Girl

    You were so right with the idea that some women like having the ring as a back off symbol to other guys. I am rather open and easily strike up conversations with strangers. I do not think I am flirting, but apparently many guys thought I was. Even when I was in committed relationships, I got asked for my number a lot. Now due to my ring, I feel I am free to talk to whomever without having to worry I am giving someone the wrong idea. It has been very freeing.

    • PA

      This! So much! In social situations, I would not even care, but I work in a gender-skewed industry, and I am surrounded by men all the time. Normally, confusion and embarrassment and awkwardness would be easy to handle, but in a business context it could be very unfortunate.

      Hence, I’m pretty psyched about my ring.

      • Susie

        Absolutely! I also work in a male-dominated industry and noticed that it’s so much easier to fit in with the guys now that I have a big “I’m not hitting on you” sign on my left hand. It’s completely sexist but if it makes my work life easier I’m all for advertising my marital status…

        I get your distaste at the patriarchal connotations though. I also hate the bling competition that’s spread to the UK. My husband wanted to propose earlier but felt obliged to save up for a more expensive ring, despite me saying I didn’t care about a diamond, so people didn’t think he was cheap / poor. I despaired of our culture at that point. I love my ring for what it represents, not what it costs!

      • Maddie

        Interesting! I worked in a male-dominated industry where I was not only one of few females, but also the youngest. When people found out I was engaged, it was like they instantly stopped taking me seriously. Funny how the industry can sway your experience.

        • PA

          That’s unfortunate! I haven’t experienced that, but there’s a lot about my specific team that’s unusual.

          It is so infuriating not to be taken seriously!

          • Susie

            Don’t get me wrong, being married / having a ring does have the whole “so you’re going to go have babies and leave us soon” connotations too… So my colleagues (and their partners) like it but my bosses… not so much! Can’t win either way! ;o)

    • Meagan

      Yes! I work with the public and a lot of strange men hit on me and ask me out while I’m at work. While I love my ring for a lot of reasons (family heirloom, the look on his face when he pulled it out, etc) having it has also drastically reduced the number of guys bothering me. In fact, a few weeks before the engagement a few library friends and I had been discussing getting fake rings to wear while at work; just hours after he proposed my fiancee mentioned that at least I no longer had to worry about finding a fake and hopefully it would ward off some of the weird men. So, best of both worlds: get to spend my life with the guy I love and have a little talisman to ward off the weirdos.
      (That being said, I totally understand the hesitation about a woman’s marital status being visible to the world while a man’s is not. It makes me uncomfortable too.)

      • Kelsey W.

        DUDE. I got hit on working at a public library ALL THE TIME. Before I found it slightly charming, but I now thoroughly resent the “naughty librarian” stereotype because everytime I wore a pretty dress or skirt with t-strap heels (what I like to wear most of the time) men would stare at me like I was a twinkie. Ring= magic presto, I get to be a normal person at work and not some nutso symbol.

        • Meagan

          I know! I love being a public librarian, but the things people think they can say to you are mind boggling. My coworkers always tell me they gave up on skirts long ago because of all the weird comments. So far I’m resisting because I love wearing cute skirts and dresses and I will not let some creepy men with no respect change me.

    • I felt the same thing–the freedom to talk to whomever with less care for what/how I was saying things, since I now had a beacon of “not interested” flashing in the light on my left hand. Unfortunately it seems in my corner of the world, no one looks for engagement/wedding bands and I’ve been getting asked out more since the engagement, I assume due to my more free, friendlier nature. Nothing’s more awkward than ending what you just thought was an enjoyable evening at a bar having a friendly and intelligent chat with a guy, with an argument about your intentions (“Can I call you sometime?” Oh, no thank you, I’m engaged. “You’re engaged?? Why were you flirting with me?” I wasn’t flirting with you! Why would I flirt with you when I’m engaged?? Blech).

  • N

    I agree with Leah that you should wear it when and if you feel comfortable. Wear it for special occasions or when you’re hanging out with your fiance. Put it in a necklace or on a different finger when you want to be more subtle. Let it take whatever meaning you and your fiance are comfortable with.

    When I first got engaged, I really wanted some time to savor it privately and with my nearest and dearest before I announced it to the world and I also hated the squealing, so I totally understand. As time went on and most people learned that I was engaged, I felt more comfortable wearing my ring every day. As I got used to it, it didn’t seem to attract as much attention from other people either.

    Good luck!

  • Now that I’m married, I rarely wear my engagement ring – just my plain gold, used-to-be-my-mum’s band. When people ask why, I give different answers depending on my mood. “I like that it matches Fin’s plain gold band.” “I find big diamonds ostentatious and flashy.” “My mum used to wear only her wedding band day-to-day so it feels normal to me.” “I’m taking a stand against the patriarchal connotations of being “bought” with an expensive ring.” But honestly?

    I just don’t like my engagement ring. It’s kind of ugly. There, I said it.

    When I was engaged, I hated when people asked to see it. “It’s Fin’s mum’s, I didn’t choose it, I’m going to have it reset!” I would blurt out defensively, as if anticipating a horrified reaction (obviously, nobody is that rude, or at least nobody I know). Then I found out how much it would cost to get it reset, so I just sat on my hands and hoped nobody would ask. But even though I didn’t really like it, I still wore it. When I looked at it twinkling on my finger, in the tiny lull before the revulsion kicked in there was a definite a thrill. Somebody loves me enough to marry me, and I love him right back. And being reminded of that every time I looked at my hand was pretty sweet.

    Now my wedding ring fulfils that role, so the fugly ring has mercifully been retired. I do still dream about getting it reset into something organic and pretty and “me”, though. One of these days…

    • N

      Totally! My engagement ring is an ugly ring from his mother which served its purpose and hasn’t been worn since the wedding. Funnily enough, I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone ask me why I don’t wear an engagement ring.

      • I have been asked before, in quite a passive-aggressive way, usually by colleagues who have expensive diamond engagement rings that they wear all the time with their expensive, diamond-ridden wedding bands. That’s usually when I bring out the patriarchy excuse – they really love that. Not.

    • Carrie

      Wearing your engagement ring with your wedding band or not is a whole conversation unto itself!

      My take on it is mostly “Eh, whatever I’m in the mood for.” Some days I wear both rings, some days I just wear the wedding band. I’ve never had anyone comment on it either way. (Some days I forget to put on any ring at all, and no one’s commented on that either. This may just prove that my friends know how absent-minded I can be.)

      It still feels weird to me that the standard expectation now is apparently to wear both engagement ring and wedding band. My mom always just wore her wedding band, and so did every other married woman I knew as a kid. I actually assumed for many years that you were supposed to retire your engagement ring once you actually got married*. Maybe you’d wear it on a fancy special occasion, but in general I assumed that once you were married, you wore only a wedding band. I didn’t see people wearing both until my friends were old enough to start getting married.

      Of course, the real answer is that you can do whatever you want — wear either ring alone, wear both rings, wear no rings at all, have the darn thing made into a giant nose ring if you want. You’re still just as married.

      I just think it’s funny that people ask you why you’re not wearing both rings, when for a long time I wondered why my friends were wearing both rings (not that I was nosy enough to ask!) It kind of proves how arbitrary the social expectations are!

      (*Of course, I also somehow got the idea in my head that engagement rings were supposed to be worn on your right hand, and wedding rings on your left. I figured that way, you could tell if someone was engaged or married at a glance! I have no idea where I picked that thought up. So my childhood assumptions about rings might just be wacky.)

      • Liz

        I thought the same thing about engagement rings as a kid! (the retiring them once you’re married, not the right hand thing) But I think that’s because my mom never had an engagement ring and she talked about them being a waste of money. It made sense to me that you wouldn’t want to drop a ton of cash on a ring you’d only wear for a year or so.

        • N

          My mom too. Maybe it’s a generational thing. On the other hand, my parents have both gone years without wearing their rings at various times and for various reasons that had nothing to do with the health of their marriage.

          • hmmm. I don’t know; my mom’s sisters mostly wear both of theirs, but so does my grandmother. Great Grandma kept hers in a safe and only brought it out on special occasions.

        • I always thought you were supposed to wear both, even though my mom just wore her band. And I always thought men wore theirs too, even though I never noticed my dad didn’t wear his..

          I found out later though that the stone fell out of my mom’s ring when I was a toddler, so she had used to wear both. And Dad stopped wearing his because he works with his hands and it was more of a comfort/safety thing.

          So my childhood expectations also had little to do with reality… but I actually want to follow them. I hope to wear both rings and fully expect Ryan to wear his (he’s more an office guy though so not working with his hands so much).

          (Now neither of my parents are wearing rings even though they’re totally married because Mom’s finger got stung by a wasp last year and got very swollen and her band had to be cut off!)

          • morgan

            My dad always wore his wedding ring (gold with a diamond), his engagement ring (gold with star saphire, which in 1980 he insisted on my mother buying for him because her being the only one to get a ring seemed unfair) and a monogrammed pinkie love ring. My mother sometimes wears her 3rd wedding ring. (One broke, the stone fell out of the second, and they had the third built from the parts when I was young.)

            My dad liked rings. My mom does not. Never seemed to indicate anything about their almost 40 year partnership beyond the fact they had very different taste in jewelery.

          • ambi

            Ooops, this was supposed to be a response to Liz’z comment below that her ring didn’t fit while pregnant!

            Liz, as an attorney in a backwater southern state smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, I can tell you that many female attorneys that I know, when trying cases in front of a jury while pregnant, go to Wal-Mart and get a fake ring big enough to fit. Sounds crazy, but jurors down here will actually form a bias against a particular side because the attorney appears to be pregnant and unwed. We also have to wear skirts in court, but that in an entirely different subject!

        • I actually developed a weird rash right where my wedding ring sits, about 18 months after the wedding (I like to say I’m allergic to marriage, boom boom), so now I take it off at night and sometimes forget to put it back on in the morning. And it’s so true – whether I have a ring on or not, I’m no less married. Nor do I *feel* any less married. And the same is obviously true of being engaged, whether you wear a ring or not (sort of trying to bring my random tangent back to the original question… see what I did there?).

          I do find myself bringing it up though, if I forget my ring – “I’m not getting divorced! I’m just allergic to marriage! Ha ha!” *awkward laugh*. I’m such a dork.

          • Liz

            My wedding ring didn’t fit while I was pregnant.

            Can you imagine how happy that made my mother? Me, walking around pregnant and ring-less?

          • morgan

            Liz – mine only stopped fitting about 3 days before I went in to labour. It was so weird not to be wearing it. Especially while riding public transit, big as a house.

        • Same here! My mom always wore just her band, and that’s how I thought it was supposed to be. I like my e-ring, but I like that I’ll have the option to just wear the band.

      • My mom always wore her engagement ring on one hand and the wedding band on the other, so I naturally assumed that was just how it was supposed to be done. I remember the first time I saw someone wearing the two today I thought that was just craziness.

        I think for me it’s going to be a moot point – I have a bridal set where the band is designed to fit with the engagement ring and looks stupid on its own, so I’ll wear them together.

        • I’ve heard that this is the way it is done in europe? At least according to a German couple I met once. Wedding band on left, engagement ring on right – that’s the standard there.

          • Blimunda

            I have two German friends who wear their bands on the right hand- one because he’s Protestant, the other because of tradition (they’re not married to each other), at least that’s what I heard from them. Here in Italy, bands are worn on the left hand and most women, if they have and wear an engagement ring, have it on the same finger with the band, which comes first, since it’s not supposed to be taken off, ever.

          • petitchen

            here in austria people wear their engagement rings on their left hand and the wedding bands on their right. so that’s the way germans might do it too?!

          • PA

            For some reason, that’s always how I thought it was done, and then people gave me really strange looks and told me it was not done that way.

            I’m American, so … wrong country, but it IS a thing! Thank you for confirming it!

      • meg

        I totally only wear my engagement ring on my right hand, when I wear it. I go through long periods when I wear it, and long periods when I don’t. My wedding ring never comes off though, ever.

      • Marina

        I wore my engagement ring on my right hand when I was engaged, because that’s what my grandmother told me. So… it is a tradition, at least for some people somewhere. I have a vague recollection it’s a German thing, maybe?

      • Abby J.

        I have noticed that some Eastern European friends of ours wear their wedding rings on their right hand (and she wears both her e-ring and wedding band). So conventions really are flexible.

      • MDBethann

        My mom always wore both rings, except when we were really little because she didn’t want to scratch us – her diamond isn’t huge, but it is set high and easily gets caught. I learned from that and specifically asked my FH for something low and simple. It’s a sparkly sapphire with diamonds down the band on both sides and I LOVE it. I made sure that it works with the wedding rings we ordered as I like the color it adds and I plan to keep wearing it.

        • morgan

          My baby (!!) is a week old and I’ve already had to take off my engagement ring. It’s centre stone is large and scratchy (and a family heirloom) and I’ve never been able to wear it to bed because of the scratch factor. Add in some baby soft skin and I have it safely tucked away in my jewelery box for, well, a while.

        • Remy

          That’s why I wanted a smooth or inset stone — I am a klutz, and I knew I would scratch myself, my partners, the sheets, the futniture, the wall, stray children…

  • Senorita

    We bought my ring together almost two years ago. It’s still sitting in its box hidden away somewhere, because there were some goals we wanted to accomplish first. However, said goals being recently accomplished, I’m pretty confident it’s on it’s way. We also bought his ring together a little under two years ago. I bought him a plain silver Claddagh ring ( a traditional Irish ring) in Claddagh, Ireland, which was the little fishing village that the rings were said to originate from. And he *couldn’t wait* to wear it. I think I have him tricked that we lost it in a fire. Once he’s done his proposal thang, I’m gonna propose to him right back, some moment when he’s least expecting it (which in this case will probably be all moments).

    It doesn’t have to be a patriarchal tradition if you don’t want it to be. Make it your own. Yes, my ring will say “Sorry, I’m taken by another man” but his will shout “Sorry, I’m taken by another woman… b*tch”.

    • “Once he’s done his proposal thang, I’m gonna propose to him right back, some moment when he’s least expecting it (which in this case will probably be all moments).”

      My wife and I did that – we apparently bought rings separately within weeks of each other and after I proposed, she proposed to me. It was wonderful.

      • Yes!! My wife and I did this too! We actually bought the rings together, and then hid them away for a few months so we would ‘forget’ about them (at least a little bit, hah). We both wanted to propose AND be proposed to, and so we freaking did it. We discussed it and said whoever was proposed to had a week to propose back, and we actually planned our big proposal thingies one day apart- on accident! It was wonderful.

        Coming back to Liz’s (awesome) advice, though: my father has an engagement ring and a wedding band, and he’s worn both– just like my mother– for almost thirty years. I honestly don’t understand why more men DON’T have engagement rings. I know several men that would have liked to have had it, and it is also a little weird that culturally, we as women are expected to ‘wear’ our pre-marital status in a way that men often do not.

        • There was apparently a hilarious night at karaoke with some friends where one of us went to the bathroom and the other went ‘YOU GUYS I BOUGHT A RING’ and then we traded and the other went ‘YOU GUYS I BOUGHT A RING’ and then our friends went home and laughed themselves sick.

          • Class of 1980

            Great story! ;)

    • We did something similar after our wedding- we both got rings in Ireland on our honeymoon that we wear on our right hand. He tends to refer to it as his “Irish wedding band.” What a sweet idea, you sneaky thing! :)

      • Senorita

        Thanks. I was annoyed that men were the only ones who get the chance to make this big thoughtful display of affection (we’re all about obnoxious displays of affection in this relationship) so I decided eff that, I can plan just as obnoxious a proposal if I want. (which apparently my same-sex counterparts figured out ages ago, *sigh* I’ve resigned to always being behind the curve on these things)

        If anyone has any ideas I’m all ears :)

        p.s. Your screen/blog name is so many levels of fabulous.

  • I bought my fiance an engagement watch shortly after we got officially engaged. A watch on a man doesn’t exactly scream “taken” but anytime anyone compliments him on it (which they do a lot, it’s a super cool watch if I do say so myself) he proudly tells them that it’s his “man-gagement” watch :)

    • Senorita

      holy goodness. man-gagement ring. I’m overwhelmed.
      and stealing it.

    • Spines

      I did the exact same thing, got the Boy an engagement watch, which he shows off to everyone! I though it was unfair I was the only one to get something when we got enagaged, and he’s not a jewellery person, so would only accept wearing a wedding band once we’re married.

  • PA

    What’s strange is that my fiance has been wearing a ring for longer than I have. Before he left on his deployment, I got him a ring to wear, but got him a chain so he could avoid having to get it grimy and covered in scratches and carbon. The chain broke a few months ago, and he’s been wearing it on his finger ever since.

    I don’t think I had ever considered the unfairness part of the engagement ring tradition. Now, my mother never had one, so I didn’t really know engagement rings were a thing until college or so – ergo, I haven’t thought much about the concept. I suppose I never found it so much “him marking territory,” as me saying, “Hey! I’m really happy and proud to be associated with this dude over here!” Especially as we’ll both wear wedding bands.

    I honestly that you should wear (or not) your ring as it makes you comfortable. I think that your fiance’s acknowledgement that you might be uncomfortable wearing it, and your acknowledgement that he might be uncomfortable if you did not, point to a relationship with good communication. I would definitely suggest talking about this!

    I would also echo the suggestions that you could wear it as a necklace. Or the two of you could start designing another piece of jewelry and set aside a little money each month until your fifth anniversary (or whatever), when you would have the stone re-set.

  • SelkieKel

    It seems that you really like the ring itself (I’m sure it didn’t merit the all-caps in BEAUTIFUL for nothin’), so why not wear it on another finger as Liz suggests? Regardless of where the ring ends up you should OWN it. Ultimately, the placement carries the symbolism and significance that YOU put on it (not all cultures use the left ring finger as the site of ‘marital adornment’). So ask yourself: what proportion of the off-putting notion of wearing the ring is derived from your own convictions versus how much of this stems from the (potential) reactions from others? Once you’ve teased this out for yourself you’ll probably be able to come up with the best possible place for the ring.

    Let me also say that I sympathize completely. The decision to get engaged was entirely mutual on the part of my fiance and I and we agreed not to get an engagement ring (that money’s going towards our elopement in Hawaii!). But HE wears what used to be my claddagh ring on his left ring finger (I gave it to him before we got engaged and he moved it to his left hand afterwards). He occasionally fields questions about it and has more than once commented that, “It must be so much more demanding for most girls.”

  • DKR

    I’m going to second Liz’ advice: talk to your partner, for all the reasons she lists.

    My fiance and I had many discussions about marriage from pretty early on in our relationship, and he said at one point he’d happily wear an engagement ring too. So after he proposed this past Thanksgiving, I found (online) the ring I wanted to get him. We talked about it, went to a jeweler to get both his ring-fingers sized (he said he’d wear it after the wedding, on his right hand), and I ordered his ring. I wanted him to have a proposal too, so New Year’s Eve, he got his proposal and his ring, and hasn’t taken it off since. We both like that both of us have rings.

  • My wife and I went ring shopping together for each other and consequently, our rings are exactly what we wanted and “our” rings. (I got choked up when I put my engagement ring on the first time) But then, she got a ring when I proposed (and a stuffed monkey, but that’s another story) and I got a ring when she proposed 4 hours later, so there wasn’t any time where one of had a ring but another didn’t.

    That said, I only wear it when I leave the house. I accidentally ran my rings through the washer one time (had my rings in my pocket at home, spilled stuff on my pants and put them straight into the washer… with my rings on them. Luckily, our washer has small holes to drain water) and after that, I basically decided if I’m home, they’re in the ring dish for my sanity’s sake.

    For us, I suppose there is an element of ownership implied – whenever one of us forgets to wear our rings, we’ll comment ‘how will people know I belong to you?’ but it’s more of a… ‘MINE. YAAAAAAAAAAY!’ then just a ‘NOT YOURS.’

    • You know, this discussion has reminded me that I was a little nervous to wear this ring at my new job. I don’t like to share a lot of my personal life at the office because I think it’s unprofessional and I don’t want to be besties with my coworkers. It can also be awkward because I am teh gay and don’t want to be defined by my sexuality – I was kind of dreading those interactions (because there are two kinds of coworkers at the office – the awesome ones and the ones with awkward questions). But it hasn’t really been an issue, happily. Yay for people not being jerkfaces!

  • Kara

    Well…in Germany, when a couple wants to get engaged, they buy matching bands to be worn on their left hands while they are engaged and are transferred to their right hands when they’re married. I think it’s a lovely tradition.

    In my case, it was important to my fiance that I have A Rock and he wasn’t keen on the idea of wearing his own “engagement” ring, since that’s not something “guys do.” Given that he feels most loved when his (often very generous) gifts are accepted fully, I wear my ring with pride. Not as a symbol of being owned or taken off the market somehow, but because it’s the best way he knows to symbolically declare his love. When people ooh and ahh (and yes, it’s almost embarrassingly impressive), I can say “yes, I’m really lucky to have met him, he’s a good and generous man.” They may think I mean the ring (which almost deserves capital letters), but I know I mean the man.

    • They have a similar tradition in Denmark, where my husband is from. So we both bought rings together a few months after we got engaged, when we were ready to tell everyone, and have worn them ever since. I think he changed hands on the wedding day, I had it on my left the whole time. I like having just one ring rather than too and I loved that he was adamant he wouldn’t be left out when we got engaged!

    • KTH

      What a lovely (and very equality-supporting) tradition!

    • Class of 1980

      I know about that tradition and I love it.

  • GroverClevelanne

    I’m also newly engaged, and I have a lot of the same thoughts about my engagement ring. It doesn’t seem fair (as in equal… I like things being equal) that I wear a ring and he doesn’t. Also, I was REALLY not looking forward to answering questions and fielding squeals from acquaintances and coworkers.

    But for now I’m giving the whole wearing-an-engagement-ring thing a try, and to be honest, I’m liking it. I haven’t had to answer questions from any randoms – in fact, it doesn’t seem like anyone I haven’t shared my excitement with personally has noticed the ring. Most importantly, Fiance gets excited whenever he sees it. For now, it’s the one tangible symbol we have that we are committing to each other for the rest of our lives. In short, Liz’s advice is superb, and I only want to add that maybe you could try wearing it and see how it feels.

    • I love the tangible symbol of our commitment, but I totally understand the fear of being “marked” as someone’s “property.” Ew.

      Because we’d had many conversations about those connotations, we bought a lovely topaz enagement ring and 2 weddings bands all together and we split the cost 50/50. Although I can appreciate that the gesture is no longer so steeped in the patriarchy it once was, for me personally, the shared ownership was important.

      When they came, we each proposed to each other, which was lovely. He is one of the men who would *love* that tangible symbol of his commitment for himself during the engagement period, so he’s debating wearing his wedding ring on his right hand and moving it over after the wedding to his left hand, but he’s currently mulling over what he’d like to do.

      I’ve been lucky enough not to have a lot of bling-induced squealing or questions about my wedding planning from co-workers, acquaintances, or random strangers. Part of it is because, despite having 99% of the logistics nailed down 8 months out, I just tell people “we really haven’t thought about it too much. We’re just enjoying being engaged for now.” That keeps me from having to defend any of my decisions, which were never up for debate with those people in the first place.

      Whatever *you* decide to do with your ring/s, you’re getting married in the end, and that’s totally awesome!

      • Georgina

        Sarah, I completely agree with you on ‘going dutch’. I like the symbollic connotations but why should my fiance have to fork out the whole amount? After all, we share the bills, we share the chores, and we share a bed!

        I wear my engagement ring proudly and I can’t wait to wear my (two) wedding rings. I still consider myself a feminist… a feminist who is glamorous and love jewellery! My fiance tells me everyday how much he’s looking forward to wearing his ring, and he never wears jewellery.

  • i also think it depends what the ring looks like. my engagement ring – well, first i had a cute, cheap little temporary ring – is just a little band with some weensy stones inset. it doesn’t draw attention, and it doesn’t “look like an engagement ring” (as in, a bunch of women i know were appalled by it’s lack of bling and price. it’s a good thing i wasn’t marrying *them*). as such, almost no one noticed that i had gotten engaged because i suddenly had a ring on my left hand. i adore it and wear it with my wedding ring now, and never take either off (unless there’s paint).

    • mimi

      Not necessarily. I used to wear a plain silver “wave” ring from Tiffany on my left ring finger – it was a gift from a friend and that was the only finger it fit, so I just went with it. After getting asked SEVERAL times if I was engaged, I finally got it re-sized to wear on my right ring finger. No stones or anything, but for some reason, people just kept assuming it was an engagement ring. People are weird :)

  • Kara

    Oh. What I should have added (since it’s something I’ve thought about a lot). 10 years ago, I think I would have been resentful if a guy wanted to give me an engagement ring because of the whole ownership thing and all that. BUT, I’ve done a lot of work on myself since then and I’m secure in myself, in my career, and in my identity as a person and as a woman. I think that process of growth lets me love him for who he is, and the ring for what it is to the two of us, not what society thinks it might be.

  • Katharine

    It’s also possible to just take it one day at a time without making a definitive decision one way or another. I wound up with an afterthought ring long after we got mutually, quietly engaged without any sort of fuss; there happened to be an heirloom ring in my family that I didn’t know about, and mom asked much later if I had any interest in wearing it. I put it on *very* hesitantly, not having really wanted one, not wanting to flaunt our engagement, uneasy about diamonds (both their morally shady provenance and also how valuable they are–in NYC it seemed like calling out, “mug me!”)

    I feel different ways about it different days. Some days I love how beautiful it is (because it is). Some days it makes me mad and hurt (like the day a well-meaning friend asked, “do you worry that since he didn’t save up for a ring, he won’t be a good provider?”). Some days I end up literally hurt because it’s sharp and scratchy. Some days I leave it at home and feel perfectly good walking around without it. I never wear it when doing housework, cooking, or anything that really requires me to use my hands.

    So far it hasn’t affected how I feel about being engaged nearly as much as I thought it would. It’s an object–a sentimentally loaded object, but still just a thing. I think you can make a daily decision about it just like you do with any other piece of jewelry–without worrying that you’re going to compromise your relationship.

    • Oh wow, someone ASKED you that? That’s so sad. Honestly, I would rather -not- have an expensive ring… ever. When my wife and I got engaged, our engagement rings (together!) cost less than $500. Mine is white sapphire; hers is white topaz. I would way rather use any money we might save to take a trip together than wear $3000 (or whatever) on my finger.

    • Victwa

      That comment from your friend is EXACTLY the kind of thing that drives me NUTSO! I have a similar situation (heirloom ring=free, see below) and the assumption that my fiancé was a “keeper” or some other such nonsense because I now had a ring that looked expensive on my hand made me crazy. (And still does, but people don’t comment anymore.) Also, it’s difficult to figure out how to respond to that sort of silly-ness.

      • Katharine

        I know! This has been by far the most annoying thing. People in this category say, “wow! did he do that all by himself?” or just look at me with new respect for having bagged a rich guy. People who learn that it’s an heirloom think my guy cheated his way around an essential masculine hazing ritual. Luckily, the vast majority of people have much less loaded reactions. And it’s been a pretty interesting cultural education to have these kinds of bizarre attitudes directed at me–to see what assumptions other people make, and to see how I deal with that.

    • Marina

      That is really nuts that someone asked you that. It doesn’t even make sense–why would a “good provider” spend that much money on jewelry rather than, like, a down payment for a house?

    • MDBethann

      I think the heirloom ring is awesome – wasn’t an option for us but I would have totally been open to that. I think it is an incredible sign of love and commitment when the guy gives you any heirloom jewelry from his family. And whether it is from your family or his, it is a symbol of love being passed from generation to generation. What is cheap about that?? I think it is wonderful and meaningful.

    • “It’s also possible to just take it one day at a time without making a definitive decision one way or another.”

      This. Exactly. So often because weddings mark a large life transition, we’re pressured to feel that every decision around the wedding is Final and written in stone forever afterward, amen. I mean, did anyone else have a revelatory moment when Meg wrote that you don’t have to decide what you’re doing with your last name before your wedding? (And if you do, that it doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later?)

      The same can be said about rings. Sometimes it might just take awhile to hit on what is comfortable and right for both of you. My husband gave me a gorgeous, elaborate engagement ring that he designed and I wore proudly for the duration of our engagement, then felt REALLY weird about wearing with my wedding band once we got married because the blinginess of the set made me feel awkward and overly ostentatious. Since my husband was strongly attached to the engagement ring, our final compromise was to replace my diamond wedding band with a tiny, plain gold ring that I can wear all the time and that looks good/modest when nestled next to the engagement ring, which I wear on fancy occasions or when I want some extra sparkle.

      All this to say that we were over a year into our marriage before we settled on a solution that felt comfortable for both of us. When I’d first brought up how I was feeling, I thought it’d be an easy “Aha, look at us not bowing to the WIC!” fix (maybe thinking a teeeeeeny bit about how I would write a Reclaiming Wife post for Meg on how we went through this whole process like awesome grown ups, to which I can only say, on the other side of the long arduous process and its many fights, “Oops”), but like lots of other wedding-related decisions, the ring represented more than a pretty piece of jewelry. We found we had a lot of ideas about gift-giving, modesty, wealth, identity, etc., attached to it, and those things always take time to work through.

      • Liz

        I was WAITING for you to chime in on this one!

        • Lol, I’m glad that’s your reaction rather than, “Are we done hearing this damn story yet?!” ;D

    • Ren

      I, too, feel differently on different days. When we first got engaged we started looking at estate rings, and I was emphasizing low profile, sits low on my finger, small, subtle, but maybe some interesting details. I also wanted to see if any family rings were hanging around somewhere. Three weeks later I was giving my great grandmother’s completely gorgeous ring — that is much bigger than what I expected. It’s just on the edge enough that I don’t know how I feel about it. Some days I think it’s beautiful and I’m just not used to wearing a ring, and once I’m used to wearing it I won’t think it’s so crazy — other days I think I just need to find a smaller one instead. I also feel conflicted because I think my sister, who’s not engaged, but maybe will be some day, might appreciate it more than me. I feel an added level of responsibility because it’s a family ring.

      I also work in a job where I feel uncomfortable wearing a ring like this (though, again, maybe I’ll get used to it and it’s not as conspicuous as it is in my head). Well, I haven’t resolved it yet and we’ll see, day to day for now.

  • Umpteenth Sarah

    There are few things in the world I find more attractive than a wedding ring on a man (a visual symbol of love and commitment!), and a wedding ring on my own husband just makes me melt. I was much more uncomfortable with the engagement ring on my hand, but not his, for the ownership-y sort of aspect previously discussed, but I liked it so much anyway and chose to be feminist and progressive about marriage in other ways, like by walking myself up the aisle. I think we all have things we’re more sensitive to, for whatever, reason, and I’d say roll with what makes you and your partner feel the most like yourselves — and if it’s just tooo preeeeetttttyyyy wear it on another finger, as Liz suggests!

    And the weird squealing by strangers thing barely happened for me. Lucky, I suppose.

  • Kristen

    i proudly wore my indie handmade ring when we got engaged, and then, when we broke off our engagement for what turned out to be two months, i took it off and wore another {similar} ring in it’s place so as not to attract a million questions about our status. {we were working through some things in counseling and are now happily married.} isn’t it funny how a piece of metal displays our singleness/marriedness to the world? i wonder what the history is on the engagement ring… ???

  • Ali

    I think I am in a interesting situation with my engagement ring being an American engaged to a Colombian living in Colombia. Before we got engaged, I wondered if I should give my fiance some guidance as to what I would like in a ring since he really does not know much about it and he is not surrounded by all the cultural narrative that we see EVERYWHERE in the US. But first of all, I didn´t really know what I wanted and I really liked the idea of him doing it himself.

    When we got engaged, he got me a very beautiful traditional looking (small by American standards) diamond ring. I loved it because wow I had never had a nice piece of jewelry before and I felt great wearing it. It was pretty uncomfortable the first few days of wearing it just because of the reaction from lots of people. I had to tell the story tons of times and talk about the wedding. I was happy when it wore off. A lot of people in Colombia didn´t really notice it right away. I know that my ten year old students have never noticed and even my fiances parents had to be explained what the ring meant. His dad even asked where his ring was.

    The experience can be slightly awkward in the US. I didn´t feel it with my family but with extended family and friends of course no one said anything, but the ring is very small compared to what everyone else has. No one says anything, but I want to explain its DIFFERENT in Colombia. A huge diamond is not really safe to walk around with and is seen as tacky and gauche. I love my ring because I know it was a big experience for my fiance to decide what to do and pick it out (basically on his own). I love what it represents, but its very interesting seeing the differences in the US and Colombia.

    • Alyssa

      Know what else is tacky and gauche? People who make you feel awkward for having a ring that is smaller than what they expect. Sheesh…

      • KTH

        I just don’t understand people who would say negative things about someone’s engagement ring to them (I mean, I’m not saying that people should say negative things behind backs, either). To me, that’s basically like saying “Your fiance is ugly,” or “You’re not very smart.” If you ask to see someone’s ring, you better say something nice about it or nothing at all. That’s just basic manners.

        • Alyssa

          When I’ve seen it, it’s less of something they said and more of an overall attitude. Subtle, possibly unintentional but not nice all the same.

          • Class of 1980

            Hellooo Texas!

            You know what I mean. ;)

          • Alyssa

            Yes, m’am! But I’ll squeal over a dang Ring Pop (esp. watermelon flavor) so I don’t give a good goddamn…hopefully dorks like me make up for it.

            Say what you want about that new show GCB, it may be amped up and cheesy, but there’s a ring of truth in all that big hair and fake smiles. :-)

          • Class of 1980

            If you squeal over a ring pop, they might take away your Texan certificate. ;) For sure they would take away your Dallasite certificate.

          • Diane

            I know, slightly off-topic tangent but SO TRUE! I moved here from Boston so both cities with money, but Boston is more the understated displays of wealth with a side of intellectual snobbery and Dallas is ALL ABOUT THE BLING! My engagement ring has a modest diamond that was my grandmother’s. My grandfather must have purchased it in 1946 or thereabouts while he was still in the navy. They got married on base in San Diego in a small ceremony. She had it reset years later in a much larger setting which is what my fiance used when he proposed and then we went together and found the perfect setting (perfect for us, at least) that was smaller but still paid homage to Grandma’s ring. Every time I see my ring, I feel the love of my grandparents, who I know would’ve been thrilled to have their jewelry used this way, my mother, who generously gave us the ring to use, and my fiance, who makes my world brighter in so many ways. And those crazy Texas girls? They’re may be foxes on the outside but they’re pure havelinas at heart…

      • Yeahhhhhh about that. I wear a tiny little turquoise stone on a band that matches my partner’s engagement band. We picked them out together. And alllll the time at work, my coworkers would say, “LET ME SEE THE RING! LET’S SEE HOW HE DID!!” and I would show them:

        “Oh… that’s…. cute!”

        Yeah, shuddup coworkers.

        • Remy

          Let’s… see how he did? Wow.

          “I’m right here. Me — not the ring. Do you think he did all right?”

          • I know, right? Not to mention the fact that I proposed to HIM, and also, we picked the rings out together.

            … and they each cost $15. :)

    • Lynn

      One of the most maddening things after the PA’s proposal was when people would ask to see the ring.

      I didn’t get a ring (because I have my grandmother’s and he knew I wanetd to wear that. It represents 56 years of utter and complete devotion, love that was palpable when they were in a room together). I could see and hear the judgement when I said he didn’t give me a ring and it broke my heart. They didn’t care about *why* I didn’t have a ring; they just knew I didn’t have a ring.

      • Irene

        Same here. I was the one who proposed, we thought about getting matching somethings but it never happened. So it ended up being 15 months or so of engaged with no engagement ring, and I worked in a bridal salon that whole time. The state of having no ring, getting weird reactions from customers about the lack of ring, and constantly being around other engaged women all combined to make my engaged state pretty weird… basically I was surrounded by brides, which made me not really ever feel that “I’m a bride!” specialness (NOT saying that it’s always a good feeling anyway) until right before the wedding.

        Also, by the time of the wedding I was SO fucking sick of thinking about weddings. Seriously. And the other thing that sucked was when customers asked me questions about my own marital status or wedding planning I didn’t feel like I could avoid the questions, since it was my job and since they often were looking for either validation or suggestions for themselves. Which often just lead to more confusion and awkwardness, about the lack of ring and the self-catering and the self-everything-else. A weird fit for a pricy salon I guess. In sum I am very glad that is over – the job and engagement both.

  • Christine

    Any time someone comments on it as an engagement ring just yell out “I’m a feminist, dammit!” and walk away :)

    I agree that wearing it on a different finger or location would be a good compromise between the kind of non-feminist expectations and honoring your love/commitment/fiance.

  • Granola

    When we first got engaged, wearing my ring was really uncomfortable. I felt so “marked” and like it was really obvious. I’d wear it for awhile and then take it off for part of the day. I asked my fiance if it bothered him, taking it on and off, and he said no, not at all, which was a relief.

    However, now, I rarely take it off – maybe to go to the gym or when I play soccer. I’ve gotten used to it and it doesn’t feel quite so loud, but much more normal. I was also worried about the style – it’s the knotted rush ring from Bario-Neal and while I love it, I was worried there would be judging. But my family has all said nice things and my friends think it’s awesome. Not that it matters, but I should have had more faith in those closest to me.

    All I wanted to say is that, patriarchy aside, I think perhaps it’s normal to feel weird at first and then get used to wearing an engagement ring (and eventually wedding ring if you’re going to.) I’ve thought to myself that I’m glad I’ve had a year to get used to a ring so it won’t be quite such a shock after we’re married. So you’re not alone, and if you try it and it turns out that you really don’t want to wear it, then don’t. You won’t be any less engaged or loved. Or it might grow on you and you’ll be glad you sat with the anxiety and worked your way through.

  • Victwa

    I LOVE my engagement ring. It was my great-aunt’s, and one of the only diamond rings I’ve ever remotely liked. That said, the only reason I have it is because it was a family heirloom and thus, FREE. (Well, getting it repaired/reinforced was not free, but still, all that was much less expensive than the ring would have been on its own–my fiancé would probably not have ever considered getting it without it being free, and I would have been upset had he spent what the ring is worth on it, because we have bigger financial fish to fry than worrying about a piece of jewelry, honestly.) I love wearing it because it feels like my family and my fiancé’s coming together, and I like looking at it. That said, when we first got engaged, several comments from presumably well-meaning people, like “Wow– your fiancé really did well!” because of a THING that I now had. It kind of made me not want to wear the ring because I honestly didn’t care if my fiancé had found a ring for $100 or less, as long as I had liked it– I would have thought he’d done well with that! Frugality FTW!

    Because the ring is super-old and has delicate work on it, I don’t wear it all the time. When we get married, I’ll probably go to a simple band of some sort, and move the engagement ring to my right hand, and I bet I will often forget to wear it.

  • Anon

    If you like the ring, wear it on another finger!

    I was ambivalent about getting an engagement ring, but it was really important to my fiance. So I have one, love it more than I expected to, and wear it whenever I leave the apartment. But we live in a country where engagement rings are not worn (and weddings rings are worn on the right hand) so nobody comments on it, or asks wedding related questions, which is fine, although I did miss the attention a little when it was new. I guess different people have different feelings about how they display their marital status – I won’t be changing my name when we get married, but am happy to wear the rings. Do what works for you. But wear the ring somewhere…

  • I wear my filigree-set sapphire very proudly, as one more way to say F*CK YOU to the Santorums of the world who don’t want my lady and I married :) But I think that if I were marrying a dude, I would probably have similar mixed feelings. I agree with Liz–talk to him.

  • I’m waiting for someone to chime in about their engagement puppy!

    • KTH

      I feel very self-conscious about wearing my engagement puppy in public.

      • Shiri

        My engagement puppy piddles. People say it means bad luck in marriage.

        • Class of 1980

          Thank you KTH and SHIRI for my first laugh of the day.

        • I’m still wondering if you’re supposed to walk them on your left side, or your right side? Miss Manners has not been helpful in this regard.

          I think we’re getting a wedding puppy, but where am I supposed to put him at work? Can I wear him with my engagement ring? Can I get a mastiff, or is that too big and gaudy? I have so many questions!

          • Class of 1980

            Thank you for my second laugh today.

  • I feel self-conscious about my ring all the time, but I wear it because I know it means a lot to my fiance to see me in it. While he respects me completely, he doesn’t quite “get” feminism and is so proud that he was able to get me something so nice. He loves showing it off to people, which both embarasses me and warms my heart at the same time. It’s so sweet that he wants to tell the world how special he thinks I am, and this is just his manly, captialist way of showing it. I don’t think it really says anything about “who I am”, and anyone who asks me about wedding colors finds out pretty quickly that I’m not exactly the creative force in our relationship!

    At first, I couldn’t wait to get married so that I could just wear my wedding band and save the bling for special occasions, but I just found out that since the ring has an unusual band shape, I’ll have to wear a very specific, sparkly wedding band as well. I’m getting up the courage to ask FH if he’d be okay if we bought a simple gold band with an engraving as well for me to wear. I love the thought of wearing a ring to symbolize our commitment, but I can’t wear something so fancy when I’m running, doing yoga, hiking, and traveling – you know, living my life. I’m sure he’ll understand. I definitely still plan on rocking my bling when I dress up, and you should too! There’s nothing to be embarrassed about – a person who loves you bought you something pretty! Rock it!

    • KTH

      “so proud that he was able to get me something so nice”

      Yeah, my husband did a lot of “Show them the ring!” and the pointing to it and saying “Yeah, I bought that!” He saved up and was very proud that he could give me a ring I really loved, even if it was modest by today’s completely insane standards.

      Part of my love for my ring is how excited and proud he is of it.

      • Yes. This. My boyfriend is very much looking forward to this. Sigh…

    • Class of 1980

      Go YOU, Emily!

      I was never thrilled with the sub-type of feminism that thinks it’s cool to throw a nice gesture back in a man’s face. And that’s never been what APW is about.

  • Alyssa

    Liz is spot-on (of course) especially with the talking to your partner part. He may not have cared then, but this engagement stuff is probably pretty new and he might care a little bit more now and you guys can find a good compromise. My husband did that with a lot of marriage-related things; he initially thought it didn’t matter to him, but once he thought about it (because he never had before,) he realized he DID care more than he thought.

    And I just have to add that I’m a random acquaintance squealer. I try to tone it down unless the person looks like they want to show off the ring and talk about the proposal, but my love of shiny things and any kind of engagement story sometimes overrides my common sense.
    I apologize on behalf of myself and my other sharply-pitched brethren.

    • Liz

      I love the squealers. They just want to be happy for people!

      • Yes! Squealers are just cheerful (I will try to tone it down, though ;)).

        For squealers who will not be quieted, or for nosy folks: I think that wearing an engagement ring even if you’re not all aflutter over centerpieces and whatnot can actually be a good exercise for everyone. The nosy folks get some valuable exposure to a different approach to weddings (if you play your cards right, they could walk away thinking “oh, she was delightful, but she’s not excited about wedding colors… I guess that means even delightful people can take a different approach, and that’s ok.”) That’s a stretch, I know, but I think the sentiment is possible. I mean, if the conversation is always the same, it’ll never become more welcoming of diverse viewpoints… And if only the traditional folks wear engagement rings and talk about how they’re approaching their wedding, of course the conversation will stay the same.

        There’s the benefit for the wearer, too, of practicing how to handle those nosy folks effectively. They’ll find a reason to be nosy, if not about your wedding…

    • katarina

      cute apology! i think many women don’t mean to be squealers nor do they mean to offend anyone, but can’t help their emotions sometimes.

  • Stephanie

    Honestly, I wouldn’t worry about people squealing over your ring etc. Hardly anyone did over mine. :) It happens far more in the movies than in real life.

  • katiebgood

    I always used to say I didn’t want an engagement ring, for all the usual feminist reasons. But I guess I forgot to mention it to the Gentleman Caller before we got engaged, and now I have one.

    And I love it. I love wearing it, having it with me. Not stop much as an anti-guys talisman- I never really got flirted with, except from the occasional skeevy grandpa- but add a token of my fiance. We’re long distance, and I love having something he’s given me with me all the time.

    I didn’t get him a ring- I’ve been perpetually broke lately, and he’s going to have a hard enough time getting used to a wedding band (he’s insisting on tungsten carbide as he’s a bit of a klutz). But the brother I never had does have one, I think he’ll take it off after the wedding.

  • Carmen

    I had similar feelings about not wanting to wear my engagement ring. Its not anyone else’s business. While I adore my man, I was still sorting out my thoughts on getting engaged and wedding-ed which occasionally lead to crying. And crying at work is not cute.

    The ring is the most beautiful piece of jewelry I’ve ever seen and it has a big ass garnet on it. So on top of the holy-crap I’m marked for marriage, I found it almost embarrassing to wear because it was so big. (which might make me a jerk for sharing, but it still freaked me out)

    Happy to report that I grew into it over the course of the first two months. After the proposal I wore the ring on some days, but would “forget” it on others. Didn’t announce the engagement at work, but if someone asked about in my office I would tell them. Then quickly establish that the wedding was over a year away and school was my biggest priority. May have made the engagement sound a little suspect, but they picked up that I didn’t really want to talk about it and gave me some much needed space on the topic

    On a side note- I’m loving this idea of the male engagement ring!

    • I, too, have a big ring, and I felt a lot of guilt over it when we first got engaged. I’d walk by a homeless person on the street and feel bad that I was wearing something shiny on my finger that could pay their rent for a long time. But the budget for the ring wasn’t my choice, and I know it was important to my fiancé to get me something beautiful that I would wear forever. And I LOVE my ring, so I wear it proudly.

  • One of the things that caused the most grief in our pre-engaged state was The Matter of the Ring. I’ve said forEVER that I 1) didn’t want a ring, and 2) wouldn’t wear one if I should be offered it.

    But then I fell in love with a ring. And he got it for me.

    I didn’t wear it every day, though. I wore it MOST days. But…it’s 6 intertwined bands with 2 birds and a stone. And they all flop around all over the place. And I LOVE it SO MUCH but it has also torn gigantic holes in the sleeves of several of my favorite cardigans.

    It might have hurt The Foliage’s feelings that I didn’t always wear it during our engagement, and it might disappoint him not to see it out now that we’re married, but…I totally warned him. And he needs to take what I told him at face value. Which is what I would advise you to do. If you wear it out of a feeling of obligation and resent the ring/the inconvenience/the partner…that’s probably worse. Than disappointing him a leeeeettle bit.

    • Class of 1980

      I want a picture of that ring! Sounds romantic.

      • Oh, an excuse to flaunt my engagement ring(s)? Don’t mind if I do…

        • Class of 1980

          OMG. I saw that ring months ago online and I thought it would be a cool engagement or wedding ring!

          Someone (you!) did it!!!

          • How cool! We designed the ring with her. The one in the picture is my actual, physical ring!

            Also I highly recommend working with Jennifer ( Her pieces are GORGEOUS and if you meet her in person you get to play with her impossibly adorable daughter. Which is handy.

          • Class of 1980

            Would the ring still tear holes in your clothes if you soldered it all together?

            Her pieces work as either engagement or wedding rings, or both. It’s a good stand-alone ring and I like the symbolism of togetherness.

          • Yes, it would still tear holes. Those birds’ wings are SHARP. I would be able to “keep track” of them better, I guess, but it is definitely not a low-key ring. You have to really want it. And I like that the bands all roll around each other. It feels like a mini puzzle when I take it on and off.

          • Class of 1980

            I guess wear it when you’re going out AFTER you’ve gotten dressed? ;) And take it off BEFORE you get undressed?

            Anyway, it’s very pretty.

        • That’s so pretty! I love the birds.

    • Liz

      Holes in cardigans? Ceej, we ALL have to make sacrifices for love

  • Beb

    I felt a tad awk sporting my ring the first couple of days/weeks after I got engaged — even though I am bordering on dangerously obsessed with my ring and how beautiful it is — and was afraid everyone would notice it and think I was trying to show off or something. Then I picked up on the fact that: a) not everyone is as obsessed with my ring as I am and many people don’t even notice it at all. In fact, my mom came out to visit me a month after I got engaged and she forgot to even ask to see the ring — instead, she asked about this Fossil watch I was wearing. I was like, “Uh, Ma. Don’t you want to see my ring?” THEN she squealed over it; b) It’s actually nice when people notice and congratulate you/wish you well and say how pretty your ring is. I was expecting to feel weird about it but it actually gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling; c) My fiance, too, feels proud of the ring he picked out and loves that I love it. I like wearing it and thinking about the promise that it symbolizes and about how much I love him. Cheesy, but true.

    I guess the point is that wearing an engagement ring is an adjustment process. Wear it a bit, see how you feel, and give it a chance. If you still feel weird about it after a few weeks, then consider only wearing it for special occasions or wearing it on another hand or any of the other suggestions Liz gave!

  • It occurred to me to mention something that hasn’t been said regarding the engagement ring tradition. Engagement rings were supposed to provide security for the woman way back in history. This way if he broke off the engagement or got himself killed in a war she could sell it and have some security for herself.

    In this way it was kind of a woman’s rights thing, the way I view it. Back in the days when women were regarded as chattel, by giving her a ring that had value he was ensuring she wouldn’t be left destitute if something happened.

    Because of that I’ve never really thought that a ring was about buying her… BUT I do think it’s unfair that men don’t have a similar symbol of engagement. Because he is just as taken as me! (And actually Ryan is the one who gets hit on a lot, so it’s annoying. lol)

    • ElisabethJoanne

      Exactly, but a woman who had a purposefully broken engagement in her past – whether she broke it or he broke it or it was mutual – was damaged goods. She didn’t keep her word, if she broke it or it was mutual. There was something wrong with her, if he broke it. A man’s breaking off an engagement used to be such a mark on the woman’s reputation, she could sue for a kind of slander. We replaced the law suits with engagement rings.

  • Noemi

    I will read the comments later, but I was definitely excited to wear the engagement ring he gave me. However, it also felt odd that I was the only one proclaiming (so to speak) our engaged status, so within a few months, I had bought him an engagement ring as well and asked him to marry me too. We both wore our engagement rings until the end of the wedding festivities, and now we both exclusively wear our wedding bands, which are much simpler white gold bands without any embellishment. This choice was just what we felt worked best for us and what made us happy. Also, my mother told me that my father also had an engagement ring before they were married, so maybe it’s kind of also a tradition in our family? That fact didn’t enter into our decision, though.

  • Lynn

    I love my ring so much that I was wearing it long before I was engaged. I wore it on my right hand, true, but I wore it. It was my grandmother’s 25th anniversary set. Nothing spectacular–a fused set, poplar in the 60s and 70s…6 tiny diamond chips on the band, on the engagement ring a tiny diamond in a settng designed to make it look bigger than it actually is and 2 tiny diamond chips on either side. No big deal.

    But I’ve always loved it. I was 21 when my grandmother passed away and the ring became mine. I started wearing it then because I had no idea if I was ever going to be married and I loved the ring too much to put it away somewhere in the hopes that maybe someone would live up to the standard that my grandparents set for what a loving relationship should be.

    When the PA proposed, I was happy to switch it over from my right hand to my left.

    • Class of 1980

      So sweet.

  • Lauren

    I’m sitting at work and I do not have my engagement ring on. I’m getting married in May so I don’t have a wedding band at the moment.

    Before we decided to marry I told my partner I was not interested in he/I/we purchasing an engagement ring. He was pretty thrilled haha. My mother said if I ever wanted her engagement ring I could have it. She and my dad were divorced from each other (TWICE) and he died less than 2 years ago. He was remarried.

    I love my mom’s ring so I knew I’d want it. If I thought it was ugly (haha) I wouldn’t have. When we sat on the couch one night watching Biggest Loser and decided we probably wanted to get married, I figured when I called my mom a week or so later I’d ask her for the ring. She mailed it right out.

    Sometimes I wear it. Generally on the weekends. I don’t wear it during the week much. I never wanted to feel like I had to. I will havea wedding band and I may wear that on its own. But I may not wear it all the time. Seems my partner will wear his pretty much all the time. He always knew I was not really into rings and didn’t want to feel pressured to wear one. He understands that.

    So dun dun dun, I have a (twice) divorce ring that I do love and I don’t wear it all the time. Fine with me. ;)

  • Claire

    “The feminist in me also thinks it’s pretty unfair that I have to wear my marital status on my finger.”

    Except that you don’t HAVE to do that at all. Even your fiancé has expressed that he’s not trying to make you wear the ring. So maybe feel free to reject the false idea that society is forcing you to wear an engagement ring against your will. Maybe feel empowered to own your decision and decide for yourself whether or not you want to wear your beautiful new ring (on your left hand or right hand or around your neck) or enjoy it in another way (in a prominently place ring dish or tucked away someplace).

    I would just make sure you’re going with what feels good for you and right for your relationship and not just what “a feminist should be doing to buck the patriarchy”. Because you ARE a feminist and you get to decide for yourself what you do with this gift and what that means. You can be an awesome feminist and still choose to wear an engagement ring if that’s what you want. And if wearing this gift on your left ring finger is not what you want, you’ve chosen a partner who respects that too. So you win either way!

    • Exactly! I feel like the “why” of tradition is such a tricky thing. I’ve tried so hard to make our wedding decisions for “us” rather than just sticking it to patriarchy every chance I get. But it’s hard because with visual representations because you don’t usually get a chance to explain why things are important to you, or why you made the decision you did. Sometimes I feel like I want to grab people who compliment my ring in passing and shake them while yelling “I’m a feminist! I wear it because I love him! It’s not a symbol of my worth! Are you LISTENING?” Which is obviously not a good thing…

  • mecmec

    At first I thought I didn’t want to wear a ring at all, but then a bit after we got engaged my fiance gave me a ruby ring of his late mother’s. Since I started wearing it, very few people have commented one way or another, and I’ve begun to enjoy having it on my hand when I go out in the world, like a little talisman of my dude loving me or something. I instinctively fiddle with it when I feel stressed/nervous and feel weird when it’s not there, like when I go to gym or whatever.

    So I say try it out and see if you like wearing it or not. I think after the initial period of “Oh my god you’re engaged!!!” people are less likely to grab your hand. (I got a few of those, when I had no ring to show. That pissed me off. First, why assume I have a ring? Second, DON’T GRAB MY HAND I barely know you!). So maybe wait a month or so for all that to cool down. Also you could turn the ring so the stone faces inward and everyone else just sees a plain band. Although I guess if the stone is big that could be uncomfortable.

    [Also I hope this doesn’t violate the comment policy but I’ve HEARD that some dudes find it really hot to get a handjob from a lady who is wearing the engagement ring they gave her? Maybe you can work that in to your “compromise.”]

  • Ophelia

    I made it clear to my partner that I did not want an engagement ring, and since they are not common in his culture it was pretty much settled. But after we decided to get married, we both thought it would be fun to buy something to commemorate the big decision (I was a little surprised by the desire, but it was there nonetheless). For me, we did end up buying a pretty cheap antique ring from a junk shop. As much as I loved the ring, in retrospect I wish we had found a different type of reminder for me, since there is so much baggage around the engagement ring. When I told people we were getting married, they’d immediately ask to see the ring. I would have liked to say “Oh, we decided not to get an engagement ring.” But I couldn’t, because I was in fact wearing a ring to mark my engagement. So I would show them, and they would be a little puzzled. I always felt like I needed to explain that the ring was for me to mark the moment, and not to fulfill the typical engagement ring role (which I think is, as an economist would say, as a costly signal of your intentions).

  • Kashia

    I didn’t want an engagement ring, I just wanted to get married. But, it turned out that it mattered to the wonderful man who wanted to marry me. It mattered a lot. In the end we compromised (a bit) and he got to give me a beautiful ring which I do love, and wear, but it wasn’t a typical engagement ring and people didn’t really squeal over it.

    I thought that once we were actually married, maybe I could wear the engagement ring less. Yeah, not so much. He notices, and asks where is it. So I wear it.

    I guess the point is that each couple will find a different way to sort through the issue of rings, and sometimes it is a compromise. And really if being married to my husband means wearing this beautiful ring, well, it’s not really that much to ask.

    • “it wasn’t a typical engagement ring and people didn’t really squeal over it”

      Every engagement, with a ring or without, deserves squeals! Because YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED!!! YAY!!!!! It makes me so sad how rings have devolved all of that excitement.

      I apologize for squealing.

  • This is a timely post for me – APW, how do you do that all the time?!?!
    We are in the thick of “pre-engagement”, and my man has been stressing about the ring. Even though I told him that I’d be happy with a totally inexpensive ring that I found at a bookstore near our house. He’s not moved. He’s pretty stubborn, actually. He wants the whole WIC, diamond buying experience, I guess. Then I countered with, “well, then what do you want for our engagement? A watch? You should have something to.” I think I am going to get him a nice watch, so that when he proposes, I can propose to!
    And, I fully intend to not wear my engagement ring every day – no matter what it ends up being. I work outside with dogs all day, it’s just not practical. After we are married, I will wear my plain band everyday. And the engagement ring on my right hand on special occasions.

    Did anyone else flash back to Carrie & Adian’s engagement on SATC when she wore her ring as a necklace so it could be closer to her heart? Anyone? Maybe just me. I have most of SATC memorized. Don’t judge me.

  • My husband wore an engagement ring. I thought it would be really weird for me to have one when he didn’t.

    It was a cheap silver ring, and when we got married I replaced it with a wedding ring.

  • Tre

    I never wore it early on, with many reasons, excuses, and political supporting statements. Then I started wearing it for special occasions, and now that we’re a couple months out from the ceremony, I’m wearing it all the time. It feels less like a negative symbol now and more like a reassuring reminder of all the emotional work I’m doing to enter marriage.

    To delve into the topic of what else the ring can represent to you (giving up your maidenhood, leaving your family even though you did that years ago), I would recommend checking out ‘The Conscious Bride.’ It’s a great follow-up to Meg’s book and takes you through the emotional transition.

  • Beth C

    I don’t have an engagement ring and I am thrilled.

    Our proposal was more of a discussion, that my fiance had been putting off having because he wasn’t sure if I wanted a ring. When I told him that I have never liked the idea of a surprise engagement (because I don’t like the idea that I would be put on the spot to make a serious life decision) and that I didn’t want an engagement ring (I don’t wear rings and I am not comfortable with the symbolism) that was the conversation where we got engaged.

    I love my engagement story. It’s very ‘us’ to have a practical conversation that ends in us deciding that we wanted to make our commitment official. I love that he was waiting to find out if I wanted a ring. For me, it was very romantic. No one who is close to us was surprised that I hadn’t wanted a ring.

    One of the things I love about not having a ring is being able to control who knows that I am engaged (co-workers, no thanks) and how those conversations start.

    • ChCh

      I appreciate this a great deal. My boyfriend and I also had a practical conversation that resulted in our deciding to make things official. Weeks into planning our party (I’m averse to calling it a wedding), he looked up at me out of the blue and said, “Uh, did you want me to ask you to marry me?” and I said, “Omigod, no!” Several moments later it occurred to me to ask him, “Whoa – did you want me to ask you to marry me?” He said nope. We were both much relieved that we were in the same place with things.

      A male friend of our recently asked for our “engagement story,” and when we told him he was SO bummed. He and my boyfriend are both from the Midwest, and our friend said, “well THAT isn’t very Midwestern.” I got a kick out of that.

      We also don’t have engagement rings, though we have ordered some pretty sweet bands. Now that I’ve read the comments about how some Germans wear their wedding bands on the opposite hands as a symbol of “engagement,” we might have to consider that option once our rings are made, because we’re pretty excited about wearing them.

  • Erin

    I’m so excited/thrilled/relieved to see an engagement/wedding ring post on APW! I swear, you gals and guys just read my OH-MY-GOSH-I’M-GETTING-MARRIED-IN-A-FEW-MONTHS-AND-NEED-A-DAILY-REMINDER-THAT-IT’S-OKAY-TO-BE-A-SANE-BRIDE mind. And that, my friends, is like being empowered to take a deep breath in when I’m drowning in colors and flowers and expectations and will-we/won’t-we *ahem* discussions with my loverboy. So, thank you.

    But, I digress. I LOVE my engagement ring–it’s unique and estate and beautiful. But it’s also a lot of bling–like, bigger than anything I’d ever wanted to wear–and makes a very specific statement about what kind of person I am (with this ring on, I feel like I’m saying to the world that I’m a feminist sellout comfortably ensconced in the middle class). This is a big deal in and of itself, but I’m also a social worker and have built my career around supporting those who are often not comfortable and/or middle class. Suffice to say, I’m hyperaware of the beautiful and expensive 1.6 carats I wear everyday. My guy was proud to scrimp and save for something he knew I’d love, and it’s more of a symbol of where he wants us to be (financially comfortable) than where we are (recent grad school grads with bills up the wazoo and moving back in with his parents). So, I wear it and love it and all that it stands for…while at the same time, always fighting to at once own it and downplay it. Phew–it’s an identity crisis in one ring.

    For my wedding ring, I chose a plain band that compliments my engagement ring, and I love it equally. I’ve given a lot of thought to how I’ll wear what when we’re married, and I just don’t know. This engagement ring is meaningful for what it symbolizes at this point in our lives and relationship, and I’m having a hard time thinking about just letting that go after we get married.

    So, I don’t know where that leaves me, but thanks for the post and comments and all the food for thought. You all are the antidote to this isolating experience of bride-to-be.

  • If you like it, wear it!

    Besides, I haven’t been pestered nearly as much as I thought I’d be :)

  • calikazam

    I didn’t personally have this dilemma (I love wearing my engagement ring), but I see where you’re coming from.

    If your concern is that it’s unequal that you have to wear a ring and he doesn’t, maybe you guys could go out and get him an engagement ring of sorts, too?

    And while my friends and coworkers definitely squealed over the ring when I first showed it to them, I haven’t had any random strangers come up and comment on it at all, so I don’t really think that’s going to be much of an issue unless you actually tell someone that you’re in the midst of wedding planning (at a glance, it could be a wedding ring and no one tends to squeal about those). So, ultimately, it’s up to you who you allow/encourage to squeal over you.

    Obviously, it’s totally your decision… and it sounds like he’s ok with whatever you decide… but like the original response said, if I were in his shoes I would probably be at least a little bit bummed if you didn’t wear it. Maybe you could wear it sometimes, but then put it safely in its box during situations you don’t want to deal with it?

  • My fiance proposed with a pendant and a pair of earrings. No ring. He told me, “you should feel free to wear these, or not, whenever you want – no obligation to wear a ‘SOLD’ sign from now on! I thought it would be a little weird if you were expected to go around advertising that you’re engaged when there’s no expectation that I do the same.”

    I LOVE the jewelry and was really relieved and touched that he had thought about it from that perspective. Plus, no one else expects to see you in the same necklace/earrings every day so I don’t feel any pressure to wear my engagement jewelry all the time. I like it. We’re planning to get wedding rings, and I’m excited about that because we’ll BOTH wear them…but I don’t care if that doesn’t happen each and every day.

  • April

    I *LOVE* my engagement ring (I should – I chose it!) and wear it with my wedding band every day. The only time I wore it on my right hand was my wedding day, when my lady of honor said I “had to” put it on the other hand. I moved it back later. Ha.

    But seriously, maybe I’m just clueless or simply don’t care, but I don’t fret about what others think about my rings, why or where I wear them or what statement they make. To me, the rings say say, “married”. That is all.

    As for the dear reader who asked what she should do with her engagement ring, well, talk to your partner! Maybe he wants a ring to wear also (awesome!). And don’t mind the ring squealers – I’m one of them too, but my exuberance has more to do with what a ring means — MARRIAGE! YAY! — and less about what it actually looks like.

  • Bethany

    No ambivalence here but that’s because I didn’t get one and I am super happy about it. A few months before we got engaged I had a heart to heart with my boyfriend letting him know that if he ever did want to propose, I would prefer no ring. There were several reasons– it seemed patriarchrical, I’m not a fan of diamonds, it seemed like a waste of money and mostly it just wasn’t me. He had to think about it for awhile, because he thought he might want to participate in that tradition, but in the end he decided to forego it.

    When he proposed to me several months later in Venice, it was not one iota less special for their being no ring. We were thrilled. I loved not having a visible symbol of our engagement (especially not a gaudy one, which unfortunately is how most engagement rings look to me) because I could decide whether to share our news with people or not.

    Now that we’re married we both wear plain gold bands and I feel like it represents us very well. I’m surprised that more people don’t skip the engagement ring.

    • Rachel

      I opposed the engagement ring concept for exactly the same reasons as Bethany, and I had a similar talk with my husband before he proposed. After we got engaged, he told me that he had a few heirloom rings that had been in his family a while, and asked me to at least take a look at them. One of them was his maternal grandmother’s – not an engagement ring, just her everyday ring (tiny diamonds in an oval shape) – and he had fond memories of seeing it on her hand when he was small.

      I agreed to try it on, and then I fell in love and refused to ever take it off. It’s amazing to me that a ring that came from his grandmother could be so perfectly my style. And it solves several of my problems with engagement rings – he didn’t spend money, it’s not blingy, and it doesn’t even look like an engagement rings. And it connects me to his mother and grandmother, who both passed away before I met him.

      But it doesn’t resolve my biggest reason for not wanting one – the patriarchy, dammit! I have felt at times like I am acquiescing in something that I don’t agree with. I never imagined having an engagement ring that is not only a symbol of our love but of becoming part of his family, especially a part that I don’t have another way of connecting to. But sometimes I wonder if I’ve simply found a way to rationalize having a pretty thing that my feminist side had firmly decided I did not need.

      Bottom line: some of these conflicts may never get resolved. But I know this: I’m still wearing my engagement ring after the wedding, not because it’s become conventional to do so, but because it has become a part of me.

  • MDBethann

    If you are worried about the “pestering,” it really only happened for the first couple of weeks and after awhile I’d only get asked about the ring when I would see a friend or family member who knew we were engaged but hadn’t yet seen the ring. Mine sparkles but isn’t blingy, but no one ever made me feel that it was small or cheap (granted, I did sometimes pre-empt it with “I wanted something with warmth and color so he got me a sapphire”). I think the squealing is more about people being happy for you then how ostentatious the ring is.

    As for the “man-gagement” ring idea, didn’t the singer Michael Buble sport one because it’s common practice in his fiancee/wife’s homeland of Argentina?

    I don’t think wearing an engagement ring makes you less of a feminist. Meg and others on APW have repeatedly (and fairly recently) said that feminism is about the right to make choices. It’s okay if we want to wear an engagement ring or not, have a big wedding or not, have a fancy wedding or not, be a stay-at-home mom or not, etc. It is about what is best for you and your fiance and what fits your personalities. Choosing the more “traditional” option doesn’t make you less of a feminist because you made the CHOICE instead of having it forced on you (though it seems some Americans are trying to roll the clock back on that one but that’s another issue).

    • Liz

      I don’t think the author of the email was trying to say that one option is more feminist than the other. Just that her personally held feminist ideals don’t align with the symbolism of an engagement ring. The way some feel more or less comfortable being walked down the aisle by dad, etc.

  • Rachel

    A friend’s mother made a backhanded comment about “the morals of these kids today” when she saw I wasn’t wearing my ring at a party. It was a COSTUME party and I had been doing a friend’s latex/paint makeup so I left it off. To her me not wearing my ring to that party meant I didn’t want to show people I was married, and that I was still “available.” I’m sorry, but I’m married regardless of whether the ring is on my finger. It’s ridiculous to think that just because the ring comes off that my morals disappear!

    • Liz

      That’s so weird! I’ve had older women tell me, “Heh. That ring is NOT going to be on your hands for long once you’re elbow-deep in poop!” (yes, people really talk like this- I KNOW.)

      • That’s so strange to me too! No one in my parents’ group of friends has an engagement ring, and most of them don’t have or wear wedding bands either, at least not diamond-encrusted ones. Heck, my parents bought rings for their ceremony, wore them on their wedding day, and then put them back in the box forever afterwards!

    • Newtie

      I haven’t had anyone accuse me of loose morals, but once I did go to a social event without my fiance (he was traveling on business) and without my engagement ring (I had forgotten to put it back on after doing housework that day). MANY people assumed there had been some kind of dramatic rift. As if I would go make small-talk and eat bland canapes if I were in the middle of breaking off my engagement.

  • Katie

    So I’m a lefty. I was all about having opals in my engagement ring – my grandmother wore opals a lot and my fiance and I weren’t comfortable with diamonds. Sure, I got the warnings that opal are more fragile, but we had them bezel-set and it’s a lovely ring.

    In the first year wearing it, had to get stones replaced twice for chips! I figured it was just super fragile so I’d just wear my wedding band after getting married. Which I did, and I realized how often I was bumping my band into things, too, but at least it didn’t show wear and tear. Duh, it wasn’t the ring, it was me. I started wearing my engagement ring on my right hand and it’s night and day. I love having rings on both fingers. And, for me, I get the “dainty pretty ring” feeling when it’s on my right hand, since that’s my dainty hand, not the one I’m scrubbing pots with or dirtying with art projects.

    Wish I had pieced it together sooner – it would have been a total win because I could have rocked my engagement ring and not felt awkward about it broadcasting info to the world.

    • Class of 1980

      I never thought about that before. Of course, left-handed people would knock their rings around more!

  • Allison

    My Mom retired her original engagement ring when the diamond chipped a long time ago (my family has a long history of damaging engagement rings) and doesn’t wear her original wedding band either. Instead, she wears an anniversary ring my dad bought her somewhere along the line. It doesn’t look at all like a wedding band (if anything it looks like a fancy engagement ring), but nobody has ever been confused about her marital status.

    My rings were my grandmother’s and they’re a matched set, so I suppose I will usually wear them together. I do have a tiny little early 20th century wedding band that belonged to my great aunt, and I plan to wear that for traveling or anything that might be rough on my grandmother’s rings. I know some people never take their wedding band off, but mine has stones in it and I’m going to want to avoid getting it too gunky/clean it now and then. I’m not really bothered by the idea of the ring coming off sometimes, or wearing a different ring in its place if it’s more practical for the occasion. Then again, because the rings came from my family rather than being picked out by him, I feel like it’s perfectly okay to switch to a different ring now and then or wear them differently. It isn’t as loaded as if he had bought and proposed with the ring.

    We’ve debated doing the man-gagement ring. I said we could go ahead and buy his wedding band, and he could wear it on the right then switch it to the left, as they do in some countries. Basically, we just haven’t done so because I want to buy it for him and I’m trying to save money right now. Although I might consider picking up a cheap silver band as a temporary placeholder (I want to eventually get him a white gold one to match mine).

    I will say this – I’m going to insure the heck out of my engagement and wedding rings. Both of my grandmothers lost the diamonds out of their original engagement rings, and my mom chipped hers after also losing an emerald out of the setting. My family is apparently cursed in this regard.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Step 1 – I got engaged, years ago, to someone from a very different culture who didn’t know about engagement rings and didn’t get me one. Throughout our six-month engagement, people kept asking about a ring. That he was totally not interested in getting me a ring was, for us, a sign he was totally not actually interested in marrying me.

    Step 2 – Mom buys me a fake wedding ring for my birthday to wear on business trips. I was having trouble at hotel check-in counters and with creepy men. It also made me look older. I look several years younger than I am. While great in certain contexts, this is not great when you’re trying to do serious business with people two and three times your age.

    Step 3 – Two days after Mom bought me the fake ring, I met my now-fiance.

    Step 4 – Four months into dating, my now-fiance gives me an opening to describe my ideal engagement ring, which was entirely classic – diamond solitaire in yellow gold, not bezel set.

    Step 5 – My fiance proposes with a ring precisely the opposite of what I’d described. It’s silver and white gold, with a bezel set sapphire.

    Step 6A – The ring was only a big deal during the first 8 weeks or so of our 16-month engagement. Dad asked how I’d wear a wedding ring beneath its large, unusual setting. [I won’t. I’ll stop wearing it.] The little old ladies at church and the secretaries at work did the oohing and ahhing like in the movies. His family continues to be very insistent that I tell everyone “the story.” [The ring is the only jewelry brought from the Old Country. It’s been in the family for over 100 years.] One wedding vendor grabbed my hand to examine it. [Not cool. Next person who does that will get a battery charge.] My peer-friends seem disinterested.

    Step 6B – My fiance still asks occasionally if I like the ring. I suspect he has a vague recollection of Step 4. I know he can’t afford a ring, or, rather, we shouldn’t afford such a ring, since his savings will be our savings in a few months, so there’s no real point to making a distinction. I feel bad rejecting a family heirloom in any way. Besides, because of the setting, I have a good excuse to put it away after the wedding. I keep my mouth shut. I wonder about the general lack of squealing, knowing I would expect something more expensive, knowing what all our acquaintances know of our advanced professional standings. I remind myself other people’s rude thoughts and expectations are not my concern. I’ve also noticed that beyond the white gold doing its usual thing of not staying white, the silver part is wearing down. I realize I have another excuse to remove the ring for good after the wedding. It won’t survive decades of daily wear.

    • Newtie

      Aw, I love this, because it shows so much affection and care for your fiance, as well as practical-ness.

      You mention it’s not a practical time to buy an expensive ring. When my parents got engaged, my mother had no engagement ring because they simply couldn’t afford one. While she didn’t mind, I think my father always felt a little twinge of sadness that he couldn’t get her the “ring of her dreams,” which means at some point she must have hinted at what those dreams were. Ten years later, they were in a very different financial situation, and he did pick out the ring he knew she’d always wanted — and now, thirty years after that, I’m wearing that very ring as my engagement ring.

      Which is to say, in a long and happy marriage, there might be any number of times – not just “engagement” – when a couple might decide it IS practical to celebrate some kind of milestone with a ring. It’s not like anyone has just one chance to give or receive something treasured.

  • SamL

    I love my engagement ring and I wear it everyday.
    We got engaged without a ring, we just decided to get married, togther on the couch. Then we started to talk about a ring and my Mother in Law suggested that we use some of the diamonds from her father. So together we went to the jeweler and had the ring made.
    My fiance definitely feels the social pressure that because the diamonds are “small” and we didn’t pay for them that he is some how less of a man. In my opinion (which I readily share) the ring I have, with its family history (there is a long story I won’t share behind the diamonds) is more precious than any ring, no matter how huge, purchased for me.
    What is important in my mind is that the ring symbolizes the beginning of our family, that it is part of his family history joining our new “history” or our history to be. It’s not about being owned or the patriarchy, it’s about having a story to tell the grandkids!

  • Leigh Ann

    My engagement ring is diamond and platinum, nothing I ever thought I would want to wear in my life. I’ve never owned a diamond and never planned to. But it belonged to his great-grandmother, and his grandmother and mother wore it before me. It was a true symbol of joining his family, or rather, joining our families together. So even though it took me a while to get used to the fact that I was wearing a diamond ring, and even though we didn’t have a great engagement story and I had no interest in talking about “colors,” now I love my ring and never take it off. You might be surprised how your feelings about the symbol change when applied to your OWN context, and not a general one.

  • I think what’s interesting about the whole ring subject is that while it’s true that it’s not fair for women to be expected to wear a ring to show their status, not wearing a ring doesn’t make people think you’re a feminist, people just assume you’re single. I love the idea of wearing the ring on your right hand, which introduces a little uncertainty into the situation, or (and this depends on your comfort with jewelry) wearing rings on all your fingers. My husband gave me an engagement watch, but sometimes I wore a cheap ring on my left hand to give strange men the “back off” signal. I got a kick out of thinking strangers might believe my wrap around lizard ring from Claire’s with bedazzled was my engagement ring.
    I really don’t understand why men’s engagement rings haven’t taken off. DeBeers is so desperate for excuses to sell diamonds, you’d think they’d have been all over this decades ago.

    • Liz

      I don’t think it’s a question of wanting people to think one is feminist. It’s an issue of people feeling like it’s their right to know my marital status since I’m a woman.

    • Class of 1980

      DeBeers did try to market men’s engagement rings decades ago. Can’t remember what decade it was, but I read that the campaign fell flat.

      BTW, I know lots of us know of DeBeers history, but here’s a far more complete history via this link.

      • Class of 1980

        Wanted to add … I think DeBeers was moving too fast in trying to market men’s engagement rings decades ago.

        My parents got married in 1957 and their newspaper announcement referred to their wedding as a “Double-Ring Ceremony”.

        Men even wearing wedding rings at all was considered a modern trend in 1957, let alone an engagement ring. I know my grandfather didn’t wear a wedding ring.

        Although, I don’t know how to explain all the antique men’s wedding rings that exist. Obviously, some men were wearing them 100-200 years ago, but they weren’t considered a given.

  • Leigh Ann

    Also, loving all the discussions about the different cultural traditions!

  • Sarah

    My husband’s wedding ring is a claddagh ring he had made by an artisan in Ireland. It is beautiul. The cool thing about claddagh rings is that depending on which hand you wear it on and whether the heart points toward you or away it can signify that you are single, dating, engaged or married and the tradition applies to men and women. Right when we got engaged my husband lost the claddagh he’d been wearing for years but during our time as boyfriend and girlfriend he wore it. When we were engaged, I wanted my now husband to wear it in the engaged position but he really wanted the new ring to just be his wedding ring and to start wearing it then. If I had really cared, I could have given him an inexpensive claddagh to wear during out engagement but it didn’t matter that much to me. I mention all this since it is always nice to know that other cultures have traditions that can be useful – like a way for a man to show he is engaged. Would a ring for him make you more comfortable wearing your ring?

  • Heather

    My husband would like me to wear my rings all. the. time. He bought them as a symbol of his love which is forever. I have nothing against the symbol of my ring and I love it. However, I don’t like wearing it when I sleep, when I shower, when I cook, when I excercise, etc. Basically, if I am not doing much or doing something that can not damage my ring, etc., I wear it. He’s gotten past it. He wears his all. the. time.

  • I wanted a ring because I’m the type of person that has to have an excuse to buy pricey jewelry. That said, I always imagined that I wouldn’t have a traditional wedding ring. I wanted something small and vintage (which let’s face it y’all… it’s another word for used). I was so against the idea of having a diamond.

    Then I met D and things changed. He had a diamond that his grandmother had passed down. IT’S FREAKING HUGE.

    My ring is absolutely beautiful but I felt so much guilt over the expense of it and the size of it. It cost more than anything else I have ever owned (although, we didn’t pay the full cost of it because we already had the diamond… but still, a lot.)

    I get that the comments about having a ring that is too small hurt. But so do the comments that you’re ring is too big. From the indie/blog world, I get bombarded with reasons of why my expensive, traditional ring is bad. Because of that, it took me a long time to love my ring, but I do love it because it was bought for me by the person I love because he wants to spend his life with me.

    • Class of 1980

      The real problem is the utter lack of manners.

      I appreciate how individual rings are to the person. I like detailed artistic botanically-inspired jewelry in general, so that’s what I would choose. But I know a girl who wanted the opposite — a large round diamond in a Tiffany setting with a plain wedding ring – white metal, no details.

      You know what? Those “stereotypical” rings looked SO FRESH on her because it suited her personal style right down to the ground. On her, the style came off as clean and modern. Nothing else would have been authentic for her.

  • Noni

    My grandmother lived with my family while I was growing up, and although my grandfather passed away when my mother was a teenager, she wore her wedding ring every day until she died. They had a love that could not even be stopped by death, which really shaped the way I look at marriage and commitment. I’ve always known that I want to wear that ring every day until I die.

    My boyfriend and I are in the pre-engaged state, and although we both know that my wedding ring will be my grandmother’s, I want him to propose with an inexpensive ring that he picks out. The main reasons are that a) the symbolism of the engagement ring is important to me, but b) I want to be the first person to know about the proposal (no asking my father for permission, please- I’m a grown woman and can decide who I want to spend my life with). Plus the ring means so much to me, it would feel weird wearing it before we’re married.

    Not conventional, but hey- it makes me happy!

  • RebeccaS

    I am a hardcore feminist and have repeatedly told my husband that if he ever gives me diamond anything I will break up with him. That is a personal preference which he respects. I never ever wanted or got an engagement ring (I suggested getting married which we then did within a week). I did wear a wedding ring for about a year from a set we got off of etsy but he didn’t like his ring from that set and never got used to wearing it. We got a new set of wedding rings off of etsy when we finally had an actual wedding ceremony but then just never really wore them. So now neither of us wears a wedding ring. Also we are polyamorous so even though we are married we are open to other romantic relationships and free to pursue them. I like having my marital status not be one of the first things people know about me. For me it is so freeing to be able to completely opt out of the cultural expectations of marriage which don’t work for me.

  • I’ve been thinking about my options as my sweetie and I meet with a jewelry artist to design our wedding bands. What we’re going to try is having the jeweler make a cut in the setting of my engagement ring, allowing the wedding band to nestle up against it. (My sweetie’s engagement ring has a flat edge that doesn’t require adjustment to fit snugly against hers.) If that doesn’t work, I’m okay with resetting the moonstone into a pendant or smaller ring, or just putting it away and wearing only my wedding band.

    It was suggested that I swap the engagement ring to my right hand and wear my wedding band on the left, but I decided not to. On my right ring finger, I already wear a ring with rainbow stones. As a woman who is getting married to another woman, and as a femme, I sometimes feel that wearing an engagement ring (or talking about my wedding in passing) makes my queerness invisible. I like that the rainbow balances out the engagement ring in signifying my… affiliations, let’s call them. It’s important to me.

  • Betsy

    Wearing an engagement ring daily – I get. Not having/wanting a ring — I get. Having one but only wearing it from time to time, like dress up occasions or random Tuesdays or whatever (i.e. treating it like any other piece of jewelry) – I totally get! But the idea of having one and never ever wearing it just baffles me! OBVIOUSLY to each his/her own, I’m not judging. RINGPOP, I’m just thinking about your original question and wondering if you’ve considered suggesting your partner return it and you can both go on a fabulous trip or buy a piece of art or something amazing to share/keep forever. I hope I’m not overstepping, but if you WOULD prefer that but don’t want to hurt his feelings,.. a) he’s an adult, he’ll get over it, and b) the fact that he said “you don’t have to wear this” seems like he gets that there’s some ambivalence in this issue. And reserving the money for an “engagemt trip” or “engagement dining room table” or whatever you’re into – rather than tossing it into the wedding pot – keeps it special. Again, hope I haven’t overstepped it just seems like the whole conversation has turned to everyone sharing their ring-having/wearing philosophies but I don’t think anyone mentioned that just because you have one doesn’t mean you have to keep it!

  • ambi

    Just wanted to chime in on the “different cultures” conversation. Here in my fairly small Southern town, every married woman I know (1) has an engagement ring, and (2) wears it daily. Until about 2 years ago when I lived elsewhere, it didn’t dawn on me that you could do anything else! So many of the women I know complain about the hassles of wearing their (standard diamond and platinum high set) engagment rings, but no one takes it off. My mom repeatedly pulled the stone out of hers while doing chores at home, but always just got it reset and kept right on wearing it.

    I love hearing about all the other options. While I would really really love an heirloom ring (diamond or gemstone – anything pretty), I am also very attracted to the idea of just wearing a simple band. I find that look really timeless and classic, even though it isn’t a look that is “classic” where I grew up. If I do choose to go that route, I will have a lot of explaining to do!

  • Newtie

    You know, I guess I didn’t realize an engagement and/or wedding ring had quite so much patriarchal connotation or was supposed to mark women as “belonging” to someone (although, duh, I can see why it does have that cultural connotation). I’m a medieval lit person, and in medieval Europe gold rings were exchanged between lovers as a symbol of true love, and worn on the same fingers to symbolically connect the two even when they were apart. Since one didn’t always marry one’s true love in medieval Europe, these rings were often kind of a “secret” symbol – something between the two lovers, not something that necessarily meant something to outside observers (eg, NOT a sign of being marked for anything in particular. One might have a wedding ring and also have their lover’s ring, and only they would know that the lover’s ring really “meant” something to them).

    I’ve always assumed wedding bands and engagement rings stemmed from this tradition, although I’m realizing now that’s probably not true. When I got engaged, I did know that people would know it because I was wearing a ring on my left hand, but in my mind I assumed the “point” of the ring was so I could see it and think of my beloved when he wasn’t with me. I love noticing it when I’m driving to work, or when I take it off to wash dishes, because each time it makes me think of the man I love. Because I’m wearing a ring I didn’t wear before, as I go along with my daily tasks, I have these brief moments of thinking of what we have together, and it has made these past few months of engagement feel very sweet and comforting to me.

    So, I agree completely with Liz’s advice, but I wonder, too, if you thought of wearing your ring more as a way to keep your fiance always with you, it might feel less like a patriarchal thing and more like a good thing.

    Also, I totally want to do some research now and find out where the tradition(s) of the engagement ring came from, and wedding bands, too.

  • I actually felt more “claimed” the first time he put his arm around me while we were sitting during church services, six months before he proposed, than when he gave me an engagement ring.

    I was really not excited about people grabbing my hand like it was theirs and being all gushy and silly. And nobody did and I was so happy. But I didn’t go around making awkward hand gestures so they’d see it either.

    Here’s hoping I get as lucky if I’m ever sporting a pregnant belly, because that’s not public property any more than my engagement ring is.

  • Annie

    So many possibilities! This is great! Back when my boyfriend and I were discussing the future and were agreeing that we both wanted to be with the other one forever, he was nervous about the whole proposal/ring thing, which to him seemed like an ordeal. He wanted me to have a good story. I was very clear that I didn’t want a diamond (due to the ethical issues, the fact that the tradition emerged from a marketing campaign, and my disdain for flashy jewelry), but I realized that I did want some sort of symbolic ring. (I looked online at alternative engagement rings and found several that I liked; he ended up choosing one of those.) I like the “squealers.” I like the excitement. And it makes me feel good.

    Originally, I wanted him to wear an engagement ring as well. It’s only fair, right? We are both pretty low-key in the sense that we don’t want to draw a ton of attention to ourselves. He brought up the point that it would be somewhat of a scene for him to wear an engagement ring. So although we like to be alternative (with some things), he (and I agreed) didn’t want to have the hassle of explaining our philosophical position on equality to everyone who saw his ring. People enjoy looking at my ring, but they don’t ask me why I’m wearing one. To me, if he were to wear an engagement ring, he’d get the kind of questions vegetarians get: why don’t you eat meat?

    I wear the ring (it’s cubic zirconia), which is perfect for me. I’ve even received compliments for how beautiful and/or simple my diamond is. I don’t know whether to delve into that conversation, especially when the person commenting is herself wearing a diamond. Sigh.

  • ElisabethJoanne

    Aside: Some Jews don’t do engagement rings on religious grounds. As giving and receiving a ring (a plain one) is part of the marriage ceremony, they don’t give and receive any ring before then, to avoid confusion of religious meaning. I read that many such Jewish women get jeweled rings very shortly after their ceremonies, in addition to the plain gold bands they get as part of their ceremonies.

    Returning to my story: Any evangelicals (or Catholics or Mormons) wear promise rings – as in promised to remain abstinent? I think Mormons have “Choose The Right [thing to do]” rings. The one I describe my mother giving me above was only the last in a long line of rings I wore where my engagement ring now is. I had various promise rings before then. It was all over what we read and talked about at my evangelical high school, but I don’t know how common it ever really was.

  • Lindsay

    Great post! My fiance (husband in t-minus 2days) and I discussed the same thing. He proposed with my wedding band and we made the engagement ring together. On the day I got my engagement ring I gave him his wedding band (i.e. engagement ring). He himself said “It’s not really fair that only the chicks wear something visual that states their taken, and that guys don’t.” One of the many reasons I love him.

    I wear my engagement ring with pride (and he wears his band with the same pride), and plan to do so with my wedding band after Monday. I think guys and gals alike should just do what they are comfortable with – it is YOUR life after all. :)

  • Sharon

    For me, the idea of a big ol’ rock on my hand makes me SAD in a way that few other things do.
    Luckily, I’ve got me an Irish transman fiance, and he had his own claddagh ring from his girl-childhood…so he got me one just like it. And we both wear our rings. And it’s perfect for us.

  • Know what? I don’t wear mine all the time. I’m a slacker, and I freely admit it. I think I might have to write an entire post in response to this!

  • Louise

    Great discussion! I was and am proud to wear my engagement ring, but it looks nothing like a traditional engagement ring. He had it custom made by a local artist, because he insisted on paying some money on a ring and I told him I’d rather it go to an artist than a diamond. It is also dark metal, with peridot stones all the way around. So, just a beautiful ring. Except it’s on my left ring finger. Mostly, when people ask to see it they are a little surprised, and the people who know me exclaim how beautiful and fitting it is. People who don’t are polite, but confused often. Anyhow, I love that it doesn’t scream engagement, because it turns out I am not crazy about announcing that to everyone I meet. (this manifests more in the “fiancé” word. A whole other story.)

  • Lisa

    Even before we got engaged my fiance had a special ring that he usually wore on his right hand. When we got engaged, he switched it to his left ring finger to match mine, so we could both have rings. He did this spontaneously because he’s a feminist and thought he should wear a ring too.

  • Dawn

    When my partner and I decided to become engaged, we had long ago accepted gender-normative stuff was mostly not for us besides undergarments, obvious strength/height differences, and genitals. By becoming engaged and proclaiming ourselves to share a mutual life and support each other’s life in co-op mode, it was no question it was “all or nothing” with the decision to wear rings before or after marriage.

    We are also extremely practical (hanging out on APW, what? :-) ) and work in our extensive garden and our hands in general, so we went for basic and sturdy matching titanium bands. We aren’t marrying until fall 2013, which will likely mean buying some lovely but still low-key vintage bands to “upgrade” to.

    With all that said, I associate myself as a feminist and queer to boot (both of us do, in fact), but wearing engagement/marriage bands is one of the few traditions I can’t imagine not partaking in. I share a sense of pride we both wear a ring that is seemingly mild in appearance, but in the “appropriate” placement and clearly proclaiming our commitment and connection to one another. I guess I just don’t see a personal need to hide my status of something that is literally life-changing. <3

  • Erin

    Zero ambivalence here; I very much like my shiny thing. In the interest of fairness, I gave my fiancé a shiny thing in return: a tungsten bracelet that should nicely complement his wedding band. Jewelry is by no means necessary to indicate a commitment, of course, but we both get a lot of joy out seeing each other enjoy these gifts.

  • Emily

    Is there anyone out there who only wears their engagement ring, even though they are married? I am engaged and have a lovely, semi-nontraditional engagement ring. I’ve been looking around for a wedding band, but no matter the style, I just don’t like the way the two look together. My fiance suggested that I don’t need a wedding band at all. I’m having trouble with the idea of only having the engagement ring, partially for fear of explaining once we get married that I am actually married, despite not having a wedding band. Any thoughts?

  • Random Ann

    I was not a traditional girl, wore no rings prior to being engaged, and I, too, was weirded out at the attention seeking princess that was now perched on my left hand. Of course, because I had no rings, fiance did his best, but the ring was a bit large and I was able to flip people off for two weeks to announce my engagement. I feel like getting used to the ring on my hand was a bit analogous to getting used to being engaged/planning the wedding – both have taken some time, and both have had good points and bad. I wanted to keep a log of all the stupid things people said to me upon seeing the ring – I work in a hospital with the mentally ill, and listening to patients announce to someone on the phone that I was engaged was a bit jarring, as was a nurse who told me, “the most important thing is that your wedding is perfect!” Alas, I now find it amusing, and shiny things are always a nice distraction. :)

  • I wear both rings (engagement and wedding) almost all the time. But…perhaps the fact that I got my engagement ring during the couple of days before our wedding makes it much more emotionally linked our marriage and not the engagement stage.

    What did surprise me was a few weeks ago, when I had an exceptionally bad day (and my husband and I were apart due to work), I found having my rings physically on my hand was particularly comforting.

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  • Awww… I’d definitely wear it after what he said, plus it helped that he bought you a beautiful ring…

  • For me, any issues I have around wearing my engagement ring have turned out to be about materialism rather than feminism. For the record, I love my ring. I picked it out, and I have wasted serious amounts of time staring at it. My fiance was glad to get me just what I wanted, a big, simple, non-diamond ring.
    But. As soon as I got engaged, people were clamoring to see pictures of the ring on Facebook. I refused. If my close friends/family wanted to see the ring, I texted them a picture, but posting just the ring for everyone to see made me feel uncomfortable. I thought that was the end of it.
    Then, a couple of weeks ago, I saw my aunt for the first time since I had gotten engaged. Literally, the first word out of mouth was, “Hand?” Um, no. I replied with, “It’s great to see you too!” Then, about an hour later, I showed her the ring. I’m glad she is excited about us getting engaged but to focus all of that through the ring just felt icky. It has definitely made me more self-conscious about who is focusing on that or checking out my hand and why.

  • We decided to not get wedding bands (or engagement rings?). I didn’t like that he had no outward sign so convinced (it didn’t take much) to go ahead and order his wedding ring and just wear that now. And I will just use my engagement ring now.

    So we both wear one ring at all times. :)

  • BarryMayor

    If you wish your marriage to not end in divorce, it is important to be true to yourself and be able to tell him how you really feel. If If your feminist self feels uncomfortable wearing a ring, as a symbol of ownership, he needs to know that you aren’t rejecting him but rather the symbol. If you suppress your feminism now, you will end up resenting him, and he will not truly know who he is marrying. Such marriages tend to not last.

    My fiancee wants me to wear a ring but once I learned more about feminism, I realized that it was just as wrong for her to expect me to wear a ring as it would be for me to expect her to change her name to mine. The important thing is to openly discuss these things before the wedding so each knows how the other really feels.

  • BarryMayor

    Buy him something of equal monetary cost.

  • Emma

    So, RINGPOP, what did you decide in the end?! I’m dying to know!
    I thought maybe the idea of wearing it on a different finger or on a necklace might work for you??

    My fiancé and I had a few conversations about getting engaged before we actually got engaged. I explained that I wanted us to choose my ring together, and although he was a bit surprised at first, he respected that when it came to the proposal (which we had also discussed in advance!) I love my ring because we chose it together :)

    We had also talked about me getting him an engagement gift – I wanted to spoil him with a special present just as he was spoiling me! So we agreed I’d get him an engagement watch, which I have – one we chose together, like my ring. Although a watch isn’t such an obvious sign of engagement or commitment, we know what it means, and that’s what counts :)

    I’m wearing my engagement ring on the “official” finger but I like the idea of wearing it on another finger to make it less obvious. I also love the German tradition of both partners wearing the wedding band as an engagement ring and then switching hands on the wedding day!

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  • elasticcassidy

    I love this. I love hearing about other men who wanted an engagement ring!

    We ended up getting a plain silver band during our engagement for my husband to wear. Partially because he wanted to symbolize that he was engaged, and partially to see if he could not lose it.

    But some women were so snotty about it. A friend of mine even commented on a picture taken a couple of months before our wedding with something like, “Whyyy is he wearing a ring? Did you get married already?!”