Tuesday, August 9, 2022
Are you bogged down by the archaic stigma that the engagement and wedding ring needs to be worth at least 3 to 6 months’ salary? This is crazy, perhaps it is a thing if you are extremely wealthy? I don’t know about you, but I cannot afford to put half a year’s pay toward a ring. Not to mention, depending on the situation you and/or your fiancé will be purchasing multiple rings (engagement, wedding his, and wedding hers – or hers and hers or in my case his and his)!
Allow a professional Chicago Wedding Planner to help you out. To give you better context and inspiration along the way, I am going to use my husband and me as an example. As a same-sex couple and being a wedding planner, Christopher and me, are in a bit of a unique situation but I used the same tips, tricks, and inspirations that will help you. You can be a Chicago Bride or from a small town of 48, the tips and love are universal. Before the thought crosses your mind; this post was planned for the month after pride month. BWeddings takes pride in being an LGBTQA+ ally and a safe space for all, not just for the one month like some companies but as a daily commitment. We celebrate and love the diversity in all forms all year round, it makes our jobs exponentially more interesting and enjoyable; gay people get married all year long too! Did I mention there are going to be colorful tangents along the way?
Okay, follow me back in time to my proposal. I had lots of foresight in my proposal but that is because I do this for a living and have been planning my wedding since I was a young gay boy. Do you know the opening scene of the movie ‘The Wedding Planner’ where young Jennifer Lopez is planning a wedding between Barbie and G.I. Joe; well after my uncle’s wedding that was me! I started solidifying more tangible wedding plans when Chris and I started to get serious, really driving that point home, most people are not crazy like me with planning. In addition to being a gay couple, the extreme level of foresight and planning detail is how we are a more unique situation than most. Skipping to more recent times, I planned to propose to Chris in London, which is his favorite place, in late 2019 or early 2020 *insert the compulsory ‘oohhh’* at the time I was thinking about how I had the time to save for the ring and the trip of his dreams. We heard about Covid a few months beforehand, I was in events and had groups that were heavily international dropping like flies, at the time like a fool I brushed it off like Covid-19 was going to be no big thing. I thought we would be fine but internationally things were worse than in the states, so we had to cancel the trip. Looking back, it was a blessing in disguise because he knew that’s what we were going to London for, and he loves surprises, so it had to be a surprise. Now jump forward a little to just after the pandemic restrictions eased up across the country. Like many same-sex couples, before the pandemic, we postponed our wedding plans for roughly 4 years due to political turmoil, which if I am honest, is still a lump of red-hot coal, because of the ‘volatility’ around our legal right to marry. Legal benefits or not we are having the celebration, after scraping the last plan it is back to the drawing board.
There are lots of variables, and if you are a (semi-) normal person like me, you probably don’t know most of those details. You would only if you have bought jewelry for them before, and even then, it was not on the same level of importance as an engagement or wedding ring. Chris and I had exchanged rings for our first anniversary, so I knew his ring size and from the course of our relationship I know him and his preferences, but never assume you know. If there is even a shadow of a doubt, find a way to double-check. I knew the size and his preferences from various anniversaries but that was 7 years ago so I needed to make sure it was all still correct.
From a wedding planner standpoint, the engagement process is very straightforward and usually doesn’t take too much time; however, if you don’t have the experience of knowing what to expect the process can be far from simple. The general outline is:
I got my start as a Chicago wedding planner through proposals, and they are still probably my favorite ‘event’ to do, yes, proposal coordination is a thing and I highly recommend it. Something I have seen first-hand is the secret confessions of grooms before the wedding, in fact, I usually probe about last-minute nerves when helping with boutonnieres. Oddly, the most common thing I hear next to something about seeing his bride in her dress is regarding the ring. In the moments before the ceremony skeptical they chose a ring ‘good enough for her;’ this is always the phrase used. Romantic comedies and social media’s over-exaggeration of people’s lives has made people focus too much on the actual act of proposing and forget about how time-consuming various steps are in obtaining the perfect ring. On top of finding the perfect jeweler which can be very tricky and is the most critical step; there is also finalizing the design, time for it to be made, then inspecting, altering, and possibly re-sizing. While everyone wants to have a jaw-dropping proposal and it should be something special; it costs money, it’s only 1 day leading up to an even more grand event, and the ring should be the biggest expense of the event don’t put too much into a plan and not as much into the symbol of your undying love and devotion.
It is time to pool all your resources, to gather a lot of information about your partner. Use this info to create the most perfect ring, one that is truly unique to your love and relationship. Things you will need to know:
In addition to your partner’s preferences, there are some general ‘rules of thumb’ to keep in mind which will greatly affect the price but also the overall look of the ring:
As a Chicago Wedding Planner, I started by thinking about everything I knew about him – likes, dislikes, quirks, etc. Chris loves copper and rose gold colors, he prefers light tones over dark. While he likes the traditional look of diamonds in a ring, he also loves the newer trend of using a colored stone or birthstone as the center gem. While I challenge him to try new things and test his limits pushing him out of his comfort zone. He prefers things on the more traditional side especially when it comes to relationships and expressions of love, but he HATES traditional gold. Then, I thought about us together, how our personalities clash at times but also create a spectacular dynamic. About how he has driven me to be a better man and how I drive him (crazy and) to be better, as well. We both love the contrast between dark and bright colors, especially the contrast between matte black and reflective metallic color. A beautiful clash of opposites that work so perfectly together, much like us. I also knew my biggest challenge was designing a beautiful ring worth the love of my life without making it too gaudy, like a high school class ring.
A side tip for all the Chicago Brides and Chicago Couples: Taxes and cost of living are significantly higher in the city limits. Consider a jeweler outside Chicago, or your major city.
With his birthday only a month before mine and just a few months out from when I was doing my planning. I had the brilliant idea to ask my future mother-in-law and Chris’ cousins to reach out to him and ask for his size; of everything: head, shirt, pants, wrist, waist, neck, I really mean EVERYTHING! It is a dead giveaway if they only ask your partner for their ring size. Especially if you and your partner have been discussing marriage, plus this way you will have all that info for the future! You’re welcome forgetful husbands for the extra future anniversary help! Having a family member or a confidant helps you gather the other info you need or supplement the rouse around the proposal when needed. If you don’t have access to help like that use their current jewelry as a baseline for the kind of metal, you are proposing so you should have some idea of their taste preferences.
When deciding where to get the ring from you will, again, have more things to consider and from there you will need to shop around doing your research: ‘Off the Rack’ or Custom design? Do the jewelers handle that stone or precious metal, will they have to special order the materials adding to the cost, natural or lab-created diamonds, to name a few? Jewelers do not work with every material; exotic materials will limit your selection of designs. A trend I have seen with Chicago weddings is couples moving away from traditional metals, especially for the groom’s band. Instead select metals like adonized titanium, tungsten, bismuth, platinum, or meteoric iron, a metal with a dark grey or black color, and usually a blue-ish hue. Being a newbie to this but wanting something very specific, the designer is going to have a lot of questions and input to make sure the design works and is what you want. There is going to be plenty of back and forth, you need to work with someone who makes you feel comfortable. Having the general design in mind, where to buy the ring should be simple right, no! I have found that the connection I mentioned is key if you want to take a ‘rough design’ and have that professional that really understands you and your needs polish it into your partner’s dream ring. When deciding where to get the ring from you will, again, have more things to consider and from there you will need to shop around doing your research: ‘Off the Rack’ or Custom design? Do the jewelers handle that stone or precious metal, will they have to special order the materials adding to the cost, natural or lab-created diamonds, to name a few? Jewelers do not work with every material; exotic materials will limit your selection of designs. A trend I have seen with Chicago weddings is couples moving away from traditional metals, especially for the groom’s band. Instead select metals like adonized titanium, tungsten, bismuth, platinum, or meteoric iron, a metal with a dark grey or black color, and usually a blue-ish hue.
A great place to start, instead of just blindly researching a hundred different shops; ask parents, grandparents, and married or engaged friends where they got their rings. Older female family members or friends’ female family members are a great resource, ask them for jeweler references. Ladies love talking about their favorite pieces of jewelry and always remember where they got them from! Take those places and compare them to brand name or chain stores, once you have the choice narrowed down to 1 to 3 options reach out to each asking to look at their work, production time, pricing, return, and insurance policies. Stones are only ever held in by tension or small prongs of metal, metal is malleable and over the course of your life it may shift and that is how stones are lost. A BIG QUESTION TO ASK: WHAT IS YOUR POLICY REGARDING INSURING THE RING TO REPLACE LOST STONES?
Finalizing the design, the purchase, and the inspection of the ring will all be covered in the next blog so please stay tuned loves!!!
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