Why I Returned My Engagement Ring (But Accepted the Proposal)

Why I Returned My Engagement Ring (But Accepted The Marriage Proposal)

I’ve been engaged for three weeks and scared to actually tell anyone (outside of my immediate family and friends).


Because I know what happens as soon you say the words, ‘I’m engaged.’

Whether it’s your best friend or a total stranger, there’s an inevitable screech followed by a reach for your right hand to assess what’s on your finger.

And I don’t have anything on my finger.

Not because my fiancé didn’t give me an engagement ring. But because I gave it back.


Why I Returned My Engagement Ring


To clarify, I totally accepted the marriage proposal. I just didn’t want an engagement ring.

No judgment to anyone that does. I totally get it. You’re going to have something to look down at every day and be reminded of one the most transformative decisions of your life. If that’s not a splurge-worthy occasion, I don’t know what it is.

But I’m not much of a jewelry kind of gal. Never have been.

I am a pictures kind of gal though. And lucky for me, my fiancé managed to snag some photos of the proposal. So rather than having something to look down at each day, I’ll have something to look up at each morning and evening, hanging on my wall.

In case you were wondering how my fiancé managed to snap pictures of his proposal, here’s the quick and dirty of our engagement story….

On the weekend of the proposal, we were enjoying the time off in upstate New York – on the same property that served as the setting for one of my favorite pictures of the two of us 5 years earlier – dirty dancing style.


pre proposal


Knowing how much I adore pictures and how hard I’ve been working to up my Instagram game (blogger-problems), my fiancé suggested heading back to that same spot to grab some more up-to-date shots.

He set up the camera and ran over, stopping to ‘tie his shoe’. I anxiously asked how much time was left on the camera timer when he pulled out the ring and asked me to be his wife.

Little did I know the camera was recording the whole thing!


proposal engagement ring


I’ve admittedly fallen in line and rushed to check out the ring when my friends and colleagues have announced their proposals, but when confronted with a ring of my own, I froze.

By the time I got over my shock to accept, I took the ring and put it on the wrong hand. Seriously, this is how much I know about this stuff.

The idea of walking around with three months worth of my fiancé’s salary on my hand just gave me anxiety.


The idea of walking around with three months worth of my fiancé’s salary on my hand just gave me anxiety.Click To Tweet


Thankfully, the ring wasn’t quite that expensive, but it was close enough to make me queasy.

(Yes, I asked my fiancé how much the ring cost, and yes, he told me, because that’s how we roll. I’m not saying we don’t have our fair share of relationship problems, but they’re never about money.)

All I could think about looking down at the ring (besides getting married, of course), was all the other things we could do with the money.


All I could think about looking down at my engagement ring (besides getting married, of course), was all the other things we could do with the money.Click To Tweet


We could splurge on a New York City wedding.

We could rent out our favorite taqueria for a rehearsal dinner.

We could book some suites near Central Park to host our families for a weekend of festivities.

Clearly my concern wasn’t about the bottom line. I do love to splurge.

And celebrating our commitment to one another seems like a perfect occasion. Plus, we can actually afford it.

But ultimately, I just don’t value engagement rings in the same way I value those other things.

Again, no judgment. You can think the choice to get married (or even live) in New York City is crazy expensive. But that’s probably because you don’t value NYC life like I do.

It doesn’t make either of our values more ‘right’ or ‘better’ than the other, just different.


How We’re Going to Spend the Engagement Ring Money Instead…



returned engagement ring


Before falling down the rabbit hole of all the other ways we could spend the engagement ring money, I asked my fiancé about his top priorities for celebrating our marriage.

Like me, he talked about food and drinks (that’s probably where we spend most of our money after rent each month anyway).

But we both agreed that the top item on our wedding wish list was a fabulous honeymoon.

The Greek Islands. Japan. South Africa. We’ve fantasized about these destinations (and so many more) for ages. And when it really came down to it, we couldn’t imagine anything we’d rather splurge on more.

I even had us map out all of our five year goals to make sure we weren’t overlooking other potential priorities – the wedding, possible career moves, maybe even a new home.

But after it all shook out, the honeymoon still came out on top.

And rings? Well, they were hardly in the picture.

So we returned my engagement ring and agreed to shop for simple wedding bands instead. Using the rest of the money (plus my contributions), to fund our actual priorities.

Call us the most millennial couple ever, but we really do value experiences over things.

No shade at things. We own our fair share of completely non-essential ‘stuff’, the most recent addition being the drone I bought the bf (oops, fiancé) for his bday.

But even then, the things we own are things we really want.

And despite the unrelenting expectations of pretty much everyone, you actually don’t need any ‘thing’ to be engaged.


You don’t need any ‘thing’ to be engaged.Click To Tweet


Engagement photos after I returned my engagement ring


So while I don’t think engagement rings are a waste of money (for those couples who truly value them), and while we (thankfully) can afford to splurge on our wedding if we want, I’m still skipping the engagement ring.

My fiancé and I have a lot of big goals, and weighing all of them together, we both agree that an engagement ring just isn’t a one of them.

For the money we do have to spare, I hope we’ll spend it together, exploring some place fabulous and building our future together.



30 responses to “Why I Returned My Engagement Ring (But Accepted the Proposal)

    1. Thank you SO much Kate. And yes, I was so relieved my fiance was so totally fine with my decision to return the ring. Makes me feel great about our future 🙂

  1. Congratulations for the engagement! And a smart money moves if you ask me. I decided to get a custom made one from a jeweler in New York City. I didn’t spend too much because that’s not what she wanted either.

  2. Congrats, congrats, and more congrats! My parents eloped so no engagement ring. They also don’t have wedding rings. So I didn’t really grow up thinking much about them. Initially, I think, my ring meant more to my husband than it did to me. I’m happy to have it, but I love the choice that you made for you and as a couple. CONGRATS AGAIN!

    1. Thanks so much! Yeah, I think considering your partner’s perspective on the ring is important too. I’m just glad we were on the same page so we can splurge elsewhere 🙂

  3. I have a “promise ring” technically, or so the jewelers told us in attempts to go for a bigger ring. I was engaged/married at 21 with a baby face so I wanted something that at least made it look like I was married, but close to a decade later, I think I’d go the simple band route. I still love my rings though, and I love them even more knowing they were the discount option that was really affordable for even the broke kids we were.

    1. Love that. I’ve head from people who totally love their rings, which is why I really don’t think they’re a waste of money. As long as your choices align with your values, do what you want, right? 😉

  4. Congratulations on your engagement and for knowing what makes sense for you.

    I’ve been married twice (thankfully, the 2nd one stuck! ).

    My first engagement ring is a super-snazzy one and it sits in my bank’s safe deposit box. My current ring was purchased on sale from Macy’s. I love it and get frequent compliments on it. My husband bought his own band ALONE at Costco while he waited for me to get a flu shot.

    The second husband is “the keeper”. 🙂

    1. Gotta love the keeper 🙂 Have you ever considered selling your first ring? I obviously haven’t been through that process, but I know a bunch of folks who have.

    1. Exactly. Thankfully, we’re at a point in our lives where we’ve had plenty of time sit with and consider our priorities before making these kinds of decisions. The benefit of getting married in our 30s 🙂

  5. My husband & I eloped, rather than save up money for years to pay for a one-day event that we would be too stressed to enjoy.
    We observed many expensive weddings while playing music together in a band. The more money spent, the sooner the marriage ended.
    Thankfully today a couple can plan out exactly what they want without the pressure of a “royal wedding”!

  6. I’d say that your best decision was to get married. THAT is what really says what you really value. The no diamond vs diamond is way way down the list and frankly, $100 vs & 10,000 spend in the time frame of your life together has little effect. Marriage is forever. Rings, no matter what kind you choose, aren’t.

  7. Congratulations! My husband also doesn’t see the value in expensive, shiny rocks I value sentiment, and history. I was given his grandmother’s bridal set as an engagement ring. It’s not big and flashy, but it’s unique and has a story. (They we’re picking out rings in September 1939, radio on in the background, when there was breaking news “Canada has just declared war on Germany”. His mother reacted by saying “She’ll take that one!”)
    I found a vintage wedding band to match on Etsy of all places.
    I like to think that things have now come full circle. Our son was born on what would have been his great-grandmother’s 100th birthday, and we recently moved into her house. How many meals has this ring helped to prepare in this kitchen?

  8. I was very clear with my husband when the subject of marriage came around. This three month salary spend on a ring thing is bullshit. I’d be toting an insurance claim waiting to happen. This smart man sought out the stone I wanted (morganite) and formulated a ring he thought would be perfect for me, along with the wedding band all for less than most spend on a monthly mortgage payment. I get so many compliments about it, including how different it is. Power to those who want the Tiffany’s rock, but I can’t deny the appeal of a truly simple, affordable ring like mine!

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