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.
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!
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…
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
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.