Falling in love is one of life’s greatest treasures – the experiences, happiness, laughter, and the connection you feel for one another is celebrated in time with a beautiful event: your wedding. While it’s an undeniable day filled with joy and memories you’ll cherish for the rest of your lives together, it definitely requires a lot of planning to be successful.
Even small weddings come with large to-do lists before the big day, and events of every size need to rely on a careful budget for success. This holds true for both the event itself – how many guests to invite, which venue to book, and so on – as well as the parts of it that will stay with you forever: from your vows to your wedding bands.
With so much of your upcoming nuptials chipping away at the wedding budget, it’s helpful to be informed of the answers to questions like “What is a wedding band?” and “How much do wedding rings cost?” Learning all you need to know from the shopping timeline to selecting styles like simulated lab grown diamonds or unique gemstones will help you feel informed and guide you in finding the perfect piece of jewelry for your big day.
Wedding Planning Or Rings: Which Comes First?
Getting married is, by definition, an event celebrating two people at the altar – but unfortunately, that can get pushed to the wayside when wedding planning gets complicated. Brides and grooms may both feel pressure to make families happy, shuffling table seatings to minimize potential personality clashes, deciding on the wedding party, and even choosing the right flowers for the reception. After weeks or even months of making choice after choice (and readjusting the budget for both expected and unexpected costs), it’s easy for decision fatigue to set in.
Any weariness over planning your big day might even push you towards an easy, generic wedding band that isn’t so much a personal reminder of affection as a way to avoid making yet another decision about the wedding. In addition to this potential issue, your budget may have already been heavily diminished by deposits with caterers, photographers, and other wedding vendors in order to hold your place.
To put it in perspective: your wedding will be a sensational event, a beautiful day, night, or potentially even a weekend in the case of destination weddings. After the reception is over, however, you’ll be able to relax and enjoy the best wedding present of all: some uninterrupted peace and time to reconnect as a newlywed couple. Part of that lifelong bond will be the rings you’ve exchanged at the altar. They will become your touchstone on difficult days, a constant, beautiful reminder that your partner loves you and supports you through sickness, health, and everything in-between.
So with all of that in mind, when do you buy wedding bands? It’s probably best to decide on your ideal wedding rings before planning most of your wedding and spending the majority of your budget. Your wedding rings, like your wedding, should be about the two of you first and foremost. Aspects of your wedding can absorb the cost of your ideal rings, particularly if you start your wedding planning with a budget adjusted for that first large purchase. Think of it as an investment in the bond between you that will bring just as much love and joy years from now as they do the day you first place them on one another’s hands.
The Right Wedding Ring For Your Budget
The right wedding ring doesn’t just fit correctly on a finger, it should also be a comfortable fit with the amount you’d like to spend. With many spouses-to-be wondering how much a wedding ring should cost, the answer is the same for every budget: it depends on what you’re looking for in a design.
Wedding band rings will vary dramatically in price, but the gender divide is the place where the difference in cost is easiest to see. To be fair, an engagement ring definitely pads the cost of an overall wedding ring design, but spouses wearing men’s style bands have a much more appealing price tag to contend with. In 2019, the average cost of an engagement ring-wedding band set for brides sits at $6,113, while the groom's band averages nearly 87% less at $468. Together, this comes out to an average cost of more than $6,581 for a couple’s bridal jewelry alone, taking a significant bite out of the wedding budget.
With modern couples eager to have incredible experiences, food, and entertainment on their wedding days, affordable (read: non-budget-busting) wedding ring options are in high demand. Here are some of the ways that savvy couples are keeping more money set aside without sacrificing the timeless feel of beautiful, elegant wedding band sets:
Precious Metal Options
Weight plays a large role in determining the price of a wedding band, so filigreed or openwork bands add attractive visual drama while reducing precious metals used. Hollow-construction bands also reduce weight without reducing the volume of the band itself. White gold is a popular option for brides, with nearly 3 in 4 opting for the silver-toned metal, while 1 in 4 grooms selects durable (and comparatively inexpensive) tungsten for their band.
Cut Stone Options
Mined diamond stones are dazzling to the eye, but they have a chilling effect on a wedding budget due to large price tags. Instead of settling for smaller, lesser inset natural diamonds, many modern wedding band sets are using other options, such as Nexus Diamond™ alternative stones. These beautiful faceted stones are large, reflect light brilliantly, and are extremely gentle on the wedding budget without sacrificing an ounce of elegance.
Band Style Options
Engagement ring and wedding band design has undergone an exciting evolution in the last few decades, transforming into a statement of style as much as a symbol of loyalty. Rather than simply stacking an engagement ring on top of a plain band, some brides are opting for “stacked ring” designs, starting with a slender, affordable band for the wedding and adding additional bands as the years go by. These bands may symbolize the birth of a child or a milestone anniversary and are usually loosely visually linked by similar stylings, such as stone color, size, shape, or precious metal fitting.
The Ongoing Cost Of Wedding Bands
While admittedly a lesser concern than the initial ring style, if you’re wondering how much do you spend on a wedding ring, don’t stop at the price tag alone. Other factors should also enter the equation, even if they don’t make a huge impact right away. Some questions you may consider include:
• The wedding bands will need coverage in case of theft – how will this affect my insurance policy?
• If myself or my spouse misplace or damage the rings, will a replacement be prohibitively expensive?
• If I want to change or upgrade this ring later on, how expensive will it be to add new or different cut stones to the design?
• Will I need to have my ring professionally cleaned, or is it a simple design I can clean at home?
• Will I need to pay a jeweler to inspect gem prongs and overall fit regularly?
• If we buy this wedding band set, will both my spouse and I be able to wear them at work?
• Will I feel comfortable with the fit of this ring on my hand each day?
A mix of maintenance and opportunity costs, the right wedding band needs to be easy to buy, wear, and maintain over the course of your marriage to be a piece you’ll truly appreciate. If you keep catching yourself pulling and twisting on the ring in idle moments, it likely means there’s an issue with the look or fit.
Rings of all shapes and sizes will benefit from having regular cleanings with professional-grade cleaning solutions and tools, so be sure to ask your jeweler for recommendations. Everyday-wear jewelry is subject to build-up from skin oils, dirt, and chemicals from hand lotions and perfumes, particularly when it’s worn on the hand. Regular cleaning wipes the proverbial slate to keep your ring looking bright and shining, whether it’s been one year or a decade since you walked down the aisle.
Lifetime warranties are another valuable benefit that deserve to be considered while wedding ring shopping. While precious metals are typically very durable in-band designs, accidents do happen and could potentially deform the ring and its fit – even during the ceremony or on the honeymoon. Peace of mind through insurance is an excellent idea, but shopping specifically for wedding bands with a lifetime manufacturer’s warranty will fix your ring even faster. Diamond Nexus offers both a Lifetime Stone Guarantee, to guarantee the quality of every stone forever, and an Everything’s Covered Plan, which includes any metal repairs and periodic cleaning for one year from purchase date.
The Guest Of Honor: Designing A Beautiful (& Affordable) Wedding Ring
Even the most dedicated pre-wedding savers may find that there just isn’t enough money in the immediate budget for the bands they want. There are a few solutions that will help you save money and close the cost gap while still allowing you to enjoy beautiful bridal sets and wedding bands. Here are a few ‘secrets’ that many industry experts don’t discuss – but are worth considering when deciding upon the perfect ring to satisfy your aesthetic and your budget:
Secret 1: Financing
For many years, marketing and culture pushed the idea that a diamond engagement ring needed to be expensive, and it needed to be purchased all at once. Today, that’s simply not true! Both engagement and wedding ring sets can usually be financed through a ring manufacturer, as is the case with the Diamond Nexus line of wedding bands.
Secret 2: Building
If stacked-ring designs are appealing, start with the “base” band and add more later in the marriage, even if it’s only waiting a few months for finances to settle post-wedding and honeymoon. Most couples receive cash gifts from their wedding guests as well, so a “buildable” wedding band can be updated quickly after the event itself if desired.
Secret 3: Switching
Plain precious metal bands can be used for the ceremony itself, with more ornate wedding band sets ordered later for everyday wear. This option also comes in handy if the happy couple is nervous that a young ring-bearer or exotic wedding location could lead to a ring loss or mishap.
Secret 4: Customizing
Trade plain bands with empty settings at the altar, allowing each spouse to shop for his or her loose stone to complete the look after the wedding. This approach can be introduced into the ceremony as an affirmation as well – a nod to the philosophy that spouses can and should remain a healthy relationship with their individuality as much as one another.
Secret 5: Sourcing
Mined diamonds are an expensive addition to ring style, increasing the cost exponentially. An alternative option is a beautiful diamond alternative, which perfectly imitates the look and feel of a natural diamond, but is a fraction of the price and guaranteed to maintain its high quality forever. On top of just the dollar cost, there is also an environmental and ethical cost tied to the sourcing of mined diamonds, which is almost completely eliminated with diamond simulants as well.
Don’t Be Afraid To Go Non-Traditional
Your wedding should look and feel like a creation of your love – a little influence from each partner, and a day full of joy to celebrate it. Your wedding band rings don’t need to look a certain way or be a specific size to be traditional or legitimate – they are a piece of jewelry that should serve as a comfortable, familiar reminder that you are deeply loved and connected to someone very special for a lifetime.
Each wedding band is as important as the next one, and there is no one aspect – metal color, diamond size, shape, style, fit, or anything else – that makes a ring a “real” wedding band. While brick-and-mortar jewelry stores tend to lean on classics in terms of their offerings, online wedding bands for sale have opened up a whole new world for creative couples. Keeping all of this in mind, don’t be afraid to discuss unexpected designs and affordable alternatives with your future spouse: you may be pleasantly surprised at what the two of you agree on. After all, these wedding bands are supposed to be unique to your relationship.
Summary: Wedding Planning For Every Budget
Bought outright or financed, traditional or contemporary, accented with diamonds or diamond alternatives… ultimately the most important thing is to make your wedding band your own – and at a cost that works within your budget. You’ll struggle to relax and enjoy your wedding if you’re worried about bills looming afterward, so use the tips above to stay in style and within your price point. Once you’ve found the perfect (and affordable) wedding band, you’ll be nothing but smiles the first time you spot your spouse-to-be standing proudly at the altar.
1 B., John. “Average Cost Of A Wedding Ring 2019.” Wedding Stats.org, May 21, 2019, https://www.weddingstats.org/cost-of-a-wedding-ring/. Accessed August 17, 2019.
2 McNamara, Kimberly. “Engagement Ring Costs Vs. Wedding Band Costs.”Braunschweiger.com, 2016, https://www.braunschweiger.com/weblog/engagement-ring-costs-vs-wedding-band-costs.html. Accessed August 17, 2019.
*Diamond Nexus strives to provide valuable information, while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab grown stone that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a mined diamond, with two exceptions - it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.