When you’ve met “the one” and the proverbial question has been popped (or soon will be), there’s a flurry of activity to be completed before the big day arrives. Between securing a venue, hiring entertainment, sampling caterers and cakes, and finding the perfect wedding dress or suit, the most visible part of the ceremony – the wedding bands – tends to slip down the to-do list. It’s unfortunate because when you get down to the answer behind what is a wedding band, you know it’s a symbol of union and celebration of love. Therefore, you would imagine that buying this piece of jewelry would be at the top of the to-do list.
Often, the more time-sensitive wedding errands take precedent, leaving some couples-to-be scrambling for a last-minute wedding ring solution. If you’re not sure when to buy wedding bands, here’s how to avoid the time crunch and find the ideal accent band to perfectly symbolize your union. Read on to learn everything you need to know about timing and what goes into the selection process for all styles from diamond to simulated diamond jewelry and beyond.
When Do You Decide to Buy a Wedding Band?
The best time to buy your wedding band is right before or just after your engagement, as you’ll be full of excitement for your upcoming marriage – these strong romantic feelings can be easily channeled into a timeless piece of jewelry you’ll both adore as much as you do one another.
Choosing the classic yellow gold band is no longer the sole option for couples tying the knot: exciting metals, designs, stones, and cuts define a virtually endless range of possibilities for your bridal jewelry.
Finding your wedding bands shouldn’t feel like a “wedding chore” – these are the pieces of jewelry that will remind you of your and your partner’s love through good days and bad. They’re an outward symbol that tells the world the commitment that you’ve made to one another, which means they should reflect both of you in the design. Don’t shop when you feel hurried, rushed, or overwhelmed with decisions for the upcoming wedding: make a couples day out of your shopping process, and use it as an excuse to wind down from the hectic schedule of planning the big event. Have a romantic lunch or dinner, enjoy one another’s company, and talk about your bands once you’re feeling relaxed and reconnected.
Here are the decisions you should make together early in your wedding band shopping journey:
The metal: Gold is a classic choice, but some modern couples are expanding beyond the bright yellow color that has been traditionally used for wedding bands. White gold remains a popular choice, blending the richness of precious metal with a neutral, cool, easy-to-match hue that works with stones of every cut and color. Platinum bands deliver a similar finish to white gold and rose gold bands add a hint of blushing warmth to settings of all sizes. You’ll also be able to opt for mixed-metal designs if they catch your eye; this style uses alternating colors or accent colors in precious metals for a bold statement look.
The band size: Even among “flat” wedding bands, there’s still a great deal of variation to consider. How wide should the band be, top to bottom? Men’s wedding bands are traditionally wider than women’s, but customization is the new normal in wedding jewelry, so feel free to mix it up. Once an ideal width range is established, the thickness of the band itself also needs to be taken into account. Thicker bands require more space between the fingers, and depending on the bone structure of the wearer’s hand, this may or may not be comfortable. The bevel on the width of the band can also contribute to the between-finger fit, so don’t discard a design too hastily if there’s a chance it can be shaped to your liking.
The stone(s): Adding in diamonds, diamond alternatives and other cut stones have become a popular way to differentiate wedding band design. Unlike their iconic central placement in engagement rings, the stones in wedding bands are typically smaller and more likely to be flush with the surface of the band, offering more comfortable everyday wear. The width and depth of the metal in your chosen wedding band will directly influence how feasible embedding cut stones will be. The best way to incorporate cut stones into your wedding band design is to purchase a setting intended for them, but alterations can be made to a solid band if required.
The origin of your stone(s): If you do decide to add cut stones to your wedding band, it’s important to consider their origin, as it may impact the meaning and sentiment behind your wedding band design. If you and your spouse shop for eco-conscious and ethically responsible jewelry, your wedding band takes on additional meaning beyond your romantic connection to one another. Mined diamonds may come from conflict areas of the world, for example, while Nexus Diamond™ alternative stones are conflict-free, sustainable, and ethically sourced. Since you’ll be looking at the design every day, you have the power to make a stylistic choice that also reflects your moral and ethical beliefs.
The engraving(s): Leaving a message of love inside the band is another beautiful way of commemorating your connection to one another. This may be as simple as one another’s initials or the date of your wedding day, or as elaborate as a favorite quote. You can agree on the engraving together when you initially pick and order your wedding bands, or you can both compose something sweet and personal, destined to be revealed at or after your wedding ceremony. Some couples elect to add additional engravings at milestone anniversaries, so if this sounds appealing, be sure to leave enough space on the inner band to do so.
Secret Wedding Ring Shopping Hints
Much like individual weddings themselves, each wedding band is a separate and beautiful celebration of love. Depending on when that celebration happens and the way it manifests in bridal jewelry, the shopping experience may look a bit different. Here are some specific tips to help guide you to your perfect band:
If you intend to wear a bridal set: A bridal set has traditionally been worn by women, but modern partnerships have also made stylish men’s sets available. This pairing of two or more rings (stacked designs incorporate several bands) marries an engagement ring and wedding ring into a cohesive design that looks great when worn together. In some cases, the designs and metals might just mimic each other (e.g., both using yellow gold and white diamonds), but in other instances, the engagement ring might be literally surrounded by the wedding band, like an interlocking halo.
If this design will be making an appearance at your nuptials, it can be helpful to purchase both bands (engagement and wedding band) at the same time, prior to asking the big question. Given that these jewelry pieces represent a lifetime commitment and thus are usually worn every day, it’s smart to discuss design ideas with your spouse-to-be as early in the process as possible. If you’d still like the engagement or wedding ring to be a surprise, enlist friends and family to get style opinions on the sly.
If you intend to wear a band alone: No matter how gorgeous an engagement ring may be, for some wearers, sporting it every day just isn’t an option. For example, if your significant other works in an athletic or physical labor-intensive job, a large diamond ring with a protruding stone could be damaged or cause injury in a mishap. If this is the case in your own partnership, a lone wedding band makes an excellent alternative, rather than pairing it in a bridal set. Once the question has been asked and an engagement ring presented, work together as soon as possible to find a flat, comfortable band that won’t cause issues during work hours.
If no hand-worn jewelry is allowed at all during work hours, take the opportunity to purchase a necklace chain with a sturdy clasp at the same time as the ring(s). This offers a stylish and convenient way to keep commitment jewelry close to the heart throughout a shift at work without needing to wear it on the hand. Simply thread the chain through the ring(s) and fasten, and reverse the process when clocking out of work.
If you intend on altering or building on a piece of heirloom jewelry: When do you buy wedding rings when part of the wedding ring was already purchased generations ago? Using inherited jewelry or antique jewelry as part of a wedding can be absolutely beautiful, but it poses a unique challenge for scheduling jewelry-shopping. If you plan on making an existing ring into your commitment jewelry, adding accents will help make it your own. This step will require the assistance of a jeweler, so it’s best to shop for additional stones or alterations as soon as possible after the engagement to give plenty of time before the wedding.
Discuss alteration and design ideas with your partner well beforehand, too – some spouses unexpectedly discover their partner doesn’t want to alter or engrave a family heirloom. Your jeweler of choice will also be able to offer advice on how feasible your intended alterations will be, given the existing size and design of your heirloom wedding band: certain raised designs, for example, won’t remain intact if a band needs to be resized larger.
If you’re in a long-distance relationship: If you or your spouse-to-be lives in another state, another country, or is deployed with the military, pulling together wedding plans from afar can be difficult. If you know that marriage is an eventual goal, spend the time you do have together in person looking at jewelry styles, or exchange links to pictures and designs through messaging and video-chatting apps if you don’t have the chance to meet in person.
While shopping together at a store is obviously a bit easier than digital wedding band shopping, it can still be a lot of fun and romantic to chat about your favorite styles. If possible (and preferable, of course), you may want to incorporate the opinions of your spouse-to-be’s family members in the band shopping process while you wait to be reconnected. This step is particularly helpful during deployments when communication windows may not be consistent.
If you anticipate ring size differences before the wedding: Love is love and remains constant and enduring regardless of size, but some couples-to-be may enjoy the challenge of losing weight before the big day together. If a significant weight loss is expected and the ring(s) that you both love aren’t in danger of selling out, it may be a good idea to wait until a few weeks before the ceremony to size and purchase your wedding bands. Avoid buying a ring size “aspirationally” in the hopes of shedding a certain number of pounds; a variety of factors can affect ring size, and overall body weight is only one of them.
Additionally, if either you or your spouse-to-be is expecting, this should also be taken into account when determining ring sizes. Pregnancy can cause swelling in the joints including knuckles, which means a ring that fits perfectly in the first trimester may be far too small by the second. If the birth is due to happen before the big day, sizing can be taken a few weeks after the baby arrives and is likely to remain accurate through the wedding day. If the birth is due to happen after the walk down the aisle, you may want to use a simple “stand-in” band during the wedding ceremony itself, swapping it for a more personalized design after the second “big day.”
Summary: Knowing When To Buy Your Wedding Rings
The answer to “when do you buy wedding rings?” is ultimately simple. At its core, you should find your wedding rings when the time feels right. There are no specific timelines that you’ll absolutely need to adhere to, outside of jeweler lead times, or shipping times if you’re purchasing wedding rings online. It’s all dependent on you and your partner. If you need to budget for the wedding, then maybe first look into learning more about how much do wedding rings cost, and then decide if you would like to budget for that before all the planning. The right piece of jewelry is waiting to be found, just as you found your perfect partner. Use the tips here to guide you toward a ring that feels uniquely and beautifully meant for you!
*Diamond Nexus strives to provide valuable information, while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulant that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a 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.
1 Fried, Michael. “Buying Your Wedding Bands: Everything You Need to Know.” The Diamond Pro, August 14, 2019, https://www.diamonds.pro/education/wedding-band-buying-guide/. Accessed August 16, 2019.
2 “Find the Perfect Wedding Band for Your Engagement Ring.” BridalGuide.com, (no publish date), https://www.bridalguide.com/blogs/wedding-ring-tips. Accessed August 16, 2019.
3 Title, Sarah. “Wedding Ring Shopping: Everything You Need to Know.” WeddingWire.com, April 3, 2019, https://www.weddingwire.com/wedding-ideas/how-to-shop-for-wedding-rings. Accessed August 16, 2019.