Your wedding rings are a constant reminder of the important vows taken at the beginning of your marriage. They're wearable symbols of your love and commitment to one another. And they (especially your engagement ring!) also happen to be gorgeous pieces of jewelry you get to look at every day. For these and so many other reasons, you want to make the right choice. Traditionally, the groom picks out the engagement ring and surprises his bride-to-be with a proposal. But these days, more and more couples are going ring shopping together. Is it the right choice for you? Here are six questions to help you figure that out.
What are the pros of ring shopping together?
"First, it's super fun to try on engagement rings!" says WeddingWire Trend Expert Anne Chertoff. It's a great way to see what different styles look like on your hand and find out if you agree on what looks best. This is an especially good idea if neither one of you really knows what you're looking for. As Chertoff explains, there are almost innumerable variations - different options for the band material, the cut of the stone, the carat weight and side stones - that it makes a lot of sense to do the research and perusing together.
Also, you'll get a better shared grasp of the costs associated with engagement rings, Chertoff says. And because it's such an expensive purchase, you want to get the right ring as a lifelong investment, one that you'll be happy with for decades to come. The same goes for any significant financial investment. If you share, or plan to share, bank accounts and living costs, it's only logical that you discuss how much you'd like to spend on a ring and determine together what's affordable.
Moreover, you can do a custom ring if you're both there to make the big decisions, says Jamie Chang of Passport to Joy. There's far less risk if two of you are weighing in on the design and selection process. "It's also a good practice for marriage, coming together and figuring out what makes sense for the two of you, including everything from the budget to the style," Chang adds.
What are the cons?
For obvious reasons, shopping for a ring together may take away some of the surprise of the proposal. But, Chertoff says that there can still be some elements of mystery as long as you don't know the specific proposal plans, like when and where and how it's going to all take place.
Relying your spouse-to-be to pick out the ring of your dreams could also backfire if he unknowingly goes over budget or has trouble choosing between so many different options, says Chang. It's rarely a sure thing when one person is left to their own devices.
See More: Everything You Need to Know About Shopping for Diamonds
How do you figure out if shopping together is right for you?
"Everything is about communicating," Chertoff says. "If you've discussed getting married, discussing the ring - style, costs and shopping together - should be the next conversation." That said, if you know you want some sort of surprise, then make that crystal clear to your significant other, who can consult with your friends and family along the way.
It doesn't have to be an all or nothing situation. If you want to look together then go ahead and do that, but consider narrowing down the field to two or three rings and then having your future fiance make the final decision and purchase.
How should you go about shopping?
"Looking online - whether a jewelry website or even the Instagram accounts of jewelry brands and designers, are a great place to start to get an idea of what you like and don't like," Chertoff suggests. Once you've figured out what you want to try on and how much you're willing to spend, then you can look into store visits and whether you need to make appointments or can just walk in. Be sure to call ahead and ask if their rings fit your budget. "Be honest about what you can spend," Chertoff says. "You don't want to waste your time or be upset if you find out the store you went to is way over your budget."
How can it be a romantic experience and not too transactional?
Instead of adding ring shopping to your mundane "to do" list, make the trip a special occasion. Chertoff recommends having a leisurely brunch before going to a few jewelry stores, or going out to a romantic dinner afterwards. You might also want to ask what engagement ring shopping services are offered at the stores you plan to visit. Some offer private appointments with champagne, Chertoff notes.
What if the bride wants to shop together, but the groom doesn't, or vice versa?
This is where compromise comes into play. If your groom doesn't like the idea of you shopping with him, then start dropping heavy hints with family and friends, and then ask your guy to check in with them. "Or create a Pinterest board with your favorite rings, or populate your Instagram feed or snap a few engagement ring photos that he's bound to come across," says Chertoff. The same goes for if you're the one resisting. Give him some clues so he's set up for success.