if you read parts one, two and three of my series on frugal, God-centered wedding planning, you could probably tell that though I'm not completely counter-cultural, I questioned every trend and tradition before I decide how it would play out in our wedding.
this is also evident than in our decision surrounding "the ring".
i am of the opinion that most people spend way too much money on their wedding/engagement rings. the average couple will spend $4,500 on an engagement ring and over $2,000 on wedding rings.
now to be fair, i am told that there was a day that getting an expensive ring was a wise investment and choice: basically it acted as a life insurance policy for the women in case anything ever happened to her husband. however, these days, we have life insurance. so the question remains, why are rings getting more and more elaborate and expensive?
to be very blunt, i think it stems from pride, not only on the side of the woman but also the man. women want a beautiful ring so that they can show it to all their friends, and their friends will be envious. guys give into the desires of their ladies because of cultural pressure and the desire to compete with other guys and be the one who bought the *ultimate* ring. in addition, it is possible that many haven't ever taken a step back and questioned this trend, but just walk into it because that is what everyone else is doing.
you will notice that most women's first question upon hearing about a friend's engagement is "can i see the ring?". i still have to catch myself, but i purposely do NOT ask this question, because i want the focus to be on the relationship and hearing more about my friend's future husband. in a thousand years, the ring wont matter. but the relationship will.
to be honest, i have never really desired to have a huge, amazing engagement ring. but even more so after i decided to follow Christ, and realized that what i previously thought was my money is actually God's money. he makes it clear how he desires for his followers to use His money: to fund ministries, feed the poor, care for orphans and widows, and serve other believers. therefore, having a deep desire to use my money for these types of things which have an eternal impact, i had little desire to have so much money go to something (like a ring) which has very little important impact on the world. after alex and i dated for a while and it became clear that overseas mission work would likely be our future path, i was even more determined to get a simple ring since it would not be ok to wear an expensive ring while doing ministry in a third world country.
therefore, as soon as the "m" word came up in our discussions, i knew i had to tell alex that i did not want a "normal" ring. i was a little nervous to be so forthright, and also nervous about his reaction but after much thought i decided to send him this picture, of the ring i had always pictured myself wearing.
apparently i was right to be nervous. shortly after sending the picture i got a phone call. "i refuse to buy you that piece of dust diamond!" i heard alex say.
to make a long story short, i asked him to pray about it, and God brought us to agreement on the ring. a few months later we were engaged. later, when it came time to made decisions about wedding rings, I decided not to get one, and alex decided to get a simple one made out of inexpensive titanium. (as a side note i especially recommend getting an inexpensive ring for men. i know many, many men who have lost their wedding bands one or more times, and end up just getting an inexpensive one anyways!)
wedding and engagement rings are important. they symbolize a great deal in the covenant of marriage. however, my challenge is that christians ought to think more about the why's of a ring, before they think about the what's.
in light of this, here are some alternative wedding/engagement ring ideas:
::family heirloom ring::
my best friend's wedding and engagement rings are absolutely beautiful. and her husband didn't spend a penny! that is because her rings were heirlooms from her husband's family. not only is this an inexpensive option, but it is also an awesome way to honor family and start a tradition.
another idea that i have seen friends do is to use a family heirloom diamond, set into a new ring (the metal part is often the least expensive part of a ring, so this saves a lot of money!)
two friends from our church opted to go with tattoos of a favorite bible verse rather than actual rings. what a cool, unique idea! i especially love that a tattoo is permanent, just like marriage (ok, i realize that there is something called plastic surgery. but still).
if i had to do it again, i would probably go for a stone other than a diamond. why? first of all, diamonds are way more expensive than other gemstones, but they aren't necessarily all that much more attractive. in fact, clear is almost a little bit boring when compared to a vibrant red, blue, green or purple gem.
another really important thing that there is a lot of injustice in the diamond industry. though experts will tell you that you can avoid this by just asking your jeweler the origin of your diamond, others claim that the vast majority of diamonds on the market are "blood diamonds" and it is almost impossible to avoid buying one. it might be best to just avoid this altogether.
what about you? if you are married, what is your ring like? what was your thought process in getting it? if you are single, have you thought much about this issue?
go on to part five here...