Hint: There's no one right answer.

By Sara Dickinson
November 14, 2018
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It's no secret that modern weddings are constantly changing; that's because couples are incorporating the traditions and trends that speak to them and doing away with the ones that don't. But what about the traditions associated with the months leading up to the wedding? Are these changing, too? Before you even start planning a wedding, someone needs to propose, and before that person pops the question, he or she will likely purchase an engagement ring. While it's been a long-held tradition that the groom-to-be buys a diamond ring for his intended wife, he may not be the only one financing the important piece of jewelry these days. Here, we talked to two wedding jewelry experts about who's really paying for the engagement ring, and the answer just might surprise you.

Jewelry designer Liza Shtromberg says that in the years she's spent creating custom engagement rings, she's seen a major shift: At the beginning, almost all engagements were a complete surprise for the bride-to-be, but it's not so anymore. "Today, it's often a conversation a couple has before the man comes in by himself to look for a ring, so he has some idea of what he's looking for when he sits down at my consultation table," she explains. In turn, that may mean that the ring isn't being purchased by just one person anymore. Some men are still shelling out for the ring on their own, but some couples may decide on a number together, then both contribute to the cost of the ring with their joint finances. "Tradition might say the man should pay while modernity might say that the woman can also be the one to buy a ring and propose," she further explains. "For LGBT couples, these more binary gender roles might not be applicable at all."

Jennifer Gandia, co-owner of New York City's Greenwich St. Jewelers, sees a similar trend. She recognizes that customers often have a budget in mind before coming in, and some couples even visit her store together to make a decision as a team. "Often they are already living together, have a child or pet, own a home, or run a business, so for some couples it makes sense to budget for the ring or decide where the money is going to come from together," she says.

But this is most often true when the engagement is something the couple has discussed at length. If the engagement is a surprise, the pros agree that it's still common for the person who is planning to pop the question to finance the engagement ring alone. Gandia adds, "I find that the majority of rings are still paid for in the traditional way, by the person asking." Some couples are more comfortable with the person who earns more money financing the ring, while others feel an obligation to split it down the middle or contribute in different ways. In the end, the engagement process is personal to you as a couple, so it's important to think about what makes the most sense for you two.


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