Affordable Wedding Ring Alternatives
One of the most fun aspects of getting married is picking out wedding rings as a couple. However, the hefty price tag with both wedding and engagement rings can put a damper on an exciting time.
Don’t fret – luckily, there are many great affordable wedding ring alternatives available. Let’s talk about fun and frugal ideas for either a more cost-efficient ring or some out-of-the-box ideas for ring alternatives altogether.
The Best Alternative Wedding Rings
There are many reasons why you might not want traditional wedding bands when getting married, including:
- Mining diamonds often involves child labor, as well as other ethical and environmental issues
- The outrageous cost and mark up (plus, they immediately depreciate)
- There are harder and more durable stones available at a fraction of the cost.
- You’re not a fan of tradition and want to create your own new customs.
No matter your reasoning, the good news is that there are many alternatives to purchasing a costly wedding ring. The first step is to think outside the box. Not every ring needs to be a white diamond in a yellow gold (or white gold) setting.
Let’s talk about cheap wedding ring alternatives for guys and girls:
1. Moissanite Rings
If you still want a diamond ring but don’t want the over-the-top price tag, moissanite can be a great alternative engagement ring. It looks exactly like a diamond at a fraction of the cost, making it a great deal as a diamond alternative.
Moissanite was discovered in 1893 by a French scientist named Henri Moissan. He found the bits of the rare mineral in a crater left by a meteorite in Arizona. Natural moissanite is very rare, so any jewelry showcasing it has been created in a lab.
Moissanite is created by taking silicon and carbon and adding pressure and heat. Its creation in a lab means it has a smaller carbon footprint and involves no mining whatsoever to acquire. Plus, to the naked eye, it looks exactly like a diamond!
A moissanite engagement ring can still look like a traditional wedding ring – or not! It’s completely up to you, and you can find many beautiful styles to fit any taste on Etsy.
2. Cubic Zirconia Rings
Cubic zirconia is another gemstone created in a lab by melting zirconium oxide powder, magnesium, and calcium. Unlike diamond engagement rings, it can give a natural rainbow light when viewed in natural light.
It’s very inexpensive and isn’t quite as hard as a diamond on the Mohs scale. While it can get cloudy or scratched over time, cubic zirconia’s frugal price tag allows it to be replaced or upgraded without too much stress. This is a popular alternative if you’re still looking for traditional rings without spending too much.
3. Gemstone or Non-Traditional Stone Rings
Another route to take is to buy a ring with a different gemstone. For example, this morganite ring is gorgeous and a fraction of the price of the traditional engagement ring or wedding ring:
The best part is, you can wear a variety of colors – the sky’s the limit! While clear stones are a popular choice, breaking the mold with a colorful gemstone ring can be a perfect alternative. Other gemstones that make a beautiful ring include:
- Birthstones, such as aquamarine, topaz, peridot, or opals
- White sapphires
- Rose quartz
- Moss agate
- Raw stones (uncut and unpolished)
4. Silicon Rings
Silicon carbide rings are great for people who work with their hands or around heavy equipment. My husband works with saws all day, and his company recommends they don’t wear metal jewelry for fear it’ll get caught.
Silicon rings will break if grabbed by a machine, unlike metal rings that will pull your finger off (OUCH! Not a mental image I need rolling around in my head).
Silicon rings are beautiful, unique, and can easily be personalized with an engraved design, specific color, or additional metallic colors.
They’re non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and allow airflow, so there’s no moisture trapped against your skin. Silicon rings are also great for travel, and if they’re lost, they’re inexpensive to replace.
5. Resin Rings
Resin rings are handmade and can contain anything you can think of – like bark, moss, metal flakes, flowers, leaves, wood, or anything else you can imagine. They come in any color or design, making it easy to customize them to fit your personality.
6. Wood rings
If you’re looking for alternatives to metal rings, wood rings can be a great idea. There are beautiful options for rings made with whiskey barrels, guitar strings, set with resin, engraved with initials, or just polished to a high gleam.
Wood rings can come in various woods and stains, including white oak, ebony, cherry, walnut, and even more exotic woods, like Bubinga or Hawaiian koa.
7. An antique or family heirloom that’s been passed down.
The ultimate cheap wedding ring alternative can be to ask your family for any antique rings or family heirlooms that are ready to be passed down.
Not only are you saving money, but you’re honoring and remembering past family members by using and cherishing their jewelry.
Some people use the stones from these rings and reset them into more modern settings. Or, you can add to the existing jewelry to make it more personalized with accent gems. Lastly, you can choose to wear it as is!
8. Make a ring.
A fun alternative can be to create rings in a class setting as a couple. Not only will you have a beautiful piece of jewelry to wear, but it can be a great bonding experience and a fabulous story to tell to future generations.
Even better, you can create exactly the wedding bands you want. Whether creative puzzle rings, or made from sterling silver or rose gold, the choices are endless when creating your piece of art!
Look for local jewelry class events or even online classes. A local metalsmith or art studio should have courses on jewelry making.
The Metalsmith Society lists all of the schools and courses (both online and in-person) by state here:
What can I have instead of a wedding ring?
If you’re just not into rings, there are still many great cheap wedding ring alternatives that can show your commitment. Here are some great ideas if you’re wondering what you can use instead of a ring:
1. Wear another piece of matching jewelry.
Who says you have to wear wedding rings anyway? Why not necklaces, bracelets, or watches? Or even matching body jewelry if you’re into piercings.
Whether your jewelry matches or is just complimentary of one another is up to you. What’s important is that it has meaning to you as a couple and to your relationship.
Consider purchasing your matching jewelry on vacation or from a favorite location to remind you of a particular time or trip together.
2. Get matching or complementary tattoos.
Popular cheap wedding ring alternatives are getting tattooed together. They can be matching ring finger tattoos, or you can think outside the box and get complimentary tattoos elsewhere.
Other ideas include:
- Designs that connect when held close together
- Each person gets an item that goes together, like:
- A lock and key
- Anchor and compass
- Ship and lighthouse
- Mountains and sea
- Astronaut and planets
- A favorite quote split into two
- Opposites, like a sun and moon or screw and a nut
- Your wedding date
- Tattoos depicting a common interest or an activity you love to do together
- The same item, but different designs or styles
- Characters from the same video game or tv show
- Coordinates of a location that’s important to your relationship
- Matching line art, mandalas, sugar skulls, or animals
- “I love you” in the other person’s handwriting
- The same tattoo, but different ink colors
- Crowns or kings/queens tattoos
- Tetris or puzzle pieces
- A tattoo that embraces your shared cultural background
3. Plant a tree.
Whether at the local park, your house, or another unique location, planting a tree can be beautiful to commemorate your marriage. Choose to make it a yearly tradition to plant a new one every year or add to the landscaping around it.
It’s a lovely way to build up a beautiful area and symbolize how your marriage grows and strengthens every year. It’s also the perfect spot for a date or family picnic to celebrate special occasions.
4. Get metal wallet cards with a personalized message.
These metal cards are the size of a credit card and make a beautiful keepsake. They can be personalized with photos, quotes, and fonts.
These personalized wallet cards are printed with UV ink and varnish made of stainless steel. They’re also laser etched to show even the tiniest detail.
These are a great reminder for your significant other of your commitment to one another. It makes a great alternative wedding ring idea since it’s in a spot where it’ll be seen and appreciated often.
4. Donate to a favorite cause.
Donating to a charity or cause together can substitute for wedding rings. Donate the money you would have spent on rings to your favorite cause. Some ideas include the ASPCA, a children’s charity, March of Dimes, a local food bank, or a homeless shelter.
Choosing to volunteer money or time every year around your anniversary can also be a great way to show your commitment to each other and your commitment to making the world a better place.
5. Buy a bench in a park.
Another fun idea is to donate money for a bench in a local park. Our parks have tons of walking trails with benches spread out throughout the area.
Having a bench with your names and an inscription overlooking a beautiful spot can be one of the best wedding ring alternatives. You’ll have a special place to go to reconnect when times are tough. Plus, it’s a public declaration of love – similar to a ring – and serving your community simultaneously!
6. Save your money for a destination wedding, honeymoon, a down payment on a house, or invest in your retirement fund.
I’m big on focusing on adventures and experiences over stuff. While I understand not everyone is like that, there are a lot of us out there. So why not invest that money into your honeymoon instead?
Creating an unforgettable experience can be a great wedding ring alternative. Whether you choose to go overseas or travel across the country, the extra money saved from not purchasing rings will go long.
If the big goal is to own a home, there’s nothing wrong with using that money on a downpayment rather than on rings. Deciding on your goals and working towards them together is very satisfying and can unify a couple so much.
Or if you can invest it in your retirement funds. Yeah, I know – not very romantic, but it’s about building a future together – and finding a way to fund it as early as possible. So it’s romantic in a weird way (but some of us love it!).
7. Opt-out of rings altogether.
Some people aren’t jewelry folks and like to keep things lowkey. They feel no need to announce their relationship or wear a daily reminder. Totally understandable. Love isn’t about things, but building companionship, support, and mutual respect. Choosing to show that – or not – is totally up to you as a couple.
What do other cultures do instead of wedding rings?
There are many other options that many cultures choose to use instead of wedding rings. In Amish and Hutterite communities, married men sport beards to show they are taken. This is an interesting reversal from some other cultures where it’s generally the men who don’t wear a ring!
In India, toe rings or a gold pendant or necklace with black beads are indicators that a woman is married. Glass bangles that are white or red can be worn by Hindu wives and are not removed until they are single again.
Everything from headwear, hairstyles, and cosmetics are all other marriage indicators. To learn more about individual traditions, check out this great article on Wikipedia.
Now that we’ve talked about cheap wedding ring alternatives learn more about building a budget to save money for your wedding. Or, check out some great frugal date night options:
A forty-ish web designer/developer by day, a budget & financial fanatic by night. I’m a mom, wife, avid reader, and DIY enthusiast who’s tracking our journey to debt freedom. Read More