The Unconventional Bride Guide: Is an Engagement Still an Engagement Without a Ring?

My partner and I are currently planning a wedding. And, like most brides-to-be, I’m pretty excited about it. But, when new people find out, they always inadvertently glance at the fourth finger of my left hand and then quickly look away when they find it bare. Yup. That’s right. There is no engagement ring.

There’s also no proposal story and no engagement party or photos. I refuse to call my partner my fiancé©. (It is just me that finds that word such a bummer?) And there was no engagement announcement. By all accounts, my partner and I are planning a wedding”but we’re hardly “engaged” in the traditional sense.

The truth is, the engagement part of getting married has never really appealed to me. My boyfriend and I have been together six years, several of which have included the discussion of getting married. As far as we can see, we’ve already made a pretty serious commitment to each other”and in celebration of that commitment, we’re going to throw a wedding.

Besides, a proposal wasn’t actually ever going to come as a surprise. We talked a lot about getting married (how we would do it, who we would invite, whether we should elope, when would be a good time), so that when we finally decided to start planning the actual event, it just sort of seemed like a natural progression that wasn’t punctuated by any specific moment. And once we got there it seemed weird for my guy to take a knee, present me with a ring and ask me to be his bride. If it sounds unromantic, that’s because it is. But for us romance is in smaller moments, not grand gestures and anything overly formal wouldn’t have felt quite like us. (I am not knocking your engagement, brides-to-be out there. Just talking about my own navigation in the wedding world. You do you.)

Then there’s the engagement ring issue. I thought I might want a ring. I thought it might be neat for us to design it together, but the longer I thought about it, the more I realized I didn’t care. And I’d rather my guy spend money on something I cared about. Like taking me out for good food. Or on shoes.

All this might seem like semantics”engaged? Not engaged? Who cares? And I’m bound to agree with that sentiment. But planning a wedding, without the engagement, has taught me a lot about the expectations people have about the whole bride experience, and about how nice it feels to be a bit out of the box.

Am I engaged? Naw. But don’t worry, we are celebrating our impending nuptials with an impromptu vacation. For us (and for many of our generation who value experiences over things), it’s a much better investment than an engagement ring. Even if it means I’m nobody’s fiancé©.

The Wedding Planner is an ongoing series where we give you some real-life wedding planning advice for every kind of bride, from finding the dress to dealing with that ever-growing guest list, as we figure it out ourselves. 

Tags: alternative wedding, Engagement, engagement photos, engagement ring, engagement vacation, no engagement ring, signature scent, wedding

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