True love doesn’t cost a thing—but the same can’t always be said for an engagement! Here are a few expenses to prepare for, along with some tips on how to lower your engagement costs.
The biggest engagement cost will likely be the engagement ring. According to The Knot, the average cost of an engagement ring is $6,000. But, this may be higher or lower depending on where you live and what kind of band and gems you select. While there’s an idea that the cost of an engagement ring should be equivalent to three months of the ring-givers salary, most couples today don’t follow that tradition—finding it more meaningful (and financially manageable) to choose a ring for aesthetic or sentimental value.
Factors that may affect the price of the engagement ring include metal type, center stone, and craftsmanship. Gold is a popular metal, with white gold and yellow gold being the most popular options and usually the most affordable. Platinum is a durable and luxurious option, but it does cost more. As for center stone, the sky’s the limit! Bigger stones will usually necessitate a bigger budget, but a particularly distinctive or precious stone, such as a ruby or pink diamond, is likely to cost more regardless of its size. In terms of craftsmanship, be prepared to spend more for a custom ring or a creation by a well-known designer.
How to save on the ring? The first step might be to ask family if there are any heirlooms waiting to be passed down. Often, a significant other will prefer to have something that’s been in your family for a long time. If you are buying new, consider a stone that’s been mined or grown in the US—which may be less expensive, and a more ethical and sustainable option. Finally, talk to your partner! Understanding what they want ahead of time can help to manage your budget and secure a ring that’s both meaningful and fits in with your financial goals as a couple.
A photographer isn’t just for your wedding day! Many couples nowadays prefer to splurge for an engagement photographer to capture the moments before, during and after the question is popped. Estimate around $300-$900 for an hour-and-a-half of the photographer’s time. On the other hand, it’s possible that engagement photos will be built into the cost of a wedding photographer. Either way, see if any recently-wed friends have a recommendation, and meet up with your potential photographer before the engagement to ensure it will be a good partnership for everyone involved.
If hiring a professional photographer isn’t possible on your engagement budget, see if a friend or family member would be willing to take a few snaps for less. You might also get in touch with a photography class or a hobby picture-taking group and see if anyone is willing to do your shoot to build their own portfolio. If you can trade a service of your own, such as home repairs, pet care or meal preparation, they might be willing to do a swap for engagement photos!
What better way to celebrate your engagement than with a party? Especially with COVID-19 health measures easing up, many couples are eager to get together with friends and family to share in the good news of an engagement.
The cost of an engagement party is entirely dependent on how big or how small you want to go. On the modest end of things, you could easily invite everyone to a local restaurant for a few drinks together. It’s perfectly fine to ask guests to pay their own way, as long as this is clear on the invitation! Often, engaged couples taking this route will splurge for a few bottles of wine or cover hors d'oeuvres for everyone. On the other hand, you could choose to go fancy: a sit-down meal at a country club or hotel will bring some formal gaiety to the occasion, but be prepared to spend upwards of $70 per guest depending on the venue.
An easy way to save money on engagement party costs is to DIY the event as much as possible. Host the party at home or in the home of a friend; make it potluck-style instead of catered; or do a low-cost food theme—a donut wall for example, or a vegetarian burrito bar. As for drinks, it may be more cost-effective to keep things alcohol free, or to offer guests free beer and wine but request that hard liquor drinks are paid for by guests.