Caught up in the frenzy of wedding planning, with a growing list of things that must be done, it’s easy to overlook one of the most meaningful decisions you and your partner will make together.
Choosing your wedding bands.
You’ll see lots of tips out there—online and in bridal magazines—about good times of year to buy engagement rings. What you don’t see nearly as often is information about budgeting for and purchasing wedding bands. But that doesn’t mean it should become an afterthought.
After all, if all goes well, you’ll be wearing those rings for the rest of your lives. Your bands are a symbol of your love and commitment, and they will hopefully make you happy every time you look at them.
You’ll want your band-browsing trips to be romantic but also rewarding, especially if you’re hoping to get the right rings at a bargain price. And that makes February—a month devoted to lovers—an ideal time to shop. Here’s why.
The Christmas Crush is Over
Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14) is still one of the most popular holidays for couples to get engaged , but more people choose to pop the question in the period between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day than any other time of year.
So while jewelers still will be catering to happy couples in February, and there will be plenty of inventory, the stores won’t be quite so crowded. And you might be the only ones in there looking for bands instead of a big diamond. You should be able to get lots of attention and negotiating for a better price could potentially be easier.
If you’re among those still looking to buy an engagement ring for a Valentine’s Day proposal or announcement, keep an eye out for package deals. Jewelers often recommend buying a bridal set—an engagement ring and wedding band that go together, or even fit together—because they can be more comfortable and make decision-making a bit simpler.
Some sets come with a matching groom’s band as well. You may find three rings you love already on sale together—but if they aren’t, don’t be afraid to ask if you can get a better price for a package.
Bridal Fairs are Kicking Into Gear
Many bridal expos are held in February and March , offering a great opportunity to see the trendiest and most enduring styles without the sales pressure.
Vendors are there to give tips as well as a good pitch—and many will be offering limited-time expo-related discounts. Gather up information and coupons at the bridal fair, then give yourselves a day or two to regroup and possibly go make a purchase.
Great For a Summer Wedding
Many jewelers recommend shopping for your bands at least two to three months before your wedding date. That will give you time to look and look again, get the rings sized and get any engraving or other customizing done.
If your wedding is in June or later in the summer, starting in February should provide plenty of breathing room, even if it takes a while to find what you want at the price you want to pay. (And, come on, you know every store will be covered in hearts and flowers, so the setting will be super-romantic.)
Before you scoot out the door on a band-buying mission, though, do a little prep work . It will help you stick to a reasonable price for your rings and make things go more smoothly.
Set a Budget
You want bands you’ll love forever, but not at a price that will put you in debt for the rest of your lives.
It’s really a matter of taste: what metal you want, how wide the band is, the intricacy of the design, and if it’s custom-designed. If your budget is limited, talk about whether you might want to upgrade down the road or add an anniversary ring in 10 or 20 years.
Look For a Ring You’ll Want to Wear
Of course you want your ring to be a good fit for your budget, but it also should suit your lifestyle. If you don’t plan on taking your band off every time you’re in the garden or workshop, if you play an instrument or sport, or if you don’t want to attract attention, stick to something simple.
Start by looking at images online (try to find sites with 3D photos ), then go try on similar styles. When it’s time to buy, online jewelers can be less expensive, but be sure you go with a reputable brand.
Keep Maintenance in Mind
Softer metals can bend. Small stones can get loose and go missing. If you’re not up for the trauma, trips to the jeweler for repairs or the cost of replacing tiny diamond chips, you might want to go with a basic platinum or gold band that will hold up with little care.
Beware of “Interest-Free” Financing at the Jewelry Shop
Larger jewelry stores usually offer some sort of in-store financing, including 0%-interest credit cards. But you could curse that convenience later if you can’t pay off the balance in full during the designated promotional period.
If the interest is “deferred” and you still carry a balance—even if it’s just a few dollars—you’ll have to pay all the interest that’s been adding up since you made the purchase. And that interest rate probably will be higher than other credit card or loan offers available to you.
Financing Your Wedding Bands
If it looks as though your dream bands will be a bit outside your budget because of all the other costs of starting your life together, a personal loan may be a proactive way to plan your payments. With a personal loan, you’ll be clear from the get-go about the interest rate and length of the loan—no surprises.
And you could potentially qualify for a competitive rate if you and your spouse-to-be both have a solid financial history, including factors like good credit record and well-paying jobs.
If you sign on as co-borrowers, and the funds will be delivered to a joint account, you can own the loan together and work the payments into your new household budget. Another plus: You may be able to negotiate a discount with the jeweler for paying the entire bill upfront and in cash.
Applying for a SoFi personal loan online is quick and easy. There’s no prepayment penalty, so you can pay the loan back early if you want.
If you qualify for a personal loan using SoFi as your lender, you’ll also qualify for member benefits that include access to other financial services you may require in the future, whether you’re buying a home, sending your kids to college or planning your retirement.
The words “till death do us part” should hopefully refer to your marriage, not your wedding bills.
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