We’re used to thinking that an engagement ring is essential to a marriage proposal – but that needn’t be the case. If you’re thinking about popping the question, here are some ideas for how to propose without a ring.
Why no ring?
There are lots of reasons for not buying an engagement ring before you ask your loved one to marry you.
Perhaps you’d like to choose a ring together, to be sure your partner likes it. Perhaps they don’t like wearing jewelry. Maybe a ring is just too expensive and you both have other spending priorities. Or maybe you’re planning an elaborate proposal somewhere it isn’t practical to take a ring.
Whatever the reason, a proposal without a ring can be every bit as special. Here are a few ways to create a memorable moment you and your partner will cherish forever.
How to propose without a ring
1. Four little words
“Will you marry me?” is the classic formula, but give some thought to what else you say – and how you say it.
Perhaps your loved one would appreciate a song? If you’re musical, composing something especially for them is a unique way of showing your love.
And even if music doesn’t come easily to you, it’s still worth considering. Showing you’re prepared to go outside your comfort zone to tell them how much you care can be very moving.
If music really isn’t your thing, how about a poem? It doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It doesn’t even have to rhyme. But like a song, composing your own poetry can show you’ve put time and thought into making the moment special.
But whether you use a song, a verse, or simply say the words, be sincere in telling your loved one how you feel. That’s more important than anything else.
2. Have some fun with a novelty ring
If you think your partner would like to choose their own ring, a novelty stand-in can be a great option. Your partner will still have a visual symbol of your engagement. And it means there’s something they can flash at friends and family until you go shopping together.
It’s a good idea to avoid confusion by choosing something that’s very obviously not a permanent engagement ring. Brightly colored plastic, silicone or metallic rings with big glass stones in unusual shades can work brilliantly.
Or why not make your own? A woven ring you’ve created yourself can have its own charm. You could even draw a ring on the finger of your intended! Just be prepared to draw it again every time their wash their hands…
If you opt for a temporary ring, choose one that’s adjustable if you don’t know your partner’s ring size. The most important thing is that they should be able to wear it straight away!
3. Choose a different piece of jewelry
If your partner doesn’t like wearing a ring, another piece of jewelry can work just as well. But make sure you know whether your partner’s dislike of rings stems from an allergy of some kind. If you’re going to give them a different piece of jewelry, you don’t want it to cause the same problems!
Pendants can be a particularly good choice, because there’s such a huge range of styles. Think about whether there’s a flower, symbol or animal that’s significant in your relationship. Perhaps you call your partner by a pet name? Or maybe you have a shared memory featuring an animal or object.
Finding a pendant that references something special you share can be a lovely way of marking your engagement.
There’s also a host of romantically themed jewelry out there. Hearts, lovebirds, yin and yangs, Chinese or other symbols for love – with a little searching, you’re sure to find something special.
And if budget is an issue, it needn’t be expensive. There are some incredibly romantic options out there that don’t cost a lot of money. How about a grain of rice with your names painted on inside a glass capsule? Or beads with your initials?
Think about what your partner would like. Do they wear large, ornate jewelry? Or do they prefer pieces that are small and discreet? Do they love the latest fashions, or would the romance of a vintage item appeal to them?
Think about the kind of jewelry they choose for themselves, and you won’t go far wrong.
4. Say it with body art
If you and your partner love body art, tattoos can be a great way to show a lifelong commitment.
Some couples choose tattoos that match, whilst others opt for coordinating designs. One of you could choose a moon and the other the sun. You could each tattoo your partner’s names or initials. Or you could even tattoo your finger with a ring design.
Tattoos aren’t for everyone, though. If you’re not sure how your partner feels about body art, it may not be the best option. There’s always the chance they’ll worry about hurting your feelings if they say no!
But if your other half has tattoos already, or you know they’ve always wanted one, this could be a great option. Of course, you won’t be able to present the tattoo itself on bended knee! But you could get a design drawn up and present that when you pop the question.
5. Choose a special gift
If jewelry or body art won’t appeal to your partner, how about choosing a special gift to mark your engagement?
The key here is to choose something that’s meaningful to your partner. Perhaps you could commemorate your relationship with a framed photograph or piece of art?
There are some great independent craftspeople who can make a romantic memento that doesn’t have to cost a fortune. How about a framed heart-shaped map, centered on the place you first met? A framed disc of your special song? A print of the night sky on the day you met, or when you proposed?
Antique shops and flea markets can also be a wonderful source of special gifts. And you’ll be buying something that no-one else has.
6. Make something yourself
Creating your own gift to mark your engagement can be a wonderful way to show how much you care. If you’re proposing with a song or poem, why not write or print out the words and frame them? You could even leave a space at the bottom to record your partner’s response.
Or how about a scrap book filled with photographs and mementos from your time together? You could add your own messages to make it even more special.
7. Mark your engagement with a special experience
Are experiences more important than physical mementoes to you and your partner? If so, that might be the perfect way to mark your engagement.
If this is what you decide to do, think about what will make it truly special. You may enjoy going on holiday – but consider what will mark it out from other vacations you take together. Perhaps you could go somewhere particularly exotic. Or choose a unique or ultra-luxurious place to stay.
How about helping your partner cross off something on their bucket list? The two of you could go whale watching, deep sea diving, hot air ballooning or white water rafting together. Maybe they’ve always wanted to learn to fly? Or climb a particular mountain?
Whatever it is, arranging a way to make their wish come true can make your proposal truly memorable. And you don’t need to do it at the same time as you propose! Telling your partner what they have in store can be just as effective – and may be the more practical approach.
8. Give a gift to someone else
Does your loved one have a cause that’s close to their heart? If so, a charitable donation can turn your special moment into something that shares your love with others.
It’s worth explaining what you’re doing to the charity when you make your donation. They may be able to suggest a way of acknowledging your gift that you could share with your loved one.
A charity looking after woodland, for example, may be able to place a commemorative plaque on a tree. Other charities may send a thank you letter you could share with your partner. Or they may have other ideas to mark your donation.
And remember, making a donation needn’t mean you can’t also give your partner a small token. An inexpensive novelty ring could be the perfect companion to a gift that will help others.
Ready to pop the question?
We hope we’ve given you some ideas to mark your marriage proposal in style! Whatever the reason for going ahead without a ring, there are plenty of great options.
Inexpensive temporary rings can be a fun way of signalling your commitment before you go shopping for an engagement ring. For those who don’t like rings at all, a different type of jewelry or gift may be the answer.
And if you don’t want to spend lots of money on material things, there are lots of different ways to mark your proposal. Create something meaningful yourself, or share your happiness through a donation to a special cause.
Whatever option you choose, put your partner at the center of your plans. Think about what will make the moment special for them, and whatever you do is sure to be a success. Good luck – and we hope they say ‘yes’!