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Some couples are no longer getting engagement rings — here are 10 modern ways people are proposing to their partners

Chelsea Greenwood , Business Insider US
 Nov 18, 2018, 10:16 PM

Considering recent news that millennials are changing marriage statistics nationwide - researchers say people are being more selective and waiting longer to marry - it should come as no surprise that young people are breaking with tradition in other ways when it comes to tying the knot.

Rather than spending $6,351 on average for a wedding ring, people in the US are opting for more modern, unique, and personalised options to symbolise their love and commitment.

Here are 10 great options if engagement rings aren't your style.

Matching tattoos are definitely a commitment.

Even if you don't get a ring, you can still use your ring finger to signify your engagement. Some couples are getting matching tattoos on their ring fingers, according to the Independent. In fact, the #weddingtattoo hashtag already has over 6,000 posts on Instagram.

This is a typically cheaper route that is also much more permanent.

Invest the money.

In a 2014 article for The New York Times, Tara Siegel Bernard broke down what would happen if you invested the cost of a high-quality engagement ring, writing:

But let's just pretend for a moment that you invested $12,700, or the current benchmark price for a high-quality one-carat diamond, according to the Rapaport Diamond Index, an industry benchmark for diamond prices. In a portfolio of 60 percent stock funds and 40 percent bonds with a real return of 4 percent, that $12,700 would rise to about $27,830 after 20 years, and nearly $41,200 after 30 years (that's after inflation), according to calculations by Vanguard.

Start a personal "honeyfund."

According to Time magazine, nearly four in 10 brides have an online "honeymoon fund", where they ask friends and family to donate money in lieu of giving wedding gifts. This growing trend signifies an even bigger truth: People are beginning to put more emphasis on the importance of a honeymoon.

Psychologist Marie Hartwell-Walker wrote on PsychCentral that honeymoons are important, as they are a "celebration of their new identity as a married couple."

Do your partner a solid and buy them a new car.

Josh Marion, a vice president at Ritani, an online diamond and jewellery retailer, previously told Business Insider that buying an engagement ring "is a decision on par with buying a car or a house - you can't just jump into it."

If you agree that buying a car is on par with buying a ring and your partner is in need of a car, it might be the smarter purchase.

Opting for custom or designer cufflinks or other cheaper alternatives could actually help your marriage.

An increasingly popular option these days is proposing with cufflinks, whether custom or designer.

Instead of splurging on a diamond ring, a smart decision is purchasing a less-expensive alternative that costs no more than $2,000.

Make a significant charitable gift in their name.

If your partner-to-be is an altruist, perhaps nothing will mean more than donating a significant sum of money to their favourite charity in their name.

In fact, a 2009 Harvard Business School study found that "functional magnetic resonance imaging … evidence shows that giving money to charity leads to similar brain activity in regions implicated in the experience of pleasure and reward." In other words, giving in your partner's name could actually make them feel good.

Pay rent if you're living together in an apartment.

It could be argued that moving in together has taken on the significance of an engagement period. Between 2007 and 2016, the number of US adults in cohabiting relationships rose by nearly 30 percentage points, according to the Pew Research Centre.

"Once you move in together, then people begin to treat you as an indivisible couple. If you're going to invite one to a party, you have to invite both," Stephanie Coontz, a historian and the author of the book "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage" told The Washington Post.

Because living together signifies the same commitment as an engagement ring, might as well put that money toward your combined rent.

A custom piece of artwork is a very personal option.

Katie Canales/Business Insider

For a personalised option, commission a piece of artwork for your home that represents you as a couple, reflects your tastes, or just speaks to you both.

On finding art that's important to both parties, Laura Benko, founder of The Holistic Home Company, told Elle Decor, "It's powerfully uniting when the artwork is loved by both, especially if it has a story behind it that involves your relationship. In the bedroom, be sure to swap out boring landscapes for imagery that pleases the senses and awakens your sensuality."

Why not be practical and use that cash as a down payment on a house?

It's not very sexy, but it sure is practical.

Engagement101 recommended using the cash you'd spend on a ring as a down payment on a house. Just be sure you're ready to make that step together.

Get a pet with your partner.


Getting a pet with your partner could actually help your relationship.

Russell Hartstein, a certified dog-behaviour consultant, told Livestrong: "They act as a social lubricant and help regulate our moods, emotions, mental state, and physical shape when we interact with them and meet their needs. Most couples will have overall better health and live longer if they are pet parents."

It can also be a test to make you and your partner work well together when it comes to parenting styles. Just be sure you take the responsibility seriously and come to the decision together.

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