Wedding commitment symbol that is not a ring?
October 13, 2009 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Let's say you want to marry someone, but they don't want a ring. This would be because the person doesn't ever wear rings, not wanting to draw attention to their hands (long story, just know that hand-oriented things are out). What other options are there for a wedding token? Are there cool options from cultures that do not have the wedding ring as part of their history? Any non-hand-based suggestions are welcome.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (37 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Anything against wearing the ring on a chain around your neck?
posted by disillusioned at 2:25 PM on October 13, 2009

In some parts of India, women wear a particular kind of gold and black necklace to indicate that they are married. In other parts of the world, a pierced nose says "I'm taken." Friends of mine got matching silver chains that could be worn once around the neck or thrice around the wrist. That way they were always wearing the chains and it meant something to them. Matching tattoos is another option. I also know people where just one half of the pair wears a ring and the other half doesn't do anything in particular. Or you can roll with just the knowledge that y'all are hitched.

Good luck!
posted by cachondeo45 at 2:26 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're talking about a woman, what about a diamond solitaire necklace?
posted by oinopaponton at 2:27 PM on October 13, 2009

matching tattoos, perhaps?
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:29 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

A good friend of mine constantly wore a close fitting silver bracelet which was a gift from his wife, instead of a wedding ring.
posted by angiep at 2:32 PM on October 13, 2009

Although Jews do wear wedding rings, it's also a Jewish custom to display in the home the wedding contract, called ketubah. They are beautiful, decorated in different styles and hand-written. I've seen them framed and displayed either on the living room for everyone to see, or by the couple's bed, as a private token.
posted by AnyGuelmann at 2:35 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

Many people who do manual labor wear their wedding rings on chains around their necks, so I'd nth that suggestion.
posted by Billegible at 2:38 PM on October 13, 2009

I told my fiance (now husband) that I thought it was silly to spend 3 months' salary on an engagement ring, and so asked for a gold chain necklace as an engagement gift. Now every time I wear one of my charms on it, I'm reminded of our engagement story. You could also have a jeweler design a special charm that has a particular meaning to the both of you (perhaps a prayer box with a written sentiment inside?). Good luck!
posted by KoPi_42 at 2:40 PM on October 13, 2009

Rings on chains, a solitaire diamond pendant, an infinity symbol as either tattoo or pendant, a bracelet ... anything would be great. Indeed, I kind of like the idea of something that does wear out over time that would need to be renewed every so often, sort of as a symbol of ever-renewing devotion or something hopelessly romantic like that.
As far as tattoos go, go wild. Just... stay away from the names ;)
posted by neewom at 2:45 PM on October 13, 2009

You do not need to wear an object symbolizing fidelity. If you choose to, a necklace, or an earring in a second ear piercing, would be nice.

Hennaed mehndi designs would be nice for the ceremony.
posted by theora55 at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2009

I suggested my fiancé buy me the complete set of the oxford english dictionary, I gave him a copy of my favourite book. A friend gave a tv to her fiancé. Someone else I know gave a beautiful paperweight by this artist. An over the top suggestion would be a tiara (I love mine and my daughter has worn it for her first communion). Or a really nice painting/artwork. I think most cultures it was traditionally either jewellery or livestock. Maybe a donation to one of the various charities that buy livestock for families in developing countries would be appreciated.
posted by saucysault at 2:47 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Matching wedding tattoos are pretty cool. Friends of mine designed a coat of arms together before the wedding and got inked on their honeymoon. Their design has symbols from flags reflecting both their families' heritage, braille numbers to code the date of their anniversary, and other symbols that are meaningful to them. They're really nice. They have them in different spots- hers is near her shoulder, his is on the inside of his forearm. Their design is vaguely like this, but more modern and stylized, and the tats are substantial- each about the size of a playing card.
posted by twistofrhyme at 2:54 PM on October 13, 2009

You also might want to think about why you want an engagement token. Is it so he/she has something to show at the time and say "I'm engaged"? Is it to avoid the (to some, embarrassing) impression you can't afford a "proper" diamond ring? Is is to be a visible symbol to others that he/she is off the market? Is is something you want to use as an heirloom - not necessarily to pass down to children but even something like a bottle of wine that you can drink together at your fiftieth wedding anniversary? Is it just that you love this person so much you want an excuse to splurge on them with a material object (or experience) that represents your love? These are all valid feelings but knowing your motivation may help you narrow your choices.
posted by saucysault at 2:55 PM on October 13, 2009 [4 favorites]

My father doesn't wear a wedding ring. He never has. Partly because he's a chemist who works with radioactive material and he doesn't want anything to get caught under it, but partly because he doesn't want to. He doesn't wear anything else, either; he's just married to my mom. So to me, this is perfectly natural.

Does your intended want an engagement token of some kind?
posted by KathrynT at 3:01 PM on October 13, 2009

Was gonna say ring on a chain, but I love the nose ring suggestion.
posted by willpie at 3:03 PM on October 13, 2009

I was raised in a religion that traditionally frowns upon the wearing of jewelry, including engagement rings, and only grudgingly allows plain wedding bands. Girls I grew up with looked forward to getting an engagement watch. That may be too hands-oriented for this person, but I don't particularly think that watches draw attention to the hands since they're so common.

My stepfather gave my mother a music box when he proposed.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 3:05 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

I got a grand piano instead of an engagement ring. It was the first brand-new instrument I'd ever had, and I got to pick it out myself. As a professional musician (at the time), it meant waaaaaay more to me than any ring ever could. Fourteen years later, it's still as beautiful-sounding as it was the day it was delivered, and every once in a while I still get that shivery pinch-me-I'm-dreaming-I-can't-believe-anything-this-good-could-actually-happen-to-me feeling when I'm playing it.
posted by mothershock at 3:08 PM on October 13, 2009 [9 favorites]

What about a claddagh necklace or earring?
posted by Morrigan at 3:12 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

An anklet is comfortable and doesn't interfere with most messy hands-on activities (i.e. she can do pottery in it without worrying)
posted by debbie_ann at 3:32 PM on October 13, 2009

My now-husband surprised me with an engagement pendant. He knows that I stopped wearing rings when I started working in an archaeology lab, that I wouldn't want a diamond, and that I wouldn't want us to spend a lot on a token, so he searched until he found something that was just right. (In our case, this was a blue quartz pendant set in sterling, and I admit that I am touched to see how perfectly he knows my taste.)

We didn't even explore the question of other traditions; we just did whatever we wanted. I did run into a few people asking to see "the ring," but that's pretty easy to brush off.

It's certainly not necessary to have any sort of engagement symbol, but I do love my pendant.
posted by Elsa at 3:32 PM on October 13, 2009

My great-grandfather proposed to my great-grandmother with a set of heart-shaped silver charms (marked with their initials) on a chain. The story goes, from the time she accepted, she never took them off. Both my grandfather and his sisters had memories of playing with them when they sat in her lap. They even bear the marks of my grandfather's teeth when he was just a wee teething baby.

I have them now and they're one of my most prized possessions.
posted by annaramma at 3:41 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

My fiancé asked me ahead of time if I would wear an engagement ring, and I thought about it for a few days, and it just didn't seem like "me" to wear a gigantic expensive rock on my finger, plus I would be afraid of losing it. I actually didn't want anything for the engagement (although I would wear a simple, custom-designed wedding ring if we both get them), but he is kind of traditional in some ways, so he surprised me with a pendant which is very much in keeping with my personal style and taste (and which I have no idea how much it cost, although I suspect more than I would be comfortable with, so I don't ask). I wear it almost every day if it goes with my outfit.
posted by matildaben at 3:41 PM on October 13, 2009

Instead of an engagement ring, we chose nice watches. (There are places that resell authentic pieces at a fraction of the cost new, but still not *cheap*).
posted by 6:1 at 4:02 PM on October 13, 2009

I know a couple who are now the proud owners of an engagement kayak. They decided that was what they really wanted to spend that kind of money on. Not something that creates a visible sign of "taken" but a way for the couple to decide how they best wanted to use their (limited) resources on something they both would enjoy.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:04 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

My husband liked the symbolism of umbrellas -- so we now own a wedding umbrella. (Just one -- we gotta stick together!)
posted by wyzewoman at 5:10 PM on October 13, 2009 [13 favorites]

(Symbolism of umbrellas being "we are each other's protection from the [elements/world/what have you]", in case that wasn't obvious!)
posted by wyzewoman at 5:11 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

I have friend whose grandmother didn't like rings, so his grandfather proposed with a five-diamond pendant. My friend's FATHER then proposed to his first wife by prying out one of his mother's pendant's diamonds, and setting it in an engagement ring, so that they could still do the whole "family heirloom" engagement ring thing.

Then he divorced that wife and pried a second diamond out for his second wife's ring. Then he divorced that wife and pried out the third... The joke my friend makes is that his father is going to run out of "Grandmother's diamonds" and then he'll have to stick with whatever wife he's with.

Which is all to say... If there's a diamond involved in the trinket, it can be passed down to be used as your future child's engagement ring, if that sort of thing appeals to you.
posted by np312 at 5:38 PM on October 13, 2009 [2 favorites]

(Now-) Mrs. Range and I had a jeweler make a matched pair of extremely simple bracelets out of thick sterling wire. Bonus points -- they're loose on the wrist but clamped on, so removing them is extremely difficult (and leaves a nice bruise). We decided to call them Engagement Things.
posted by range at 5:44 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

Nobody likes to think of getting divorced, but with a tattoo, you could end up wearing something you can't take off when things go bad.

Happened to a friend I worked with and her wife. She was cruelly dumped (it was heartbreaking to see her struggle with incipient sobs every day for weeks on end in the next cubicle, and I wasn't even that close of a friend). And every time she looks in the mirror she has this gigantic ornate tattoo on her chest (that her wife had coerced her into getting) staring her back in the face. Until she dies. Ugh.

Laser tattoo removal isn't cheap, and from what I know of it, doesn't work all that well.
posted by marble at 6:55 PM on October 13, 2009

Regarding matching tattoos, you don't need to get something like "OUR LOVE IS SO TRU 4EVER" if that freaks either of you out. Matching lines of poetry would be cool, if that's your style.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 6:57 PM on October 13, 2009

In China and Japan, mandarin ducks symbolize fidelity and a happy marriage because they are thought to mate for life (although I don't think they actually do). Anyway, you might be able to find or commission some artwork featuring these beautiful birds, or they might make cool tattoos. Yes, I'm really liking the idea of mandarin duck tattoos!
posted by Quietgal at 7:59 PM on October 13, 2009

Oh, call me old fashioned, but I think a good diamond, whatever the size, on a chain is a fine start to be followed at a significant anniversary or birth of first child by a pair of diamond solitaire earrings. If she doesn't like diamonds, then how about a birth stone or one of ruby/emerald/sapphire?
posted by x46 at 8:02 PM on October 13, 2009

Two of my best friends wear small compasses on a chain or cord around their necks. Hers is on the chain, and basically looks like a pendant necklace. His is on a cord that is similar to climbing rope, since climbing is a passion they both share.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:12 PM on October 13, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you are thinking of an object that takes the place of a small, portable, beautiful, long-lasting, symbolic, and valuable item that represents a small security bond in case of a broken contract, you need something that hits all the checkboxes.

How about engagement art? If you find a good dealer you can trust, you can find a painting or sculpture that is to your tastes and likely to hold its value in a way a tattoo can't.
posted by Sallyfur at 8:28 PM on October 13, 2009

We have nothing. It's a Quaker thing.

We can't lose it, or have it stolen. It's always with us. It doesn't harm anyone, or mark us. We know we have something of great value. It doesn't matter if you can't see it.
posted by scruss at 8:42 PM on October 13, 2009 [29 favorites]

In South India, Hindu women wear gold necklaces with a pendant called a Mangalsutra or Tali. There are a few variations on the what they look like. Other symbols of marriage are: toe rings (one on each foot); bangles; vermilion, which is the red power women put in their hair, probably not what you're wife is looking for; pottus (bindis), which are the red dots women wear on their foreheads; and nose rings.
posted by chunking express at 9:10 AM on October 14, 2009

I once knew a woman who wore a necklace as her wedding jewelry. Her husband did, too. They both said that when they got to the 5-year mark, they'd add a bead to their "ball and chain." I thought this was a a fine way to have a humorous take on wedding stuff, since they both hated rings and were ornery redheads.
posted by lilywing13 at 5:41 AM on December 2, 2009

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