The Price of Commitment: What People Spend on Engagements

Libby Kane

engagementIt’s proposal season–and we’re not talking about business proposals.

We’re referring to sparkly-ring marriage proposals. And according to TheKnot, December is the most popular month for said engagements.

Of course, much like the actual ring, not all marriage proposals look exactly alike. Some have marching bands! Some have flash mobs! Some are completely devoid of witnesses–and some prefer it that way.

If you plan to propose this holiday season, as an early engagement gift to you, we’ve looked into the costs of some of the most elaborate proposals out there–as well as the best post-proposal financial practices.

What People Are Spending on … the Ring

It’s an age-old question, complete with a handful of inexact estimates floating around the Internet as to how much you should shell out for the ring: two months worth of salary, 25% of your annual income, $2,500.

Fact-wise, reports that the average cost of an engagement ring is $5,200–and it takes the average person three months to find the right one.

The truth is that there isn’t a hard-and-fast rule as to how much a person should pay for a ring, just like there isn’t a rule about how much people are expected to spend on wedding presents.

In other words, it’s less about what you should spend, and more about what you can afford to pay.

“It’s really important to budget for an engagement ring,” advises LearnVest Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Sophia Bera. “Don’t use all of your savings to buy it–your emergency savings should be separate from your ring savings.”

Translation: The ideal amount to spend on a ring is different for everyone–and it doesn’t necessarily need to be something that you take on alone. ”Maybe this is unromantic, but I think it’s important to talk to your significant other about what they want, and the price range they have in mind,” adds Sophia.

Perhaps it isn’t so unromantic: TheKnot also reports that 65% of brides have at least some say in their engagement rings, while 31% shopped for and/or purchased the ring with their groom.

In some cases, the ring is only a blip on the proposal budget–a new trend in over-the-top proposals means that the ring isn’t always the sparkliest part of the moment.

  • Howel2ce

    “…clients generally spend between $500 and $3,000 on a proposal.” “The average cost of the big day in 2011 was about $27,000.” Seriously? I really do not understand why people feel the need to spend so much money on a wedding. I was married earlier this month and the entire event cost us less than a $1,000. I’m still getting comments that the guests had a lot of fun and it was one of the most relaxed weddings they had been to. We were looking forward to bringing family and friends together, and that’s what happened. A couple things may not have gone as planned, but at the end of the day we were married and surrounded by the people we love, and that’s all that mattered to us.   

    • http://Www.Plantingourpennies.Com/ Mrs PoP @ PlantingOurPennies

      I am totally with you – our wedding cost less than $250! ( )

      Yes, we eloped.  But then we came back and with all the money we didn’t spend having a big wedding, we bought a house, fixed it up together, and THEN threw a party where we invited lots of family and friends.  The belated wedding reception/housewarming was still less than $1000 and everyone had a great time.  

      It doesn’t take a lot of money to celebrate love.  =)

  • Guest

    Let’s see, spend thousands of dollars for a pretty rock to get someone to come live with me, sponge off of me, then take half of the assets when she leaves?  Not likely, and I’ll tell any and every guy, until there is equity and fairness in a marriage for the guy, DON’T DO IT.

    Live with her if  you want, but DON’T give her legal or any other kind of access to what you worked so hard for.

    • iGranny

      Maybe your taste in women is off.

      I have yet to have a set of family members divorce, and the women that have raised me have not only provided for themselves and their families, but have also stuck it out with men who seem just as bitter as you through all of the trials and tribulations, sickness and health; There has been no sponging, and for many of them, no expensive engagement rings or events, they got married for the union, not for the hoopla.

      Thank you for not wanting to marry. Your attitude alone is enough to ward people off.

      • Guest

         Maybe it is off.

        But consider that all of my male friends who are divorced and all but a very few who are married, have all said they would NOT do it again if they had the chance.

        They don’t regret their children, just the wife and marriage.

        Marriage is a no win proposition for the guy and a no lose for the woman.

        Once a person is bitten by dogs often enough to recognize the true nature
        of a dog and not trust them, is that the dogs fault or the person?

        Once you’ve been fleeced by someone promising something too good to be true, who’s at fault for your not trusting others making similar promises?

        But, yeah, it’s probably just me.

        No thanks are necessary as I don’t mention this to appease or satisfy you.  Just a simple statement of true nature and to forewarn other men who are tempted to make a huge mistake.   Have her go find easier pickings, someone easier to fleece.

        • clumsatron

          Wow. Just, wow. 

          Definitely don’t get married with that attitude.  You’re definitely coming off as  what I would call bitter and biased.   Most marriages have to last a long time in order for the woman to end up with half of the assets.  (Community property States excepted)  Additionally, if both parties contribute HALF, they should be entitled to half if the marriage ends.

          If the family has children and agrees that one of the two parents stay home with the children, that person should still be entitled to half because they are raising the children, which is a full time job.

          If people are that concerned about being taken advantage of then they’re with the wrong people. And if they have significant assets achieved prior to marraige then a pre-nump should protect those just fine.  (Again, most judges in my State would consider those as non-maritial assets.) 

          My boyfriend and I have lived with each other for 5 years now, we split everything. When he was unemployed I paid for everything – we put money into a joint account that covers all of the household bills and whatever is left over goes into our own accounts to do with as we like.    

          I’ve known plenty of women who have been taken advantage of by their male partners, so your complaint could go either way.    


          • clumsatron

            Oh, and when we get married we are signing a pre-nump, because my boyfriend owns the house we live in and I have assets inherited from family members I would like protected.

             I consider the money I put into it as money I would have paid in rent so it washes out.  IMost of our friends are married and I can definitely say that none of them are living the sponge lifestyle you’re complaining about.   

        • Bobbih

           huh.  just a simple statement of true nature.  yep, you are with the wrong women.  I’m sure all your divorced friends were the “perfect” husbands. Right.  There are two sides to every story and I am sure you heard his side.  Sorry your friends chose…wrong.

  • Kristen

    Want to see what people are really spending on their engagement rings? Be an Engagement Ring Voyeur and see what they spent and what they got on popular online engagement ring sites: