Buying a wedding band for the groom can be more difficult than it seems. Traditional yellow gold rings are fine for some, but modern wedding bands come in a variety of different materials that appeal to today’s gentleman. Thankfully, some of the more popular and appealing of these options come with a significantly reduced price tag to other traditional wedding band materials.

Choosing a wedding ring on a budget is a great way to save money that can be used on other very important components of a wedding or early days of marriage. For example, a few hundred dollars can go a long way towards hiring a better photographer to capture the moments of your big day. You could also put these savings towards your joint savings and, later, the down payment on a new home.

Let’s face it, while the symbolic nature of the wedding band is important, men generally don’t have as much attachment to the material and/or cost of their wedding band as the bride. You may see an embedded diamond or two on a man’s wedding band, but when you’re on a budget, this is one of the first costs that get cut with very little pushback from the groom.

During the months before my wedding, I wanted a titanium ring because it is a geek-friendly material that is light enough not to bother me throughout the day. My wedding band ended up costing less than $100, which saved us more than enough to afford our wedding gifts to each other: Nikon D3000 DSLR cameras. Every couple is different.

Material

Here are a few alternative materials and some things to consider when shopping.

Titanium
Titanium is a popular choice for modern grooms. Not only is it an incredibly light material, but it’s also one of the strongest metals out there. Titanium in itself is also quite inexpensive when compared to precious metals like gold or platinum. There is a coolness factor to having a titanium wedding band. If the love of your life is a geek, they’ll appreciate the awesomeness of this strong and lightweight metal. Titanium is also hypoallergenic, making it a great alternative for grooms with allergies to gold or silver. It’s also more subtle than shinier metals due to its muted grey color.

With the benefits come the downsides. Titanium is easy to scratch. While the metal itself may be strong, the surface can be easily scuffed over time. You also can’t have most titanium rings resized. Once you purchase it, you’ll have to replace it if your ring size changes. It also has no give in terms of shape, meaning that it won’t adjust over time to the shape of your finger like softer gold or silver. This may cause discomfort as it presses against adjoining fingers over time.

Tungsten
Tungsten is an extremely strong hypoallergenic metal that is extremely scratch resistant. If you want a ring that can be polished to a mirror finish, without high maintenance, Tungsten is one of the best choices out there. Tungsten made for rings is actually a combination of tungsten and carbon known as tungsten carbide. Like titanium and stainless steel, these rings tend to be cheaper than ones made of precious metals like gold, silver, or platinum.

Tungsten is heavier than most other metals, making it harder to ignore or get used to than titanium or stainless steel. Like ceramic, tungsten carbide rings can’t be resized. Some jewelry stores offer a lifetime size replacement guarantee, giving you the ability to replace your ring with another of the same general make and price point for just a few dollars. Tungsten is also capable of cracking or shattering when dropped on ceramic tile, or slung against a hard surface.

Ceramic
Ceramic rings open up a wide range of possibilities in terms of look and color. These rings are lightweight, and offer a multitude of different styling options to match the needs and tastes of the groom. A glossy finish gives the ring a solid appearance, and the hard material stands up to almost anything it can encounter during normal day-to-day activity. Ceramic is also hypoallergenic, which makes it a great choice for grooms with allergies to commonly used precious metals.

Unfortunately, ceramic can shatter when dropped or hit against a hard surface at significant speed. They also can’t be resized, meaning that you’ll either need to buy-in to a low-cost replacement plan or buy a new one when your size changes.

Stainless Steel
Stainless steel rings are great for shopping on a very tight budget. Stainless steel is a relatively lightweight material that is easy to shape and design, so you will find more options in terms of shape and patterns than you would on a harder and less moldable metal like titanium and tungsten.

Unfortunately, stainless steel is a cheap and relatively weak metal compared to others. It is resistant to the elements, but more likely to need replacement than tungsten, titanium, or ceramic. They’re also so cheap, it might be less expensive to buy a new one than have it resized. In general, stainless steel may be great for someone who wants a certain look or is prone to losing their wedding band, but it isn’t something you should expect to wear daily for the rest of your life.

Family

In addition to material, you might want to consider a few other money-saving options. For example, a wedding band passed down through the family may be an excellent choice for you if one is available. This is a common practice among brides. Keeping a wedding ring “alive” within the family from generation to generation adds to the sacred and symbolic importance of the ring itself. My wife, for example, wears her grandmother’s wedding and engagement ring on one hand and our original engagement ring on the other. Everyone is different, but that’s what worked for us.

If a precious metal such as gold, silver, or platinum is something you really want, this could be one way of satisfying that need without breaking the bank by buying a brand new ring.

Sales

Jewelry stores have sales during the wedding off-season. Usually taking place in spring, wedding season is the time of year that is most temperate in your area. March, April, May, and June are big months for weddings, as is February due to Valentine’s Day. A jewelry store offering a 30% discount on their merchandise can save you hundreds of dollars on a quality ring. Remember, percentages really add up when you’re talking about larger prices.

Shop Secondhand

Not everyone gets to live happily ever after, and if you’re not one for superstitions, then you might want to check eBay or Craigslist for a wedding band. Yes, you should stick to a trusted seller on eBay or have someone from Craigslist meet you at a jewelry store that can confirm the validity of a ring’s value, but you can find great deals by buying secondhand. Pawn shops tend to mark up their prices to near-retail, but you might be able to find a good deal from a reasonable shop.

I Do, Now I Don’t is a successful secondhand jewelry site that lets people sell their wedding jewelry off at a low price for another couple to hopefully have better luck with.

Discount Web Sites

There are a ton of sites out there that offer fine jewelry at an incredibly discounted price. Get your size taken at your local jewelry store, and take that information to your browser and do some searching. Bottom line: jewelry is marked up significantly by the time it makes its way to a local store with brick-and-mortar overhead. By shopping online, you can find excellent wedding bands for a fraction of what you would pay in-person. Diamonds, for example, are greatly inflated in price here in the US. Overseas, their value can be very different.

Alternatives to the Wedding Band

A lot of modern couples don’t even have wedding bands or rings. Yes, this has long been a symbol of love and endless devotion, but there is nothing that says you can’t symbolize this commitment through alternative means.

One couple I know has dog tags made up, each with their spouse’s name on it. Some couples get tattoos to express their devotion to one another. This may not be my first choice, but it could be a good option if you’re prone to losing things.

Wedding watches are also a popular alternative for men. This is a functional alternative, that can be a great option if he works in an industry where a ring could easily become a hazard.

Closing Comments

Wedding bands are a symbolic gesture, and that symbolism can be relayed to whatever the couple chooses. Be it a ring, tattoo, tag, necklace, bracelet, or simply a promise made to one another.

Choosing the right wedding band takes a lot of consideration. After all, it’s something the groom will be wearing (potentially) for the rest of their life, and you want to make sure it’s something that matches his lifestyle, tastes, and work. Doing this without breaking the bank is just a bonus.