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9 Real Rules of engagement ring shopping

Getting engaged is a celebratory event in every couple’s life. It is a historical milestone in your relationship, that makes your commitment to each other binding and official. So, everything about the proposal will be etched in your memories forever. And the engagement ring, being the symbolic icon that seals your relationship status, should be just perfect in every way.

In this day and age, a marriage proposal without an engagement ring is almost unheard of. So, how did this tradition originate? After a little digging, I found all the answer on this article on Psychology Today which explores the origins of this ritual. It so happens that the ring is not just a sentimental icon, but also an economic promise from a man. The exchange of the ring means the man is committed to stay loyal to the woman. This leads to the secondary custom of the woman keeping the ring, even if the man bailed.

Thus history asserts the importance of the engagement ring as a symbol of commitment and trust. Apart from the traditional aspect, there is also the aesthetic factor that makes it important. It is a ring that the lady will wear all her life. It is also an expensive piece of jewelry. Hence, it is natural for any woman to desire a ring that appeals to her and looks flattering on her finger.

If you are at that stage in your relationship where you are ready to propose, and your girlfriend is dropping hints, it is likely that she has a good idea of how her dazzling engagement ring should be. So, it is wise to do your research first and only then buy the ring for this special occasion.

Follow these rules of engagement ring shopping, and you will not go wrong.

1.Set your budget first

This is one area where you shouldn’t be thrifty. Consider the engagement ring to be a lifetime investment, and pay accordingly. Calculate the affordable limit by factoring in your salary and other relevant factors. It is wise to do your research before you step into a store, as you can scan and compare options, re-analyze your priorities and figure out your personal budget before actually meeting a sales person. The budget will also help you narrow down your choices. Since engagement rings come in a variety of styles, sizes and designs, you can avoid confusion by shortlisting the most cost-effective choices.

2.Do your research diligently

Remember that your girlfriend should love the ring, more than anyone else. And women can be rather particular about what they like to wear and what they don’t. So, be serious with your research and identify a ring style that will appeal to her. You could even consult your girl friend to learn what she exactly wants. However, if you want to keep the proposal a surprise, make sure you choose a ring based on her taste. There will be several options in metal, color, stone setting and designs. Each choice will yield entirely different results. So, it can be a daunting task.

If you are serious about getting the perfect engagement ring that will sweep her off her feet, take notes on what she likes and doesn’t like in jewelry. Or rope in a close friend who can help understand her preferences discretely, and go with the clues she gives.

3.Study the basics of ring shopping

Every expensive shopping decision should involve preparation and planning. Only then can you avoid regret. Since most engagement rings feature diamonds, it is a good idea to understand how to determine diamond quality before you embark on shopping.

Diamond quality is determined by the 4 all-important C’s—Carat, color, clarity and cut. These factors are universally used to determine a diamond’s worth. Here is what each of these stand for:

Carat:This refers to the overall weight of diamonds in a piece of jewelry.

Color: Colorless diamonds are most expensive, and the stone becomes progressively yellow or brown as we go down the scale.

Clarity: This factor measures the amount of blemishes or imperfections that are inherent in the stone. The more flawless a stone, the higher its price.

Cut: This depends on how the stone is cut to adjust its shine, hide imperfections and reflect light. The cut has a direct bearing on the appearance and beauty of a diamond.

Each of these C’s further has its own grading scale to determine the final quality level of the stone. So, it is a good idea to understand these standards and what they mean. This will help you establish the value of the diamond you are about to purchase. You can then make a suitable decision that gives you the best deal for your budget. It will also allow you to choose one diamond over another, based on your unique preferences.

When you compare the information available to you and use the Cs to your advantage, you may be able to get a larger diamond or a lower-weight diamond that is radiant and looks more than its actual worth.

4.Never compromise on quality

In the world of fine jewelry, if a deal sounds too good to be true it probably is. Hence, don’t fall for unrealistic claims when it comes to engagement ring shopping. Always shop at accredited and reliable jewelers to ensure you get what you pay for. Established names in the diamond industry are bound to do credible business and are hence less risky. So, visit only known jewelers. There are several international certifications awarded to jewelry organizations that allow you to check for genuineness of the product. Find out whether your chosen piece comes with all the required certifications and guarantees, to ensure it is a quality product. If you intend to get the ring during a sale period, check what the return policy is. If the ring size isn’t correct or you decide to exchange it for another one, you should have enough time after the purchase.

5.Always go shopping with a friend

Just like with wedding dress shopping, engagement ring shopping can become confusing if you aren’t sure of what you want. A second pair of eyes will help you stay objective and steer clear or confusion. So, ask a friend or family member to join you when you visit the shops.

It is a good idea to invite a friend who shares common tastes with your girlfriend, or knows her preferences well enough to help you make the right decision. If your girl friend has a best pal or sister, she should be the right person for the job. Just ensure that this person can keep it a secret, for you do not want them to ruin the surprise of the proposal for you. Or if you would prefer, you could also ask your fiance to join you. Involve your girlfriend in the process, and there is no way you could possibly make a wrong decision.

6.Think of how you can make it unique

Few men make an effort to find a ring that is truly unique. However, when they do this, the proposal becomes very meaningful. Make a statement with a designer engagement ring that is a cut above the common designs we see everywhere. This sounds exciting, but you may be worried about how to go about it. Fortunately, finding such a ring or even having one custom-created is not difficult. Simply seek the services of an expert diamond jeweler like Whiteflash, and choose from breathtaking designer engagement ring collections that are sure to impress. Take this route and surprise your soon-to-be-bride with a special ring that nobody other than her will have.

You can also choose the stone separately, and pick a unique setting for it. This gives you the flexibility to have it set in the metal of your choice. You can also add details like filigree work, engravings or extra side stones for more opulence. This is a great idea if you are an artistic person and your girlfriend is fond of custom pieces. Antique rings are also a good idea, as they come with a romantic history and are usually one-of-a-kind.

7.Make sure you get the size right

Don’t disappoint your girlfriend by choosing the perfect ring, but the wrong size. Although most jewelers offer a resize option, it is always best to get the ring in the right size at the beginning itself. You can always ask your girl friend directly for her ring size. If she doesn’t know, either use a plastic ring sizer to find the size, or have a jeweler measure her finger.

However, if your proposal is a surprise, finding out the ring size without asking may not be easy. Nonetheless, it is likely that her family or friends will have this information already. Check with them to find out, but ensure they don’t break the surprise. Or you could simply grab a ring of hers without her noticing and use it for reference. Just make sure that she wears it on a similar sized finger, to avoid a mistake. If you cannot sneak it away without her noticing, you can always trace the outline of a ring and use that to get the right size. This way, it is less likely for her to notice a ring is missing.

8.Don’t forget to ask about post-purchase care

When you choose the ring, you should also be concerned about how easy it is to maintain and care for. The ring will require regular polishing, cleaning and tightening, as it is constantly subjected to wear and tear. So, discuss these factors with the jeweler before the purchase. Find out whether the stone offers restoration and repair services, or if they can recommend someone for the job. Also ask about the cost for such services. Find out about the frequency at which they recommend polishing. Also inquire if the ring you have chosen needs any special handling or care. Not all women approve of rings that are very delicate and high maintenance. So, it is a practical factor to consider when making your decision.

9.Prepare to wait and get the documentation right

You may not always be able to walk out of a store with the ring you like. The design you like may not be available in the right size, or the jeweler may need time to engrave the ring. If you want a designer ring and have it custom-created from scratch, you should put aside several days for it. Plan for this timeline when you go shopping. Everything depends on your order, and you do not want to make a hasty decision. Plan in advance, do your research, visit the store and get a feel of the entire process before you commit to a choice. If there is a particular date on which you wish to propose, plan sufficient buffer time to get your ring beforehand and not miss it.

Also, ensure that you collect the relevant inspection documents and certifications for the product. This should include the diamond grading report, after-purchase instructions and insurance if any.

Buying an engagement ring is a tedious process. Nevertheless, it is inevitable and fun. It is in fact, the first step in your wedding planning. So, enjoy the process and your fiance will always appreciate the effort you put into making a wise decision.

For more tips on planning your wedding, shopping for your wedding attire and all wedding-related tasks, keep visiting us here on the Best for Bride blog page.

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Oops! That’s Awkward—Our guide to navigating 7 awkward wedding planning situations

I like to compare wedding planning to a mine that’s waiting to explode. The potential for problems is huge! Every couple faces at least a few awkward moments when planning their wedding. Many assumptions may be made that you cannot oblige to, you may have to say no on occasions, and where people are concerned there is no saying who can feel offended about what!

Here are 7 real sticky situations that you will most likely have to handle during your wedding planning process. We’ve also included the best possible solutions you can consider, to make it as easy as possible.

#1 Tell a friend or relative that they are not in the wedding party

It could be that everyone thinks you are fond of them. Add that to the fact that  you have a huge friend circle and an equally big family, it is likely that there may be at least a friend or relative who assumes they will be in the wedding party. If there are on the wedding party list, fine! If you haven’t included them, you have a situation to handle!

It isn’t easy telling someone that they are to be a guest and not in the wedding party. The best way to handle the problem is to take care of it as soon as you doubt your friend or cousin assumes they are in without you ever mentioning it. Tell her directly that as much as you would love to have her in the party, the situation is such that you would prefer to have her enjoy the wedding as a guest instead. You could offer a valid explanation, like you want to keep the wedding party small. (Only if this is a fact! It will harm your relationship even more if she ends up seeing a dozen bridesmaids on the day, and she alone isn’t one). Make it clear that you value your relationship with her a lot, and would love to have her involved in the wedding in any other way possible. Stress that you would not want this to harm your relationship in any way, and be genuine with your words. We are sure she’ll understand if she is a sensible and reasonable girl.

#2 When you’d rather have cash

Many couples struggle with telling their guests that they’d rather have cash or gift coupons, than gifts that wouldn’t help them. This could be because money would help them pay off a loan, or they could use it on their honeymoon, or because they would like to buy an expensive item like a vehicle. In all these cases, money would really help.

If you are in any of these situations, we know how you could be whether you ought to or not  convey this message to your guests. Well, we think you should! First step, set up your wedding website, where you will be sharing your wedding registry information. Next, add a “gift cash towards xxx” as one of the top options in the registry and link it to your bank account. Share the website wedding registry with your contacts, so they are directed towards the page that prioritizes what you’d like to have, in a specific order.

The other option is to link your wedding registry to sites like Tendr , that allows guests to pick cards and send it with their well wishes to the couple. Now, if a guest were to ask you in person about your preferences, they would ideally be asking because they really want to get you something you want. So, don’t hesitate to tell them that you are saving up for whatever you are. If they are comfortable giving you cash, you can hope they will once they know of this.

#3 Telling your parents (or in-laws) that you want something different

Isn’t it funny how so many parents and their children fight over how the wedding should be held or planned, from the moment the planning is in progress? It is not too often that we see couples who want a modern, relaxed wedding with interesting and unique elements, while their parents would rather have a traditional-style formal wedding that can never go wrong. If the parents on either side are sharing the expenses, we know how quickly tempers can soar and all those involved can end up in a foul mood.

Rather than locking horns with your families, we suggest that you handle such situations tactfully. First, consider if there is anything you can do about accommodating your family’s ideas. If not the whole thing, if you can incorporate at least a few ideas, they will feel a lot better. Then, decide upon the things that you refuse to compromise on. When you present your final idea to the family, first tell them which of their suggestions will be included in the wedding. This will calm the atmosphere to a great extent. Then tell them what the rest of the plans are, and also that it is your wedding and you wouldn’t really be happy if these details weren’t part of it. So, request them to understand and convey how grateful you are for all they are doing.

#4 When a relative wants to take over as a wedding vendor

Yes, we’ve all been there, when a budding photographer in your family wants to be in-charge of the wedding photography, or an enthusiastic aunt wants to bake the wedding cake. Unless these people are professionals, it may be a very bad idea to hand them the job. Now, even when they are professionals who are used to doing these for weddings, you may not agree with their style of work or may not be happy about giving them the responsibility for a range of reasons.

After all, working with a relative or friend is not the same as working with a vendor who you’ve hired for the job. You have to be cautious about everything you say, as you two have a relationship that could be hurt. In worst cases, they may disagree with what you want and even do things that they think are the best. But, it may sometimes be a good idea, if they will offer you a discount or if you are really fond of the way they handle things. Unless this is the case, you should learn to say “No” to their offer diplomatically.

You can tell them that you would love to have them handle the job, but you have already set your mind on another vendor. Or, the better option is to tell them that you don’t want to hire them for your wedding as you want them there as a guest, and not working all day and unable to participate or enjoy the wedding as they should. This clearly conveys that you value their presence, and if they appreciate it genuinely, this should put an end to the discussion.

#5 Saying No to guests you cannot afford to have

There’s this scene in the sitcom “Castle”, where Castle and Beckett mention to his mother that they were working on the guest list for the wedding, expecting her to suggest how they reduce it. In the blink of an eye, she rushes off to bring out her own guest list for the wedding!

Don’t be startled if you find the same thing happen in your case! Many couples are faced with the tough decision of saying no to guests that they simply cannot have at their wedding. If parents are paying, or if friends are pushovers who must invite people on their behalf, the situation is anything but pleasant.

We suggest that you be honest when you tell your parents, relatives or friends why it simply isn’t feasible to have any more guests than you have planned. Since your parents will anyway be inviting at least a few people, give them a specific number beforehand. They can then prioritize who goes on the list and who can be left out. Make your mind up about how far you can stretch with any extra additions, and make sure you stick to it. After all, your wedding is all about having the people who matter the most to you. It is not about having a huge party where you hardly know half the faces there, or is it?

#6 Planning your bridesmaid’s dress budget

One of the reasons many women dread being asked to be a bridesmaid, is the financial burden that comes along with it. Let’s face it, bridesmaids have to pay for a dress that they may not like at all, pay for the accessories, spend on the bachelorette, bridal shower and gift for the bride. All this will take a chunk out of their savings. It is worse if they are still in college or have their own financial constraints.

So, the best thing you can do is be reasonable when deciding what your bridesmaids should wear. Our suggestion is to be flexible, and consider a range of choices in dresses, so your bridesmaids can pick the one that is easiest on their pockets. Think out of the box, and instead of having them dress up in matching outfits, go with the mix ‘n’ match trend. This gives them the freedom to choose from the choices you have shortlisted. It is also likely that they will pick a dress that they can use again.

A good friend would also consider easing their financial burden by paying for the bridesmaid accessories or hair and makeup. Now, if you have been a bridesmaid at all these girls’ weddings previously, and they weren’t half as considerate, we think it is up to you to decide how to handle the situation. Honestly, it wouldn’t be wrong if you kept their expenses similar to what you had to incur, if this is the case. Else, think of what you can do to help out, maybe make use of sales and discounts or keep your dress selection reasonable so they do not begrudge you for your choices later.

#7 Talk money with your parents or in-laws

You think you’ve heard your parents mention sometime in the past, that they’ve put aside a certain amount for your wedding expenses. But, do you ask for it once you are engaged and planning the wedding? Is it appropriate to bring up the topic? Well, it’s mom and dad, and if you are certain there’s money set aside for you, it shouldn’t be wrong to confirm, so you can plan the wedding accordingly.

Ideally, they should bring the topic up if they have any such plans. So, it may not always be best to bring up the topic yourself. If they are quiet, it may be because something’s changed and not because they’ve forgotten about it. Never make the mistake of assuming that they will pay, and go about planning your wedding based on this assumption. Don’t feel entitled to it and have your plans go bust if they don’t agree to. Instead, share the wedding plans you have in mind and the quotes you collect from vendors. They will be more comfortable mentioning what they would like to contribute towards, when you do it this way.

If there is no talk about the money at all, you can either ask them what happened to the fund they put aside (that is, if you are sure they have), or ask them if they could help and you could repay it later.

Weddings, like we said earlier are tricky events that can cause so much stress to any bride and groom. Nevertheless, it is important to always keep the big picture in mind. When you think of the priorities in your life, and how you can celebrate the event that brings you and your partner together forever, you can tide over any awkward situation and leave it out of your mind forever.

To help you with everything you possibly need for your wedding, including your wedding dress, attire for your wedding party, accessories, décor, cakes and even flowers, visit us at Best for Bride. We have everything you need.

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5 Money Saving Tips for Your Wedding!

Planning your Big Day can be one of the most stressful experiences for a young couple to encounter. Some couples are able to foot the bills themselves, while others have the traditional support of their families when funding their wedding. Either way, expenses can add up quickly!

Whether you use a Wedding Planner or not, Made by Hana – Wedding Planning and Coordination suggests the following 5 money saving tips!

5 Money Saving Tips for Your Wedding

1.Off Season Wedding

 May to October is usually the busiest and most expensive time of year for weddings. By considering the option of an off season wedding (November to April), many venues and even some vendors are able to provide discounted rates.

2.Hire Students

 We have all been there. There are many eager students looking for experience in their field, who are willing to offer services at a discount rate or even free! Everything from photography to apprentice bakers are out there and willing to get the experience.

3.Wedding Attire

 Wedding attire is known to have hefty price tags, but when considering other options, it can be a breeze! Sample sales, off the rack selections and even rentals, are becoming more and more popular. Make sure to start early and take your time looking around to find the perfect fit!

4.Flowers

 Flowers can add up quickly. Consider the option of shopping at big box grocery stores such as Costco and keeping flowers in the fridge. This should only be done the day before the wedding or the morning of the wedding to make sure they are as fresh as possible.

5.Bridal Shows

 Many vendors who attend bridal shows, often offer Show Specials for attendees. Search places like Groupon for discounted tickets to shows and when attending the shows, make sure to collect information from each of the vendors you are interested in.

Author Bio:

Made by Hana is a Wedding Planning and Coordination service that offers support and a stress-free experience for couples in Toronto and GTA. Visit on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/made.by.hana/ or Twitter at https://twitter.com/madebyhana

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