Wedding rings are, for many, the ultimate symbol of marriage. And while traditional jewelers offer copious options, including customizing and design services, some couples prefer to venture still further outside convention.
When Amy and Ian Green married, in 2009, “We didn’t feel the drive to follow tradition,” says Amy. Nor did they, for ethical reasons, want diamonds (which they couldn’t afford anyway). Instead, on Etsy they found a craftsman who made them wooden rings, which incorporated ancient wood found in a New Zealand bog and cost them $35 each.
Six years later, the Spring Hill couple got slightly more traditional, replacing the wooden rings with silver models custom-made by local artisan P.J. Belic. Amy says the experience of visiting Belic’s home workshop was part of the fun.
Indeed, craft culture has dramatically increased the opportunities for unique, affordable jewelry. At Pittsburgh-based Whimsical Wonders, for instance, Melissa M. Venneri and her husband make jewelry (among other things) from kitchen items including repurposed silverware. Venneri says the practice dates to 17th-century England, when servants would turn household silver into rings.
Professional wedding officiant Larry Goyda, of Meaningful Marriages, has seen some unusual rings, including a wooden pair that came apart in sections that the couples symbolically traded and reassembled during the ceremony. He’s seen some non-rings, too: One bride gave her groom a watch; another gave her betrothed (a professor who taught ethics classes to cops) a revolver.
A practice that seems to be growing in popularity is not object-based at all: tattooed wedding rings. Jason Angst, of Artisan Tattoos, has seen plenty of them; couples typically want two of the same design, and just on top of the finger, not on the more sensitive sides and underside. His suggestions: Designwise, “go with as simple as you can get.” And make sure you leave at least six weeks between the inking and the wedding: Healing can take longer than you expect.