instead of engagement ring

It looks like the engagement ring might be falling out of fashion for millennials, who are forgoing the tradition in favor of more practical options. There’s certainly no lack of huge engagement rings in the public eye (see the left hands of: Mary-Kate OlsenMila KunisKim KardashianEmma RobertsScarlett Johansson, and Ciara), but mere mortals like you and me are considering alternatives in big numbers. While some curmudgeons might shake their heads and say that all romance had died, I think there are plenty of romantic, meaningful options out there that aren’t diamond rings.

ERA Real Estate surveyed 1,000 people in committed relationships and found that 50% of female respondents in their 20s would rather forgo a diamond engagement ring and put that cash towards a down payment on a house. (In fact, 18 percent of participants said they had already skipped getting a ring for this very reason.)

Obviously, 1000 people isn’t a huge sample size, but I can at least attest anecdotally that most of the crowd I run with will opt out of the engagement ring. While not everyone will put the money into homeownership, that sounds like a pretty smart option, and not at all unromantic.

I’ve never been a huge fan of the engagement ring for me personally (if you have one, want one, or plan to give one, that’s also totally cool). I’m just fussy about jewelry and don’t tend to like diamonds, and frankly, don’t really want an exchange of goods associated with my engagement. For a lot of people, the tradition of gift-giving to mark the occasion is important, and that makes total sense to me. I tend to gravitate towards things that would contribute to a joint future–your home, family, kids, and life together. If you want to have something celebratory but don’t want a ring, here are 10 things you should ask for or buy instead of an engagement ring.

  1. Downpayment on a home (or, realistically, money going towards that)
  2. Extravagant vacation (or honeymoon)
  3. Dream wedding, if you’re into that type of thing
  4. Downpayment on a new car
  5. A different piece of jewelry–if you love necklaces or bracelets, go for it. Nobody said it had to be a ring.
  6. Fancy shoes you want but don’t need
  7. Weekly professional massages for the duration of wedding planning
  8. A major upgrade on your house (am I the only person who finds re-tiling a bathroom romantic?)
  9. Investment in that dream business idea that you’ve been kicking around for ten years
  10. A puppy, cat, or similarly adorable and wanted a pet, complete with pet health insurance
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