Choosing the perfect engagement ring

The old saying that you should spend three times your average monthly salary on an engagement ring was originally coined by a jewelry company that wanted you to spend as much as possible! But, as with everything else to do with your wedding, you should spend only what you can afford on the engagement ring. Diamond rings are by far the most popular choice for an engagement ring and are sold according to the four Cs: Cut The cut determines its brilliance (how sparkly it is!). Clarity The degree to which the diamond is free from internal flaws. This is what determines the price.

Color: The more colorless the stone the better the quality of the diamond (unless you go for one of the brightly colored pink, yellow or blue diamonds, which are very pricey).

Carat: The weight of the stone, which determines its size. 1 carat is about the size of a small pea. In 1969 Richard Burton gave Elizabeth Taylor a 69-carat diamond, which was the size of a golf ball. Your diamond is likely to be somewhere in between!

Which diamond is the right for you?

Diamonds are cut into various shapes and it’s important that you try on different styles to see what suits your finger shape and size the best. Platinum has become a popular setting, but gold will never go out of style. The song has it that diamonds are a girl’s best friend – but don’t feel you have to choose one for your engagement ring. Royalty has long favored colored stones such as emeralds, sapphires and rubies. Or you may prefer to use your birthstone.

Our tip of the week

“Were having our wedding on a Friday. It will make a great start to the weekend and has saved us money with most of our suppliers because they weren’t busy on that day.”

Your dream wedding is near

The first thing you need to think about, probably before you even set the date, is what style of wedding you are going to have. The type of marriage service and the overall size and formality of the day you envisage will all dictate many of your planning choices — certainly the venue, the budget and your outfits, and perhaps even your colour scheme.

Start with a blank piece of paper and write down what’s important for your dream wedding. Do you see small and intimate? Big and formal? Or even a beach ceremony somewhere abroad? Is your vision the same as your intended’s? Discuss your personal expectations and then take into account the expectations of others, in particular your parents. Ultimately it’s your wedding but if forgoing a religious ceremony is likely to spark World War Three, you need to be sure that the aggravation is worth it! Once you have roughed out your perfect big day, you need to work out whether you can afford to pay for it… Your next important decision is to set the date for your wedding.

Which diamond is the right for you?

Setting the date

The most popular time for weddings is between June and September, for the obvious reason that the weather is more reliable! But with the advent of civil weddings in historic buildings, the lure of the candlelit winter wedding has seen a recent rise in couples choosing December and January weddings.

The wedding date and length of your engagement depends on several factors: Is the venue available? There is no point telling the world when you think you’ll be marrying only to discover that your favourite venue is booked. Popular venues get booked up early (often years in advance), particularly from June to September, so you need to move quickly.

Is the registrar available? This is very important if you are planning a civil ceremony at a licensed venue. Don’t confirm the location until you know the registrar is free to attend; he or she may well be busy at another wedding at another venue and most local authorities have only two or three registrars.

How long will it take to save up? This is a key consideration if you are paying for a lot of the wedding yourselves. Those extra few months could make all the difference to what you can afford.

Is there a special day for the two of you? Some couples love the romance of marrying on Valentine’s Day, on one of their birthdays or on a special anniversary. Marrying on the wedding anniversary of one set of parents is another popular idea.

Wedding reception in the sunshine

Can you be flexible’ If you have always dreamed of a reception in the sunshine, then a summer wedding is the obvious choice. If you are happy with a wedding inside and the chance of rain isn’t an issue, the flexibility on date could save you money because you’ll be avoiding the popular ‘wedding season’.

Once you’ve a set the date, it is a good idea to send out ‘save-the-date’ cards to your guests so they can avoid arranging events of their own that will clash with your big day.

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