Do you give an engagement ring for a second marriage?

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If you’re thinking about proposing to your partner and one or both of you have been married before, you might have a lot of questions about second marriage “etiquette.” 

Do you give an engagement ring for a second marriage? How much should you spend? What should a second engagement ring look like? How should you propose? The answers to these questions largely depend on the person you're proposing to and their feelings about second marriage. 

“The answer as to whether to propose or give an engagement ring for a second wedding is completely dependent on the couple,” says Jodi RR Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting, a consulting firm based in Marblehead, Mass., that offers etiquette education and training.

We tapped advice from a few wedding etiquette experts to answer the most asked questions about engagement rings for a second marriage:

Do you give an engagement ring for a second marriage?

Deciding to get married a second time signifies that the tradition of marriage is meaningful to both parties involved. For this reason, Charleston, S.C.-based etiquette and event expert Emilie Dulles says an engagement ring is an appropriate and recommended way to celebrate your union. 

“A serious commitment between two adults to spend their lives together in marriage is something precious that should be celebrated from the very first moment they decide to become engaged,” she says.

Allison Williams, founder of the Everlasting Occasion wedding resource site, echoes this advice, especially if you're planning to celebrate your union by having a second wedding celebration. 

“The ring is still a special part of the process and as such, is something that is generally advised,”  Williams says. 

She does note that a second engagement ring is often more subtle than the first and is sometimes used as the wedding ring instead of purchasing a second band.

While the general consensus is that giving an engagement ring for a second marriage is appropriate and even advised, it's important to know how your partner feels about a second engagement ring. 

If you haven't broached the topic directly, asking your partner’s close friend or family member can be a great starting place for planning a second engagement. But it also doesn’t hurt to have an open discussion with your partner to find out what they want. 

Can I reuse an engagement ring?

While there are certain cases where it may be appropriate to reuse an engagement ring for a second wedding, an engagement ring from a previous relationship should not be used. 

“Even if it saves money, and even if the new partner is unaware it was previously owned by another person, this ring will still have meaning to the former partner,” Williams explains. 

She says it can adversely serve as a reminder of the former, failed relationship. Your new partner deserves something “unique and chosen for them,” Williams says. 

“It should be symbolic. Purchasing a new ring is part of the commitment to the new marriage.”

One exception for reusing an engagement ring for a second wedding is to give a ring that's been passed down in your family, perhaps estate jewelry from your grandmother.

“The love and longevity associated with the ring acts as an added blessing for the union,” Smith says. How much should you spend on an engagement ring for a second marriage?

Today, the average cost of an engagement ring clocks in at around $5,000. 

However, most experts agree that a second engagement ring is largely dependent on the couple's feelings toward the second marriage, as well as their financial situation. 

“Don’t go crazy on a second marriage engagement ring to spite a previous spouse,” Dulles advises. “Keep in mind that many second marriages include children whose feelings and future needs should be factored into the financial implications of a second marriage, including the engagement ring cost.” 

Additionally, purchasing a second engagement ring shouldn't create financial hardship. 

Dulles’ advice?

“If $200,000 is an easy sum to spend, go ahead. If $2,000 is more your speed, stay in that lane.”

She says you can find beautiful engagement rings at all price points, and diamond rings are no longer a must (unless of course your partner specifically wants one). 

“Other stones can be selected to create a significant ring that is meaningful and appropriate for a second marriage,” Dulle says. 

I Do Now I Don’t review: Is this online jewelry seller legit?

How do you propose for a second marriage?

A proposal for a second marriage can come with more complications than a first-time proposal. 

Dulle says there are a few considerations when you’re deciding how intimate vs. elaborate the proposal should be:

“Are there children involved? Are there former spouses with tricky relationships? Is the engagement going to receive public attention?”

But regardless of how you choose to propose, you should still try to make it memorable and special. 

“The key is to not repeat any previous engagement location, theme, music or other design element and also to make sure you personalize the event to your soon-to-be fiancé(e),” Smith says.

She notes that the proposal should also match the couple’s personalities:

“An outdoor, adventurous couple might hike a mountain and get engaged at the summit. A city-centered couple might have dinner at a trendy restaurant with a proposal during intermission at a jazz club performance.”

The nature of the proposal should match what makes the couple tick, Smith says.

Unique engagement rings for a second marriage

Engagement ring trends for a second marriage tend to skew less traditional – particularly where diamonds are concerned. Dulles notes that colored gemstones are in. 

“Aquamarines, tourmalines, topaz, peridot — particularly bezel sets — are all eye-catching statement rings for the creative bride,” she says. 

Ben Affleck recently proposed to Jennifer Lopez for a second time with a rare 8.5-carat natural green diamond. He initially proposed in 2002 with a 6.10-carat pink Harry Winston diamond.

However, for more traditional couples, a more subtle diamond may be the right choice. 

“There are some beautiful modern pavé diamond bands that make for great second marriage engagement rings for a more minimalist bride, like this one from Tiffany & Co.,” Dulles says.

If you're looking for a second diamond engagement ring on a budget, sites like Gemma.com allow you to browse preowned rings at a lower cost. You can also find rings made by independent artists (or have a custom ring designed) on a site like Etsy.

Brilliant Earth also allows you to design your own ring, choosing a gemstone and setting of your choice.

Some less traditional couples may forego a traditional engagement ring altogether. 

“Some couples feel like they have ‘been there done that' and opt for new traditions the second time around like matching ring tattoos,” Smith says. 

There are also more casual ring options like these silicon designs available on Amazon: 

Communication is key in any relationship. When you’re planning a second engagement, make sure you're in tune with your partner's tastes and considerations before you start shopping for a second engagement ring – or planning a second proposal.

Do you give an engagement ring for a second marriage?

Deciding to get married a second time signifies that the tradition of marriage is meaningful to both parties involved. For this reason, Charleston, S.C.-based etiquette and event expert Emilie Dulles says an engagement ring is an appropriate and recommended way to celebrate your union.

Can I reuse an engagement ring?

While there are certain cases where it may be appropriate to reuse an engagement ring for a second wedding, an engagement ring from a previous relationship should not be used.

How do you propose for a second marriage?

The nature of the proposal should match what makes the couple tick, Jodi RR Smith says.

Danielle Page is a freelance writer, editor, and content strategist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, NBC, USA TODAY, The New York Times, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Elle, AskMen, Women’s Health and many others.

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