What to do with Aunt Maud’s pearls and other jewellery etiquette questions answered by Elisabeth Attwood
A guide to making the most out of your bridal jewellery
How much should a groom spend on an engagement ring?
The commonly quoted figure is two months’ salary but whether it’s more or less, the amount should indicate a groom’s commitment to his bride.
Does it have to be diamonds?
They are the convention for engagement rings but other stones such as sapphires (see Kate Middleton) are perfectly acceptable and can be more imaginative. The shape of the bride’s hand should also be considered—and her taste. Yellow gold used to be the standard setting; white gold, platinum and even rose gold are worn these days.
Can I have two engagement rings?
If an engagement ring is extremely precious or large and difficult to wear, some women have a second one for everyday wear.
Which finger should I wear it on?
This varies around the world. In England, it is the third finger on your left hand. In other parts of Europe, it’s worn on the right hand, same finger. Married couples wear the wedding band underneath the engagement ring (brides often wear it on their right hand during the ceremony).
Who buys the wedding rings?
Rather sweetly, traditionally the bride pays for the groom’s ring—and the groom the bride’s.
Should the groom wear a wedding band?
Prince William famously doesn’t. Other men wear one on their little finger with the family signet ring. Men’s wedding rings apparently became popular during World War II as a symbol for soldiers to remember their beloved. These days, it’s a matter of personal choice.
Who holds the rings during the ceremony?
The best man is responsible for bringing the rings to the service. He can hand them to the vicar or celebrant, or some couples have a ring bearer to do the job—often a child who holds them (tied) on a cushion.
Do I have to wear Aunt Maud’s ghastly pearls?
If a well-meaning relative offers you an ancient piece of jewellery for the day that you’d rather not wear, accept it graciously. With a bit of thought you can cleverly incorporate it discreetly—such as in the hem of your gown (something borrowed), in your bouquet or even on the top table decoration. Rather than sniffily dismissing something you wouldn’t have chosen, think of the joy it will bring your relative when they see it.
Can I wear diamonds on my big day?
Absolutely. Pearls are also traditional. If your gown is simple, frost yourself up—but avoid the Princess Barbie look if your dress is heavily embellished. Asymmetrical necklines don’t need complicating with a necklace.
Is it acceptable to wear contemporary jewellery?
Of course, but be mindful that those ear cuffs could date your photographs that you’ll keep (and display) forever.
What comes first—the dress or the tiara?
If you are wearing the family heirloom, bring your tiara with you when you choose your gown. On your big day let the tiara do the talking rather than earrings or a necklace.
Watch your back…
You will be facing away from your guests throughout the day so if your dress is backless, consider a back necklace. This contemporary look works with a classic style, if you choose diamonds or pearls. Think about the back of your hair as well—a vintage brooch looks fabulous twisted through an updo.
Who buys the bridesmaids’ jewellery?
Etiquette suggests the groom pays for a special something to say thank you to the best girls, and jewellery is a smart choice. Ushers should be thanked too; cufflinks might be nice.
Can I change my jewellery for the reception and for going away?
Why not—especially if you are wearing a different outfit.
The last word.
Wedding jewellery should be timeless and give you a genuine thrill—worn on anniversaries, borrowed by friends and even passed down to your own children. Jewellery is the one thing from your wedding you’ll always be able to wear and it will bring back a bouquet of blissful memories, so it’s worth some careful consideration.