No one will dispute that the engagement ring is the star of bridal jewelry. But the wedding band is a leading player in its own right, too. After all, if worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, it tells the world that the wearer is married. And that’s a big responsibility!

While searching for bands that represent your commitment, keep two things in mind: Each of you should feel comfortable wearing your respective ring and really love it.

“You’re going to wear the ring for a very long time,” says Patricia Faber, co-owner of Aaron Faber Jewelry. “It’s not something your relative says you should get or your girlfriends like. It’s something you have to feel good about.”

Here are a few other pieces of expert advice to consider as you begin your search.

Be smart from the start

Once you’ve set a budget, it’s a good idea to “pre-shop” online and in magazines before arriving at the jeweler’s. Ask yourself: Am I more attracted to simple all-metal designs or intricate patterns with diamonds or gemstones? Which looks complement my engagement ring? What metal do I wear the most on a daily basis? This last question relates to your personal jewelry style.

“Someone who exclusively wears diamond jewelry and all-white metals is not going to wear a yellow band,” says Faber. Also, let your lifestyle be a factor in your decision. Are you extremely active? If so, consider a ring made of platinum, which is very durable and can withstand a lot of wear and tear.

Take a DIY approach

As with all other areas of getting married, customizing their bands is wildly popular among engaged pairs, says Faber, from mixing metals to picking the finish. “Couples are much more personally involved than they used to be. They might be very specific: ‘I want 24k gold on the inside, platinum on the outside, polished along the edges with a matte finish.’”

Don’t feel obligated to be ‘matchy matchy’

If you love the idea of buying a set of his-and-her rings, you’ll find plenty of great choices. But just because you’re joining together in marriage doesn’t mean you’re required to wear matching rings. For most couples today, individual style wins out.

“The bride’s band doesn’t even have to be the same metal as the groom’s,” says Kara Ross, a jewelry designer who created Diamonds Unleashed, a brand with a philanthropic platform. It looks best, however, if your engagement ring’s metal matches that of your wedding band.

See the real thing up close

Wedding bands are like wedding dresses: They’re best bought in person. “People should look online to see what’s out there but not buy anything until they see the rings up close,” says Faber. “Color isn’t well represented online. Rose gold, for example, has great color variation from designer to designer.”

Coming face-to-face with the rings lets you try on as many as you want and evaluate how your engagement ring looks with different band styles.

Bring visuals

Printouts from the internet and torn-out pages from magazines of bands you like can help your jeweler better understand your taste. This can make the process a lot smoother – and get you to your dream ring quicker. Visuals of rings you don’t like will also help him steer you away from unwanted styles.

Time it right

Visit jewelers to try on bands about three months ahead of the ‘I dos.’ The standard waiting time after an order is placed is six to eight weeks; allow more time for custom orders.

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