It’s week 6 of our Wedding on a Budget series and we’re already past the halfway point. Time is quickly getting away from us and the big day is almost here. Last week I shared some tips for getting inexpensive clothing for your commitment ceremony. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite subjects – jewelry.

The wedding ring – to buy or not to buy, that is the question. Many couples, gay and straight, have started opting out of the ring tradition for several reasons. For many, the wedding ring symbolizes outdated definitions of marriage where the woman is viewed as the property of her husband. Others are opposed to the genocides in Africa that are a result of the diamond trade. I tend to find validity in both of these viewpoints.

Nevertheless, you and your partner may decide that wedding rings are right for you. In that case, let’s talk about the dollars and cents of picking out your rings.

For many of us, the selection of our wedding rings can feel overwhelming because it is the first time we have picked out a substantial piece of jewelry. There’s so much to learn about the different kinds of metals and stones that are available. Nobody wants to make an uniformed decision and end up spending a lot of money for something that’s not worth the price. Stephanie Pedersen, The Keep it Simple Guide to Planning a Wedding has two pieces of advice: price doesn’t always equal value, and take your time – don’t rush your decision.

In today’s economy, many couples are opting to spend less on engagement and wedding rings. The Wall Street Journal reports that the average couple spends nearly $2000 on their rings. But I’m here to tell you that you can spend less than $200 on your rings if you’re willing to do your homework.

Many straight couples have the option of using a family heirloom so they don’t have to spend money on their rings. This may or may not be an option for same sex couples depending on how supportive their families are of their union. Even if your family doesn’t support your commitment, there are other avenues for saving money on your wedding rings.

Think outside the box. Anything that is called a “wedding ring” by the vendor is going to be marked up in price. Why not do a Google search for “rings” instead? Try browsing the jewelry departments at your big box stores to find something in your budget. Kohl’s, for example, has a nice selection of jewelry and their prices are really reasonable. You can even set the search results to be sorted according to your price range. Overstock.com is another great place to shop. My partner and I decided on a pair of handcrafted rings we found on Etsy.com that we got for under $100 (for the set). But you could also look for your rings at flea markets, secondhand stores, or pawn shops (although I would think that buying someone’s pawned ring might carry some bad joo joo with it . . . that’s just me, though).

What about you? Where have you found the best deals on wedding rings? Or have you and your partner decided to forgo the tradition all together?