How to propose without a ring: Engagement ring alternatives for guys and masculine folks

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I'm not engaged, but very much in love with my sweet geek and amazing boyfriend and I'm thinking about popping the question. I would like to give him something like an engagement ring but not really. I feel so confused… how do I propose without a ring, and what should I propose with??

What would you suggest as cool alternatives for an engagement ring for a guy?


If you're thinking of proposing to your masculine partner of any gender, we think there are two things to keep in mind when thinking of what object you should give your partner:

  1. Whatever you choose should have specific relevance to your relationship
  2. You want it to be something long-lasting like a ring would be

I'm reminded of an Offbeat Bride reader who proposed to her boyfriend with a spoon! Franki explained:

We were talking about engagements one night and I said, ‘Who decided on rings, anyway? Rings are completely arbitrary and I don't really want one. An engagment spoon — now that would be original.' A month or so later… I bought a spoon and proposed to him. Most people think it's neat, some people don't get it at all. The important part is that we both like it and he was totally over the moon when I asked — just as much as I was over the moon when he said yes.

But, if you don't happen to have convenient inside jokes that revolve around engagement traditions, I've compiled a super fun list of things you could use to propose to your boy or otherwise masculine partner:

A necklace

Okay, so maybe your partner isn't into an engagement ring, but would they wear a necklace?

I like how this men's leather necklace has rings on it… sorta like wedding rings!


This guitar pick guitar pick fingerprint necklace could be the perfect option for the musicians… and you could customize it with your fingerprint for extra sweetness.


This customized capsule necklace comes with personalized stamping, and you can slip a love note inside. We'd suggest investing in a more durable chain, though.

A handkerchief

Remember the “bromance notes” Ariel featured in her gifts for groomsmen post? Well you could use them as their original purpose… to convey words of love!

What would you write on this custom embroidered handkerchief?

A fancy watch

Watches are sort of like rings in that you can find them in any price range. Here are a few we like…

This skull & crossbones watch has diamond accents


This Personalized Wooden Watch has a custom message on the inside of the leather band!
Here's another custom engraved watch option… this one comes with a gorgeous box, perfect for proposing with!

Engraved lock

This custom engraved lock & key set is a nice reference to someone having the key to your heart

Customized Leatherman

Leatherman, maker of those all-in-one tools, make some truly stunning personalized and custom options… perfect for proposing to your handy sweety.

Customized Leatherman available here

An engraved lighter

We know one Offbeat Bride reader proposed to her guy with an engraved “engagement lighter.”

We like the looks of this engraved zippo lighter

An engraved axe

Are you proposing to a viking? We gotchoo…

Aww, what viking wouldn't love to be proposed to with this custom engraved axe with leather sheath

Pocket watch

A pocket like this custom engraved one with a meaningful quote makes for a great engagement ring alternative


Other ideas…

Anyone else have any ideas? Leave 'em in the comments!

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Comments on How to propose without a ring: Engagement ring alternatives for guys and masculine folks

  1. What about a drawing of a Tattoo that you both go get together immediately after, maybe with the date, or place it happened?

  2. Tools or around the house items that can be engraved. For instance, if you and your man plan to build a house together one day (or he just likes tools), why not have the handle of a hammer engraved? If he likes to cook, maybe a mixer (so he can fix you breakfast in bed!)?

      • Easy peasy for the film geek. Order his favorite movie, or one of them, on a reel and have the reel engraved. This site: is just one of a few that you can order something like that from. You could also pay a movie theater in your area to play a proposal during the previews. The price will depend on the theater. You could find a theater that shows classic matinees – they tend to be less expensive and more willing. Something less decadent could include hosting your own movie night at your home – classic popcorn boxes, some milk duds, and print your own movie tickets. You could propose when the credits roll or on the tickets themselves. Good luck!

      • You could have a movie poster printed up with the request… Perhaps a spoof poster for this favourite movie? Or you could sneak it into an actual movie poster?

      • For a computer geek, depending on their needs/tastes, and budget, a special mousepad, a custom keyboard, or even a tower painted/engraved with something significant? Perhaps an engraved floppy disk or motherboard would work, as well, if you’d prefer something decorative versus something functional.

        • For the programmers or coders out there how cool would it be to have a pop up window proposal. It could be even more memorable if it emulated a blue screen melt down/warning message etc so he’d freak out and think he was being hacked or something 🙂

  3. Guitar! My (now) husband is a musician but would never buy himself a Martin (a very, very nice brand). I gave him a Martin when I sort of did/didn’t propose. It’s a long story but the point is, the guitar was perfect! It’s something he’ll use and cherish for the rest of his life just like my ring!

    • I gave my fiance a guitar, too. He proposed to me with a ring, but we went out and got his guitar as an engagement present for him. I mean, he spent a ton of money and time on the ring for me, I had to give him something he’d like just as much. He loves it and plays it every day – it was so worth it and he’ll treasure it just the same.

      • I felt the same. women get the ring and the dudes get nothing its not fair. I however got my fiance an xbox360 as he is into games rather than playing music. I like your idea though 😀

      • My fiancée did the same. I bought her a ring and she bought me a Maton guitar. I don’t wear jewellery, however the guitar is a beautiful piece of artwork that I display on my wall and play every day. I love it!

  4. I love, love, love the idea of an engagement watch. I gave my (now) fiance a fancy watch when we were dating in high school, and he still wears it to this day. A good watch is on par with the timelessness of an engagement ring.
    Plus, I love the idea of being able to give him a diamond. I’ve always thought that it was sort of weird and unfair that women are traditionally given a pricey diamond engagement ring and then receive a wedding band… why can’t men get two pieces of nuptial bling, too?

    Anyway, some additional ideas:
    – An engraved worry stone (gemstone or rock meant to be carried in the pocket so you can hold it or rub it with your thumb when you’re upset or worried–sort of an “I’m always with you” note, eh?)
    – Wallet or money clip
    – A moleskine (aaah! Or moleskine-alternative) journal or first-edition book
    – A tree! A garden! A rubber house plant!

    • My mom tells me it used to be traditional in Italian families to give the groom-to-be an engagement gift, usually including a diamond.

      I got my guy an awesome watch for Christmas–then he proposed on Christmas day, and I wished I’d got something else so the watch could be the engagement present. He tells me he calls it his engagement watch, though, which makes me smile.

      • That’s what mi amor and I call the watch I gave him as a Christmas gift/proposal from me. I ended up buying myself a complementary style watch a year later (gotta love Fossil!).

  5. I proposed with a piece of art I commissioned of my City of Heroes character proposing to his (and a ring, but the picture was the big thing!).

  6. We’re experience people. I gave him a trip to Bonaroo Music Festival (which he’d been dying to attend for years) and an inexpensive silver ring. It was perfect for for him.

  7. all this being said, when i was in the process of trying to figure out how to propose, i looked up ‘engagement ring for men’ and found several nice guys’ rings that would work well for a ring-wearer, i should think. they were on the pricey side though so I’m glad i decided to sleep on it and just pop the question without buying it first, bc it turns out he wanted to get me a ring and didn’t want one of his own.

    • That. Is. Awesome! I’m totally getting one of these for myself & my best friend (Mr. Spouse doesn’t wear necklaces – boo); thanks for the link!

  8. My husband loves software, so just before our wedding, I got him a copy of Windows 7. He was totally thrilled! (Said something about I knew exactly what would turn him on…) It also made for a nice break from wedding stress. Anyway, you could put a note in a new computer game or something…

  9. I think this could go for way more than just guys. My lovely butch girlfriend would love some of these.

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