One of the best parts of queer weddings is throwing out all the rules and traditions that don’t resonate with you as a couple. And it all starts with your rings — a symbol of your love that represents you. Traditional rings found at the usual jewelry stores might be an excellent fit for some, but not for Gemma and Jess. They didn’t see themselves represented in a conventional jewelry box.
After having a local jeweler make the custom ring they designed for Gemma, the couple went looking for a different type of ring shopping experience and found Ringed, my Portland-based jewelry studio where you can make your own wedding ring. Jess and Gemma came to me for a ring-making workshop where they could create a ring for Jess that she could identify with. And that would have her feeling connected to both the wedding planning process and Gemma.
As an LGBTQ+ ally who creates a warm, inviting space where couples can learn, design, and craft their rings together. I was thrilled to welcome them into my studio. Jess identifies as a woman, but not as a bride. And doesn’t connect with all things bridal that we see throughout the wedding industry. She felt right at home in my studio, which is a safe space free from wedding industry assumptions. The way I see it, rings have no gender or thoughts. So there is no place for assumptions about you or your ring preferences during our workshops.
While Gemma loves getting a manicure to highlight her bright, shiny, more traditional engagement ring and will stun everyone on their wedding day in a gorgeous gown, Jess doesn’t connect with those feminine practices in the same way. Jess has been looking for a ring, outfit, and overall experience throughout wedding planning that will leave her feeling herself on the day they share their “I dos.”
Enter the signet ring. Jess approached me with the idea of a signet ring, which is becoming a low-level fad within the queer community. It was the perfect ring to adorn her finger, with both a vintage and slightly European vibe. Instead of opting to add a gemstone to the large, flat face, we engraved the initial “G” on it. The recycled 14K gold we selected for the ring is gorgeous and timeless and aligned perfectly with the couple’s sustainability values.
The creation of Jess’s custom engagement ring was intentional, thoughtful, and perfect for a woman who doesn’t identify with all things bridal. And not only is that perspective reflected in the ring itself, but also in their experience creating it. This is why ring-making workshops are my favorite client projects. They are an intimate, collaborative adventure where my clients can truly be themselves and make memories that will last a lifetime. It was a genuine honor to work with them, especially because Gemma and Jess struggled to find inclusive vendors. They specifically sought out queer-friendly vendors throughout the wedding planning process and still encountered microaggressions like contracts that say “bride” and “groom.”
Gemma and Jess shared that “we quickly found that Allison [is] a fierce queer ally.” After their previous experiences, this reaffirms my work in the wedding industry. As frustrating as this is for couples, it’s also disappointing for me as a vendor who is desperately trying to change this industry. At what point did this personal, intimate experience of getting married become focused on convention, tradition, and convenience? Human connection and new and affirming experiences should be at the center of the journey to getting married.
My workshops intentionally offer couples like Jess and Gemma a chance to slow down and learn something new side-by-side all the way through to the final polish for precisely that reason; it gives an often missed opportunity for authentic connection and the creation of a unique story to share together. It all starts with this question for my clients and me. When you look down at your hand every day, what do you want to see on your finger?
Jess’s custom signet ring represents more than the bond between her and Gemma. It’s also a sentimental reminder of a fun, romantic experience they shared while planning their wedding. Together, we created something unique that left Jess feeling loved and seen. What an honor to have been part of the process.
If you’re looking to have the same inclusive, fun, undeniably one-of-a-kind experience that Jess and Gemma did.
I invite you to join me in Portland for a ring-making workshop.
Words by Allison from Ringed