Engagement ring and wedding band conventions can be confusing for the uninitiated.
When it comes to the “right way” to wear your wedding ring, there are many options, and it’s essential to keep in mind what fits best with your style! To guide new fiancés, we’ve pulled together some popular traditions on when and how to wear wedding rings and engagement rings.
Let’s break it down… first, we need to know the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring. Despite the terms being used interchangeably, each ring signifies something completely different. An engagement ring is given at the time of the proposal, and a wedding ring is usually assigned when the couple gets married. There are also differences between the two that include design, placement, and price-point. Traditionally, an engagement ring has a “centre stone” and is more expensive than a wedding ring, which usually consists of many smaller diamonds all the way around or a plain band.
Table of Contents
- 1 Engagement Ring Vs. Wedding Ring
- 2 How to Wear Wedding Ring Set During and After the Ceremony
- 3 The ring finger of the left hand: a tradition that continues until today
- 4 Historical changes in wedding rings
- 5 Left or right hand? Europe and the world are divided.
- 6 How To Wear Rings During And After The Wedding Ceremony
- 7 Can Men Wear Engagement Rings?
- 8 What About Anniversary Rings?
- 9 Reasons Why it’s Important to Wear your Wedding Ring?
Engagement Ring Vs. Wedding Ring
Despite the terms being used somewhat interchangeably, each ring signifies different milestones. A few differences exist between an engagement ring and a wedding ring, including design, placement, and price-point, but the main difference between the two is when each ring is given. An engagement ring is typically given at the time of a proposal, and a wedding ring is commonly given when a couple exchanges marriage vows. Couples will frequently buy matching wedding ring sets to have similar ring styles to signify their union. However, it’s becoming more and more common for teams to purchase wedding bands that reflect their styles without worrying about coordinating with their spouse.
How to Wear Wedding Ring Set During and After the Ceremony
Traditionally, couples wear the wedding ring “closest to their heart”. This means the wedding band is stacked below the engagement ring on the left ring finger. Many future brides will move their engagement ring to their right hand before the ceremony so that the wedding band can be slipped onto the left hand by itself. Brides can then move the engagement ring on top of the wedding band after the ceremony. Some women choose to get their engagement and wedding rings soldered together after the wedding to make their bridal set one piece. This helps to keep track of it and make it one unified piece so that you can add other anniversary bands while still keeping your bridal set separate.
Sometimes, when women work at a job where they regularly use their hands, they wear only a wedding band for everyday wear. This means they bring their engagement ring out for special occasions. This is also common when travelling or in other situations where people may be afraid of losing or damaging their expensive engagement ring. Ultimately, how you choose to wear your rings is up to you.
Men & Engagement Rings
Can men wear engagement rings? Of course! Although it’s not traditionally how a couple gets engaged, the practice isn’t completely unheard of. Ed Sheeran, for example, wore a silver band on his left ring finger when he got engaged. Other male celebrities, including Michael Buble, Skylar Astin, and others, also decided to wear engagement rings to symbolise their commitment and decision to get married.
Diamond or gemstone eternity bands (where the stones go all the way around the band) are popular gifts to mark milestone anniversaries such as 5,10,15, 20+ years. Anniversary rings are incredibly versatile, and we always encourage couples to get creative in mixing metals or styles with their wedding and engagement rings for a unique look that reflects their style!
Coloured gemstone accents are growing extremely popular for anniversary rings (often based on a person’s birthstone, children’s birthstones, or maybe even a favourite colour!). Unfortunately, there are no “set rules” about what finger a person should wear their anniversary ring(s). Stacking anniversary rings with your wedding and engagement ring is an ever-popular choice, and some women choose to swamp their wedding band for their anniversary ring if they’re not a fan of the overly-stacked look.
When it comes down to it, your wedding jewellery symbolises your commitment to and endless love for your partner, and how you decide to wear it is entirely up to you! There is no “right or wrong” way. If you’re interested in learning more about weddings, engagement, or anniversary rings… a member of our team would be happy to help you out! Write us an email, and we’d love to hear your thoughts and assist you in any way we can.
The ring finger of the left hand: a tradition that continues until today
In Western countries, the left ring finger is where a wedding ring is most commonly worn. This custom has its roots as far back as the ancient Egyptians. They believed in the so-called “vein of love”, which was supposed to lead directly to the heart from the fourth finger of the left hand.
The placement but also the shape of the “ring of love” was symbolic. A circle that has neither an end nor a beginning which represented the infinity of love. The open space that the ring encircles then symbolises the gateway into the new and unknown relationship.
Historical changes in wedding rings
This tradition continued in antiquity, but wedding rings still looked different in those days today. They were made of everyday materials, such as leather or wood. Only gradually did metals begin to be used, and initially, that mainly was iron. The Romans were probably the first culture that used wedding rings to confirm the union of marriage.
Over the centuries, there were changes in the meaning, method of gifting, appearance, and placement of the wedding ring itself. At one particular time, it was even worn on the thumb. Its design is also varied. A design of two joined hands was trendy and widespread. Engravings also became popular, first on the outside of the ring and later also on the inside. The engagement and wedding rings were not always two separate jewellery pieces, and sometimes their meaning blended into one ring.
What is also interesting is that until the 20th century, wedding rings were worn only by women. So a man also wearing a wedding ring might be seen in the context of some gender equality statement of that time. But there has also been some discussion of World War I being a milestone – when married soldiers began wearing wedding rings to remind them of their wives.
Left or right hand? Europe and the world are divided.
And now we come to the heart of our topic, namely which hand the wedding ring is worn on. The answer is not accessible if we take into account the whole world. Even in Europe, there are multiple possibilities. Here is at least a brief overview:
The Czech Republic belongs to those countries where the wedding ring is worn on the left hand’s ring finger. This is the case in most Western Europe, in parts of Eastern Europe and many non-European countries. To name just a few of these, they are Great Britain and Ireland, USA, Australia, Botswana, Canada, Egypt, New Zealand, South Africa, France, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, Finland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Romania, and the Spanish autonomous regions of Catalonia and Valencia.
On the other hand, wedding rings are worn on the ring finger of the right hand in Bulgaria, Greece, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia, Russia, Serbia, Ukraine, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Hungary, Poland, The Netherlands, Norway, most of Spain, and also in Colombia, Peru, Venezuela and Cuba.
In Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Romania, and Brazil, the ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand until the wedding day, and afterwards, it is moved to the ring finger of the left hand.
During a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony, a woman receives the ring on the index finger of her right hand. Still, these days she usually moves it to the ring finger of her left hand after the ceremony.
In most Muslim countries, exchanging wedding rings is not part of the wedding ceremony except for Iran or Jordan. Instead, the tradition is for men and women to wear engagement rings, men wearing them on their right hand and women on their left. This is also similar to India.
How To Wear Rings During And After The Wedding Ceremony
Conventionally, couples wear the wedding band “closest to their heart”, which is stacked below the engagement ring on the left ring finger. Many brides-to-be will switch their engagement ring to their right hand before walking down the aisle so that the wedding band can be slipped onto the left hand first. Brides will then move their engagement ring on top of the wedding band during or after the ceremony. After the ceremony, some people choose to get their engagement and wedding rings soldered together to make their bridal set one unified piece.
For practical reasons, such as a job where you regularly work with your hands, women may choose to wear a simple wedding band every day and only wear their engagement ring for special occasions. This is also common when travelling or in other situations where a person might be afraid of losing or damaging a diamond ring. Ultimately, however, you wear your rings is up to you!
Can Men Wear Engagement Rings?
Of course! Although men don’t traditionally receive engagement rings in western cultures, the practice is not unheard of. Ed Sheeran, for example, wore a silver band on his left ring finger while engaged to his now-wife, Cherry Seaborn. When asked about it, he said, “I never saw why men didn’t wear engagement rings. It’s the same commitment either way.”
Other celebrities, including Skylar Astin, Michael Bublé, and professional wrestler David Otunga have also sported engagement rings to show their decision to marry.
What About Anniversary Rings?
Diamond eternity bands or other rings are popular gifts to mark milestone anniversaries such as 5, 10, 15, and 20 years. Anniversary rings are very versatile, and couples should feel free to try mixing metals or styles with their wedding and engagement rings for a unique look!
Coloured gemstone accents are popular in anniversary rings as well, often based on a person’s birthstone, the birthstones of your children, or simply a favourite colour. There are no set rules about which finger to wear anniversary rings on. Stacking anniversary rings with your wedding and engagement ring is a popular choice, and some people will swap their wedding band for their anniversary ring if it’s a good match with their engagement ring.
Reasons Why it’s Important to Wear your Wedding Ring?
For many generations now, wearing your wedding ring is a familiar ritual practised by almost all societies worldwide. However, if you look through the pages of history, you will find that this concept of wearing the wedding ring has not evolved in recent times. Instead, it has been prevailing for many years.
Wedding rings are a symbol of commitment to your significant other. Wedding rings have been tokens of responsibility for centuries, dating back to the middle ages. The groom would present the bride and her family with an expensive ring to prove his commitment to the marriage and never step back from this relationship. The ring signifies that you are in a committed relationship and having the ring on you at all times shows that you are open about this and that you are willing to show it off. Seeing the ring on your finger daily can also serve as a reminder to your partner about how much they mean to you and that it is them out of everyone else that you chose to spend the rest of your life with.
Wearing a wedding ring can also prove to be a symbol of attachment, love and affection. Although in some cases or societies around the world, marriage is not always believed to be the product of love but in any case, wearing your wedding ring goes to show that you are attached to the person you are married to and that they hold significant value/meaning in your life. Furthermore, the ring can almost act as memory itself as it can make you reminisce about all of the good times you have shared with your spouse in the past, in times when you miss them the most. Along with representing holy matrimony, the ring also has attached fond memories that you and your better half have shared over your time together.
Your wedding ring can also act as a trigger for you to think about the decisions you choose to make, keeping your partner in mind. With your wedding ring on your finger, there comes an added responsibility: to keep your partners respect in mind. You must understand that you are no longer single and that your actions can also affect you and your loved one. Therefore you must think twice before making certain decisions and ask yourself: “Am I respectful to my partner by taking this decision?” Respect is crucial not only in marriage but in any relationship. Keeping your partner in mind at all times will ensure that your relationship/marriage is a stable one and also a quiet way of expressing the importance of your partner in your life.
A key reason why you should wear your wedding ring at all times is to avoid or block out any unwanted attention. Infidelity is one of the biggest reasons behind marriages ending in divorce, and it is something that many married couples are in doubt of even though they may not admit to it. Having your wedding ring on can prevent such unwanted consequences from occurring. In addition, it sends a message to anyone you may interact with daily that you are in a committed relationship. It is also said that the most common cause of infidelity is often emotional disconnection from your partner or feeling unappreciated or unloved. These feelings cannot be avoided entirely as every married couple faces its ups and downs. Yet, as discussed above, you can still do your part by wearing your wedding ring every day in honour of your partner and to prove that you are and permanently will be attached, committed, and respectful to your partner.
The fifth reason to always wear your wedding ring is that it sets the right example for your children and gives them the impression that their parents’ marriage is secure. As time goes by and your children get to ages where they begin to understand the concept of marriage and healthy relationships, seeing you wearing your wedding ring every day will teach them the ring’s significance. They will learn why both their mother and father choose to wear their rings to this day. In other words, your future children will be more likely to have a healthy perspective on marriage by learning from the example set by you and your significant other.
In conclusion, your wedding ring defines and highlights the love, commitment, and respect you have for your partner while also acting as a shield from any negative/unwanted entities. Your marriage has nothing to do with the perfect diamond ring or gold or any other metal at the end of the day. What matters most is the love between two spouses, not the ring that you gift.
Rings are a lovely way to symbolise your union and the love you have for your partner, mainly because the circular shape has a connotation of “endless love” and “infinity”.
That said, you don’t have to wear a wedding ring or engagement ring.
You might want to wear an engagement ring only and give the wedding band a miss. Alternatively, you could select another piece of jewellery to stand in the place of a ring, like a necklace or a bracelet.
The traditions and options surrounding how to wear your engagement ring and wedding ring are exciting. However, in an increasingly accepting society, there’s only one rule: wear your jewellery in the way that feels right for you!