Everything You Need To Know About Wedding Rings

wedding rings explained

When you’re preparing to get married, there’s a lot to think about.  

One of the things that can add to the confusion is all the rings you need.  

Where did the tradition of wedding rings come from?  

How many are there?  

Which ring goes on first?  

Why is the wedding ring on the left ring finger?

 How much do you spend on them?  

Here’s what you need to know about wedding ring basics.

Engagement ring basics.
Photo courtesy of Random Eyesight Studio and Woods Jewellers.

Engagement Ring

The engagement ring is traditionally given by the groom-to-be to the bride-to-be at the proposal.  It is usually worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.  The original legend goes that there is a vein that travels from that finger, straight to your heart.  Science has since proved that isn’t true, but it’s still pretty romantic!  

There are also many cultures that choose to wear wedding rings on the right hand instead.  There are no rules here, you can wear it wherever you feel more comfortable.  The symbolic importance is in the ring itself, that it has no beginning and no end, rather than where it is worn.

Many couples choose to pick out the ring together, but a surprise is fun too!  A growing number of men are also wearing simple engagement bands on either their right or left hand.  Not only do men now get the option of wearing an engagement ring, but you won’t have to go into debt to buy hers!  

For a long time, proper etiquette suggested that a man spend three months salary on the engagement ring.  This is no longer considered of any importance and you are free to spend as much or as little as you see fit.  You may even choose to skip the engagement rings altogether!

Wedding Ring basics.

Photo courtesy of Random Eyesight Studio and Woods Jewellers.

Wedding Bands

The wedding bands are worn by both the bride and the groom and are exchanged during the wedding ceremony.  This is really the only mandatory part of the whole rings thing.  

The bands are usually simpler than the engagement ring and often fit up against the engagement ring to create a pair.  Alternatively, you could have rings that don’t match and choose to wear one at a time or one on each hand.  Some couples choose to have their rings match each other, or you can each get your own unique look.

Wedding ring basics.
Photo courtesy of Random Eyesight Studio.

Working Together

Here’s where it gets tricky.  Which ring goes where once you have both?  

Traditionally, the wedding band is worn first on the finger, closer to the heart (awwww!).  To get it there on your wedding day you have a few different options.  

  • You can wear your engagement ring on the other hand during the ceremony, then add it on to the correct finger after the wedding band is in place.  
  • You could also choose to leave the engagement ring off for the ceremony or the whole day and put them together afterward.
  •  Lastly, you could also wear your engagement ring as usual, add your wedding band on top of it, then switch them around later.

A note about exchanging rings…when you slide your fiance’s ring on their finger, only push it as far as it slides easily.  If it bumps into their knuckle, just pause there.  After you’re done, they can wiggle it the rest of the way themselves.  Don’t try to force it!

Whatever you choose to do, remember, there are no rules!  As long as you have some sort of wedding rings to exchange during the ceremony, you can do whatever you like with the rest.  Traditions are great, but so is creating your own tradition.  So stop worrying about what’s proper and go with what works for you. 

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