Wedding rings and engagement rings are such a common sight, but have you ever stopped to wonder how these bands worn on the fingers became a symbol of love and a lifelong commitment?
According to The Knot's Engagement Study, more than 90% of couples exchange one ring during their life, 7% exchange two rings, and only 4% of the population doesn't believe in exchanging wedding rings or engagement rings. This ritual and the commitment it symbolizes is so well embedded, it's hard to ignore.
If you are currently engaged and wondering about the etiquette for weddings rings, let's start from the beginning. In this article we will take a look at how this tradition has evolved over the years and what you should know before purchasing the perfect ring for yourself and your partner.
How did it all begin?
It's believed that the ritual of exchanging wedding rings began in Ancient Egypt, where people would give rings made of braided reeds. The circular design was inspired by the Egyptians' strong belief that life is a continuous cycle and symbolizes the perpetual love between two people.
Over the years, Egyptians and Romans started to exchange rings made of leather, bone, or ivory. The Byzantine Empire was among the first to engrave the couples' names on the inside.
In the 15th century, these engravings soon led to the rise of "Poesy rings" which became popular during the Renaissance. Wedding rings became more personalized and couples would inscribe their vows, names, or short verses to declare their never-ending love.
In the 17th century, wedding rings took on highly intricate and personalized designs with interlocking bands, such as the famous "Gimmel rings." These were two different interlocking bands that came together as one when worn. These bands were worn by the groom and the bride separately, and later, these were joined together to place on the bride's hand to signify the holy union.
When it comes to choosing a wedding ring today, the world is truly your oyster. From classic platinum bands to intricate vintage wedding rings and delicately encrusted diamond eternity rings, there are styles to suit every taste and budget (more on this below).
What you need to know about wedding ring etiquette
Today, couples are generally much more relaxed about their wedding and don't always feel the need to strictly adhere to traditions. Here are some common customs which you may wish to incorporate into your wedding if they feel right for you.
Purchasing the rings together
For most couples, the act of purchasing the rings together is an important ritual. This way, you both have the opportunity to share your feelings about everything from the budget to the styles you prefer. Making joint decisions is an important part of any healthy relationship, so this is a great place to start!
Asking a friend or family member to take care of the rings
Couples usually ask someone in the wedding party like the maid of honour, best man, or a close family member to hold on to the rings on the big day. In Hollywood films, this is usually the cause of much calamity! Asking someone responsible who you trust should ensure you avoid any mishaps. The officiant can also hold on to the rings before the vows and keep them safe.
Have a ring bearer
When it comes time for couples to walk down the aisle and say their vows, many choose to have a ring bearer. This can be a younger family member who carries the rings on a special cushion, much to the "oohs" and "aahhs" of guests. For couples with "furkids", it's becoming more popular for dogs to act as ring bearers, with the cushion attached to their collar or harness. You can't deny the cute factor of this one!
Move your engagement ring
On your wedding day, before you have exchanged vows with your soulmate, it's customary to wear your engagement ring on the third finger of your right hand. Once you say the two magical words, "I Do", your engagement ring can be placed back on the third finger of your left hand, on top of your wedding band.
Wear your wedding ring on your fourth finger
Have you ever wondered which finger does a wedding ring go on? While you can wear a ring on any finger, in most western countries, the wedding ring and engagement ring are traditionally worn on the fourth finger or ring finger of the left hand.
Ancient Egyptians believed that this wedding ring finger contains the "Vena Amoris", or vein of love, that connects directly to the heart. These rings were worn to symbolize the never-ending cycle of love and a promise of "forever" between two people. It was believed that wearing a wedding ring on this finger would strengthen the relationship between the partners, and their union would last forever.
In some countries, including Greece, Latvia, Germany and Norway, the wedding ring is traditionally worn on the fourth finger of the right hand. In other countries, including Lebanon, Turkey and Syria, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand and moved to the left hand on the wedding day.
Don't forget to insure your rings
Your homeowner's insurance or renter's insurance may not cover jewellery of this kind, so it's worth getting your rings insured before the big day arrives. You will be extremely busy on your wedding day, so it is wise to get the rings insured so you have peace of mind.
Tips for choosing the perfect wedding rings
With so many unique and beautiful options, choosing a wedding ring can feel overwhelming. To help you make the right choice, we have put together this Wedding Ring Guide.
Find Your Ring Size
Before beginning your search for your rings, you should know your ring size. If you're not sure, you can find your ring size with this guide, or order a ring sizer from our website to be delivered to your home.
Make it personal
Once you know your ring size, it's time to think about which styles appeal to you most. Are you a hopeless romantic or a more practical person? Do you love vintage styles or would something minimal be more suitable for your active lifestyle? Your personal taste and lifestyle will affect everything from the style of ring you choose to the type of metal you should opt for.
Choose the right metal for you
The most popular metals used for wedding rings are platinum and gold, including white, yellow and rose gold. Each metal has its own unique look and properties, so if you're unsure which is the best option for you, take a look at our Metal Education Guide.
Platinum is an incredibly popular choice for wedding bands for men because of its strength and durability, while warmer metals like yellow gold and rose gold can offer a more romantic feel for women's wedding rings.
Consider couples' ring sets
His and hers wedding rings are becoming increasingly popular, and for obvious reasons. A couples' ring set includes an engagement ring, and wedding rings for the bride and groom. These offer a consistent and unified feel, removing the risk of a clashing aesthetic. It's also one less decision for the couple to make in the lead up to their wedding day!
A final word on wedding rings
Wedding ring customs have been around for centuries, but today, they are not hard and fast rules, they are just a guide of the way things are usually done. Your wedding should be as unique as your relationship, so you may choose to adopt some of these traditions, or ignore them and do your own thing. There's no right or wrong, just do what makes you both happy!