Tips + Planning

The Significance of The Wedding Ring: Customs and Traditions

your wedding rings

Weddings are major events for the couple and their families.

It is no coincidence, therefore, that a lot of planning goes into ensuring they turn out to be what those involved have envisioned, from the destination to the outfit to the guest list to the cake. With so many things to think about, it is possible to overlook some essential details like wedding rings. Many couples have fallen into the trap of leaving this task till the last minute to attend to the more “urgent” needs.

This piece sheds light on the significance of the wedding ring, including the customs and traditions attached to this “sacred” item.

wedding rings

Origin of the wedding ring

Ancient Egyptians exchanged rings made from braided reeds and hemp as their first wedding rings. They usually placed such rings on the fourth finger of the left hand and believed there was a “vein of love” that ran from the finger directly to the heart. The Ancient Greeks and Romans also wore rings and the earliest types were made from bone, leather, or ivory.

wedding engagement ring

What do wedding rings symbolize?

There are different wedding traditions throughout the world, but one tradition that remains constant is the wedding ring tradition. The wedding ring symbolizes unconditional and unending love, commitment, and faithfulness. Furthermore, the circular shape of the typical wedding ring is very symbolic in that it represents the idea that the love between a married couple has no end. The significance of the wedding ring is seen during the ceremony as couples typically say their vows as they exchange rings. After the meaningful exchange, there is an expectation that the couple’s commitment to each other is unwavering.
A husband and wife who choose to wear their rings typically do so as a pointer to their unending commitment to each other and a show of affection.

buying the wedding rings

Customs and traditions attached to the wedding ring

For centuries the wedding ring has been typically worn on the fourth finger from the thumb, popularly known as the “ring finger.” It is also the finger that the engagement ring goes on. And even though there are variations across diverse traditions and cultures, most people wear their wedding rings on the left hand. This tradition originates from Ancient Egypt and Rome, where it was believed that there was a vein running directly between the “ring finger” and the heart. Of course, medical science has shown that this is not true. However, many still hold on to the romanticism of the idea and continue to wear their rings on this finger.

wedding bands

The timing of the purchase

Usually, the task of buying the wedding ring does not come with a deadline like other details, but it is vital to get it early enough so you have plenty of time to refine the details and go for one that suits your preference. Even after finding your ideal ring and getting the perfect size, it is wise to allow some extra time in case some minor adjustments need to be made (for instance, engravings as in the case of custom wedding rings).

Traditionally, it is advisable to start looking for wedding rings at least 3-4 months before the wedding, as this allows extra time in case you are a fan of bespoke and engraved rings. You should have your rings ready and in hand a month before your wedding.

wedding ring with a diamond

How wedding rings should be worn

Indeed, wedding rings are typically worn on the third finger from the left thumb, but how should they be worn alongside engagement rings? Usually, this is based on style and personal preference, but there is a customary way this is done. During the wedding, the bride momentarily moves her engagement ring to the right so that the wedding ring can be placed on her left hand. Afterward, the bride slides her engagement ring on top of the wedding ring as if to “seal” it. The symbolism behind this is based on the idea that wearing your wedding ring first shows that it is closest to your heart.

Also, it goes back to a British superstition that suggests that a wedding ring should never be removed but "sealed" in place. Furthermore, if there is an eternity ring in the mix, traditionally, it is expected that the wedding ring goes first, followed by the engagement ring, then the eternity ring. Again, this is all based on preference and what is most comfortable for you.

Undoubtedly, the wedding ring is a vital concept in the marriage tradition and comes with significance. Its significance has existed from time immemorial and will most certainly remain for centuries to come.