Wedding rings are an indispensable part of a marrying ceremony that signifies commitment, dedication, love, and fidelity. However, brides usually get an engagement ring first, and sometimes a so-called promise ring.
Once you get two or three bands, you can wonder how to wear a wedding ring with other jewelry on your hand. In most cases, you will wear it on your left or right hand’s ring finger, depending on the culture you belong to. Let’s see.
History of Commitment Rings
Couples have long used rings as a symbol of their love and belonging to each other. In ancient Rome, people believed that the ring finger on the left hand was connected to the heart by Vena Amoris or love vein.
Therefore, men gave their future wives a ring with a small key to better connect with their beloved ones’ hearts. Interestingly, the women received two bands, one golden and another made of iron.
They wore these rings in public. The gold band showed their husbands’ wealth and status, while the iron one symbolized marriage’s strength and permanence.
A diamond engagement ring is generally accepted today, but Archduke Maximillian of Austria was the first who gave one to Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Very soon, it became a popular custom among the European aristocracy.
Nowadays, the engagement ring is more luxurious and expensive than a wedding band, which is generally simple and free of large gemstones. If it has a diamond, it is only a small stone in a classic, elegant setting.
In many cases, the woman wears the engagement ring on her left hand’s fourth finger until the ceremony. On that day, a groom puts a wedding band in its place, and the engagement ring comes as a second.
Wedding Ring Customs in Different Cultures
Although there is no rule on which hand you wear a wedding ring, some cultures prefer a left or right hand. Different customs are part of the tradition and the religion to which the newlyweds belong.
In China, spouses wear wedding bands on different hands, a woman on the right, and a man on the left. The common belief is that the right hand is more vital and more useful than the left one. Therefore, the right to wear the ring on the right hand belongs to a woman. It is fair since she is the one that takes care of the family and the house.
For centuries, all Christians wore wedding rings on their right hand since God blessed them with His right hand. Both Catholics and Orthodox chose their right hands for this purpose.
However, with the Protestant Church’s separation from Catholicism, King Edward VI declared that married couples must wear wedding rings on their left hand.
Nowadays, Orthodox Christians in Russia, Serbia, Greece, and Bulgaria wear wedding bands on their right hand. Most Catholics in the US and Western Europe, especially Italy and Ireland, wear them on their left hand.
Among the Jewish community members, it is customary for a man to place a ring on his right hand’s index finger during a ritual. Still, a woman wears the wedding ring on the left hand during the marriage.
Wearing the Wedding and Engagement Ring Together
Typically, a man places an engagement ring on the woman’s left ring finger when proposing to her. On the day of the wedding, she transfers it to the right hand, and the groom puts a band on the bride’s left hand after they exchange vows.
After the wedding, some brides decide to wear both rings on the left hand, close to the heart. Since it can be uncomfortable and visually shorten the fingers on a small hand, most women wear the wedding band and engagement ring on different hands.
The modern trend dictates to stack your rings together, and you can pick out a set with all two or three relevant bands that match each other.
You can also save the engagement ring for more festive occasions while wearing a wedding ring every day. That is a popular option to keep a more expensive, luxurious ring safe from scratches.
A ring on a chain is a practical solution, especially if you work manually and don’t want to put and take the rings off several times a day. Plus, there is a possibility that you are not the type who likes jewelry on your fingers.
In such a case, you can wear your rings as pendants on a chain made of the same metal as the ring. That way, the symbol of your relationship will always be with you while your hands stay free.
Word of Caution
If you decide to wear both rings on one finger, the large stone on the engagement ring can scratch the wedding band’s smooth surface.
So, it will be wise to take them off during house cleaning, primarily when using strong chemicals. Plus, most jewelers recommend removing the rings before going to bed or exercising in the gym or swimming.
Keep in mind that the fingers on the left and right hands are usually not of the same size. So, you can discover that the engagement ring is too wide or too narrow when trying to transfer it to the finger on your right hand.
Other Commitment Rings
Besides the engagement ring and wedding band, a man can give a few other commitments rings to a woman in significant moments of their relationship. It can be an anniversary, a child’s birth, or an intimate moment significant to spouses.
Some of them have lost their symbolism throughout history, while others are in high demand these days.
An excellent example of a forgotten symbol is a puzzle ring. It is still given away today because of its fascinating design, but it was not so at first. In the old days, sultans gave them to their wives in the harem.
Once placed on the finger, this ring was almost impossible to remove and return later without noticing the difference. Therefore, the sultans used them to ensure their wives’ fidelity.
This type of ring symbolizes progress and commitment in a monogamous relationship. Girls typically wear it on their left hand’s middle finger to signify a deep connection with her love.
The man presents this ring to the woman when he is not yet ready for the proposal’s final step. So, the promise ring is a kind of prelude to the engagement ring.
For example, a young man who assumes that the engagement may last for years for various reasons usually offers the promise ring.
The Claddagh ring’s design originates from Ireland and represents two hands holding a heart with a crown on the top. Often the inner side of the band has an engraving on Gaelic.
Hands symbolize a friendship that holds love (heart) with a promise of loyalty (crown). Traditionally, an Irishman proposes to a girl with the Claddagh ring. However, many Irish women wear this ring on the left hand, both as an engagement ring and a wedding band.
The man presents this ring to a woman on a day that marks a significant milestone in their relationship. It can be a child’s birth, the first anniversary of a marriage, or the renewal of a vow.
The design features the matched diamonds all around the gold or platinum ring. The popular placing is on the ring finger after the engagement ring. However, many women choose to wear it on the right hand.
Wedding Band Alternatives
Whether you and your spouse belong to unconventional couples, you don’t like jewelry, or there is some other reason, you can refuse to wear the wedding band. Luckily, there are many ways to mark the beginning of marriage without jewelry.
For instance, many modern young couples have decided to tattoo wedding rings on their left hand’s ring finger. Although this way is a bit painful, this lasting symbol is highly prevalent in recent years.
Alternatively, you can choose a tattoo of your partner’s name or the date you married instead of the ring. Choices are unlimited, and you can have whatever you want tattooed. Only remember that you will wear that tattoo on your skin for the rest of your life.
Another original idea is to plant a tree together on your special day. In the years to come, the tree grows and matures like your marriage. If you choose a fruit tree, you will enjoy fresh fruit from your tree every year.
There are also options to get matching watches, coffee cups, or pay for a trip around the world. You can also frame your marriage vows and hang them instead of a picture on the wall. The final decision is up to you.
The wedding ring represents the commitment of two people as a couple. It shows the way they love and respect each other and the decision to build a life together. Whether you wear one or more rings and which hand or finger you choose are less crucial. It should be a matter of your decision and preferences. Go for it!