A Complete Guide To Wedding Rings: Traditions & More
There are so many things to consider when it comes to planning your wedding: from the destination to the guest list to the cake to the bride’s dress. With so many things to arrange, it can be easy to overlook some of the finer details, including the wedding rings. Many couples can end up leaving this task until the last minute in favour of organising the more “urgent” aspects of the wedding day itself, or things that need to be booked far in advance such as the venue and entertainment.
A lot of couples also underestimate the thought and effort required to find their perfect set of wedding rings; after all, if he can find the perfect engagement ring and enact the perfect proposal, shouldn’t the wedding ring be a piece of cake? But this often isn’t the case. For one thing, you’ll likely be searching for two perfect rings in this instance, not just one!
In this guide we intend to answer the most frequently asked questions surrounding wedding rings, as well as address wedding ring traditions that have stayed with us for centuries. Not to mention, we also plan on giving you some expert advice on how to choose the perfect wedding ring for both the bride and the groom. Whether you opt for a custom wedding ring mix or a classic matching set for him and her, we’re here to help you refine each and every detail!
Select from our wedding ring FAQ’s below to quickly jump to the answer for that question.
While traditions surrounding marriage may vary throughout the world, wedding ring traditions remain a constant: it is a symbol of unconditional and unending love, commitment and faithfulness. It acts as an agreement between bride and groom to love and care for one another for the rest of their days together.
The circular shape of the wedding ring is a very tangible symbol of this: with no beginning and no end, it represents the idea that the love between a married couple is eternal.
The significance of the wedding ring is highlighted during the ceremony, as couples will traditionally say their vows as they exchange rings. Following this meaningful exchange, there is no question of your unwavering commitment to one another.
After the wedding has taken place, wedding ring traditions prove that the significance of the wedding ring continues to flourish. A husband or wife who continues to wear their wedding band long after the wedding may do so as a symbol of their ongoing commitment, and also to show affection to their partner.
The first wedding ring tradition is when to purchase your rings for the big day. As we mentioned earlier, the task of buying your wedding rings does not come with a set deadline like many other aspects of wedding planning. However, this doesn’t mean it should be left to the wayside until the last minute! You will still need to allow plenty of time to refine all of the details, from finding a style that suits you to getting the size just right.
Even after finding your ideal ring and getting it sized to perfection, you should still allow extra time in case any minor adjustments are necessary. You don’t want to receive your rings the day before the wedding and find that a name has been misspelt on the engraving of a custom wedding ring… and you certainly don’t want to risk arriving at the altar on the day and finding that the ring simply won’t go on!
Wedding rings can be chosen at any point along your wedding planning timeline, and getting it done sooner rather than later will give you more space to deal with the more stressful details further down the line. It also means that you can spend more time browsing possible styles in order to find the one that is just right for you! After all, this is a ring that you will be wearing for the rest of your life: you want to make sure that it is perfect.
In general, we would recommend that you start looking for wedding bands at least 3-4 months in advance, and allow extra time if you’re interested in bespoke and engraved wedding rings. No matter what, you should plan to have them ready and in hand a month before the wedding day!
For centuries, the wedding band has been worn on the third finger from the thumb; often referred to as the “ring finger”, it is also the finger that the engagement ring usually goes on. Although it varies across countries and cultures, most people (including in the UK) wear the ring on their left hand.
This tradition stems from Roman times, during which many believed that there was a vein running directly between this finger and the heart. Despite the fact that this has since been proven untrue, many people still enjoy the romanticism of the idea and continue to wear the wedding ring on this finger.
As we’ve said, wedding ring traditions state that they’re most commonly worn on the third finger from the thumb on the left hand. But how do you wear it alongside your engagement ring? Should you stack it with your engagement ring? And what about if you have an eternity ring as well?
Although it really comes down to personal style and preference, the most traditional method of wearing your wedding ring goes as follows:
During the wedding, the bride temporarily moves her engagement ring to her right hand, leaving room on her left hand for the wedding band to be placed during the ceremony. Afterwards, the bride slides her engagement ring on top of her wedding ring, almost as if to “seal” it in place.
The symbolism of this is actually very important: wearing your wedding ring first means that it is closest to your heart. It also links back to an old British superstition which suggests a wedding ring should never be removed, and therefore needs to be “sealed” in place.
And if there’s an eternity ring thrown into the mix? Tradition dictates that all rings should be worn on the same finger (i.e. the ring finger), with the wedding ring going on first, then the engagement ring and finally the eternity ring. It’s quite a beautiful way of showing the progressing levels of commitment throughout your relationship!
However, how you wear your wedding ring is really up to you. If your engagement ring and wedding bands don’t match, or if they are differing shapes that don’t sit comfortably together, you may choose to wear the wedding ring on the left hand and engagement ring on the right.
It’s a non-traditional choice, but more and more couples are opting to add gemstones – especially diamonds – to their wedding rings.
Diamond wedding rings are popular for two key reasons, the first being that they match beautifully with diamond engagement rings (if the bride chooses to wear the two together). Secondly, the diamond is often seen as a powerful symbol of everlasting love due to its unparalleled durability.
However, going for a diamond wedding ring may not be suited to everyone, in particular people with jobs that won’t allow any kind of flashy jewellery. Furthermore, a lot of grooms may prefer a simple plain band, so make sure to consider this if you’re keen to get matching wedding rings!
And that brings us nicely onto our next question…
Steering away from the ladies, it’s time to talk about wedding ring traditions for the gents. In the past, it was very rare for men to wear wedding bands. It links back to a more outdated symbolism of the wedding ring when it was worn by the bride to signify ownership by her husband.
All of this changed during World War II when many soldiers started wearing wedding bands to remind them of their wives when they left to serve. This trend endured beyond the war, and nowadays men’s wedding rings are much more commonplace.
However, there are still many men who prefer not to wear a wedding band. Prince William is a very famous example in the UK, whose simple reasoning was that he just wasn’t a fan of wearing jewellery at all.
Plenty of men choose to go ring-free for this exact reason, although some will compromise with a plain wedding band as a sign of affection to their partner. After all, a wedding ring doesn’t need to be worn 24/7; it can be removed for certain situations, or perhaps even be worn just for the wedding ceremony.
There’s also an abundance of men’s wedding bands to choose from, with tungsten proving to be a favourite choice of material for many. This grey-coloured metal can be set with other metals and even wood, allowing for interesting bespoke wedding ring designs for the fashion-forward man.
Our best advice? Discuss your expectations as a couple, and do so far in advance of the wedding. Even if your perspectives differ, it’s important to understand each other’s viewpoints and communicate openly. It’s all about compromise!
If both bride and groom are keen to wear wedding rings, you may then wonder about getting a matching set.
Wedding ring traditions suggest that wedding bands should match, as it’s a signal that the two of you have become one unit. It can also show that you have similar tastes, indicating compatibility.
However, it’s possible that you won’t be able to find a ring that suits both of you. If your hands differ greatly in skin tone, size and personal style, it’s likely that you will be drawn to very different styles of rings. In this case, there’s nothing wrong with opting for non-matching wedding rings.
After all, you will be wearing your wedding bands for the rest of your lives – you want to make sure you both have a ring that you love and find comfortable to wear!
If it still feels very important to both of you to match to some extent, you may instead consider complementary rings. For example, choose two bands of differing styles but identical metals, or matching designs but different colours.
Alternatively, take two completely different designs but engrave the inner bands with matching inscriptions. The bride may opt for a rose gold eternity ring encrusted with diamonds, while the groom goes for an understated platinum band, but your engraved wedding rings will still share an incredibly meaningful matching feature.
At the end of the day, it’s important that both bride and groom find their dream wedding rings – whether that’s a matching set, complementary pair or two completely individual custom designs. Above all your wedding bands remain a symbol of your love and commitment to one another!
Now that you’re feeling a bit more clued up on all there is to know about wedding ring traditions, you may have a better idea of what you’re looking for.
Whether you enjoy the idea of creating your very own custom wedding ring set with sparkling diamonds or prefer a classic matching set of gold bands for him and her, we at Joshua James are here to help you make your dream come true.
You can explore our wide range of classic, shaped and diamond wedding rings and various guides below!
For an overview of the different metals used in jewellery, including the best metals for wedding rings.
For advice on how to find your ring size at home, featuring our handy ring size chart.
For those interested in diamond wedding rings, this covers the key things you’ll need to consider.
What do you think of these wedding ring traditions? Do you prefer the classic style of a plain yellow gold wedding band set, or does a bespoke diamond wedding ring pique your interest? Do you think all men should wear wedding rings? And do you have any other questions about wedding rings that you’d like us to answer? Let us know in the comments below & check out the rest of our blog for more wedding content!