How to Wear a Wedding Ring - Your Options Explained
If you’re about to get engaged, or recently got engaged, it’s time to start thinking about wedding rings—that is, the band you exchange during your ceremony as an enduring symbol of your commitment and marital status from that moment forward. You may be wondering if there is a “right” way to wear the wedding band—what finger does it go on? Should the wedding ring be worn on the right hand or left hand? Does the wedding band get worn in front of or behind the engagement ring?
The answers are rooted in history. Exchanging wedding rings is an age-old tradition, dating back to ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Throughout the centuries, couples have worn wedding bands to symbolize their eternal love. The endless circle of a wedding ring was seen as a symbol of commitment and the promise of forever while the hole in the center was considered a gateway leading to the known and unknown. In ancient times, it was also believed there was a vein on the fourth finger of the left hand that connected directly to the heart. It was called the "vena amoris" which is Latin for vein of love, making it the ideal platform for a wedding band.
Today, there are no hard-and-fast rules on how wedding bands are worn, whether on their own or together with your engagement ring. Just know that some may not be aware you’re “taken” unless they see a wedding ring on your ring finger (the fourth finger) of the left hand. That’s the traditional spot for it, worn behind the engagement ring (the conventional thought is that the wedding band should be the ring you wear closest to your heart).
When you and your partner are shopping for an engagement ring, take some time to also look at bands so that you can see how the two rings fit together stylistically and structurally. Often there is a matching band option for the engagement ring style you’re considering so take the opportunity to try the two on together. A general guideline: make sure the band looks as good alone as it does when it’s accompanied with your diamond engagement ring. There will be scenarios when you just want to wear the band and leave the fancy diamond engagement ring at home (like when you’re traveling).
A question many couples ponder: Do the bride’s and groom’s wedding bands have to be a matching set? The answer: Nope. Modern couples can select wedding bands separately based on their individual styles. But his-and-hers matching set abound at jewelry stores so if you like that option, go for it. For the person wearing both a wedding band and an engagement ring on the same finger, comfort should really the primary deciding factor (plus the two rings should complement each other in terms of aesthetics).
What Hand and Finger Do You Wear a Wedding Ring On?
There’s no right or wrong way to wear a wedding ring and the ring finger of either the left or right hand is appropriate, though the left hand is more common. When deciding on the approach you will take, it will likely come down to comfort, cultural traditions, and personal preference. Throughout North American societies, the wedding ring sits on the is the fourth finger of the left hand. But in some European, Asian, and Latin American nations, wedding rings are customarily worn on the fourth finger of the right hand, instead of the left. In Sri Lanka, the bride wears the wedding ring on her left hand, while the groom wears it on his right.
And if you’re left-handed? Plenty of southpaws wear their rings on the right hand to avoid possible damage since their dominant hand is the one that sees the most action.
Wedding Band + Engagement Ring Ceremony Logistics
Let’s back up a second: What’s the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding band? An engagement ring with a center gem is given at the time of the marriage proposal, while couples exchange wedding bands during the marriage ceremony. Traditionally, brides wear the wedding band first (closest to their heart) followed by the engagement ring. How does this play out during a wedding ceremony if you’re already wearing your engagement ring? The bride can have a trusted bridal attendant hold the engagement ring for the bride to then slip on during the reception, so that the ceremony is all about the wedding ring exchange and there’s no awkward fiddling.
There are lots of reason why you might opt to wear a wedding band on its own, sans engagement ring.
If your engagement ring is an absolute stunner and/or rather large, you may want to wear it solo, without any distractions, making the opposite hand the logical home for the wedding band.
Those with short fingers may not like wearing more than one ring on the same finger, so in this case, you might wear the engagement ring on the ring finger of the left hand and the wedding band on the right hand’s ring finger.
And some brides opt to skip the diamond engagement ring altogether and just wear a wedding band. They are often motivated by practicality (two rings can feel like a lot to manage) and sometimes by frugality (shelling out for one ring vs. two tends to be an attractive proposition to those who are on a budget). Others may prefer to wear their wedding band the majority of the time and add the engagement ring only on special occasions.
Clearly there are many different ways to wear a wedding band and it’s up to you to land on the approach that feels right for you. Whatever you decide, be sure to get your wedding band and engagement ring insured by a reputable insurance company like Jewelers Mutual. Obtaining personal jewelry insurance through Jewelers Mutual is an affordable option that covers loss, damage and mysterious disappearances. You can receive a jewelry insurance quote in just 30 seconds by clicking the button below. No personal information is required.