Correct Way to Wear Engagement Ring and Wedding Band

engagement ringNowadays Brides and Grooms are wearing their engagement rings and wedding bands according to how they feel comfortable, rather than following the traditional method. Some wear the engagement ring first, and wedding band on top following the order that the rings were given, you get engaged, then you get married. Some don't wear an engagement ring at all with the wedding band, or indeed, some choose not to wear a wedding ring at all. 

However, there is a traditional way to wear the rings and a customary finger on which to wear them.

Wedding Ring Finger Tradition

This tradition started back with the ancient Greeks.  It was believed that the second finger on the left hand (next to the little finger) was the location of the ‘vena amoris’ a vein which connected directly to the heart known as a ‘vein of love’.  Therefore a wedding ring worn on this ‘ring finger’ was a perfect symbol of a couples love and commitment to each other and considered to be a ‘sign of true love’.

How Other Cultures Wear Their Wedding Rings

I3 wedding ringsn the Netherlands, Protestants follow the tradition of wearing their engagement ring on the left hand and their wedding ring on their right, whereas Roman Catholics in the Netherlands do the opposite.  In Germany they too wear their engagement finger on their left hand and wedding band on their right.  In some European countries the ring is worn on the left hand prior to marriage then moved to the right hand after the ceremony.  During a traditional Jewish wedding the groom places the ring on the bride’s index finger and not the ring finger, however in today’s society this is usually moved to the ring finger after the ceremony. 

This tradition dates back to Ancient Israel where it was believed that the index finger was closest to the heart, whereas Christians believed that it was the ring finger that was closest.  In Indian tradition the left hand is considered inauspicious and so the ring is worn on the right hand.  In some parts of India, Hindu women may wear a toe ring or ‘bichiya’ instead of a ring on their finger and in eastern parts of India, primarily West Bengal, an iron bangle or ‘Ioha’ is worn by the women instead of a ring. 

Nowadays many of these traditions are carried out in honour of the ceremony but with increasing merging of cultures and practices, couples are choosing to copy the ‘western’ tradition of wearing the rings on the left hand.

Engagement Rings

wedding ringThe buying and wearing of engagement rings is very popular these days.  During the Victorian era diamonds were considered to represent ‘perfect love’, then in the 1930’s a company called De Beers set out to establish social status for large diamonds, followed by, in 1947 with a hugely successful advertising campaign with the slogan ‘diamonds are forever’ and from that point onwards diamonds have been considered the stone of choice for an engagement ring, and of course, the bigger the better!

Engagement rings are considered to symbolise not only a commitment to marriage but they also represent a monetary value, part of the bride’s dowry.  The engagement ring was a way that the groom showed his future in-laws that he was committed and capable of saving and providing a future home for his bride.  The ring was also viewed as an investment, a family piece to be passed down to future generations, or, if the couple fell on hard times, something to pawn to help them out of their situation.

How to Wear Engagement Rings and Weddings Bands together

Tradition says that the wedding ring should be worn first and that it should never be taken off!  Some people still believe the superstition that if the wedding ring is taken off something bad will happen to the wearer, their spouse or their marriage!  Thus, the ‘correct’ way to wear the rings together is the wedding band first and then the engagement ring worn on top of it.  Some believe that wearing the engagement ring on top of the wedding band also ‘protects’ it and keeps it stable and grounded together with their marriage.

During a Wedding Ceremony

handsTo follow the ‘wedding band on bottom and engagement ring on top’ rule, brides tend to put their engagement ring on their right finger during their wedding ceremony, leaving their left ring finger free to accept the wedding ring.  Then, once the ceremony is over and the rings and vows have been exchanged the new bride will place her engagement ring on top of her new wedding band. 

Wearing the rings this way also backs up the superstition of never taking the wedding ring off, as engagement rings with their precious stones and delicacy sometimes need to be taken off for cleaning or when the wearer is undertaking sports or tasks that may cause damage.  All of which can be done safely without affecting the wedding band!

How you choose to wear you rings is a purely personal choice.  Some prefer the traditional way of wearing rings on the left hand whereas some choose the right.  Others are worn with the engagement ring on top while others choose to wear the engagement ring under the wedding band.  Either way, the wearing of the rings is assumed to represent the couples love and commitment to each other, it is a sign of their love and bonding and if they choose to wear their rings through their noses then so be it, it is what they want! 

There is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to wear the rings; couples should do whatever makes them feel happy as well as representing their personal meanings for each other!