June 18 2020 – Mike Yarbrough
There's a good chance no one's ever told you this, but there is more than one way to wear your wedding band. If you're wondering how to wear your wedding rings, there are a few factors to weigh, and a few traditions to consider.
You may have some other questions too, such as "What happens to my engagement ring after I put on my wedding band?" Or, "What if I don't want to wear a ring on my left hand?" Don't worry, we have answers.
Wedding Ring Traditions
Our tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the fourth finger (aka the "ring finger") of the left hand dates all the way back to ancient Rome. Writings have been found which suggest that the Romans believed this particular finger contained a vein which ran directly to the human heart, called the vena amoris, or the "vein of love." It's unclear whether this was a genuine belief or something more akin to a myth or legend, but the tradition persists to this day.
It wasn't really until much later that this tradition came to be accepted as common practice in Western cultures. In 17th-century England, for example, it was fairly common to wear a wedding ring on the thumb. There have also been plenty of differing opinions when it comes to which hand a wedding ring should be worn on. To this day, it is more common in some Eastern European countries, like Denmark, Norway, Russia and Poland, to wear a wedding ring on the fourth finger of the right hand.
How to Wear Your Wedding Rings
While in many cultures wedding rings are worn on the right hand, in the United States, it's accepted almost universally that the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the left hand. However, there can still be some confusion regarding if, and how, engagement rings and wedding bands should be worn together. Both are traditionally worn on the same finger, so what do you do with them on your wedding day? Actually, you have a few options:
Left Hand, Engagement Ring on Top - With a bridal set (a matching set of engagement and wedding rings) both can be worn together on the same finger. Traditionally the rings are arranged on the left hand ring finger so that the engagement ring is on top and the wedding ring is closest to the body. This tradition stems from a desire to keep the wedding ring closest to the heart.
Left Hand, Wedding Ring on Top - Some brides choose to switch the order of the rings so that the wedding ring is on top. The reason might be to keep the more expensive engagement ring secure (especially if it's a diamond ring), because it's more comfortable this way, or simply because it looks better.
Left Hand Wedding Ring, Right Hand Engagement Ring - While it is somewhat less common, some brides choose to move their engagement ring to the ring finger on their right hand on their wedding day, and put the wedding ring in its place on the left ring finger. Some people wear both rings, one on each hand, from that day onward.
- Wedding Ring Replaces Engagement Ring - Not everyone wants to wear their engagement ring forever, and plenty of brides take theirs off on their wedding day, replace it with their wedding ring, and never wear it again. Some may also take it out to wear only on special occasions, like a birthday or anniversary.
Alternative Ways to Wear Your Rings
We've covered the traditional arrangements of how to wear your wedding rings, but there's no reason you need to follow them. These days, more and more people are breaking from traditions, choosing wedding rings made from alternative materials, and wearing them in non-traditional ways.
Some newlyweds choose to wear their engagement rings or wedding rings on a necklace instead of on a finger, partly for comfort, but also for the symbolic reason of keeping the ring close to their heart. Some may wear a ring on their finger part of the time, but take it off and keep it on a necklace when they are doing an activity that might cause the ring to be lost or damaged (i.e. rock climbing, swimming, car repairs). Others may wear a silicone or leather ring for rough activities and save their more expensive ring for special occasions.
Some couples skip rings altogether and exchange bracelets, or get matching wedding ring tattoos on their ring fingers.
At the end of the day, there's no wrong way to demonstrate your love and commitment to another person. The most important thing is to choose rings that have meaning to you, and that tell your story. To help you decide on materials and styles, take our short ring style quiz or get in touch with our live chat team!