The exchange of wedding rings is an act of love and commitment that carries immense meaning. It's a tradition that has changed and adapted in many ways over thousands of years, but it's as significant now as it was for our ancestors, many generations past.
The wedding ring exchange, and the lifelong commitment of wearing rings to signify your devotion to one another, can also have special meaning to you and your spouse. Still, it's natural to have questions about the wedding ceremony, the wedding ring exchange, the exchange of vows, and the etiquette of wearing wedding rings.
The Wedding Ring Exchange: Who Goes First?
Traditionally, the groom goes first in the exchange of rings. Although most couples choose to follow tradition, there's no rule that says you can't switch things up. If one of you is more comfortable than the other in front of an audience, then you might want that person to go first, so the other will be less nervous.
Difference Between Wedding Vows and Wedding Ring Exchange
Here's an area where a lot of couples end up scratching their heads—the wedding vows and the ring exchange. What's the difference? Which comes first? It can be a little tricky to figure out the difference, especially if you don't have a lot of wedding experience. Here's how it usually works:
- The wedding vows are exchanged first. The vows are the promises of love and devotion you and your partner make to each other, surrounded by friends, family and loved ones.
- The exchange of wedding rings comes after you've each said your vows. The ring exchange is typically accompanied by a brief set of words that you and your soon to be spouse have chosen, and which you will recite to one another as you exchange rings.
Choosing Your Words for the Wedding Ring Exchange
Wedding ring exchange wording is another area where you have a lot of leeway. Some couples choose to include the ring exchange with the wedding vows, killing two birds with one stone. Most couples, however, prefer sticking with the tradition of repeating a few short words to solidify the act of exchanging rings.
There are a lot of options for ring exchange wording. You can write your own phrases, or use one of many traditional ring exchange phrases. Common examples include:
- “With this ring, I vow to love and honor you from this moment forward.”
- “I give you this ring as a symbol of my everlasting love.”
- “This ring is a token of my love for you, today and forever.”
- "I give you this ring in God's name, as a symbol of all we have promised and all we shall share."
- “I offer you this ring as a symbol of our unbreakable bond."
- "With this ring, I pledge my undying love and faithfulness to you."
After the Wedding Ring Exchange
Once you've exchanged vows and exchanged wedding rings, the final part of the wedding ceremony is the pronouncement. This is where the priest, minister, justice of the peace (or whomever you've chosen as an officiant) will pronounce you as the newly married couple, usually with the well-known phrase, "I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
If it’s a religious ceremony, such as a Catholic wedding, for example, it may end with something along the lines of, “In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I now pronounce you husband and wife."
Wearing Your Wedding Rings
The significance of your ring as a symbol of love and commitment does not end after your wedding day. Quite the contrary. It's a commitment that most couples choose to carry on throughout their lives by always wearing their rings. Of course, some couples choose not to wear rings for their own personal reasons. There are also, occasionally, situations in which you should take yours off.
It's best not to wear your ring when you're taking part in an activity that might damage it (i.e. lifting weights, handling chemicals, swimming in salt water) or in situations where your ring could become a safety hazard, such as working with machinery. Still, even as more couples are choosing to exchange vows and rings in non-traditional ways, the tradition of wearing a wedding ring as a symbol of lifelong devotion is as strong as ever.
The exchange of wedding rings and vows is likely to be one of the most significant moments of your life, and a memory that you and your spouse will cherish forever. Try our quick ring style quiz to discover which ring type is best for you and your spouse, and message our live chat team about creating the perfect wedding rings for your special day.