Amongst scouting venues, making guest lists and deciding upon a dinner menu comes another important element of the wedding equation, choosing your wedding bands. And while you might know exactly which ring you want, it’s not uncommon for couples to be stumped when it comes to deciding who should foot the bill. Who buys the wedding bands, the bride or the groom?
The History Behind the Wedding Ring
The tradition of exchanging rings can be traced back around 3,000 years to cultures around the world in places like Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. During Medieval times wedding rings were set with precious gems thought to represent passion, strength and endurance. Wedding bands grew more complicated around the 1600s when rings consisting of two, or sometimes three, interlocking bands grew in popularity.
It is believed that people began wearing diamond jewelry around 300 BCE. The first recorded diamond wedding ring belonged to an English widow hailing from the late 1300s or early 1400s. The stone was immediately recognized as a symbol of romance. This is illustrated in a poem written about the 1475 wedding of two Italians that stated, “Two wills, two hearts, two passions are bonded in one marriage by a diamond.”
By the 12th century, marriage was declared a holy sacrament that was to be held through a church ceremony. Rings became a symbol of marriage and it’s believed that the use of a wedding band in addition to an engagement ring became commonplace during this time.
According to the Gemological Institute of America, men’s wedding bands are a recent phenomena. “Up until the past century, wedding rings were mostly worn by women, although the Christain church promoted exchanging wedding rings as a way of keeping men faithful. Dual rings only caught on during World War II when American and European soldiers wore wedding rings as a way to remember their wives and sweethearts back home. The tradition continued through the Korean War. After this, wedding rings for men caught on among civilians as well.”
Wedding Ring Traditions
The stone that we all picture today, diamonds didn’t reach mainstream popularity in engagement ring designs until the 1940s. The newfound diamond craze can be credited to an elaborate marketing campaign launched by De Beers, the diamond giant of the time. The company partnered with Hollywood actresses to make diamonds a symbol of glamour and romance. Artists like Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali worked with Da Beers to illustrate posters that stated that diamonds were a work of art. In 1947, the slogan “a diamond is forever” was born. And finally, in 1953, Marilyn Monroe sang the famous words, “diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
Today, engagement rings and wedding bands continue to symbolize love, commitment and devotion. Rings and weddings go together like peanut butter and jelly. Not just in the western world, but around the globe.
Why Is the Wedding Ring Worn on the Left Hand?
Referred to as the “ring finger”, many western cultures sport engagement rings and wedding bands on the fourth finger on the left hand. A tradition with sentimental roots as it originated from the belief that the ring finger has a vein that runs directly to the heart.
However, you don’t have to wear your ring on your left hand and not everyone does. Jeweler Stephanie Selle explained it like this in a 2020 article for brides.com, “Historically, wedding rings have been documented to be worn on every finger, even the thumb. Today, wedding rings are most commonly worn on the fourth finger of the left hand. But some countries including India, Germany, Spain, Norway and Russia traditionally wear their wedding rings on their right hand.”
In What Order do My Rings Go?
Many people decide to wear their engagement ring and wedding ring on the same finger. If you plan to go this route you might be wondering about stacking etiquette. Again, while not required, it’s tradition for married couples to wear their wedding band closest to their heart. This means that the wedding band goes at the bottom of the stack, beneath the engagement ring.
To begin this tradition on your wedding day, swap your engagement ring to your right hand just before walking down the aisle. Your spouse can then place your wedding band on your left ring finger and top it off with the engagement ring during the ceremony.
Can I Wear My Rings On Different Hands?
If you prefer the look of a solo piece versus a glittery stack, you can opt to wear your engagement ring and wedding ring on different hands. In this scenario, the engagement ring is most commonly worn on the right ring finger.
Who Buys the Wedding Bands?
Deciding who buys the engagement ring is usually pretty easy, but who should buy the wedding bands? Some couples choose to abide by tradition, while others apply a more modern approach. Whatever you decide, it’s important that you have open communication with your significant other to establish which option is the best for you. Consider your finances, look at your spending history as a couple and consider your future together. Do you have big honeymoon plans? Are you in the process of buying a home? All of these things can impact your wedding budget.
Who Buys the Groom’s Wedding Ring?
According to theknot.com, it’s tradition for the bride, or the bride’s parents, to purchase the groom’s wedding band.
While this tradition still reigns quite true, some tweaks can be made to lessen the financial burden. Believe it or not, men’s rings can be costly as they contain a lot of metal. To avoid overspending, some couples choose to go halfsies on their wedding ring purchases and go in together using the same pot of money. While the price of a men’s band versus a women’s band isn’t exactly equal, especially if there are accent stones involved, allowing both parties to chip in is a great way to even out the cost.
Who Buys the Bride’s Wedding Ring?
The groom, and/or the groom’s family, are traditionally responsible for buying the bride’s wedding band. Long story short, each person traditionally pays for the other person’s ring.
What About LGBTQ Couples?
It’s safe to say that the modern wedding band buying “rule” applies to LGBTQ couples too. Each person will buy the other’s ring.
Shopping for Wedding Bands
Now that you’ve determined who will pay for the bands it’s time to start shopping. Here are a few tips to consider to make finding the right ring just a little easier.
When to Purchase Your Wedding Band
Between venues and guest lists, wedding planning can get hectic. Luckily, many wedding bands can be made much quicker than an engagement ring so don’t worry if you find yourself pushing your purchase off until the last minute. Of course, there are some exceptions, if you dream of a customized band it’s safer to purchase the ring as far ahead of time as possible. Planning in advance also leaves time for common issues like resizing or engraving flaws to be addressed.
As a general rule of thumb, aim to buy your rings three to four months prior to the big day.
Popular Metal Types and Materials
Crafted using precious metals, wedding rings impress in romantic rose gold, classic yellow gold and eye-catching white gold. Or, if you’re looking for something more durable try a ring made from platinum or palladium, two of the strongest metals available. As for men’s bands, tungsten is a popular and stylish choice that pairs well with any ensemble.
To make your ring even more sentimental consider engraving. Engravings are typically placed inside of the shank and reveal a message that only the wearer can see. Leave your sweetheart with a memento that reminds them of your special day like your wedding date, initials or a short inside joke or phrase.
But remember, any type of personalization is likely to extend your delivery timeline. Deciding if you want engraving should be done as soon as possible.
Band Sizing and Style
Another important factor is band size and style. Certain styles are difficult or impossible to resize. For example, eternity bands are difficult to resize. Knowing this, you should be 100% certain of your ring size before making any purchases.
Where to Buy Your Wedding Band
Deciding where to purchase your wedding ring comes down to personal preference. Local and big-box jewelers are sure to have a nice selection of traditional bands to choose from. However, for the greatest variety and largest range of wedding bands try your luck online. There are several reliable online retailers with gorgeous designs and quick shipping options to get you the ring that you love in time for the big day.