If you’re soon to be engaged or married, then you may be wondering which finger to wear your engagement and wedding ring(s) on. These days tradition seems to hold a little less sway than it used to when it comes to marriage rituals- some people like to stick to the old romantic traditions, while others decide to make their own traditions based on comfort, personal preference, or a desire to forge their own path. There are also different beliefs associated with different cultures.
Let’s take a look at ring wearing traditions and options, particularly for men.
Which Finger Do Men Wear a Wedding Ring On?
The quick answer to the question is often on the left hand, but wedding rings have a long history that varies from culture to culture. The more complex answer to the question is, it depends! Traditionally wedding rings, at least in America, go on the left ring finger (the second finger from the left) for both women and men, although you will find many exceptions based on cultural and personal preferences. Some left-handers want to keep their dominant hand free of embellishments, since it’s the hand that handles a pen or a computer mouse, so these lefties often wear their rings on their right hands out of convenience. Religion may also play a part; for example, men of Eastern Orthodox faith may want to honor their religious tradition by keeping their rings on their right hand.
The tradition and symbolism of the ring finger can be traced back to ancient times. According to legend, it was believed the ring finger had a vein that connected directly to the heart, so lovers’ hearts would be connected by their rings. The early Romans called this the Vena Amoris, or vein of love. To solidify a union founded in love, a ring was placed on that specific finger to signify the romance that the newly wedded couple shared, essentially connecting their two hearts. That meant that when a man put a ring on a woman’s left ring finger, he was making a claim to her heart. There is no such vein, of course, but it’s not surprising that a romantic tradition like that has lasted for centuries. In some cultures, that finger is associated with the sun, beauty, and romantic relationships. The link between the ring finger and the sun is possibly why many people have chosen gold, which is the color of the sun as the material for their wedding bands- though today, many brides and grooms are opting for more durable and creative materials.
Historically the tradition back in the Tudor days was for a man to put a ring on a woman’s finger, because men didn’t yet wear wedding rings. Through the centuries though, many men have wanted to wear wedding rings just like women do as a symbol of enduring love and commitment. As mentioned before, wedding rings are most often worn on the fourth finger from the right on the left hand, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom, but you’re also welcome to wear your wedding ring on your right-hand ring finger. In doing so, you’d be following the example of many central and northern European couples.
How to Wear Engagement and Wedding Rings Together
The wedding band is thought to have originated about 4,800 years ago in Egypt, and it has persisted throughout history as a symbol of unending love. The engagement ring is a more recent phenomenon- in 1477 Archduke Maximilian of Austria presented his fiancee, Mary of Burgundy with a diamond ring crafted in the shape of an M. This was the first recorded use of what we think of as an engagement ring. Diamond and gemstone engagement rings waxed and waned in popularity among the aristocracy and the wealthy; meanwhile the lower and middle classes exchanged rings made of wood, stone, or simple metal to signify a betrothal.
In 1947 the marketing slogan “A Diamond is Forever” was born, and the diamond engagement ring quickly became the ubiquitous proposal gift that it is today. Ed Sheeran raised a few eyebrows when he walked the red carpet in 2018 wearing a ring on his finger. Sheeran is part of a small but growing trend of men opting to wear engagement rings to signal their status to the world. “I never saw why men didn’t wear engagement rings,” said Sheeran, “Because it’s the same commitment either way.” Just like wedding bands, some men choose to wear engagement rings with the same left vs right preferences.
During their wedding ceremony, a couple will often place a ring on each other’s wedding ring finger after saying their vows, but how do you add a wedding band if you’re already wearing an engagement ring? A popular option is to move your engagement ring to your other hand for your walk down the aisle. That way, your partner can slide your wedding band on, and you can later place your engagement ring on top of it. After the wedding day, wear your engagement and wedding rings however you like them best. Many couples wear their wedding band “closest to their heart”, meaning the wedding band is stacked below the engagement ring
There are no rules on which metal your wedding rings should be made of, whether or not they should match or what hand to wear them on. Whether you wear your engagement ring and wedding band on your right hand or left, your index finger or thumb, your ring finger is not what matters. More than just beautiful pieces of jewelry, your rings symbolize a promise of your commitment to one another. There may be traditions, but there are no rules, so everyone can express their personal preferences. If you’re interested in creating a custom ring or have questions give us a call at 303.385.8449 or click here to book your appointment!