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wedding celebration, wedding day, wedding
Find that perfect wedding dress, wedding cake, wedding favor, wedding flower, or a wedding photographer at Wedding Celebration!
Weddings are special to everyone. Make your wedding plans come true with a variety of wedding accessories and decorations available at Wedding celebration. Find wedding ring and wedding band sets, wedding flower arrangement ideas and wedding flower designers, wedding decoration themes, wedding dress and wedding gown styles, wedding cake designs, wedding songs and wedding music selections, wedding poems, wedding invitation tips, wedding favor and wedding gift ideas, and even how to choose a wedding planner and a wedding photographer. Don't forget to check out how you can have a Las Vegas wedding!

Wedding Band

A wedding band or wedding ring consists of a precious metal ring, usually worn on the base of the left ring finger – the fourth finger (counting from the thumb) of the left hand. In some parts of the world, the wedding band is worn on the right ring finger (e.g. Norway, Germany, Poland or Russia).

The wedding band symbolizes marriage: a spouse wears it to indicate a marital commitment to fidelity. The European custom of wearing the wedding band has spread widely beyond Europe.

Traditional Wedding Band Customs

Pre-nuptial wedding band customs

According to some customs, the wedding band forms the last in a series of gifts, which also may include the engagement ring, traditionally given as a betrothal present.

Other more recent traditions, and the jewelry trade, sought to expand the idea of a series of ring-gifts with the promise ring, often given when serious courting begins, and the eternity ring, which symbolizes the renewal or ongoing nature of a lasting marriage, sometimes given after the birth of a first child; and a trilogy ring, usually displaying three brilliant-cut round diamonds each, in turn, representing the past, present and future of a relationship.

A European tradition encourages the engraving of the name of one's intended spouse and the date of one's intended marriage on the inside surface of wedding bands, thus strengthening the symbolism and sentimentality of the wedding bands as they become family heirlooms.

Wedding Ceremony Customs

The best man has a traditional duty of keeping track of a marrying couple's wedding band(s) and to produce them at the symbolic moment of the giving and receiving of the wedding band(s) during the traditional marriage ceremony.

In more elaborate weddings, a ring bearer (usually a young boy that is part of the family of the bride or groom) may assist in the ceremonial parading of the wedding band(s) into the ceremony, often on a special cushion or pillow(s).

Traditionally, at least in some European countries, the wedding band is the same as the engagement ring and changes its status through engraving and the change of the hand on which to wear it. If the wedding band is different from the engagement ring, the question whether or not the engagement ring should be worn during the ceremony leaves a few options. The bride may wear it on her left ring finger and have the groom put the wedding band over it. She may also wear it on her right ring finger, although that may surprise the groom. The bride may also continue wearing the rings on different hands after the wedding – this may prevent the engagement ring from scratching and scuffing. Another option is to have the main bridesmaid keep the ring during the ceremony – there are a variety ways to keep it: in a pouch, on a plate, etc. After the ceremony, the wedding band can be placed back on either the left or the right hand.

Wedding Band Finger: Right or Left?

The choice of finger relates to traditions purportedly dating to classical times, from an early usage reportedly referring to the fourth finger of the left hand as containing the vena amoris or "vein of love". At least in part due to this tradition, it became acceptable to wear the wedding band on this finger. By wearing wedding bands on the fourth finger of their left hands, a married couple symbolically declares their eternal love for each other. This has now become a matter of tradition and etiquette.

In many Western cultures, the wedding band is worn on the left hand. In some countries such as Germany and Chile, however, it is worn on the right hand. Also in Spain it is worn right, except by Catalan people (left). Orthodox Christians, Eastern Europeans and Jews also traditionally wear the wedding band on the right hand. In The Netherlands, Catholic people wear it left, all others right. But in Austria Catholic people wear it right. Greek people, many being Orthodox Christians, also wear the wedding rings on the right hand in keeping with Greek tradition.

A traditional reason to wear the wedding band on the right hand stems from Roman custom. The Latin word for left is "sinistra", a word that evolved into the English "sinister". The Latin word for right is "dexter", a word that evolved into "dexterity". Hence, the left hand had a negative connotation and the right a good one.

Etiquette frowns severely on the making of sexual overtures to a man or woman wearing a wedding band.

Wearing Double Wedding Bands or Wedding Rings

In the United Kingdom and the United States in past generations, women wore wedding bands much more commonly than men did. Today, both partners often wear wedding bands, but where occupations or professions forbid or discourage the wearing of jewelry (as in the cases of actors, police, military pilots and electrical workers), either marriage partner may not wear a ring. In addition, people often remove wedding bands for comfort or safety. Others may object to the idea of precious metals, or dislike the idea of declaring their legal status through jewelry. Either partner may also wear a wedding band on a chain around the neck, thus conveying the socially equivalent message to wearing it on a finger.

The double-ring ceremony, or use of wedding bands/rings for both partners, is a relatively recent innovation. The origin of the practice is uncertain, but it was never widespread. The American jewelery industry started a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging this usage in the late 19th century. The practice never became widespread, although it did warrant mention in an etiquette book in 1937. Learning from marketing lessons of the 1920s, changing economic times, and the impact of World War Two, led to a more successful marketing campaign, and by the late 1940s, double-ring ceremonies made up for 80% of all weddings, as opposed to 15% before the Great Depression.

One interpretation states that the woman wears the wedding band below the engagement ring, thus making it closer to the heart. Another practice holds that the woman should wear the wedding band above the engagement ring, thus sealing the atmosphere of the engagement into the marriage. Still others prefer that the wedding band should be worn alone. Further, modern wedding band/ring sets in the United States are often marketed as a three-piece set, including the man's wedding band, the woman's engagement ring, and a slender band that is mounted to the engagement ring before the wedding, converting it into a single, permanent wedding ring.

Wedding Ring Materials

Most religious marital ceremonies accept a wedding band of any material to symbolize the taking of marriage vows, with unusual substitutions permitted in marriages under unusual circumstances. When people cannot obtain or adjust a metal ring of appropriate size, substitutions such as rubber bands may be used.

To make wedding bands or rings, jewelers most commonly use a precious yellow alloy of gold, hardened with copper, tin and bismuth. Platinum and white alloys of gold are also used, although the slightly yellow "white" gold alloys of the past have been largely replaced by a cheaper nickel-gold alloy, covered with a thin plating of rhodium which must be reapplied after some years of wear. Titanium has recently become a popular material for wedding bands, due to its durability, affordability, and gunmetal grey color. Tungsten carbide, often with gold or platinum inlays, is recently being used as well. The least expensive material in common use is nickel silver for those who prefer its appearance or cost. Marrying couples are also beginning to use stainless steel, which is more durable than platinum or gold and can accept a finer finish than titanium. Silver, copper, brass and other cheaper metals do not occur as frequently because they are cheaper materials and do not convey that sense of "permanence". Aluminum or poisonous metals are almost never used.

Many health professionals do not recommend the wearing of wedding bands made of titanium or tungsten, as they are difficult to cut off in the event of an emergency.

Wedding Ring Styles, Patterns, Fashions

A plain gold wedding band is the most popular pattern. Medical personnel commonly wear it because it can be kept very clean. Women usually wear narrow bands, while men wear broader bands.

In France and French-speaking countries, a common pattern consists of three interwoven rings. They stand for "faith, hope and love", where "love" equates to that particular type of perfect disinterested love indicated by the ancient Greek word agape. Provocatively, this pattern slides off quickly, because the rings flow over each other.

Men in Greek, Italian and Anatolian cultures sometimes receive and wear puzzle rings – sets of interlocking metal bands that one must arrange just so in order to form a single ring. Women wryly give them as a test of their man's chastity. Even when the man masters the puzzle, he still cannot remove and replace the ring quickly.

In North America, many married women wear two rings on the same finger: an engagement ring and a plain wedding band. Couples often purchase such rings as a pair of bands designed to fit together.

Engraving wedding bands is also becoming very popular in the United States.

Celtic-style wedding bands have become more popular in the U.S., Canada and other English-speaking countries with large numbers of people claiming Irish or Scottish descent. This style of wedding band will often be engraved or embossed with a Celtic knot design, which is meant to symbolize oneness and continuity. Sometimes a Claddagh design is also used to symbolize fidelity.

1. Digitus Medicinalis — the Etymology of the Name by László A. Magyar, Actes du Congr. Intern. d'Hist. de Med. XXXII., Antwerpen. 175-179., 1990, retrieved July 9, 2006.

2. Howard, Vicki. A 'Real Man's Ring': Gender and the Invention of Tradition. Journal of Social History. Summer 2003 pp837-856.

Article Source: Wedding Ring – Wikipedia

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