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Does the Wedding Band Go on First? Unveiling the History and Tradition

Given how wedding traditions change and evolve over the course of time, it can be confusing for some couples to decide which ring goes on the finger first once they’re married. Does the engagement ring go on first, or does the wedding band go on first? Do you wear the wedding rings on the same finger, or wear one ring on each hand? Does the wedding band have to match and does the wedding band come with the engagement ring?

These are all great questions and the short answer is that there’s honestly no wrong way or right way to any of those questions, only traditions and non-traditions, and which camp you happen to fall into. Beyond which comes first, some also wonder whether the rings should be worn on the left ring finger or the right ring finger.

Plus, there is so much information available today it’s mind-boggling, with much of that information competing with itself or contradicting itself. This makes decision-making challenging, to say the least! Talk about information overload and analysis paralysis. It’s no wonder couples find themselves baffled.

Of course, if and when you add any additional rings into the mix later down the road, such as infinity rings, the decision-making process can become even hairier. Some couples like to give infinity or eternity rings to mark marital milestones, like the date of their 10th anniversary or the birthdate of their first child. Confused yet? We are too. Keep reading as we try to shed a little more light on what goes first; classic wedding band or engagement ring?

Matching wedding ring set.

History and Ancient Traditions

To answer “Where does the wedding band go?”, let’s start with a trip back in time. You might be surprised to learn that even the ancients had questions and opinions on where and how a wedding ring was worn. It’s thought that the ancient Egyptians wore their rings based on a belief in the vena amoris. Vena amoris is a Latin word that means vein of love.

According to tradition, the Egyptians believed that this vena amoris traveled directly from the ring finger of the left hand straight into the heart. One can almost hear Bon Jovi belting out “shot to the heart” when visualizing this so-called “love vein.” This is one of the biggest reasons wedding rings are still worn on the ring finger of the left hand today.

Even though this tradition is not based on any actual science, it’s nevertheless a tradition that has held up through the ages. Of course, times are a bit different now. Today, you don’t just have a wedding ring, but an engagement ring or a wedding ring set as well. But if the ancient Egyptian lore is anything to go by, they would be firmly in the team Wedding Ring First.

East-west solitaire engagement ring set. If you’re curious about the symbolism surrounding this vena amoris tradition, it’s intriguing. Basically, the Egyptians thought that wearing a wedding ring so close to the heart, it was a true expression of devotion and commitment. The closer the ring was to the heart, the stronger the bond of love.

We’re not convinced placing a wedding ring a few millimeters closer to the heart is any more binding than the opposite placement, but if you’re a sucker for old, romantic traditions like the people of Ancient Egypt… give it a shot. It certainly doesn’t hurt, and you might find you actually like giving a nod to the gods of tradition and ceremony.

If you happen to be one of those women who also prefers to wear the engagement ring on the ring finger of your left hand, carry on. You can always move it to the right hand while you’re exchanging nuptials with your happily-ever-after guy, and then move it back to the top of your left ring finger once your wedding band has been placed in its rightful home. Others may prefer to wear the engagement ring on right hand during their engagement and move it to the left hand after the wedding.

Modern Perspectives

Of course, old traditions aren’t the only way to decide whether a wedding band goes on top or bottom. Those of you who like to blaze new trails and embrace more modern traditions might choose to place your engagement ring first, before the wedding band.

Although this is mostly just because it makes perfect sense to wear your engagement and wedding rings in the order they are received, there’s actually quite a bit of symbolism also attached to wearing your rings this way.

An engagement ring is always given before marriage and before the wedding ceremony as a way to declare the promises you want to make to each other. It’s like a mile marker for all of your future intentions. Think of it like the precursor to a great love story.

The wedding band, of course, comes after the marriage ceremony. Try to think of your wedding band or who buys the man’s wedding band sort of like an endcap or a bookend to your great love story. It can be symbolic of the fulfillment of the promises you and your lover have made to each other and signify your intention and commitment to keep said promises, in sickness and in health, ’til death do you part. So, if the modern engagement and wedding ring tradition is one you like, go ahead and place the wedding band over the engagement ring.

Simulated diamond engagement rings.

Rules for Wearing Wedding Bands

Of course, there are always those who prefer to ignore the norms of society and tradition altogether. Some rebel brides might choose to wear their wedding ring on one hand and their engagement ring on the other hand. Typically, it will be the wedding ring on your left and the engagement ring on your right ring finger, but it truly depends on the bride and your own personal preferences.

One of the reasons a bride might do this is because stacking your jewelry on one finger is uncomfortable. Multiple rings on one finger can sometimes pinch the skin between them or feel awkward and clunky. Another reason is maybe the rings are not a set and they don’t match. In that case, it’s preferable to wear them on separate hands, that way the mismatch isn’t quite as obvious.

Still, other brides just really like to show off their wedding ring and engagement ring separately, so that neither ring detracts from the brilliance of the other. After all, both rings are likely to be a pretty big investment, and showing them off is one of the thrills that come along with getting engaged and married.

Since engagement and wedding rings are such an investment, many women are cautious about when and how they wear them. They also want to ensure they are taking proper care of them. A cautious woman might choose to only wear her wedding ring on special occasions and stick with wearing her engagement ring the rest of the time. Another way to limit how often your wedding ring is worn is to alternate the weeks you wear it. So, you might wear your wedding ring one week and then wear your engagement ring the next week.

Accented wedding rings.

Beyond Wedding Band and engagement ring

Your wedding band and engagement ring aren’t the only rings you’ll eventually have to worry about finding a home on your fingers for. Many women get infinity or eternity rings during their marriage, to mark major milestone events. For instance, when a couple reaches a milestone anniversary date, like the 10th, 20th, or 50th anniversary. But what is an eternity ring? Eternity rings can hold many meanings. An eternity anniversary ring is a great way to honor and celebrate the milestones of a marriage.

Some couples even get eternity rings to memorialize having their first child, or to mark something like the day they first met. Whatever the reason, it’s an extra ring on the finger, which means you have to make a decision about how and where you want to wear it.

Fortunately, stackable rings are becoming quite popular and are always an option, as are using ring jackets to help keep multiple rings in place without causing discomfort. A wedding ring set has also become popular with receiving more than one wedding ring and creating a stack. But, whether the wedding band is on top or bottom is entirely up to you though, even if it’s a stackable set. Some women decide to break a set up completely and wear each ring on different fingers.

Matching accented wedding ring set.
Still, other women wear eternity or infinity rings on the right hand and keep their wedding and engagement rings on the left or wear all three rings on the left hand and just place the eternity ring on the middle finger. Because there are so many different ways to wear wedding bands and wedding sets, it really boils down to personal preferences and whether you’re a stickler for tradition or more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of gal who enjoys making up her own traditions.

The Big Choice

So, where does the wedding ring go: before or after the engagement ring? There is no wrong answer when deciding what goes first at the ceremony, wedding band or engagement ring. You can go the traditional route handed down by the ancient Egyptians or do something completely left-field and embrace the freedom of the modern era. Marriage is an exciting journey and there’s no need to stress over what finger you wear your wedding ring on, or which piece of jewelry goes first. Whether you want to put your wedding band on first or last, we won’t judge! Search for the perfect ring or bridal set on Diamond Nexus and enjoy the journey.

*Here at Diamond Nexus, we strive to provide valuable information while being clear and honest about our products. The Nexus Diamond™ alternative is a patented lab created diamond simulate that, among all simulants, most closely imitates the look, weight and wear of a diamond, with two exceptions – it is absolutely perfect in every way, and it costs significantly less. Price points and environmental facts expressed in this blog were taken from popular online retailers and may vary. Learn more about the environmental impact of mining by visiting our blog.

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