The Meaning Behind Wearing Wedding Rings On Your Right Hand
Weddings come with many norms and traditions that span across cultures and societies all over the world. No two cultures are the same. Many—if not most—customs and traditions are wildly different. That’s why “culture clash” is a real thing.
Perhaps the most prominent wedding tradition is the exchange of wedding rings between two people. Depending on where you’re from, the finger you choose to wear your ring on and the hand you wear your wedding ring on might look very different from couples in other countries.
For example, in American tradition, when a person gets engaged, they put their engagement ring on their left hand, while tradition in other countries is a right hand ring. It's common on the actual wedding day to also add the wedding band to your engagement ring finger. But, this tradition isn’t the norm for all cultures.
Wedding Ring History—Looking Back In Time
The first inklings of wedding rings came into being during the time of the Ancient Egyptians well over 3,000 years ago. Some even believe it was closer to 5,000 years ago, but either way, we can agree it was very far back in time!
According to some of the writings found by historians, couples in those days exchanged a “type” of wedding ring that was a foreshadowing of wedding rings today.
These rings were typically made from easily degradable materials like hemp, reed, rushes, and sedges. Of course, rings like this didn’t last very long, so new materials were eventually introduced that were stronger. People began to fashion rings from less degradable materials like leather, bone, and ivory.
The more costly the material the ring was made from, the more it was thought to be a sign of how much that person loved the ring's recipient. Rings during that time were also a wealth and status symbol among communities. The more expensive the material your jewelry was made from, the more money you were thought to be worth.
The Egyptians also appeared to believe rings symbolize eternal love and commitment, which is precisely what wedding bands still signify, even today. Wedding rings continued to evolve over time and history, fashioned from different materials, such as yellow gold, and designed in many styles, but one thing hasn’t changed since ancient Egypt. They are still the ultimate symbol of undying devotion, tying two people’s hearts together for eternity.
WHAT HAND DOES A WEDDING RING GO ON?
Traditionally in the United States, during the time of the ceremony, the wedding ring goes on the left hand. While the ceremony is taking place, the engagement ring is placed on the left hand. This is so that the wedding ring can go on the right hand, closest to the heart. After the ceremony is over, the engagement ring is typically placed above the wedding band and both rings are worn on the same finger, with the wedding band still closest to the heart. While some individuals choose to build their wedding band directly into their engagement ring, others choose to stack multiple rings on their right hand. However, some individuals choose to wear their wedding ring on their right hand. Some reasons that people might wear their wedding rings on the right hand versus the left hand or vice versa include:
- Cultural differences
- As a symbol of financial independence
- Because it’s a family jewel that’s been passed down through generations
- Couples in a same-sex union
- If they are left handed, it might be more comfortable to wear the wedding ring on their right hand
- It might be code for a “cheat”
What is the Symbolism of Wearing a Wedding Ring On Your Right Hand?
The symbolism of wearing a wedding ring on your right ring finger is colorful and storied. Some that believe the Romans used to wear their wedding rings on the right hand, possibly because in Roman culture, the left hand was thought of as being unreliable, untrustworthy, and even sinister by some. Meanwhile, the right hand was considered symbolic of honor and trust.
However, some also say the Romans wore their wedding rings on the fourth finger of the left hand because of what's known as the "Vein of Love." This vein was believed to run directly from the hand to the heart. Perhaps they evolved as a culture from one to the other.
Either way, it’s probably wise to take both of these stories with a grain of salt. Today, though placing the wedding band on the left hand is common, there are many countries and many reasons some couples choose to wear their wedding ring on the right hand.
Some Eastern cultures opt to wear their wedding band on the right hand, whereas in Western countries, it’s much more prevalent to see a wedding ring on the left hand. It doesn’t mean one way or the other is wrong, it simply means that different cultures have different traditions and beliefs on what a wedding ring symbolizes and how it should be worn.
To Signify Financial Independence
Many women in modern times choose to wear diamonds they have bought for themselves, even going so far as to buy their own engagement ring. This is largely because of a rise in economic status as workers and bread earners within the household. A diamond ring is indicative of this newly earned economic status.
It’s a Family Jewel
Sometimes couples wear multiple rings. This is because they have rings that might be family heirlooms that they don’t necessarily want to wear on their left hand. So they will wear the wedding ring set they have bought for each other on the left hand and wear the family heirloom on the right. Therefore they get to enjoy both!
Couples in a Same-Sex Union
Many same-sex couples will wear their wedding rings on the right hand as a symbol of monogamy within their communities.
Some Are Left-Handed
Both men and women may opt to wear their wedding rings on the right hand if their left hand is dominant. The idea is that the chance of ring damage is lower if a ring is worn on the hand that is used less frequently. It also may feel more comfortable than wearing it on your dominant hand.
It’s Code for “Cheat”
Though it may be shocking to some, infidelity is alive and well in many marriages. Instead of men or women removing their wedding band to cheat on their spouse, they move their ring to a different finger on the right hand. Wearing their wedding ring on the right hand is like some kind of unwritten code signaling that they are available for a romp between the sheets.
Is It Okay to Wear a Wedding Ring On the Right Hand?
Most definitely! There are no explicit rules when it comes to what hand you wear your wedding band on. Culture and tradition may dictate the perfect wedding ring finger for some, but ultimately it boils down to personal preference and what you are comfortable wearing. If it feels better to wear your wedding ring on your right ring finger then by all means, rock it!
What Cultures Wear Wedding Rings On The Right Hand?
There are many countries and cultures around the world that wear their wedding ring or engagement ring on the right hand instead:
Some countries, such as Syria, Brazil, Turkey, and Lebanon start off by wearing the wedding ring on the right hand, but after the wedding ceremony, the ring is moved to the left hand.
In India, because the left hand is considered “impure” the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. Unless you’re not a traditionalist. In that case, some from India opt to wear their wedding rings on the left hand like most Westernized countries.
In Sri Lanka, if you’re the groom you wear your wedding band on the right ring finger, but if you’re the bride, you wear it on your left ring finger.
Though wedding rings aren’t typically worn in Muslim cultures, if you live in Jordan, you may wear it on the right hand.
In Northern and Eastern Europe, the bride and groom in countries like Spain, Portugal, and Greece commonly wear their wedding rings on the right hand.
In Germany and the Netherlands, couples start by wearing their engagement rings on the left hand, and then when they are married, they move the wedding rings to the right hand to signify their change in social status.
In a Jewish traditional wedding ceremony, women often wear the engagement ring on the right index finger and once the couple marries, she wears the wedding band on the right ring finger.
Other countries often seen wearing a wedding ring on the right hand include:
Do Men Wear Wedding Rings on Their Right Hand?
Yes, many men wear wedding rings on the right hand. Though the left is considered traditional in the United States, a man could even end up wearing his wedding band on the right hand in the states if he is married in an Eastern Orthodox church. So wearing a men’s wedding band on the right hand, regardless of what finger you wear it on, is not just in Eastern or European cultures and countries.
Other Reasons to Wear Your Wedding Ring On Your Right Hand
Keep in mind that culture and tradition aren’t the only drivers behind why some couples choose to wear their wedding bands on the right hand. Besides people that are lefties who prefer comfort and convenience, other couples simply like to be different and make a bold statement.
There are also many widows and widowers who will move their wedding bands to their right hand after their spouse dies, as a way to honor them and keep their memory alive.
Reasons abound on why couples choose to wear a wedding ring on the right hand instead of the left. It may be a tradition; it may be culture; it may be a personal preference. One thing we know for sure is that you should never be afraid to buck the status quo and place your wedding ring on whatever hand and ring finger you like. After all, you’re the only one who will be wearing it. Check out Diamond Nexus if you need help finding your perfect ring!
*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.