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Wedding ring(s)

wedding ringI was speaking to a Polish couple in a cafe recently. They both had a wedding ring on. On their right hand. We started chatting about that, and it led me to do some research:

In Austria, Chile, Colombia, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Denmark, India, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, and Venezuela the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger of the right hand.

In Brazil, Canada, Egypt, France, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, and the USA the wedding ring is generally worn on the ring finger of the left hand.

Eastern Orthodox wear it on the right hand.wedding ring

In the Netherlands, Roman Catholics wear the wedding ring on the left hand; Protestants wear it on the right hand. If they get engaged prior to getting married, they might use what will be their wedding band, but on the opposite hand. I.e. In the Netherlands the ring on the left hand can indicate an engaged Protestant or a married Roman Catholic. And an engaged Roman Catholic will appear as a married Protestant!

Blessing the wedding ring and putting it on the bride’s finger dates from the 11th century.

In medieval Europe, the Christian wedding ceremony placed the ring in sequence on the index, middle, and ring fingers of the left hand, representing the Trinity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit respectively. The ring was then left on the ring finger.

In BCP 1549 it has (my emphasis):

Then shall they agayne looce theyr handes, and the manne shall geve unto the womanne a ring, and other tokens of spousage, as golde or silver, laying the same upon the boke: And the Priest taking the ring shall deliver it unto the man: to put it upon the fowerth finger of the womans left hande. And the man taught by the priest, shall say.
With thys ring I thee wed: Thys golde and silver I thee geve: with my body I thee wurship: and withal my worldly Goodes I thee endowe. In the name of the father, and of the sonne, and of the holy goste. Amen.

Then the man leavyng the ring upon the fowerth finger of the womans lef hande, the minister shal say,
Let us pray.
ETERNAL God creator and preserver of al mankinde, gever of al spiritual grace, the author of everlasting life: Sende thy blessing upon these thy servauntes, thys manne, and this woman, whome we blesse in thy name, that as Isaac and Rebecca (after bracellets and Jewels of golde geven of thone to thother for tokens of their matrimonie) lived faithfully together; So these persons may surely perfourme and kepe the vowe and covenaunt betwixt them made, wherof this ring geven, and received, is a token and pledge. And may ever remayne in perfite love and peace together; And lyve accordyng to thy lawes; through Jesus Christe our lorde. Amen.
Then shal the prieste joyne theyr ryght handes together, and say.
Those whome god hath joyned together: let no man put a sundre.
Then shall the minister speake unto the people.
FORASMUCHE as N. and N. have consented together in holye wedlocke, and have witnessed the same here before god and this cumpany; And therto have geven and pledged theyr trouth eyther to other, and have declared the same by gevyng and receyvyng golde and sylver, and by joyning of handes: I pronounce that they bee man and wyfe together. In the name of the father, of the sonne, and of the holy gost. Amen.

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9 Responses to Wedding ring(s)

  1. Truly fascinating facts and yet I can’t help from feeling/thinking as an unwilling outsider that it is the relationship equivalent of “first world problems”.

  2. string players from countries where people typically wear wedding rings on their left hand frequently wear them on the right (or not at all).

  3. As a professional pianist I never regularly wore a wedding band ( or any other ring ) all the years I was married. I never wear any jewelry actually…not because I think the Bible is clear on this ( it’s not )

    but given the environmental and social impacts of mining gold, silver and gemstones in the developing world- no I don’t think it’s a ‘first world problem’- also not anything I need to buy into.

  4. While my wife and I are no longer together, I still wear my wedding ring as a gesture of the promise I made to God and in front of our family and friends. For the record, I was true to our vows and, while some of my friends don’t understand my decision to continue to wear the ring, it is an important part of my life and being.

  5. You gave part of the story for the US.

    I can’t say what general current practice is for same sex couples. Things could be changing, given that marriage now is available to all couples for about 30% of the US population.

    However, in the 1990s, it was the style for gay couples in the US to wear a wedding band on the right hand–not left. It was generally explained as wanting to express their commitment to their partner publically–but it wasn’t marriage.

  6. Thanks for sharing the lesser known facts about wedding rings. The details will help readers in expressing their love, affection and commitment along with religious beliefs.

  7. Thanx for sharing further details about wedding rings.

    It will help the lovers to express their love.

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