Knowing the proper etiquette when it comes to wedding rings will definitely come in handy when you are planning your engagement or wedding ceremony. Many traditions concerning wedding rings have been altered due to the changing roles of men and women, but it's important to be aware of some guidelines before starting the ring shopping process.
Traditionally, the man purchases the engagement ring for his bride-to-be. However, couples that are already splitting other major expenses (i.e. household bills, car payments) may choose to budget for the ring using their joint income. Most men don't wear engagement rings, but it is acceptable for a man to wear a ring to signify his engagement. However, when men choose to wear engagement rings, they may have to explain the ring to friends and family members who will assume the wedding has already taken place.
Wedding Ring Purchases
The groom is also responsible for purchasing the wedding band for his bride; in many cases, the wedding band and engagement ring can be purchased as a set. The bride should purchase her husband's wedding band, and should choose a ring that matches her ring set. Many grooms choose to surprise their brides by purchasing a ring that fits the bride's style and preferences, after the couple has looked at a few rings together. Women can choose to do this as well, and may choose not to show the groom his ring until wedding rings are exchanged at the ceremony.
Heirloom Wedding Rings
Some men choose to present their fiancees with a ring that has been in the family for decades. This is perfectly acceptable, and is a symbol of family tradition, as well as an indication of the groom's feelings of love for and faithfulness to his bride-to-be. Before an heirloom ring is presented, the man must make sure that all the members of his family agree with the decision. Arrangements also must be made for the ring to be returned to the family if the bride and groom divorce.
Wearing Engagement and Wedding Rings
After a woman is married, she will usually wear both her wedding and engagement ring on the fourth finger of her left hand. The wedding band should be worn on the bottom of the fourth finger, as this is closest to the heart. Before the wedding ceremony, many women switch their engagement rings to their right hands so that the band can easily be placed on the left; after the band has been given, the engagement ring is placed on top of the wedding band.
Diamond Wedding Rings
Traditionally, rings given as a symbol of engagement or marriage contained a solitary diamond stone, or a band accented with diamonds; diamonds were considered the most precious or valuable stone, which is a symbol of the importance of marriage. In modern times, women and men choose gems or precious stones that are meaningful or to their liking. In order to combine tradition with present-day creativity, a wedding ring can feature a diamond as the main stone, with smaller stones such as rubies or emeralds surrounding the diamond.
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