Clearly, cutting back on purchases of all kinds is an eco-friendly tactic, but what about when it comes to engagement rings and wedding rings. What’s the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring? Do you need to have both?
The engagement ring
The engagement ring is given to you when someone pops the question. In a traditional sense, once someone is given an engagement ring, they wear it from the time of the marriage proposal until the wedding. Engagement rings are almost always (if you’re going traditional) worn on the third finger of the left hand (your finger next to your pinky).
Engagement rings tend to be flashier than wedding rings, though this is not true across the board. The history behind a flashy engagement ring is dated, and goes back to when when a fella would use an extravagant ring when proposing in order to represent his personal wealth, thus hopefully ensuring that a woman’s father would approve of the marriage. There’s more to the history of engagement rings than that of course, but overall, rings are a dated ritual, although one that has stuck around in the hearts of many and become the norm in today’s society.
The wedding ring
Wedding rings are traditionally exchanged between two partners during their wedding ceremony, so both partners will usually have a wedding ring. A wedding ring goes on the same finger your engagement ring goes on, so often the two pieces coordinate and stack nicely.
In most cases the wedding ring is a more simple design than the engagement ring. It’s also traditional for the wedding ring to be worn first (in theory, closest to the heart) while the engagement ring stacks on top of it. Learn more about the history of wedding rings.
Do you have to have both an engagement and wedding ring?
No. You don’t in fact need any ring to be married and you certainly don’t need two unless you want both.
Rings exchanged do have a symbolic history, due to the circular shape, which according to some represents eternity and infinity, while the hole in a ring signifies a doorway to the future, or future lives together. Rings have also long stood for commitment – i.e. to give someone a ring means you are pledging commitment and love to them.
Of course from a social dating context, rings also show that you belong (in a way) to someone. First you’ll need to decide what a ring means to you. Do you just want one because everyone else has one? Because it’s tradition? Because it’s part of your religious beliefs? Because having a ring from the person you adore is just a nice touch?
Once you decide that you want a ring, you’ll have to decide if you want both an engagement ring and wedding ring or just one ring.
If you get one OR both rings how do you manage the wedding ceremony?
Depending on the wedding and your situation, you’ve got some options about how to manage the rings during the ceremony….
You can wear your engagement ring until the wedding, remove it day of, and place it back on during the ceremony.
You can wear your engagement ring until the wedding, remove it day of, and replace it with a wedding ring then either stack your engagement ring on top later (or not stack, if you only want the one ring).
You can wear your engagement ring during your wedding, simply stacking the wedding ring on top then if you want to follow tradition (where the wedding ring is worn closer to the heart), switch the rings around after the ceremony.
You can avoid rings until the actual wedding day and simply exchange rings for the first time during the ceremony.
As for the fellas…
Traditionally, men getting married to a female partner simply get a wedding band on their wedding day, during the ceremony. It’s uncommon for a man to have an engagement ring at all, let alone both rings, but like everything else, it’s your wedding, you can do what you like. No ring, one ring, lots of rings all around!
I’m on board with a one-ring apiece situation. One, buying fewer items is eco-friendly. Two, I’m not down with spending extra money to have more than one ring per person involved. Three, I think it’s nicer, simpler and more cohesive to have a partnership where both individuals have a single ring vs. one partner having two.
Plus, if I really had to break down what I believe, I think someone giving you a ring when they propose is sweet. They took the time to pick it out and surprise you and that’s something that should be appreciated. To get another ring on top of the first one feels like overkill to me along with not appreciating your partner’s effort the first time around.
Lastly, if you focus on one ring vs. two, I think you have a better chance of making an eco-friendly ring decision. The more complicated you make stuff, the harder decisions can be.
All the above said, getting married is a big deal – and it’s 100% your deal, so be sure to make a ring decision you’ll be happy with for years to come, no matter if that means one ring, or two, or maybe none at all.
Wedding ring image ©Zela via rgbstock