Expanding on the tradition of rings

I find myself reminding people that the ceremony is the heart and soul of any wedding, and I hope I am helping couples find ways to make their wedding not only a fun celebration, but also a reflection of their love and commitment. Sharing unusual or special ideas for weddings is a way to point in that direction. So today – something about rings!

The exchange of rings has a long history probably going all the way back to the ancient Egyptians and Romans who believed the vein of the fourth finger led directly to the heart. They placed a band on that finger (now known as the ‘ring finger’) as a sign of ownership.  Women were captured and ‘ringed.’  These rings were made of twisted or braided papyrus. Christians introduced wedding rings more as we know them around the year 860.

A time honored and meaningful ritual. (photo: Garth Woods)

Here’s an interesting tidbit: In early American colonial days the Puritans gave a thimble because they distained any forms of adornment. Some brides did create makeshift rings from their thimbles.

Today customs and traditions that vary within cultures and religions, but the exchange of rings is universal. Wedding rings capture the full range of the ceremonial, symbolic, religious or societal aspects of marriage. Today I share a sweet little ritual known as ‘warming the rings.’ In many traditions rings are blessed by a priest or spiritual leader before they are exchanged. The ‘warming’ is a twist on that ritual, giving that honor to others.

It usually goes something like this: Prior to the ceremony the rings are placed in a bag or tied onto something to be safe. They are then passed among the guests during the actual ceremony. This is the ‘warming’ part. The language I use is to ask that the guests infuse the rings with their blessings, good wishes or kind thoughts, or simply hold them and then pass them to the next person. When it is time for the couple to exchange their rings I will ask they be brought forward and I will further comment on how everyone has had the opportunity to ‘warm’ or bless their rings before they exchange them. It is a lovely way to involve all the guests, and beautiful for the couple as well.

I have had just the bridal party warm the rings. I’ve asked the bridal party to form a circle around the couple and then pass the rings, encircling them with their love and support. Or any number of variations on this theme.

I hope you can understand why a ritual like this is gaining popularity. It is meaningful to let your bridal party and guests know they are important to you by involving them in a specific way. There are many other interesting rituals to honor and include your guests, and I’ll write more about those soon!

Thank you Garth for the beautiful photos.

The exchange of rings. (photo: Garth Woods)

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