With This Ring Comes a Lot of Legend

Exchanging rings is a beautiful element in the wedding ceremony. After a couple has spoken their vows, giving each other a ring ‘seals the deal.’ It’s a visual representation of the promises spoken.

There are many stories and myths about the ‘ring finger.’ No one really knows for sure, but lots of expensive jewelry gets put on that third finger of the left hand.

The ring finger.

One long held belief is that there is a vein in that finger, on the left hand, that runs directly to the heart and placing the ring there makes a strong connection. But any study of anatomy will quickly show us this isn’t true. But let’s not mess up a good story; tradition rules and we can’t simply place the ring on just any old finger, so we are staying with that. The left hand, third finger (some call it the fourth, counting the thumb) is even called the ‘ring finger.’

Interestingly, some countries such as Spain, Venezuela, Peru, India, Norway and Denmark wear wedding bands on the right hand, although still on the third finger. Their choice of the right hand is because it is the more dominant of the two, symbolizing the strength of the marriage.


Putting the ring on.

Wedding rings were exclusively for women up until the early 20th century. I’m sure the reason is obvious – property and ownership. But it is also a visual mark of status.  One way to think about the mark of possession is simply the man’s dominance, aka: ownership of the woman. But a slightly different way to look at it is the woman possessing something valuable given by the man, especially because precious metals are used for rings. Today we really don’t think of either of these reasons to wear rings. We wear them to express the pride of our commitment.

She gets one to add to her engagement ring and he gets one.

In our modern world, both partners usually give and receive rings, and we used to call that the ‘double-ring ceremony,’ but it is now so standard here in the United States, we don’t even point that out anymore. With all the hundreds of wedding I have officiated I have never once had a man not put on a wedding band. I did have one couple chose tattoos instead of rings. However, outside of our country it is still fairly common to find just the woman wearing a wedding ring.

For the ceremony it’s a simple ritual. Place the ring on the tip of the partner’s finger, say the ‘ring vow’ and slide the ring on. Something as simple and classic as ‘with this ring, I thee wed,’ works perfectly, but one can also get quite elaborate with the ring vow. Sliding that ring on, however, is not as simple. If you are outdoors and fingers are swollen with the heat, the few extra seconds of wiggling that ring on can feel like an eternity. Brides, grooms – don’t be embarrassed by this sticky moment. It’s totally normal. When do you ever put a ring on someone else’s hand?

The Irish and Celtic culture, so rich with symbols naturally have a special ring. The Claddagh is interesting in that can be used as an engagement ring, wedding ring, or friendship ring. Wearing it on the right or left hand, and which direction it faces, tells people it’s function. The design, featuring a pair of clasped hands, a heart and a crown, represents friendship, love and loyalty. The Claddagh ring was first seen in Ireland in the 17th century, and there are many legends about its protective powers. There are other Celtic designs as well.

Saying the Ring Vow.

People love to talk about the ring being a circle and how it symbolizes endless love. Circles are symbolic in most cultures over thousands of years. That’s fine – any symbolism one can impart in a ceremony is great as far as I’m concerned. Rings are often blessed – by clergy, family, or celebrants like myself. I had a groom who lost his wedding ring on his honeymoon. When they returned they bought a new ring and asked me to re-dedicate it for them, which I was more than happy to do. We had a private ceremony and it was lovely. It’s pretty awesome to think about the ring being something you will wear pretty much forever!

Ultimately all that matters is what it means to you. I hope you wear your ring with pride, indicating your gratitude at having found a loving and supportive spouse.


Thank you Lisa Rhinehart Photography



This entry was posted in Ceremonies and Celebrations, Pocono Weddings, Tips on Weddings, Wedding Ceremonies and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment

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