October 5, 2017

Ring Finger: Where Do You Wear Wedding and Engagement Ring?

Which finger do you wear the engagement and wedding ring? Is there a rule? Here's everything you need to know about how to wear the rings.

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The perfect proposal ends with slipping the ring onto the correct finger. A wedding ceremony is complete when rings are exchanged onto the proper fingers.

Which finger(s) do the rings go on? Read on so you don't make any embarrassing mistakes.

We'll also give you some fun history on why engagement and wedding rings are worn the way they are. As well as some tips on how to figure out her ring size secretly, so you can purchase an engagement ring that fits the correct finger perfectly.

Proper Way to Wear the Engagement Ring

In America and Western Europe, engagement rings are worn on the fourth finger on her left hand. The 4th finger is known as the ring finger.

However, there are exceptions. In some countries (like some Eastern European and South American countries), the engagement ring goes on the ring finger of the right hand. Some religions and cultures require that the ring goes on a finger other than the left hand ring finger.

Proper Way to Wear the Wedding Ring

The wedding ring is usually worn on the 4th finger on her left hand, underneath the engagement ring. This is so the wedding ring is closer to the heart, as it symbolizes love and unity.

During the wedding ceremony itself, you have a few options:

  • Wear the engagement ring on the right hand ring finger, so the wedding band easily can be placed on the left hand ring finger.
  • Keep the engagement ring on the left hand 4th finger. The groom will slip off the engagement ring and slide on the wedding ring, then put the engagement ring back on top.
  • Some brides get the two rings soldered together (with the wedding ring on the bottom) before the wedding. Then the groom will slip on just the one ring during the ceremony.
  • And some will avoid buying a wedding ring all together, choosing to use the engagement ring during the wedding ceremony.

For men, the wedding band is also put onto the 4th finger of his left hand.

How to Wear Two Rings After the Wedding

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After the wedding, there are quite a few options for how to wear the rings, all of which are acceptable.

Some women will solder the engagement and wedding ring together so they become one ring. Some will choose to wear the engagement ring on a necklace after the ceremony, leaving only the wedding ring on the finger. Some will wear the wedding ring on the left hand and the engagement ring on the right hand.

This is based on preference. Some women can't wear a large engagement ring to work, so she'll only wear the wedding band. Or maybe the rings don't match, so she'll want to wear them on different fingers.

But usually, the wedding ring will stay on the 4th finger of the left hand, because this finger symbolizes love.

Tradition of the Ring Finger

So why do we traditionally wear engagement and wedding rings on the 4th finger of the left hand? This custom dates back many centuries, but historians don't exactly agree on the reason. Here are some theories:

  • Finger Closest to the Heart: This explanation stems from a lack of knowledge about how the human body worked. Ancient Egyptians believed that the 4th finger of the left hand had a vein that ran directly to the human heart. So by wearing the rings on this finger, the rings were considered to be close to the person's heart. This explanation sounds romantic, even if it isn't scientifically true.

  • Practicality: Another far less colorful explanation says that people began wearing these rings on their 4th finger because that's the weakest finger and the one least likely to be used during physical work. By wearing the ring on this finger, it stays out of the way as much as possible while a person is working. The ring goes on the left hand because fewer people are left-handed. So this way, the ring would be clearly visible but would not be in the way. (Admittedly, kind of a boring explanation that doesn't exactly speak of love and romance).

  • Command from Religious Leaders: Some historians believe the tradition began as a religious practice. When the Anglican Church broke away from the Catholic Church in the 1500s, the Anglican Church leaders wanted to change their ceremonies from those of the Catholic Church. So Anglican Church leaders ordered members to wear wedding and engagement rings on the left hand instead of the right hand, like Catholics did. It eventually became a widespread custom.

We agree the first explanation is more romantic, so use that explanation with your girlfriend to score some brownie points.

Tradition of Rings Symbolizing Marriage

The idea of exchanging rings as a symbol of love and marriage has been around for dozens of centuries and throughout many different cultures.

Roughly 5,000 years ago, Egyptians would use rings because of the circular shape. A circle has no end, and this made for the perfect symbol for a love that is forever. Greek lovers also exchanged rings as a symbol, because of the circle shape.

The use of rings as a symbol for marriage appears to have started during the Roman Empire. Rather than placing a diamond on these rings though, the rings would have a symbol that represented two clasped hands on them, called fede rings. Such ring designs were popular throughout Europe for more than a millennium.

The use of diamonds on engagement rings didn't become widespread until De Beers came onto the scene and through brilliant marketing, convinced everyone that only a diamond signifies love.

How to Figure Out Her Ring Size Secretly

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Now, you know which finger the ring goes on. You just have to make sure you get a correctly sized ring to fit that finger.

If you want the engagement to be a surprise, you're going to have to be sneaky to get her ring size for the 4th finger of her left hand. Here are some ideas for figuring out her ring size secretly.

  1. Use an existing left hand ring: If you can sneak into her jewelry box and take a ring she typically wears on her left hand ring finger, you can take that ring to any jeweler to have the ring measured. Just make sure she actually wears that ring on the ring finger of her left hand and not her thumb, or you're going to have a problem. (This does require you to pay attention to the type of jewelry she wears and where she wears it. We understand this is a tough chore, but no one said love would be easy.)

  2. Use an existing right hand ring: Most people have slightly larger fingers on the right hand than the left (if they're right-hand dominant), but it's usually not more than half a size. So if you can only find an existing ring from your girlfriend that she wears on her right hand ring finger, you should be able to use it to determine an approximate engagement ring size for the left hand. (Or if she is left-handed, her left hand ring finger should be slightly larger than her right-hand ring finger.)

  3. Trace a current ring: If you cannot borrow a ring finger ring for even a few hours without her noticing, grab the ring for a few minutes and trace the interior and exterior of the ring on a piece of paper. If you take this tracing to a jeweler, you can determine an approximate size.

  4. Measure the ring on yourself: You can also slip her ring on your finger, such as your own pinky. Mark the spot where it sits comfortably. You can then go to a jeweler and try on sizes until you find one that sits comfortably at the same spot.

  5. Measure her finger while she's sleeping: If she doesn't wear any rings at all, you'll have to be more devious. While she's deeply sleeping, take a string and wrap it around the ring finger of her left hand. Mark where it ends to form a complete circle. You can take this to a jeweler and get an approximate size.

  6. Ask her family members and friends for help: Perhaps her sister or friends know her ring size, so you can ask them ... as long as they're sworn to secrecy. Another option is to have her sister or friend casually suggest they try on jewelry and rings the next time they go shopping and then relay the ring size information back to you.

  7. Stick to the average: An average woman's ring finger ring size is 6 or 6.5, so you can try to guess her ring size using the average as a starting point. And as long as she says yes, you can usually get the ring resized later. If you must guess, it's better to guess larger because it's easier and less costly to resize down.

Keep in mind that even if you don't get the ring size exactly right, she'll still be excited with your proposal ... as long as you put the ring on the correct finger.

More from CreditDonkey:

How to Buy an Engagement Ring

Ring Resizing

Diamond Prices

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