Engagement Ring vs. Wedding Ring: Everything You Need to Know
Rings symbolize unity, commitment and eternity. They also play a huge part in wedding culture. They’ve been used in holy matrimony dating back almost 5,000 years to ancient Egypt. But, they’re not simply a relic of the past. They’re still a highlight of most wedding ceremonies today. In most cases, couples exchange two very important pieces of jewelry throughout the wedding process: the engagement ring and the wedding ring. In this guide, we’re going over all the little details that will help you discern between the two and choose a pair that honors your love.
Engagement Rings: The Basics
Who Gets One?: Traditionally, only the bride wears an engagement ring. But, men are wearing them more and more to signify a pre-wedding commitment.
When It’s Given: During the proposal.
National Average Cost: Around $6,000*.
Design: Traditional engagement rings have one central stone (usually a diamond).
The engagement ring comes first because it symbolizes the intention to get married, otherwise known as the engagement. It is said that the first recorded engagement rings were exchanged between Archduke Maximillian and Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Still, the practice didn’t become mainstream until the 1940s, when the De Beers diamond company launched the now-famous “A Diamond is Forever” campaign.
Traditionally, the future groom chooses the engagement ring for the future bride and then presents it to her on one knee during the proposal. However, today, the practice of blind engagement ring shopping is quickly fading away. There are simply too many risks that come with choosing an expensive, forever ring without a partner’s input. Since engagement rings cost over $6,000 on average, choosing the right ring is important, and collaboration is often the best route.
Wedding Ring Basics
Who Gets One?: Both members of the union traditionally wear a wedding ring.
When It’s Given: During the wedding ceremony.
National Average Cost: $1,100 for women, $510 for men.
Design: Traditional wedding bands are simple in design with little ornamentation. Eternity bands and plain gold or silver bands are common.
The wedding band, which is typically simpler in design than the engagement ring, has been a traditional element of marriage ceremonies for thousands of years.
The wedding band is worn by both people in the marriage and is officially exchanged during the ceremony. Couples usually don’t wear their wedding rings until after they’re married. Generally, couples choose their wedding bands in the months leading up to the ceremony to ensure that they are the right size by the wedding date.
The most traditional wedding bands are made of precious metals like gold or silver. However, these materials have some limitations. Since precious metals are fragile, new innovations like silicone wedding rings are becoming more popular. Many people purchase a precious metal ring but regularly wear a silicone band to keep their metal rings safe.
Do You Need Both an Engagement Ring and a Wedding Ring?
Now for the ultimate question: Do you need both? And, if the answer is no, which one gets the boot? This is such a personal decision from one couple to the next. The short answer is nope. You don’t have to have both (or even one for that matter). These days, wedding norms are changing rapidly. Brides and grooms are taking control and deciding which customs — if any — they want to honor. Let us be the ones to tell you that you do not have to wear a ring at all (as long as your partner is on board).
With that being said, many couples opt to forego the engagement ring and simply sport wedding bands from the jump. And, for all you hopeless romantics out there, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the grand proposal. Instead, present the wedding band when you get on one knee and then pick yours out shortly after. Having only one ring saves you money and allows you to get something really special rather than split your funds between two pieces.
Do What Makes Sense for You
Like every wedding tradition, the exchange of rings is steeped in some pretty arbitrary rules. Whether you keep it traditional with both, choose affordable silicone wedding bands or skip the rings altogether, it’s completely up to you. As long as your decision represents your shared love, your marriage will be off to a great start!