There's a reason we commonly call one of our fingers 'the ring finger': it's the one where, in the UK, the engagement and wedding ring traditionally sit. But which hand is your wedding ring finger on? How do you wear an engagement and wedding ring together? And do you even have to wear a wedding ring at all?
Here, we answer all the questions you have about your wedding ring finger, including where all the traditions actually originate from. Grab a cuppa – it’s time to get clued up.
- The Most Unusual and Unique Wedding Rings
- Best Budget-Friendly Engagement Rings of 2021
- 9 Engagement Ring Trends You Need to Know
Which Finger Is the Wedding Ring Finger?
The majority of people wear their wedding ring on their left hand, particularly in the UK. Tradition states that your wedding ring is worn on your fourth finger and this finger is often known as the wedding ring finger.
This is also finger you wear your engagement ring on. Commonly it's only women who wear an engagement ring, but in some couples both partners may choose to have one. In this case, the engagement ring will sit on your left hand alongside your wedding ring.
READ MORE: How to Choose Your Wedding Rings
Does Your Wedding Ring Go on Your Left Or Right Hand? Why?
The tradition of wearing your wedding ring on your left ring finger dates back to Roman times, when it was believed that the vein in the fourth finger of the left hand ran directly to your heart – how romantic!
Romans named this vein the “vein of love”, and placed the ring over it to signify the love the newly married couple shares.
The engagement ring goes on the fourth finger of your left hand for the same reason: in Ancient Rome it was customary for suitors to give their bride a ring prior to marriage as a promise that they’d marry them.
But this isn't the same in every culture. In Colombia and Brazil, anyone who’s engaged wears their engagement ring on their right hand and then moves it over to their left hand after making their vows. Alternatively, in Germany and the Netherlands, they wear their engagement rings on the left hand and then their wedding rings on the right.
READ MORE: How to Buy an Engagement Ring
In What Order Should I Wear Rings on My Ring Finger?
Your engagement ring goes on your left hand ring finger, the same as the wedding ring. For that reason, on your wedding day you’ll have a couple of choices.
Lots of people stack their wedding and engagement rings and wear both of them on the left hand ring finger. In the UK, those with engagement rings wear them on top of the wedding ring, meaning that the wedding ring is placed on the finger first. This is because superstition states that the wedding ring should never be taken off.
Before you walk down the aisle, you should switch your engagement ring to your right hand. When the wedding ceremony is over, you can then slide your engagement ring on top of the wedding ring to seal it in place.
If you don’t want to wear both your engagement ring and wedding ring on the same hand, there are a couple of things you can do.
You could move your engagement ring to the ring finger on your right hand, you could weld the rings together and create a bespoke ring or you could forgo wearing an engagement ring altogether.
Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is that you wear your jewellery in a way that is comfortable for you.
Why Do Some People Wear Their Wedding Ring on the Right Hand?
If you don’t want to follow tradition, you’re actually more than welcome to wear your wedding ring on your right hand. You make the rules!
Some people prefer to do this if it feels more comfortable or if they simply prefer the look. However, you should note that in cultures where it's common to wear the wedding ring on the left hand, moving it to the right can be a signifier that you are widowed. It's perfectly OK for you to wear your ring on the right hand if you want to, but you should be aware that in the UK, some people may assume it has a different meaning behind it.
But if you choose to wear your wedding ring on your right hand, you’ll be in good company! Married couples in the following countries tend to wear their ring on the right hand:
- Some parts of Belgium
In India, the left hand was considered unclean and unlucky, so wedding rings have always been worn on the right. Greek brides and grooms traditionally wear their wedding rings on the right, as do Orthodox Christians.
What Hand Should You Wear a Promise Ring On?
Which finger, and even which hand, you wear a promise ring on are entirely up to you. They can be worn on any finger, and are sometimes even worn on a chain around your neck.
Promise rings are typically given as a token of commitment to your other half before getting engaged. By giving your partner a promise ring, you’re devoting yourself to them and often signifying future engagement. A pretty romantic sentiment, don’t you think?
READ MORE: How to Write Your Wedding Vows
Do You Have to Wear a Wedding Ring?
Rings are a lovely way to symbolise your union and the love you have for your partner, particularly because the circular shape has a connotation of “endless love” and “infinity”.
That said, you don’t have to wear a wedding ring or engagement ring.
You might want to wear an engagement ring only and give the wedding band a miss. Alternatively, you could select another accessory to stand in the place of a ring, like a watch, necklace or a bracelet.
The traditions and options surrounding how to wear your engagement ring and wedding ring are exciting, and in an increasingly accepting society, there’s actually only one rule: wear your jewellery in the way that feels right for you!
Can I Wear Rings on My Ring Finger If I'm Not Engaged or Married?
We don't hold much store in old wives' tales but, if you're incredibly superstitious, you should be aware that wearing a ring that isn't an engagement/wedding ring on your left hand ring finger is supposed to be bad luck. Apparently (and we really don't believe in this), if you wear a ring on that finger, you'll never be proposed to. We say, go ahead and wear your rings on any finger you want!
However, it does stand to reason that if you're on the dating scene and someone sees a ring on your wedding finger, it might put them off from approaching you, so maybe there's something in it after all...
READ MORE: 35 Incredible Coloured Engagement Rings
Now you know how to wear your rings, you’ll want to consider buying them! Have you ever thought about designing your own bespoke engagement ring for yourself or your partner? Our guide tells you all there is to know.