Wedding band & engagement ring etiquette

Updated February 21, 2017

If you've recently become engaged and will be planning your wedding soon, it's important to know how to wear your most cherished pieces of jewellery--your engagement ring and wedding band. Wearing the rings on the right fingers and in the right fashion will serve to inform the public of your engaged and marital status.

Wearing an Engagement Ring

The etiquette associated with wearing engagement rings does not dictate that the ring has to be worn, or that it has to be worn at all times. However, most couples, especially those in Western society, feel as though the engagement is not "official" until a ring has been purchased, and the woman is wearing it regularly. Once the ring is purchased, it should be worn on the fourth finger of the left hand.

Selecting the Engagement Ring

According to etiquette, it is the groom's responsibility to choose the style of the ring for his bride-to-be. However, many brides are now involved in the ring selection process, to ensure that the bride will enjoy the ring and want to wear it every day. If the groom's family wants to give a family heirloom to their son to present to his bride, this is acceptable; however, the bride-to-be does not have to accept the ring, and can choose to wear a ring that she and the groom have selected. It is also appropriate for the bride to accept the heirloom ring and change the setting to fit her preference.

Cost of Rings

It is generally believed that the groom is supposed to spend at least two month's salary on the ring. This idea, however, stemmed from a marketing campaign from DeBeers during World War II in order to get grooms to make timeless purchases for their wives. However, the groom should consider his income and buy the most attractive ring for his bride based on what he can afford.

The wedding band is often less expensive than the engagement ring, but it is also common for grooms to buy the wedding band and engagement ring as a set. The engagement ring is usually the ring with the diamond in a setting, and the wedding band, which can also be adorned with diamond accents, is presented to the bride during the ring exchange portion of the ceremony. The bride is responsible for purchasing the wedding band for her husband, and gives it to him during the ring exchange. In Western society, men generally do not wear engagement rings, but the bride is free to purchase an engagement ring for her husband, or to request that he wear the wedding band as an engagement ring until the ceremony.

Wedding and Engagement Rings

After a woman is married, it is proper etiquette for her to wear the engagement ring on top of her wedding band. During the ceremony, it is appropriate to switch the engagement ring to the right hand. Once the groom has placed the wedding band on the bride's hand, she can place the engagement ring on the same finger. While most women continue to wear both their wedding bands and engagement rings after the wedding, it is only recommended that the wedding band be worn when in public to clearly denote the woman's marital status. The man should wear his wedding band in the same fashion.

Returning Engagement Rings

If an engagement is broken for any reason, it is proper etiquette for the bride to return to the ring to her former fianc�. The only exception to this is if the ring is an heirloom from the bride's family. It is also appropriate for the formerly engaged woman to return any valuable gifts to her former fianc�--he should return any gifts that the would-be bride has given him during the relationship that are of value as well.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Tamiya King has been writing for over a decade, particularly in the areas of poetry and short stories. She also has extensive experience writing SEO and alternative health articles, and has written published interviews and other pieces for the "Atlanta Tribune" and Jolt Marketing. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts in English and is currently pursuing higher education to become a creative writing professor.