Engagement Ring Vs. Wedding Ring – Differences and Uses

engagement and wedding ring

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There’s some confusion about the differences between engagement and wedding rings. Do you have to wear both of them? What are the rules of these rings?

In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the most prevalent differences between engagement and wedding rings and the customs surrounding them.

Differences Between Engagement and Wedding Rings

Engagements and weddings are significant life events that have been woven into tradition and etiquette for millennia. Placement, design, symbolism, and other customs related to engagement and wedding rings will differ from culture to culture. Still, there are certain elements that are more or less accepted across the world:

#1. Design

Engagement ring solitaire setting

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White gold wedding ring

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While engagement rings usually feature a larger center stone, typically diamonds, wedding rings are simpler in design. Future brides may choose a classic wedding band, or a band set with smaller diamonds.

In most cases, they would try to have a wedding ring that matches their engagement ring, so they can wear them together. For this reason, bridal sets are becoming more and more popular, as this is one way to ensure that these rings complement each other perfectly.

#2. Wearer

While wedding rings are worn by both parties, engagement rings are typically worn by just the woman.

This wasn’t always so. The tradition of both men and women wearing wedding rings began only in the early 20th century. While men don’t tend to wear engagement rings, with cultural movements and gender equality, this tradition has also evolved.

Nowadays, some men happily wear their engagement rings to symbolize the commitment and bond with their beloved.

#3. Ring Placement

putting ring on finger wedding ceremony

Engaged girls usually wear their engagement rings on the left-hand ring finger to safeguard the space for a wedding ring.

On the day of the wedding, the engagement ring is replaced by a wedding ring. However, many women decide to keep wearing the engagement ring on the same finger or put it on the right-hand ring finger.

If they opt for wearing them combined, they will often put the wedding ring first, as it’s closer to the heart that way.

#4. Occasion

proposal black girl diamond

When one partner proposes, they usually crown the future spouse’s Yes with an engagement ring.

It’s often presented in a small, cute jewelry box, or it’s hidden someplace when the ring itself represents the question.

When the time to say I do comes, wedding rings are exchanged. At the wedding ceremony, the wedding rings are brought to the couple by a ring bearer during the exchange of their vows at the altar or a different place of equal importance.

#5. Symbolism

The first ring is a promise of the future marriage. The second ring solidifies that promise.

Engagement rings are worn as symbols of the two partners’ union, and they signal the world that the two will be joined together through a ceremony or vows that can be legal, spiritual, or both.

Wedding rings are tokens of love and loyalty between partners. It shows the world that a person is taken and, therefore, romantically not available.

Engagement and Wedding Rings for Men

Girl proposing to boyfriend

Most men choose not to wear an engagement ring and only wear a wedding ring. However, to show commitment and promise, some men opt to wear a symbolic engagement ring, which is sometimes referred to as a promise ring.

Engagement rings for men are very similar to their wedding rings, and many dealers offer their wedding rings or bands as engagement rings, which can be used for both occasions, proposal and wedding.

A classic engagement ring for men is sleek and simple, without large diamonds or too much bling. However, there are no limits, and men could also opt for more intricate engagement rings that combine decorative stones and masculinity.

Wedding rings or bands for men are usually clean and smooth without any elaborate details. However, as men have larger fingers, their wedding rings are also thicker, bolder, and heavier than women’s wedding rings.

Do I Need Both Rings?

Nowadays, there are no hard and fast rules, and you can wear one ring, and save the other for special occasions, you can wear both, and none if you wish so. Essentially, it all comes down to personal preference and style.

If you’re a fan of a more traditional look, and you want to have both rings to remember important events in your life, you can certainly pair your engagement ring with the wedding ring. This look is beautiful and timeless and, at the same time, follows a modern trend of stacking multiple rings on one finger.

Your budget, however, can also play an important role in deciding whether you need both rings. Some couples opt to leave the engagement rings completely from the equation because of the skyrocketing wedding costs, including a wedding dress, venue, caterers, photographers, and others.

Besides, wearing only one ring is much more comfortable than wearing a combo, but it can look just as stunning. This is known as an all-in-one ring, which does the work for both the engagement and wedding rings.

Finding the Perfect Match

Matching ring set

Dainty twig engagement and wedding ring set by Keyzar. See it here.

  • Matching Ring Sets – If you decide to wear both engagement and wedding ring on one finger to show love and unity with your significant half, we recommend buying a matching ring set. This way, both rings’ appearance and shape will complement each other, and it will prevent potential skin nipping and discomfort, which can occur with rings that are poorly matched. To make this easier for you, you can go for a bridal set with both rings perfectly paired like peas in a pod.
  • Complementary Rings – You can go on a hunt and find separate rings that you like which can be worn together comfortably. However, we would suggest spending some time researching before shopping and getting a better understanding of what goes together and what doesn’t.
  • Mismatched Rings – With off-beat styles becoming popular, some brides opt for completely mismatched bridal sets.

Bear in mind that a properly chosen wedding band can highlight the beauty and sparkle of your engagement ring. For example, for a solitaire engagement ring, the best match would be a curved wedding band, as it nicely frames it and makes the stone appear even more prominent.

In both cases, the sky is the limit, and there will be plenty of options to choose from, from elaborate ring designs to more plain ring looks.

The Evolution of Engagement and Wedding Rings

Engagement vs wedding rings

Engagement Ring vs. Wedding Ring

The tradition of wearing rings dates back to ancient Egypt, when people exchanged rings made of reeds, and wore them as symbols of unity and eternity.

However, this custom became more common during the Roman times. The Romans wore their rings on the ring finger of the left hand, believing that the vein from that finger lead directly to the heart. They called it vena amoris or the vein of love (this has since been debunked as a myth).

Until recently, it wasn’t customary for men to wear engagement or wedding rings. World War II marked a significant shift in this tradition. Many married men far away from home decided to wear rings as a reminder of their wives and families.

As time went on, the materials used for making rings evolved as well. They were initially made of bones, ivory, then leather, and finally of metals, such as iron, silver, and gold.

Today, engagement and wedding rings are made of yellow and white gold, gold alloys; some rings are coated with diamonds and precious stones.

However, not only did the rings’ materials evolve but also customs associated with them.

Consequently, both engagement and wedding rings carry great significance, but they differ in many aspects, from appearance and design to symbolism.

To Wrap Up

At the end of the day, there’s no right or wrong when it comes to engagement and wedding rings wearing and design. No matter what ring or ring combination you choose to wear, it should always be a reflection of you and your partner as well as a symbol of your love and unity for many decades to come.