Choosing Not to Wear Your Wedding Ring – Is This OK?

Wedding rings on leafy background

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A question we frequently get from our readers is whether it’s possible to be married without a ring. The short answer to this question is – Yes. It’s totally possible to get married without a wedding ring because this is only tradition and not a legally binding, must-do part of the ceremony.

If you’re wondering how to skip the ring but still have a symbolic moment in your ceremony, read on for our alternatives to the wedding ring and some factors to consider.

The History of Wearing Wedding Rings

Bride and groom showing their wedding ring

The wedding ring is a tradition, one that couples from around the world have been following for thousands of years. But it’s not mandatory and in fact, in many parts of the world, other customs exist in place of wearing the wedding ring (more on this below).

The custom of wearing wedding rings dates back to ancient Egyptian times, when marrying couples would present each other with a ring made of reed or wood, symbolising eternity, commitment and the afterlife. This custom then found its way to Rome from where it eventually spread to the rest of the Western world.

Today, wearing wedding rings symbolizes your commitment to each other, your love and marital status.

Reasons You Might Not Want to Wear a Wedding Ring

But wearing a wedding ring is simply a custom and not mandatory. It’s not written in stone that you must wear a wedding ring in order to be married. There are many reasons that someone may choose not to wear a wedding ring.

These could include:

  • You’re someone who’s never worn jewelry, especially rings, and the idea of wearing a ring on your finger for the rest of your life just doesn’t appeal to you.
  • You don’t have the budget to purchase the rings you want so you’d rather go ringless until some later date when you can afford it.
  • You live an active life and wearing a ring will not only pose a safety hazard, but will just get in the way.
  • You don’t like the idea of strangers knowing something about you by reading your jewelry. You’re a private person and the idea of people making judgements and evaluations based on your wedding ring isn’t something that attracts you.
  • You’re committed to your partner and you don’t think that wearing a piece of metal around your finger is going to impact that in any way.
  • You’re a rebel and you like doing things your way. You like breaking tradition and treading your own path.

If your reasons are the same as any of the above, that’s completely fine. There are many famous celebrities who don’t wear wedding rings, including Jay Z, Donald Trump and Will Smith. Another such person is Prince William, who has clearly stated that he doesn’t want to wear a wedding ring and even made an announcement to that effect before getting married. The reason he doesn’t wear a ring? He just doesn’t want to. Simple.

Alternatives to Wearing a Wedding Ring

If you’ve decided to ditch the ring, but you still would like a something special to commemorate your wedding vows and to indicate your marital status, here are some ideas to get you thinking:

Tying of String

One symbolic and meaningful way to indicate your union as a couple is to tie a piece of string on your partner’s ring finger.

The circular shape of the tied string has similar symbolism as a wedding ring – eternal commitment, equality and togetherness, while the knot that you tie signifies loyalty, love and two becoming one.

String-tying is an integral part of weddings in many cultures. For example, in Sri Lanka, the little fingers of the bride and groom are tied together by a relative to signify their union in marriage. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘tying the knot’.

Other Wedding Jewelry

Wedding and engagement ring on white gold necklace

It might seem strange to consider a different type of jewelry for your wedding, instead of just rings, but just because something has always been done in a certain way doesn’t mean it needs to continue being done in just that way. Some options would be to consider a wedding necklace or charm bracelet, which gives you a tangible reminder of your commitment to each other.

You might not like wearing a ring on your hand, but you could wear a special pendant, or even a ring, on a chain. This is also a safer option if you use your hands a lot for work or do manual labor. If you think this is completely un-wedding-like, it might surprise you to know that in Indian culture, the groom ties a special necklace known as the Mangala Sutra around the bride’s neck which identifies her as a married woman.

Charm bracelet

A charm bracelet is another nice touch as you can continue to add charms to signify important occasions in your journey together. It’s a versatile option with lots of ways to personalize it.

Tattoo Rings

This isn’t for everyone, but it’s a nice touch if you’re after a discreet, eternal reminder of your commitment to each other. Most people shy away from tattoos because they’re afraid their tastes will change, and they won’t like in the future what they liked today.  Because a marriage is forever (hopefully), some think that a tattoo is the ultimate symbol of commitment. It’s an artistic way to declare your commitment.

Some popular tattoo ring designs include the eternity symbol, anchors, coordinates of a special place, a special date or word.

How to Not Give Rings on Your Wedding Day?

If you’re not doing the ring exchange part of the ceremony at your wedding, you might be wondering how to omit it while still keeping the ceremony somewhat traditional. Here’s what one of our readers told us:

Jenna: My sister and her partner had decided not to exchange wedding rings because they didn’t find it meaningful for them. At the ceremony, they just skipped that part and it was still a lovely ceremony. I don’t think a lot of people even noticed.

Nadia: Instead of exchanging the rings, we decided to do a handfasting ceremony. It was a beautiful and unique way to symbolise our marriage.

By omitting the ring exchanging portion, the ceremony may be shorter than you would want it to be. In this case, you could include something else, like the handfasting ceremony, a reading from a friend or longer vows. Do something different that you feel more comfortable with instead.

Some Factors to Consider

Bride and groom kissing

If you decide not to wear your wedding rings, that’s totally subjective but you will have to note that you may get questions from friends and family. There may be concerns regarding your commitment to each other. At the end of the day, what you both decide is what matters and if you’re resolute in your commitment and your decision not to wear rings, it doesn’t matter how others view your decision.

Make sure that both you and your partner feel the same way about not wearing rings, and if there are any issues, talk about it. You might not want to wear a wedding ring but they might. In this case, find a compromise – perhaps exchange the rings at the ceremony but wear yours around your neck on a chain. Find what works and do what feels authentic and right.

In the end, the wedding ring is simply a symbol of your love and commitment. If you want another symbol, that’s totally fine too.