Why do we have wedding rings? Wedding Traditions History


I’m picking up my blog series on wedding traditions and why they exist because I love history and finding out interesting facts. I have also had a lot of people enjoying them too! By looking at how these traditions began it feels like it’s bringing the past to life. Why do we have wedding rings? I dived into the history of wedding rings a good few years ago but inspired by all the beautiful wedding rings I get to photograph I wanted to get into why we even have wedding rings.

Just as interesting in my day-to-day working life is how couples choose to make the traditions their own, to reflect their own uniqueness in such wonderful ways. Some choose to stick to the traditions, some add their own take to them and some ignore them altogether in favour of starting their own new family traditions! There is no right or wrong way, just the right way for you. This is what makes photographing weddings such fun and so personal.

Today I want to talk about wedding rings and why couples traditionally have wedding rings. It can look all sorts of ways, one of you may choose to have a ring, the other may not wear theirs all the time.

why do we have wedding rings exchanging rings in the ceremony

How long ago did we start using wedding rings?

Would you believe the wedding ring was first used among the ancient Egyptians nearly 5000 years ago?! They traditionally wore the ring on the fourth finger of their hand because they had the belief that the finger had a special vein leading directly to the heart, the Vena Amoris. Back then, the rings were made from woven papyrus, rushes and reeds and the hole in the ring symbolised a gateway to the afterlife as the love between the couple was immortal and would last for eternity.

Engagement rings + wedding rings symbolise commitment and love, but in the past they were the symbol of a contract between two families, like a security deposit! That’s why they tended to be gold (and fun fact: where the expression “good as gold” comes from). They were traditionally only worn by the bride, but over the years, both partners tend to wear rings certainly at the wedding ceremony.

In Ancient Roman times, rings were made from more durable materials such as bone or leather and later, copper and iron. Roman men weren’t the romantic type, claiming their women with iron circles known as “Anulus Pronubus”. Charming! For the wealthier types, using iron was replaced with gold or silver handcrafted rings that were apparently attached to small keys to indicate being owned by their husbands. Yikes.

bride holding pink and orange bouquet close up of wedding ring

Is there a religious connotation to using wedding rings?

Actually no. There is no mention of wedding rings in the Bible and actually the mentions of rings were as a symbol of authority, dignity and social status.

Why are wedding rings made from precious metals?

Wedding rings or bands are traditionally made from precious metal and exchanged during the wedding ceremony. In the UK, the bands are worn on the finger next to the little finger on the left hand (although some cultures wear wedding rings on the right hand because that’s the hand typically used for making sacred oaths and vows). Using precious metals symbolises strength and the notion of unbreakable love between the couple that is tough to break, like your marriage. The ring serves as a reminder to the couple that they are committed to each other.

When are wedding rings exchanged?

The bands are exchanged whilst the couple say their vows to each other with wording increasingly individualised (not sure we need to promise to obey our partners any more!)

What about diamond wedding rings?

Some bands have special stones like diamonds in them, and this is a tradition because diamonds have long been associated with love and romance (you only have to look at Marilyn Monroe “Diamonds are a girls’ best friend” to see the link there!). They’re a very durable stone meaning they too symbolise eternal love, strength and beauty.

Why is the wedding band circular?

Of course the simple answer is because it fits the finger, but also because the circle represents infinite love, with no beginning and no end. Rather romantic I think!

Personalising your wedding ring

In the 15th century,”Posie rings” became popular where a short verse would be engraved on the ring and as time went on, these messages became more personal and private. I love the idea of having an engraved message inside the wedding band. Perhaps it could be your wedding date (no forgetting your anniversary this way!), or your names, or a song lyric that means something to you both.

why do we have wedding rings - wedding rings in boxes Londonmixed race wedding exchanging rings - why do we have weddings rings london

So there we are, that’s why we have wedding rings at weddings! Interesting, isn’t it? If you’re intrigued, dive into a few of my other blogs about wedding traditions. They continue to be popular so do take a look 🙂

Why is there a first dance at a wedding?

Why does the bride traditionally wear a white dress?

Why do we drink champagne and have wedding cake?

If you’d like to check my availability to photograph your wedding, please get in touch and let’s talk through some options.

Thanks for stopping by,

Fee x

pastel wedding flowers - wedding rings in box