Whether it’s a simple or lavish ceremony, no wedding is complete without exchanging rings. It’s during this moment when the bride and groom lovingly state their vows. But have you ever wondered why wedding ring on left hand is the more common tradition?
Are there cultures where people wear the wedding ring on the right hand? And when is it okay to take off this symbol of love? Scroll down and learn more about that one jewelry piece we associate with weddings.
Why Wedding Ring On Left Hand
The decision of which hand you’ll wear your wedding ring is entirely up to you and your spouse. But in most cultures — especially in the West — it’s on the left. Here’s why.
Thousands of years ago, Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians believed that a vein continuously ran from the tip of the left ring finger to the heart. That vein was called “vena amoris” (literally, “vein of love”).
If someone wears a ring on that finger, it symbolizes that their spouse is the one closest to their heart. It’s also believed to seal the couple’s fate as two individuals in an eternal romantic union. The ring’s circular shape symbolizes the endless love the couple share.
Today, scientists have already debunked the myth of the vena amoris. Despite that, the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the left ring finger carried on.
People worldwide observe several traditions during and in the days leading up to the wedding. From holding a bridal shower and a bachelor party, giving the bride something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue, to wearing wedding rings.
In modern times, the public except married couples to wear the rings they put in each other’s hands on their wedding day. It’s also a way for the couple to tell others that they’re already in a marital relationship.
Why wedding ring on left hand? The practical reason is to wear it on the hand most people don’t frequently use.
Now, about 90% of people are right-handed. Putting their ring on this hand can interfere with or get damaged from daily activities. It can also affect the wearer’s comfort.
By wearing it on the left hand, they can better preserve the beauty and quality of this piece of jewelry.
The right hand is always busy moving and doing different things for many people. It leaves their left hand easier to be seen by other people. Because of this better visibility, it will be more convenient for others to identify if someone is already married.
What Cultures Wear Wedding Ring On Right Hand?
Not all cultures and countries follow the same tradition of having the fourth left finger as the wedding ring finger for men and women. These include Greece, Norway, Austria, Germany, Ukraine, Spain, and Venezuela, among others.
If you’re asking, “What cultures wear wedding ring on right hand?” below is a list of the most notable ones.
- Indians. Indians put wedding rings on their right hand, the same hand they use to shake hands with others. They also consider it polite to eat using the right hand. Meanwhile, they use their left hand to attend to personal hygiene needs — meaning, it’s unclean.
- Jews. Among Jews, the wedding ring is worn on the right index finger because it’s what’s considered closest to the heart. Another Jewish wedding tradition is that the band shouldn’t have any adornments and must be made of pure gold.
- Orthodox Christians. These Christians view the left hand in a negative light. In Latin, “sinister” means “on the left side.” On the other hand, they consider the right hand a symbol of honor and virtue.
- The LGBTQ+ community. Members of this community wear wings on their right hand to indicate that they are in a monogamous relationship. Some continued this practice when many territories legalized same-sex marriage, while others followed the tradition of putting it on the left hand.
- The left-handed. People whose dominant hand is their left prefer to wear the wedding ring on their right hand. This way, the ring won’t get easily damaged or undergo premature wear and tear.
Can You Stack Your Engagement Ring And Wedding Band On The Same Finger?
It’s really up to you to decide whether your marriage finger will be on the left or the right. Similarly, you can choose if you will wear your engagement and wedding ring on the same finger.
And if you choose to wear them on the same finger, it’s acceptable to put the wedding ring first, then the engagement ring, or vice versa. Some do the former because the inner ring is closer to the heart. Practically speaking, it has a fewer risk of getting lost.
Others do the latter (the engagement ring first, then the wedding ring) to follow the order when they receive it. It’s also symbolic of how the wedding ring seals or crystallizes the promise that the engagement ring signifies.
Some people wear these rings on different hands. It could be that the rings have intricate finishing touches or metal settings that won’t comfortably allow the wearer to stack them on the same finger. Or it could be that the design just doesn’t look good together.
Others simply prefer not to wear two rings on one finger.
When Is It OK To Take Your Wedding Ring Off?
After learning why many wear their wedding ring on left hand and which groups wear theirs on the right, you might also ask, “Is it okay to take off this emblem of love?”
As much as you’d always want to wear it, there are instances when it makes sense to put it away in a safe place. These include:
- Before showering (to avoid the ring from slipping off; to protect it from chemicals and oils)
- Before swimming and any other outdoor activities (to avoid erosion or damage from elements like chlorine or salt; to prevent getting lost)
- Before exercising and doing intense sports (to avoid getting damaged by equipment or coming into contact with your sweat)
- Before cleaning or doing physical labor (to avoid contact with other chemicals and skin irritation)
- Before cooking (for sanitation purposes)
- Before going to bed (to prevent wear and tear caused by contact with bedding and surrounding furniture)
- Before undergoing or performing a medical procedure (to minimize infection and not interfere with the procedure)
Whether you wear your wedding ring left or right hand — or take it off at times — what matters most is staying faithful to the vow you made on that special day.