The Significance of Rings
The ring exchange can be one of the most touching moments of your wedding ceremony – IF, you don’t rush through it and you look into your partner’s eyes as you speak the important words. The engagement ring presented at the exciting moment of the proposal represents an intention and a commitment, the wedding rings then are the next step in that commitment. I don’t see them as a symbol of legality, but rather a symbol of loyalty and devotion, a follow-through on the original intention.
A little history: the tradition of engagement rings actually dates back to the ancient Egyptians, who believed circles were symbols of eternity. Wedded couples exchanged rings made of braided reeds. They were worn on the left-hand ring finger which has a vein that runs directly to the heart. Similar traditions seem to date at least to the ancient Greeks, and Romans. The ring represented a formal agreement to chastity and a future marriage. Anthropologists believe this tradition originated from a Roman custom in which wives wore rings attached to small keys, indicating their husband’s ownership. Thank goodness, we no longer believe in ownership of people! And incidentally, I refuse to even put the word ‘obey’ in my marriage ceremonies.
The first diamond engagement ring, was commissioned by Archbishop Maximillian and given to his betrothed Mary of Burgundy in 1477. Sometimes women were given two rings, one to wear in public and an iron one to wear at home while cleaning and cooking.
Today, the 3-stone engagement ring has become popular (think Meghan Markle). It is said the smaller stones on either side can represent the past and the future, or friendship, love and fidelity or they can represent the trinity. Sometimes both partners will receive a ring, as a symbol of promises made.
Traditionally, the engagement ring is moved to the right hand before the ceremony; leaving the left ring finger free for the wedding ring to be placed first (closer to the heart?) and then the engagement ring is placed after it.
Regardless of the materials, number of stones or the size of the stone(s), it is a symbol of a couple’s dedication, love, and commitment to each other. A symbol of a beautiful journey that two people decide to embark upon when they decide to spend the rest of their lives together. I encourage you to remember this each time you look at your rings.