The exchanging of the wedding bands is one of the most significant parts of the ceremony. Special etiquette should be observed to ensure that the rings are safe; couples should also practice appropriate wedding band etiquette after the wedding.
Keeping the Bands
- Traditionally, the groom is responsible for keeping both the bride and groom wedding bands in his jacket pocket, until it is time to exchange the rings. The best man can also hold the rings, and give them to the groom at the appropriate time in the ceremony. Rings can be held in a velvet jewelry pouch, or can be kept loosely in the groom's pocket; the suit jacket pocket should be checked for any rips or breaks in the seaming to ensure that the rings will not fall out.
Groom's Wedding Band
- It is common knowledge that the groom is traditionally responsible for paying for his bride's wedding band and engagement ring. However, the bride is also responsible, according to etiquette, to purchase her groom's wedding band. The groom's band can be part of a wedding ring set, in which case the couple will divide the cost accordingly.
- The groom can present his bride with an heirloom engagement ring or wedding band, but must clear this decision with his family first. Arrangements must also be made for the wedding to be returned if the couple decide to divorce or call off the wedding. If the bride wants to wear a wedding band that is an heirloom from her side of the family, this is permitted as well. However, the bride must inform the groom of her intention to wear the antique ring, so that he will not spend money on an additional wedding band. The heirloom ring(s) can be worn with their original stones and settings, or can be taken to a jeweler so that a new stone can be placed in the original setting, or so that the original diamond can be set into a new ring.
Wedding Band Style
- Traditionally, the woman's engagement ring was the ring that contained a stone or group of stones, usually diamonds. The wedding band did not contain stones, and was a plain ring made of gold, silver, or platinum. However, modern etiquette permits wedding bands that contain precious stones as well; many bands come with the engagement ring as a set. The groom's wedding bands may also be accented with diamonds. Couples can also choose to include other stones in their rings, such as rubies or emeralds, according to the bride or groom's birthstone, the month of the wedding date, or personal preference.
Wearing Wedding Bands
- Both brides and grooms should wear their wedding bands on the fourth finger of their left hand. This is normally the same side of the body where the watch is worn. Brides who have both an engagement ring and wedding band should remove the engagement ring, put the wedding band on, and place the engagement ring on top; this puts the wedding band closest to the heart.
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