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Wedding Rings and Tradition

Thu, 30 May 2013

Wedding Rings and Tradition

Traditionally, the most obvious symbol of commitment and marriage has been the giving of a ring. Women have traditionally been given engagement rings as a symbol of the intent to be married. The engagement ring and then wedding band represent the union of two people who pledge to love each other and live together in the union of marriage for the rest of their lives.  The circle represents infinity or everlasting love; with no beginning and no end. Many rings include one or more precious diamonds, themselves a symbol of betrothal and romance.

Wedding rings are made of precious metals because they symbolize something valuable that has been given to the other. Wedding bands are generally worn on the ring finger of the left hand.  During ancient times, it was believed that the third finger on the left hand held a vein that ran directly to the heart. Putting a ring on this finger was to keep the love within, never allowing it to flow out from the finger. Not all cultures wear a wedding ring on the left hand.

Wedding bands have become an outward symbol of love between a man and a woman and a symbol of their commitment to each other. Wearing those rings in the community tells others of a couple’s commitment to each other.

This tradition started with King Edward VI in 1549. The wedding rings were not only a sign of love, but were also linked to the bestowal of 'earnest money'. According to the prayer book of Edward VI, after the words 'with this ring I thee wed' follow the words 'this gold and silver I give thee', at which point the groom was supposed to hand a leather purse filled with gold and silver coins to the bride. Placing a wedding band on the left hand became a tradition among English-speaking people which has endured to this day.

Usually it is responsibility of the best man or maid of honour to keep track of a couple's wedding rings and produce them at the symbolic moment of the giving and receiving of the rings during a traditional marriage ceremony. A ring bearer is also a popular choice for holding the rings and is often a junior male member of the family of the bride or the groom. Ring bearers walk down the aisle with the bridal party, holding the rings on a special cushion.

The double-ring ceremony, or exchange of wedding rings by both partners, is a relatively new innovation started in the United States in the early 1920’s.

Do not hesitate to contact me about your upcoming wedding ceremony or renewal of vows.

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