Getting married is a big commitment that requires lots of thinking and planning. One of the most important parts of a wedding – and one that takes a large amount of consideration – is choosing your wedding jewellery – especially the rings. Traditionally, there are two rings in a wedding ceremony – an engagement ring and a wedding ring. But what are the differences? It might seem silly to ask this question but it’s one of the most frequently asked questions when couples start searching for their rings. So, let’s dive into the key differences you need to know and how to pick the perfect rings.
What’s an engagement ring?
Let’s start off easy by explaining what an engagement ring is. An engagement ring is the ring that’s given during the proposal. This ring is typically given from one partner to the other and is a symbol of union between two partners. It’s also a visual sign to the world that you and your other half have made a decision to be committed and connected to each other through a wedding ceremony or an exchange of vows.
While an engagement ring is completely personal to the couple and their taste, engagement rings have a signature recognised look. They tend to feature a main stone at its centre, most commonly a diamond. Other gemstones include sapphires, rubies or emeralds but more modern gemstones have come to the forefront in the 21st century, like aquamarine and citrine. The stone is held up by prongs or by a particular stone setting. Alongside the stone, the ring is usually a single band made of precious metal, like gold, silver or platinum.
The ring is worn on the ring finger – ironically! – on the left hand. It’s joined by the wedding ring during and after the ceremony. Depending on how you like to wear your jewellery, your engagement ring can be moved to the same finger but on the right hand. Simply worn on special occasions or taken off entirely after the wedding–we’ll get to that later in the guide.
What’s a wedding ring?
A wedding ring is exchanged during the wedding ceremony and symbolises the official bond of marriage. Unlike an engagement ring which is worn by the person who was proposed to, wedding rings are given and worn by both partners. They’re exchanged as a token of loyalty, love and union between two partners and serve as a reminder that the couple is connected and committed to one another.
In comparison to an engagement ring, a wedding ring or band is a lot simpler and mainly made of metal. It doesn’t usually include or feature a gemstone but may have small accents like extra shaping, intricate metalwork or inscriptions. The rings tend to be in similar colours or styles. But they can be completely different from one another, depending on yours and your spouse’s styles. The wedding ring is also worn on the ring finger on the left hand. It can be worn on its own or alongside the engagement ring.
What are the key differences?
There are three main differences between engagement rings and wedding rings: Timing, Meaning and Design.
Timing: An engagement ring given during a proposal or when a couple decides they get married. A wedding ring given or exchanged at the wedding ceremony. It’s also important to remember that an engagement ring normally picked by the person who proposes. Whereas the wedding ring picked by both.
Meaning: While both rings symbolise love, unity and are a sign to the world. That you’re in a committed relationship, an engagement ring is a promise for the commitment and marriage that is to come. The wedding ring is the official bond of marriage.
Design: As described above, an engagement ring is flashier and shinier because of the diamond or gemstone centre piece. The wedding ring is simpler and consists of a plain band.
Do you need both?
This is another common question – do you need both and do you need to wear both? Ultimately, there’s no right or wrong answer! It’s completely up to your personal preference and budget.
If you’re a fan of the traditional look, then you can have both and wear both at the same time. This creates a powerful statement and really shows off your love and commitment to your other half. It’s also fun to pick rings that work well together and pick a style that’s completely unique and meaningful to you and your other half.
On the other hand, it’s okay to simply wear your wedding ring on its own and keep your engagement ring for special occasions. Because of the gemstone, is an engagement ring more likely to get damaged. So for sensible reasons, it might be best to save it for big events, like an anniversary dinner. Thinking even more practically, you need to consider your budget. Whether you can afford to splash out on both an engagement and wedding ring. These rings are big investment pieces. It’s always better to invest in a single standout ring than two lesser quality rings that could break easily.
How to pick rings that compliment each other?
First, you don’t have to compliment your engagement ring to your wedding ring, or your wedding ring to your partners’. There are no rules when it comes to jewellery! You should pick rings that suit your style and that you’ll want to wear for the rest of your life – and if that means your rings match, that’s fine too!
Putting that aside, it’s very loving and meaningful if you pick rings that complement each other or match slightly with your other half. If you’re looking for a wedding ring to go with your engagement ring. Start by looking for rings that are the same colour, fit and shape. This creates a consistent look and balances each other beautifully. For shape and fit, it’s good to pick rings that fit together comfortably on your finger. While different shapes add texture, comfort is a big thing – especially if you’re going to wear both rings every day. If you have a round engagement ring, try to go for a similarly shaped wedding ring to stop too much ring movement, metals scraping together and avoid your skin getting pinched in between the two rings.
It’s far easier to match your wedding ring to your partners’. This is mainly because you’re more likely to go ring shopping together and pick them at the same time. If you don’t want to completely match, you can pick similar colours or metals – like slightly different shades and tones of gold. If you decided to go for rings that are completely different from one another. You can still keep them similar with inscriptions. You can inscribe a message, initials, symbols or your wedding date on the inside or outside. While this similarity might not be obvious at first glance. It’s meaningful to you and your other half and can be a secret message between the two of you.