What Hand Does A Wedding Ring Go On In Different Cultures?

Jennifer Skulski

Published: May 11, 2022

Last Updated: May 16, 2022

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Have you ever wondered, “What hand does a wedding ring go on?” While you might automatically think you know the right answer, you may be surprised to learn that the hand you wear your wedding ring on differs by culture.

Knowing what hand you wear your wedding ring on is among the many questions you’ll have as you prepare for your wedding day by deciding what to wear, what traditions to follow, and much more. Without further ado, let’s answer the question of: What hand does a wedding ring go on?

What Hand Does A Wedding Ring Go On?

The wedding ring is a symbolic piece of jewelry shaped like a circle to represent the endless nature of love. Wearing a ring symbolizes your lifelong commitment to another. That’s why paying for wedding rings, and choosing the right one is such a widely discussed topic. When it comes to which finger and hand you wear your wedding ring on, you may think the answer is obvious, but it varies in different cultures and regions. 

photo of couple holding hands with wedding rings on

Symbolization Of The Ring Finger

Exchanging wedding rings is a tradition that traces back to Egypt, Greece, and Rome in ancient times. These ancient couples chose to wear their rings on their left hands and fourth finger because they believed a vein existed that connected the “ring finger” directly to one’s heart. 

Thus, in theory, these couples believed their hearts were both connected to their rings, and to each other. The ancient Romans even named this vein “Vena Amoris” which means the “vein of love.”

However, in modern-day, we discovered that no such vein exists, but the sweet sentiment and tradition of wearing engagement rings and wedding rings on one’s fourth finger stuck around.

Wedding Ring On The Left Hand

Wearing your wedding ring on your left hand is the most common tradition in Western cultures. Again, this tradition relates to being closest to the heart as the heart is located slightly more to the left side of one’s body.

The heart is, of course, a symbolic representation of love and emotion, especially according to ancient understandings. Cultures and countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom continue to keep their wedding rings on their left hand, closest to their hearts.

photo of wedding ring on left hand

Wedding Ring On The Right Hand

While wearing the wedding ring on the left is perhaps the most expected, there are numerous regions that choose to place wedding rings on their right hand. For example, many people in central Europe, such as in Denmark, Poland, Germany, Russia, Greece, Norway, Austria, Ukraine, and Bulgaria choose the right hand.

What hand you wear your wedding ring on may also be linked to superstitions. In some cultures, the left hand was associated with bad luck while the right hand was viewed as more pure. This is true for India where many couples in the past preferred rings on the right hand because of this. Orthodox Christians also had a long-standing tradition of wearing wedding rings on their right hand.

Using your right hand to display your engagement or wedding ring is also a meaningful symbol for same-sex couples. Some LGBTQ+ couples choose to wear their rings on the right, especially in locations where same-sex marriage is not officially recognized. It’s a way to symbolize their lifelong commitment in spite of not having legal documentation of their marriage.

photo of wedding ring on right hand

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Wedding Ring vs. Engagement Ring

Receiving And Wearing Engagement Rings

Beginning in the 15th century, couples started gifting and wearing engagement rings to symbolize their commitment to an upcoming marriage. In the past, both men and women would wear engagement rings which differs a bit from modern traditions where more often than not, men forgo the engagement ring.

In terms of tradition, many couples wear their engagement rings on their left ring finger due to what was customary in the past. As for those European countries we mentioned earlier that prefer the right hand for their wedding ring, it’s intriguing to note that they often choose the left hand for engagement rings. Once married, they then transfer the engagement ring from their left hand to their right.

As an opposite tradition, in Brazil and Colombia, couples might wear engagement rings on their right hands and then switch them over to their left hand after reciting their vows.

photo of couple's engagement with wedding ring

Receiving & Wearing Wedding Rings

We may have answered, “What hand does a wedding ring go on?” in different cultures, but perhaps you’re still wondering how wedding rings and engagement rings are worn together in different traditions.

In Western cultures, the wedding ring and engagement ring are worn together, on the ring finger of the left hand. Other cultures, such as the ones mentioned earlier, choose to switch their engagement rings over to their other hand to symbolize their wedding ring. 

In Sweden, it’s tradition to decorate one’s finger with an entire wedding ring set which includes the engagement ring, wedding band, and a unique ring to symbolize motherhood.

If you and your partner are still on the hunt for the perfect engagement rings or wedding bands, check out some of the ones we love from Gabriel & Co. and Manly Bands!

Instagram photo of wedding ring bands on hands

Wearing No Rings At All

Now that we’ve covered what hand a wedding ring goes on and an engagement ring goes on, what about couples or cultures who aren’t interested in rings at all?

When it comes to wedding traditions, they can often serve as a guide, but nothing says you can’t make up your own customs or follow a different path. There are plenty of couples out there who proposed without a ring or got married without wedding bands.

Non-traditional couples may opt for other symbolic gestures to represent their commitment. Some alternatives may include getting matching tattoos on their finger of choice, putting a down payment on their first house together, exchanging handmade trinkets, or gifting a family heirloom.

wedding tattoo rings on couples hands

How To Wear Your Wedding Ring: Top Tips

For all who choose to wear traditional wedding rings, you’ll want to know how to properly take care of these valuable and meaningful pieces of jewelry.

When To Remove Your Wedding Ring

When it comes to wearing a wedding ring, you might also want to consider all the scenarios in which wearing a wedding ring isn’t the best idea if it can be easily stained, scratched, or lost during a given activity.

For example, if you’re using harsh chemicals or other cleaning products, you might want to take your wedding ring off to avoid staining it. Washing the dishes, showering, swimming, or being submerged in water for an extended amount of time are some other instances where many people remove their rings. You also might take it off when exercising. 

mumuweddings engagement ring set

Of course, getting a wedding band that properly fits your finger is pivotal to ensure that the ring doesn’t slip off naturally and get lost forever. If your rings don’t fit when you receive them, or if their fit alters in the future, do consider getting your rings resized in order to ensure their safety. Furthermore, you may want to invest in wedding ring insurance in case anything ever happens to it.

Some couples even decide to have two different rings. They have the true wedding ring that was given to them on their big day. Then they have a cheaper option made of silicone or other material that they can wear during more extreme activities without concern of it getting damaged, scratched, stained, or lost.

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For the times you do take off your wedding ring, you’ll probably want to consider getting a holder for it to help you keep track of your loose ring.

Here are some wedding ring holder options that we like to use:

Honeycomb Studio Minimalist Ring Holder

west elm wedding ring holders

Shop Now: West Elm

Personalized Ring Holder

etsy wedding ring holder monogram plate

Shop Now: Etsy

Ring Stacking

After exploring the question, “What hand do you wear your wedding ring on?” you might still be curious about how to wear an engagement ring and wedding band together. Should they be stacked? Should they go on different hands or different fingers? There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer, but here are the preferences and corresponding meanings you may want to consider.

photo of wedding ring stack

Engagement Ring On Top

Some people choose to have their wedding ring on first with the engagement ring on top. This makes it so your wedding band is the ring closest to your heart and thus offers a lovely sentiment for those who find this placement meaningful.

Wedding Ring On Top

Other couples like having the wedding ring on top of the engagement ring to symbolize the chronology of events as you got married after your engagement. If you receive more rings in the future, such as for anniversaries, you may even choose to continue with your wedding ring stack.

Rings On Separate Fingers

If stacking isn’t your style, you may wish to have your engagement ring and wedding ring on separate fingers. This can be a great way to show off both rings without one getting lost in the other. It can also be a preference if your two rings don’t necessarily match and would thus look better unstacked.

Couples from the Netherlands and Germany often will go with the unstacked look by having engagement rings on their right hand and wedding rings on their left hands.

Which Hand Will You Wear Your Ring On?

Now that you know all about the symbolism and traditions surrounding, “What hand do you wear your wedding ring on?” in different cultures, it’s time for you to pick your own ring positioning. Choose to go traditional on your left hand’s ring finger, or start a new trend that holds meaning for you.

Whether you wear your engagement ring and wedding band stacked or separate is also completely up to you. Find the ring positions that work best for your style and ring design. At the end of the day, wedding rings are symbolic forms of commitment that deserve to be shown off.

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