8 Reasons Some People Wear Their Wedding Ring on Their Right Hand

8 Reasons Some People Wear Their Wedding Ring on Their Right Hand


11 minute read

Ever seen someone wearing a wedding ring on their right hand and wondered what the reasoning was? 

Well, truthfully, there are a number of reasons you might see someone wearing a wedding ring on their right hand. One of the reasons might be that you're taking a cue from Robyn on How I Met Your Mother? Having trouble getting drinks at a bar when engaged? Probably not, but who’s to say?

Wearing your wedding ring on your left hand even might seem arbitrary, but the hand someone wears a wedding ring on can convey deep personal or cultural meaning.

Wedding Ring History

Why do we even wear wedding rings, much less have a defined hand for them? While there are a number of competing theories out there on the origin and symbolism of the wedding ring, the consensus generally is that it came from Ancient Egypt.

The first set of wedding rings is believed to have been exchanged nearly 5,000 years ago! While often associated with Ancient Rome, the Egyptians were actually the first people to exchange wedding rings. The rings back then weren’t like the classic men’s wedding bands of today. They were usually made of reeds, rushes, or sedges (grass-like plants) and woven into a ring shape to be worn on one’s hand.

couple placing wedding ring

The Symbolism

This holds true today as much as it did in Ancient Egypt. The ring is a symbol of eternity — a shape without a beginning or end. For the Egyptians, the hole in the center signified a gateway to things to come. It was a signifier of eternal love.

This holds true today, as rings are seen as universal symbols of commitment and love. Rings, beyond being an expression of commitment, can also be an expression of personality or some intimate aspect of your relationship. Even something as simple as the type of material you choose for your ring can be representative of your own values, your interests, or your relationship as a couple.

Ancient Rome

Rome didn’t create the tradition, though it’s often associated with it. Rome did, however, adopt the tradition and keep it going. Ultimately though, Rome took a less wholesome spin on the whole thing. Eternal love? Eh, not so much.

For the Romans, the ring was more a symbol of ownership than anything else. Yeah, not exactly what the Egyptians had in mind initially. The Romans did, however, bring into vogue the idea of metal rings instead of woven grass. Early Roman betrothal rings were made of iron as a symbol of permanency. It’s believed they were also the first civilization to engrave wedding rings. 

Christianity

While also associated with religions, wedding rings were adopted by early Christians in the Roman Empire. Somewhere in the mid-9th century AD, ancient Christians started adopting the Roman custom of rings, though they were likely the first to make rings ornate. 

Instead of the iron band Romans would use, they would adorn their rings with symbols and designs. About four centuries later, though, they would change their mind and go back to simple wedding bands.

Modern Day

Some of these ancient traditions still hold in the modern era. Bands are, on the whole, simpler and are still seen as a promise of love and eternity. While you won’t see many reeds or iron circles, you also won’t see them as declarations of property. Seems like a fair trade.

why is it worn on left hand

Why Is It Worn on the Left Hand? 

This is why rings tend to be so associated with Ancient Rome. It’s believed the Ancient Romans started the tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the third finger of your left hand. They thought that the “ring finger” was the finger with a vein that connected directly to the heart (unfortunately, that one didn’t hold up to the scrutiny of modern science). 

The Vena Amoris, or vein of love, was what the Romans believed connected the left ring finger to the heart. Wearing the ring on that finger symbolized eternal connection as a couple. While it isn’t scientifically accurate, the tradition held. Honestly, it’s kinda sweet anyway.

Are Engagement Rings Worn on the Right Hand?

Sometimes, yes. It really depends, though. Outside of the United States, it isn’t uncommon to find engagement rings (and wedding rings — more on that later) worn on the right hand. While not the norm in the States, some people choose to wear it that way.

It could be a nod to someone’s heritage to wear an engagement ring on their right hand if they plan to follow Western custom and wear the engagement ring on their left.

What Other Rings Are Worn on the Right Hand?

Much of the time, a right-handed ring is simply a style choice. Maybe you’ve got a ring you love that you don’t want to give up once you’re married. Switch that to the right hand and wear two!

The other big one is promise rings. While not something every couple participates in, promise rings are becoming a bit more common and seen as a pre-engagement step. Promise rings can be worn on either hand, and the rules on them aren’t super defined. However, if you’re going for a promise ring, you might consider wearing it on your right hand.

What About One on Each Hand?

Often this is going to be more of a stylistic choice than necessarily something symbolic. If you plan to get a wedding band set and don’t want to wear them both on the same finger, you can definitely put one on each hand.

If you have a separate wedding and engagement ring, you may want to wear one on each hand. This is usually something that brides do if they want to wear their engagement ring to their wedding day. They can wear it on their right hand as they walk up the aisle and then have the wedding ring placed on their left ring finger.

If you have separate wedding and engagement rings, wearing one on each hand is a good way to let them both shine. If you’ve got a pair of lovely shiny rings, one might overshadow the other if you wear them on the same hand. Put one on each ring finger, and you’ve got that problem solved.

Classic Men’s Wedding Bands

Is It Okay to Wear Your Wedding Ring on Your Right Hand?

Yeah, do what you want. It’s not illegal or immoral to switch hands. If you just want to be more comfortable and have a personal reason for doing it, no one here is going to say you shouldn’t. You might get some confused questions from friends you run into on the street (though it’s unlikely), but that’s fine. 

Reasons

cultural reasons right hand

Cultural

This is probably the biggest reason of them all. While it’s common in the Western world to have your ring finger on your left hand, that tradition doesn’t hold true throughout the world. 

Greece, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Poland, Austria, Norway, Russia and Spain, among other countries, have cultural traditions that dictate you wear your wedding ring on the right. Someone in touch with their heritage may find it a nice tribute to partake in this custom, even if living in the U.S.

Fun fact: Men living in the U.S. who get married in Eastern Orthodox Churches often wear their rings on the right hand. While it’s not unilateral, it isn’t uncommon for it to be an Eastern Orthodox religious tradition.

Left-Handed

While most left-handed people follow the custom that the wedding ring goes on the left, not all do. Especially if you’re in a profession where you’re writing or sketching often, having a ring on your dominant hand may get in the way.

It’s also just more comfortable to have your ring on your non-dominant hand. It really is a right-hander’s world out there since roughly 90% of the United States’ population is right-handed.

Symbolic

Like much of the wedding world, choosing to wear your wedding ring on your right hand could have symbolic meaning. 

just married men dancing

Before gay marriage was legalized throughout the United States, same-sex couples often would wear a ring on their right hand as a show of commitment to their partner. While that practice is mostly done away with at this point, some couples still use it.

While technically it isn’t your wedding ring, wearing an heirloom ring on your right hand is another tribute option. If you had an influential parent, grandparent or another family member, you might choose to honor their memory by wearing their wedding ring. If you already have one of your own (and you don’t want to wear them both on one hand), the right hand becomes the default.

They’re Cheating

Yeah, this one isn’t as fun as some of the others, but it’s a reality. First of all, you aren’t being as sneaky as you think you are if you’re doing this. If your spouse is cool with it, that’s your business, but don’t cheat. 

Note that if you’re just a regular guy wanting to wear your wedding ring on your right hand, that’s perfectly fine. Just know that some people may assume you’re signaling availability. Is that likely? No, it’s not. Just don’t be confused on the off chance someone takes you up on an offer you’re not actually putting forward.

Only Buying One Ring

Not all couples choose to buy separate wedding and engagement rings. If you just want to go with one ring for both engagement and wedding, you may wear that ring on your right hand until the wedding when you transfer it to your left.

While arguably this option is a reason someone would wear their engagement ring on their right hand, it serves both purposes.

More Mundane Reasons

Sometimes it’s just pragmatic and doesn’t mean anything. Maybe you don’t want to get a crazy ring tan, so you switch it back and forth. Pretty good idea, honestly. It’s also possible that your hand was swelling, but you didn’t want to take off your wedding ring, so you transferred hands. 

If you’re planning to switch hands with your ring from time to time for whatever reason, make sure to measure both of your ring fingers. Consult a men’s ring sizing chart and make sure that both of your fingers are the same size. Even a half-size of difference here could result in a fit that’s great on one finger but slightly tight or loose on the other. 

Men’s Ring Size Chart

Financial Status

Modern women sometimes will buy their own ring instead of waiting for their partner to purchase it. Maybe it’s a mutual decision between the two, but, either way, it can be a show of financial independence. Whether a wedding ring or just a fancy-looking one, more women are buying themselves rings and wearing them on their right hand before getting married.

It Isn’t a Wedding Ring

Whether it’s a family ring, someone else’s wedding or engagement ring or just a ring that looks like a wedding ring, this may be the answer in a lot of scenarios. If you see someone wearing a ring on their right hand, even if it looks like their wedding ring, it just might not be. Whether it’s for stylistic or sentimental reasons, a ring on the right hand isn’t uncommon at all.

wear what you like

While many marriage traditions have come and gone, the wedding ring on the left hand has stood the test of time. If you want to wear your wedding ring on your right hand for whatever reason, go for it! Whether there’s sentimental value to that act or not, it’s your ring, so wear it however you like.

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