One of the most important aspects of a marriage proposal is the engagement ring. This ring is traditionally a beautiful gemstone set on a band and is what has come to be known as a symbol of wedding culture. This piece of jewelry is oftentimes mistakenly referred to as the wedding ring, and the two terms seem to have become interchangeable in everyday vocabulary. But, what really is the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring?
What is an engagement ring?
An engagement ring is given to someone at the time of a marriage proposal. Traditionally, women receive the engagement ring and are expected to wear it starting from the time of the proposal. Having a ring on her finger will indicate to the world that she is taken and is committed to her partner. These rings can vary greatly in terms of extravagance and price, but the most common type of engagement ring has a diamond or another gemstone set atop a pretty band. The engagement ring is worn on the third finger of the left hand (the one next to the pinky).
What is a wedding ring?
Wedding rings are exchanged between partners during the wedding ceremony. They are typically more simple bands in comparison to the engagement ring and do not have a center diamond or prominent gemstone. Both partners receive a wedding band during the ceremony and they each wear them on the third fingers of their left hands. Because the wedding band is placed on the same finger as the engagement ring, many brides choose to move their engagement rings to their right hands for the ceremony and then move them back to the left hand afterwards so that their two rings are stacked.
The wedding ring was adorned in past times like it is presently, on the left hand, third finger. The reason being because of the strong-held belief that the vein in this finger moves at once from the heart. This notion was endorsed as ladies commenced wearing their wedding rings closer to their hand and then their engagement ring on that same hand – affirming this notion of it being so close to your heart.
The meanings behind the rings
The tradition of the engagement ring dates back many centuries, when a man would ask for a lady’s hand in marriage by giving her a valuable ring in exchange for the father’s approval and exchange in “ownership” of this lady. These rings became more and more extravagant over time because they came to represent the man’s wealth, which was very desirable for both the man and the woman and her family. Although this notion is clearly very dated, the tradition of offering a ring for one’s hand in marriage has lived on.
In addition to the historical meaning of the wedding ring, there is also a symbolic aspect as well. The ring is not there, first of all, as a sign of your continuing commitment to this person (although of course it can come to mean that as well). It’s an ongoing reminder of the promise that the other person has made to you. It’s a sign of the covenant that your spouse has made with you, and that God has sealed, and that you have freely embraced and entered into. The same covenant that you have also made with your spouse. The circular shape of a ring represents eternity and infinity, and the hole through the ring signifies a doorway leading to events in the future. To give someone a ring indicates the commitment of never-ending and immortal love.
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