Good Question: Why Do We Wear Wedding Rings?

By Jason DeRusha, WCCO-TV

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — When most people get married, part of that commitment is the ring. “With this ring, I thee wed,” so it goes.

But when England’s Prince William decided that he will not wear a ring after he gets married to Kate Middleton, it got us thinking about the symbol. Why do we wear wedding rings?

“It is such a powerful symbol. It says, ‘I will love you forever, back on into itself,’ just like the ring,” said Carol Bruess, Director of the Family Studies program at University of St. Thomas and author of the book “What Happy Couples Do.”

According to Bruess, the tradition started 5000 years ago in ancient Egypt when women wore rings to symbolize eternal love. It wasn’t until the 1800s that men started wearing rings as well, she said.

On, Pam wrote: “It speaks of our bond to each other and our love for each other.”

BML added, ” I feel like if I didn’t wear my ring it would be disrespect to my husband. After all, I’m proud to be his wife”

“Because it’s so common to wear a ring, choosing not to requires some thought and it might require some explanation,” laughed Bruess.

The original rings weren’t gold. Instead they were made of hemp, grass or reeds and had to be replaced every year or two. Like today, they were worn on the third finger of the left hand.


“Many believe that there’s a vein in this third finger that goes directly to the heart,” said Bruess.

But, like most symbols, the only real meaning in the wedding ring is the meaning we as a society assign to it, she noted.

“As humans, we create these symbols to imbue our lives with meaning. And really, it’s no more than that, but that’s quite a bit,” said Bruess.

More from Jason DeRusha
  • artist

    Only one reason why a married person wouldn’t wear their ring……………………..

    • Mike

      I can think of many reasons; Choosing a non-traditional approach, too expensive, allergies, occupational hazards, Republican hypocrite who enjoys men on the side………..

      • Dave

        Leave it to a bleeding heart liberal to bring politics into this discussion. You all are pathetic.

      • Grow Up

        You have got to be kidding me- typical liberal, stirring the pot. Ridiculous!!!!

  • das

    well mine is because I work with electricity. Gold=conductor=death. so not all of us are not wearing one for that reason.

    • K.

      My husband is like you, das, he was an electrician and never wore his ring on the job. Now that he is retired, he wears it more but has problems sometimes with arthritic joints making it hard to put on and take off. It doesn’t bother me whether he wears it or not as our commitment to each other is strong. By the way, his ring is a very plain gold band. I have nothing that elaborate either. Both of us had been married before and did all the high-price diamond thing and have learned that it doesn’t mean a thing if the commitment isn’t there. My ex wore his ring all the time and still cheated on me. My current husband’s ex cheated on him even after he bought her a beautiful, large diamond ring for Christmas……..nice chick, huh? We are happy to say that this marriage is solid because it’s based on more than the symbol.

  • Dan the Ringless Man

    Actually two reasons, my knuckle is bigger than when I was 24. I am too cheap to resize or buy new. Don’t really like wearing jewelry anyway. If I am going to spend money on a ring, it will be for a big, fat diamond upgrade for my wife…then all will be blissful!

  • artist

    Points well taken.

  • Sgt

    I bought a new car for my wife on our 23 wedding anniversay. she bought me a ttruck on our 18th.

  • Ray L.

    I worked construction with my dad and he saod rings were dangerous on the job: they can get caught on nails and cause nasty hand injuries.

    • Bruce Erickson

      it is a fact, know many men who have lost fingers due to wedding rings, for that reason many wear them on a necklace inside their shirt

  • Kate

    When I became pregnant with our first child my fingers became swollen so I removed the ring. After the baby was born, the ring either scratched the baby or irritated skin from so many hand washings. After a while, I decided to go without.

    No one has ever asked me if I’m married — three kids and man by my side make it obvious I’m in a committed relationship.

  • Mark

    Wedding rings were intended to show ownership of a woman. Women through most of history, beginning with the concept of “property” itself arose from settled civilization in Egypt and were considered just that, property. Why would anyone want to wear a symbol of oppression under the pretense of love? It wasn’t until the 1800’s that men began to wear rings because that was the advent of Victorian ideals which redefined societal behavior.

    • Mark Jr.

      And some women aren’t happy until the man has spent his life savings on one ring. Who owns who???

  • Courteney

    I have been married for 8 years and have never worn a ring. I just don’t see the point in it so why spend the money? Also, I just don’t like jewelry.

  • Nick

    I saw a young couple that didn’t like the feel of wearing a ring so they both got tatoo rings… hope the marriage lasts!

  • Michael Rak

    I have read in numerous sources that the tradition of wearing a hemp or rope ring was the result of men who stole women from nearby tribes and then bond them with rope by the ankle for a year so they would not runaway. Afterward, the man had the women wear a small segment of the same rope on their finger as a symbol of the man’s ownership of his bride. As for diamonds, please research the current business of diamond mining, world-wide control by one company (De-Beers) and examine how the image of a diamond equating everlastilng love is and has been just a clever marketing promotion, before you ring that finger . True love is given with one’s heart and soul, not exploited cash and a status symbol rock. A daily hug and kiss means more to me.

    • Kim

      Now thats romance!!!

  • Victim Du Jour

    Wedding rings are status symbols that’s all. And weddings are an expensive costume party.

    You can tell by the ring if they had the wedding reception at da’ Moose Club, or at a fancy country club.

  • a girly girl

    I never felt right with simply following someone else’s tradition. This whole ring thing never felt right to me. I get to choose. No silly ring.

  • Patricia

    It really hurt my feeliings when my husband told me he simply doesn’t wear jewelry as an excuse for not wanting to wear his wedding ring. Years ago not many men wore anything but a wedding band, but that ring to me was a symbol of love and commitment. I wish I had told him if he didn”t love me enough to “get over himself”, I wouldn’t take his last name. We’re still married over 30 years later but it’s still a “burr in my saddle”.

  • Engagement Rings

    Good job, great post. Write some more like this, very informative

  • Engagement Rings

    Oval frame I bought dirt cheap. Looks great!


  • Kenny

    if everyone is still curious, they should really look at it has wedding rings but each ring feeds people or gives clean water to towns.. very impressive.. ok thats all :)

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