A wedding is a ceremony that marks the beginning of a new life that couples enter into together and the exchange of wedding rings during the said ceremony is an integral part of almost every wedding, whether in civil or religious rites. The standard wedding vow “Take this ring as a symbol of my love and my promise to be faithful to you for all the days of my life, sums up the essence of what wedding rings symbolize: the fidelity of the couple to one another and the promise to love each other until their death.
Ancient Wedding Ring Customs
In the 2nd Century B.C., rings were already being exchanged to profess lovers’ undying love for each other. They were given prior to the marriage as a sign of a man’s promise to marry a woman, similar to how engagement rings are given today. Meanwhile, traditional German customs involved the giving of wedding rings the morning after weddings, as a part of the “morning gifts” couples gave each other. Later on, the Romans started exchanging wedding rings during marriage ceremonies. This ritual carried on into the Christianized Rome and to other European countries as well.
So significant was the exchange of wedding rings in wedding ceremonies that during the seventh century, Bishop Isodore of Seville went so far as to say that wedding rings were given by one spouse to another “as a sign of mutual fidelity”. Therefore, wedding rings are usually found on a person’s fourth finger, beside the pinkie, as it connects to the vein that flows directly to the heart.
An Everlasting Promise
Wedding rings are ideally worn by the couple every day, even if it has already been years since they got married to remind them to stay true to their promise of love and fidelity to each other.
“CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Ritual of Marriage.” NEW ADVENT: Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2010. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09703b.htm.
“Diamonds | American Museum of Natural History.” American Museum of Natural History. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 Aug. 2010. http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/diamonds/love.html.