History of the Wedding Ring

The double-ring ceremony

The double-ring ceremony, or use of wedding rings for both partners, is a 20th-century American innovation but has been used elsewhere before. The US jewelry industry started a marketing campaign aimed at encouraging this practice in the late 19th century. In the 1920s, ad campaigns tried introducing a mens engagement ring, but it failed due to the necessity that its advertising campaigns make secret appeals to women.Marketing lessons of the 1920s, changing economic times, and the workplace impact of the war led to a more successful marketing campaign for male and female wedding bands, and by the late 1940s, double-ring ceremonies made up 80% of all weddings, as opposed to 15% before the depression. Rising expectations of equality between the sexes in nearly all spheres of life during the 20th century cemented the trend, and double-wedding ring ceremonies remain preponderant in the US in the 21st century, causing some orthodox religious authorities to struggle to harmonize their single-ring traditions with couples' desire for a double-ring ceremony.

Outside the US, it is still common to find single-wedding ring weddings with just the bride wearing the wedding ring. In several European countries, like the Nordic countries, it is normal to use plain engagement rings of the same kind for both sexes, and typically, an additional, more precious, bejeweled wedding ring is given to the bride. In the nuptials, the groom's ring becomes a wedding ring, too, and can be put on anew by the bride as a part of the ceremony with marriage vows. The engagement is typically a matter of agreement between the two, where rings are chosen together. Both engagement and wedding rings are worn on the left hand, the bride having both rings together. Occasionally, the groom gets a separate wedding ring. In Germany and Austria, both parties use engagement rings worn on the left hand. At the nuptials, a wedding ring is put on the right hand, as in several east European countries, like Russia and Poland. This can be a new ring for the bride, or both, or reusing the engagement rings. Any engagement rings can then remain on the left hand or be moved to the right hand. Also in Brazil, Mexico, and Spain, both sexes wear engagement rings, where the groom's ring often becomes a wedding ring at the nuptials used in the ring exchange ceremony.