History of the Wedding Band
The tradition of giving and wearing a ring to signify the entry into the commitment of a marriage is deeply engrained in our culture. “A finger ring was first used inthe Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, around 2800 B.C. To the Egyptians, a circle, having no beginning or end, signified eternity-for which marriage was binding.” (Charles Panati, Extraordinary Origins of Everyday Things)
By the second century BC, the custom of the suitor presenting a ring to the family of the woman at the time of betrothal was well established. This band was typically made of iron. As a part of the negotiations between families, it represented both a tangible commitment to the union and the man’s ability to support his bride. Often Roman women had two rings: a gold ring for public outings and an iron ring for wearing at home.
Wedding rings represent the bonds between two people. Some cultures believed that the wearing of the ring helped capture and control the spirit of the bride. It has been stated that the woman’s wedding band has its origins in barbaric times, recalling the ropes that bound the bride as she was being stolen from her home by invading forces.
European records dating from the 4th century make references to rings as an essential part of the wedding ceremony. In the early seventh century, Archbishop Isidore of Seville wrote that the ring is “a sign of mutual fidelity” and should be “placed on the fourth finger because a certain vein, it is said, flows thence to the heart.” This notion of a direct connection between the heart and the ring finger had already been popularized in ancient Egypt. Although we now know that there is nothing anatomically unique in the way any given finger circulates its blood supply from the heart, the tradition of a Vena Amoris, or Vein of Love, has influenced the placement of the wedding ring.
It is customary in the United States to wear the wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand. In some countries, the fourth finger of the right hand is proper place for the wedding ring. In the Greek Orthodox tradition, rings are exchanged by both partners at the time of betrothal and worn on the left ring finger throughout the period of engagement. At the marriage service, these rings are moved to right ring finger. In some countries, wearing the wedding band on the right or left hand is an expression of your religious heritage, with Catholics and Protestants holding opposite views on this matter.