Wedding rings: L or R ?

Throughout Latin-influenced nations, the husband wears the wedding ring on the right hand, not the left (Wife’s is on the left). Seen it in places I’ve lived & worked as varied as the Philippines and El Salvador. Never saw it in Italy, for example, and most Americans are surprised to see me wear it that way. Seems specific to Spanish (as opposed to Roman, or “other”) Catholicism, if that is indeed a valid distinction.

What is the origin of this difference, and does it occur anywhere else ?

“Proverbs for Paranoids, 3: If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

  • T.Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow.

I knew a German guy who wore his wedding ring on his right hand. When I asked him about it, he asked me which hand Americans wear their wedding rings on. When I replied “left” he thought it was weird. Since then I’ve seen at least one German guy (then again, maybe he was Austrian, Swiss, etc.) who wore his wedding ring on his left hand. I’m confused.

I have known gay couples to wear wedding rings on their right hand. My mother and father were from Yugoslavia and they both wore rings on the left finger.

I knew some Swedish guys, and some German guys, and they wore their wedding rings on their right hand. I never asked why, though.

The Cat In The Hat

I’ve heard of it being done this way in various European countries, except I heard that in Spain, both the man and the woman wore the ring on the right hand. Can’t corroborate, though, as I’ve never personally seen it.

My wife and I (both being partially Irish) got gold Claddaugh rings for wedding bands; we wore them on the right hand as engagement rings until the wedding; (my bride, being the practical creature that she is, didn’t want a diamond engagement ring—“They’re too expensive, and the damned things always gets caught on everything!”) then they were switched to the left hand. This is the Irish custom, or so I understand; we just liked the looks of them and the neat romantic story behind them.

Several sites I looked at assert the third finger of the left hand was the traditional wedding ring finger, dating back to the Egyptians, because this finger had a vein that led directly to the heart (yeah, I know, but until they started actually opening people up and looking inside, a lot of silliness was promulgated). I do know that the Book of Common Prayer in England designated the left hand for the wedding ring as early as 1549.

Yeah, I have to back Pickman’s Model, too. My Dad is German, and told me that the tradition (at least for women) is for the same ring to be used for the engagement and marriage band. So the woman would wear the band on her right hand through the engagement and then move it to her left hand after the wedding.

My mom has both an engagement and a marrage band, so she still wears the engagement ring on her right hand and the marriage band on her left. Dad’s only got one ring, which he wears on the left. I wonder if the men ever wear a ring to signify engagement?

“It says, I choo-choo-choose you. And it’s got a picture of a train.”
– Ralph Wiggum

The jewelers have tried to push the idea of a man’s diamond engagement ring. It has yet to catch on though. I know only a very few men whose fiance bought them an engagement ring.

“Eppur, si muove!” - Galileo Galilei

My friend Dino wears his wedding ring on his right hand. I have never checked to see where his lovely and long-suffering wife Lisa wears hers. He’s Greek Orthodox, and although I’ve never asked him, he could probably tell me which synod decreed that the right hand is the correct one.

I am now wondering how many cultures use a ring to symbolize marriage (or the equivalent hand-fasting / life partnership type of arrangement). Of the cultures which don’t use a ring, what do they use?
(Tattooing your honey’s name on your butt seems popular among some sub-cultures.)

Dr. Fidelius, Charlatan
Associate Curator Anomalous Paleontology, Miskatonic University
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur

I sold advertising at our local newspaper for a while, and the Wedding Planner we printed one spring had an article on this topic. Their stance was that wearing the wedding band on the left hand (the way hubby and I do) comes from a Celtic tradition. Their reasoning was that it was closer to the heart (although I never heard the vein to the heart mentioned).

I’ve never heard of gay married couples wearing their rings on the right ring finger. All I know is, when my boyfriends buy me rings, I wear them on the right, but when I get married, I’ll wear my husband’s ring on the left.

Since, technically, I proposed to my fiance, I tired to buy him a ring, but he wouldn’t hear of it. Seemed to think that it challenged his manhood or something. Not that I mind; his mother’s engagement ring looks very beautiful on my finger. :slight_smile:

All Russians who wear wedding rings wear them on their right hand. So I guess you can assume that it is customary in all Slavic/Eastern Orthodox cultures. I might speculate on which branch of Christianity, after the great schism of the church of Rome, first adopted a custom of wearing wedding rings on a specific hand, and which opposing and adversarial branch of Christianity followed by adopting the opposite hand for something of such religious significance as a symbol of holy matrimony, but I ain’t qualified to do so.

This is strange… I’m German too, and I wear my wedding ring on the right hand, as does my wife. Her engagement ring (I don’t have one) has always been on the left, and still is. This is the traditional way, or so I’m told, but it does contradict some of the previous posters.

Maybe there are regional differences. Or maybe it’s religious denomination. We are Lutheran around here, in case you want to know.

Hey Matt,
All the gay people I know wear their wedding rings on their right hand, including me when I was with my husbear.


“People’s Poet don’t die, we’ll kill ourselves if you do, but first we’ll take off all our clothes.” The Young Ones

The custom in my family (American, Scottish, Irish) is that when you are married you wear the ring on the third finger, left hand. If the spouse dies, you wear it on the third finger, right hand. I have two solitaire diamonds (my birth stone is diamond – April) and I wear one of them (never together, how tacky!) On my third finger, right. I’ve been asked how I lost my husband. I explain that they are birth stone rings, not engagement or wedding rings.

Seems to me it’s up to you what it means to you. I wouldn’t wear any ring on my third finger, left hand unless I was married. But that’s just me and MHO. Cultural differences (like this) are fascinating to me! I’m glad we don’t all agree; it always gives me something to talk about when I meet new people!

There are Northern European paintings from the 1600s which show married couples wearing rings on their right hands. (One of them is particularly famous, and I’m kicking myself for not remembering the artist or title. It’ll come to me, though…)

Both my husband and I wear our wedding bands right hand – but then one of us is missing a left hand, so it’s more a sympathetic thing. However, we noted after we decided to both wear them that way, that all of our friends from Germany and Austria wear them on their right hands.

Thanx for the enlightenment! Hmm… I’ve been wearing the pretty silver celtic ring that my ex-once-removed gave me that I wear because it’s pretty on my right ring finger. Should I switch it?

I wear a ring on my left ringfinger that looks like a wedding ring.

But only so’s I can get the chicks.
(Hasn’t worked thus far. :wink: )