One of the most enduring symbols of the wedding day is the exchange of rings after the vows are said. Rings can be very elaborate or very simple, but no matter the price tag, they are meaningful.
The history of exchanging rings in a wedding ceremony can be traced back as early as 3000 BC. Rings were often made of braided hemp or reeds which were formed in a circle, the symbol of eternity for many cultures. I’ve read that the hole in the ring’s center represented a doorway into the future. The rings were placed on the fourth finger of the left hand (often called the ring finger) because the Egyptians believed a vein ran from that finger straight to the heart.
As time went by, rings began to be made out of more durable materials: leather, bone, ivory. Eventually, more expensive materials were used and the ring began to be a sign of the wealth of the giver and even the degree of love being shown by the giver.
Both the bride and groom receiving a wedding ring is largely a fairly recent innovation in American culture. The American jewelry industry started marketing this practice in the late 19th century. By the late 1940’s double-ring ceremonies were more common than not.
In the wedding ceremony when the rings are exchanged, oftentimes the officiant will bless the rings and offer a brief statement about the symbolism of the rings. For example:
“Bless, O Lord, the giving and receiving of these rings.
May this couple abide in Your peace and grow in their knowledge of Your presence through their loving union.
May the seamless circle of these rings become the symbol of their endless love and serve to remind them of the holy covenant they have entered into today to be faithful, loving, and kind to each other.
Dear God, may they live in Your grace and be forever true to this union. Amen.”
Each partner places the ring only part way on his/her partner’s finger, indicating the giving of oneself to another. The partner then draws the ring on the rest of the way him/herself to show acceptance of that gift and commitment.
As the rings are exchanged, each partner will say, “I give you this ring as a sign of my love and faithfulness” or something along those lines. There are various wordings for this portion of the service, including:
“With this ring,
I pledge my love and faithfulness to you,
today, tomorrow and always.”
“I give you this ring
as a symbol of my vows,
and with all that I am, and all that I have,
I honor you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
As with your vows, you could use these examples as a springboard to write your own personal expressions of faithfulness. After the couple has exchanged rings, I will have the couple join hands and offer a blessing.
Wedding rings can be beautiful expressions of the promises you will make on your wedding day – but more expensive isn’t always best. Don’t let the jewelry stores define what your rings should be like. Sometimes simple is beautiful and best. My mother’s simple, thin gold band was on her finger every day of her long married life. She wore it as she cared for her children and later on as she took care of my father. She treasured the vows it symbolized. It wasn’t fancy but it represented true love. I pray whatever rings you choose, they will do that as well.
Blessings to you as you prepare for your wedding. Talk to your pastor about how to make your wedding ceremony as personal and meaningful as possible. If you don’t have a church home, I would love to help you plan your wedding ceremony and prepare for your life together. Contact me today! Ruthehetland@gmail.com