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hands holding wedding rings

In a ring warming ceremony, the wedding bands circulate among the guests, who warm them with their own personal blessings and best wishes before the exchange of vows. An old Irish wedding tradition that has become increasingly popular around the world, it provides an opportunity for more active guest involvement at the marriage ceremony itself. 

Separate ring warming events are also common since that can be a special way to bring a bit of the wedding celebration to friends or family who might be too ill to travel. Ring warming ceremonies are all about adding a more personal touch, so how you choose to incorporate this ritual is largely up to you. But if you are looking for a guide to the general framework, we thought we’d pass it along. 

Is This Done in Silence?

The blessings can be said silently or out loud, but make sure to include your preference when the ritual is explained to the guests. 

Music can also be played; this is your chance to have those evocative uilleann pipes as a nod to the ritual’s Irish heritage, cue up a personally meaningful tune or defer to the sweet professional organist who is handling the rest of the music for the ceremony. 

Who Is Involved?

If the guest list is extensive, you can limit the ring’s circuit to the wedding party or immediate family. The rings usually have a ribbon tied around them to eliminate the possibility of a rollaway. You’d be surprised how even the sturdiest and shiniest of men’s wedding bands can drop through a grate or disappear into a corner. If you are really nervous about this scenario, they can remain in a box or pouch the entire time. 

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When Does It Happen and How Does It Work?

The rings can be “warmed” at any point before the bride and groom need to reclaim them for themselves. However, there are two overwhelmingly common choices:

  1. Just before the vows, so that the rings are still aglow with those blessings when the happy couple slips them on.
  2. The very beginning of the ceremony, so that the ritual doesn’t create lag time in the middle of the proceedings, especially if a few members of the guest list get distracted or appear to have especially lengthy blessings to impart. 

couple holding hands wedding rings

If You Choose a Ring Warming Just Before the Vows

Even if the plan is to warm the rings just before the vows, the officiant can still orient guests to the ritual before the ceremony begins. However, some couples prefer to hold off on the explanation until it’s time to begin passing the rings, just to make sure everyone present has heard the instructions. The best man or maid of honor (or another specially designated helper) can start the ring off on the front row, and it can be passed from hand to hand to the back and then to the front again until every guest has had a chance to impart a brief blessing.

wedding ring set

If You Choose a Ring Warming at the Beginning of the Ceremony

The same hand-to-hand technique can be deployed at the beginning of the ceremony. Or you can take a more informal approach by simply posting the rings near the entrance and letting the guests hold them for a moment before they collect their program and come in. An usher or a specially designated ring attendant can be in charge of this, or his and her wedding rings can simply be placed in a tray. If they are unattended, make sure there is plenty of signage that explains the protocol.

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Add a Unique Tradition to Your Wedding Ceremony

Weddings give guests an opportunity to bear quiet, reverent witness to the couple exchanging rings and saying their vows. Ring warming ceremonies give them a chance to take a more active role in expressing their joy for the newlyweds. If you decide to do a ring warming ceremony during your big day, make sure your photographer and videographer capture the moment so you can always look back and remember this special tradition.

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