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After all the work the bride and groom put into planning a wedding, the ceremony itself can be a welcome stretch of attentive stillness — unless you are fretting about flubbing the exchange of rings, which is often your final responsibility before the marriage is declared official. We want to make sure you are calmly present for such a special moment, so here’s everything you need to know about the wedding ring exchange.

How Long Have We Been Doing This?

The wedding ring exchange dates back to ancient Egypt. Back then, reeds were the ring material of choice, so you had to worry about the symbolic gesture unraveling during the exchange. If you’ve looked through the titanium ring options in our catalog of men’s wedding bands, you know that’s not something you have to fret about today.

Check Out Our Entire Collection of Men’s Wedding Bands

When Does the Exchange Happen in the Ceremony?

For weddings that are structured along the Judeo-Christian model, the exchange of rings usually happens right after the wedding vows. Muslim couples may exhange rings at a betrothal, rather than at the wedding ceremony. In Hindu wedding ceremonies, garlands are exchanged.  

The Ring Exchange and the Vows Aren’t the Same Thing? 

Think of the vows as the declaration of intent that spells out the agreement, and the exchange of rings as the handshake that seals the deal. 

Who Goes First?

In the conventional wedding order, the groom will go first. As is also the case with the wedding vows, the formality and faith tradition of the ceremony will dictate its flexibility. But when couples do choose their own order, they often start with the person who is least likely to be nervous about public speaking!

couple wearing wedding rings holding hands

Where Do You Put the Rings?

In the United States and the United Kingdom, wedding rings are typically worn on the fourth finger of the left hand, though wearing them on the right hand is also common worldwide. 

Learn More About Which Hand the Wedding Ring Goes On

What About the Engagement Ring?

The wedding ring is usually worn first so it can be closest to your heart. But you can wear wedding ring sets in whatever order works best for you. It’s also a matter of personal preference what you do with the engagement ring during the ceremony. It can be briefly moved over to the right hand, entrusted to a close family member or simply left in place.

Shop All Our Wedding Ring Sets

Who Is Involved in the Ring Exchange Apart from the Couple?

The best man typically has charge of both rings, though sometimes he will split that duty with the maid of honor, who will hold the groom’s ring. Or they can be entrusted to the officiant or another close (responsible) member of the family or wedding party. Whoever has the rings should make sure they have a secure place to keep them. 

And consider this: Keeping the rings in a box means they are less likely to slip through a hole in the stitching of a suit pocket. Just be careful opening up that box after it has been tumbling about in the pocket for awhile. The ring could be loose and roll down the aisle like an escaping gingerbread man. The same warning attached to items in an airplane’s overhead bin apply here as well. 

ring bearer wedding band in box

Source: IVASHstudio/Shutterstock.com

Wait. What About the Ring Bearer?

Because the usual age range for a ring bearer is between four and eight, they usually carry fake ceremonial rings. If you entrust them with the real deal, make sure the rings are well-secured — but not so well-secured that the best man can’t untangle them from the pillow. 

What Do You Say During the Exchange?

The language of the ring exchange is more likely to remain standardized than that of the wedding vows, so don’t hesitate to consult a list of the customary phrases

Don’t stress out about the wedding ring exchange. It’s just a matter of waiting for your cue to take the hand of the one you love. 

Find The Perfect His and Her Wedding Rings

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