History Of Wedding Traditions: Rings

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Dubsdread Catering Event Specialist Peighton Ballant shares the history behind the tradition of wedding rings.

Peighton Ballant headshot

Wedding and engagement rings are one of the biggest and most universally recognized symbols of marriage, and most couples start their journey together with one. They can last for hundreds of years and can be passed down from generation to generation, becoming family heirlooms. So, what started this world-wide tradition that is used so commonly today? As with most traditions, wedding bands began long ago, and have changed quite a bit throughout the years.


The first record of the exchanging of rings was back in 4000 B.C., though these rings were much different than the rings that we see today. They were made from leather, bone, reeds, or similar materials rather than gemstones and metals. Though it is unclear exactly why the rings were created, from the beginning, they were important symbols because the circle has no beginning and no end and represents the never-ending union of marriage.

The next historic record of rings was by the Greeks and Romans, who adopted the fourth finger rule that was originally brought forth by the Egyptians. It was believed at this time that the ring finger on the left hand contained a vein that ran directly to the heart. The Romans were also the first civilization to make their rings out of iron which they believed increased durability as a better representation of marriage.

Wedding rings closer to what we know today, became popular around 900 A.D. Christianity used them as a symbol in their rituals and many of the early rings were quality metals with heavily stylized and engraved decorations. When Church thought the rings were becoming too lavish and ornate, history changed again as couples began opting for simpler styles, and over time, the plain wedding bands that we still see today were created and became commonplace.

The exchanging of rings eventually found its way east as well, but with a few differences. One of the biggest variations in Eastern Culture was the advent of puzzle rings instead of a typical wedding bands. A puzzle ring was designed to break or fall apart if it was removed. Traditionally, this was only done when a spouse was being unfaithful, or during divorce. The puzzle rings were a physical representation of a binding contract of marriage.

Until about 100 years ago, it was mostly just the bride who a wedding ring. But when soldiers were heading off to World War I, many wanted something with them to represent their special someone at home waiting for them. And thus, the exchanging of rings where both the partners received rings was created.


Today, wedding rings are part of marriage ceremonies throughout the world. Though many cultures and countries have their own take on the type or style of rings, the main meaning behind them still stands as a symbol of the love of two people bound together for eternity in everlasting love.

Want more ideas to personalize your big day? Our event specialist team has the experience and insights about ways to incorporate a unique spin on any wedding tradition to personalize it to your special day. 

Peighton Ballant is an Event Specialist with the Dubsdread Catering Team and is currently working on her Event Management degree at UCF. Peighton enjoys working with prospective couples to discover what they are most interested in bringing to their special day, and how to make those ideas come to life. Contact her today at events@historicdubsdread.com

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