You can choose matching bands, complementary bands or go in different directions.
When you place a wedding band on each other’s ring finger, you take part in a ritual that dates back centuries, while also looking to the future. In most Western cultures, brides and grooms traditionally place a wedding band on the third finger of each other’s left hand (not counting the thumb) because people once believed a vein ran directly from that finger to the heart. Medical science eventually corrected that belief, but the tradition remained.
Traditions do vary by country and culture when it comes to who, where and even whether a wedding band is worn. Even in the United States, for example, double-ring ceremonies — where the groom also gets a wedding band — didn’t become common until the 20th century.
The traditional choice in the U.S. today is a matched set — one band for her, one for him (and possibly her engagement ring). These matched wedding sets:
- Are an outward expression that you and your spouse have become one unit.
- Demonstrate that you have similar tastes and belong together.
- Show that you value traditions and want to be part of them.
However, many couples take the non-traditional route today and choose different wedding bands. When you choose non-matching wedding bands:
- You can each express your individuality.
- You can avoid one partner feeling pressured to choose a matching band he or she doesn’t love.
- You can choose a ring that best complements your skin tone and size, and reflects your personal style. (The same style ring may not look great on a 5’4” slender woman with a pale complexion and her 6’4” husband who has a darker complexion and is built like a linebacker.)
Love me, love my ring
Just like wedding cakes and honeymoon destinations, different couples like different things. When it comes to wedding bands, it’s important both of you love the band you’ll wear every day for a lifetime, whether or not it’s part of a matched set. Not sure where you stand on wedding band styles as a couple? Before heading to the jewelry store, consider:
Gold is the traditional metal for bridal jewelry, but platinum wedding bands have made big inroads, along with men’s wedding bands in contemporary metals such as titanium and tungsten. Some people have skin sensitivities and may need to choose a hypoallergenic metal.
Yellow, white, rose, black? A yellow gold ring is the traditional choice. If you have a light complexion or your tastes run to contemporary, white or rose gold for her or gray tungsten or black titanium wedding bands for him can be just as stunning.
A polished finish is highly reflective, while a matte or satin finish has a softer appearance and doesn’t show scratches as readily (a jeweler can easily polish out any scratches that occur over time, though a pattern will have to be applied again).
Diamonds and color gemstones
Will you look at rings with diamond or color gemstone accents? Is there a wedding band that’s already part of a set with her engagement ring?
Contemporary, traditional or somewhere between, wedding bands come in every style. Your wedding band should complement your personal style. What kind of clothes do you wear? What kind of art do you like? That will help you narrow down the choices before you get to the jewelry store.
When a matched set isn’t the answer
What happens if your discussion leads you both to the conclusion you should select wedding bands that aren’t part of a set? Or what if one person still wants a matched set and the other doesn’t?
You still have two options to consider before dismissing matching wedding rings entirely. Proportion could be an issue, with a particular style looking too dainty on the man’s finger or too overwhelming on the woman’s hand. Ask your jeweler to show you matched sets scaled to different widths. If proportion isn’t the stumbling block, ask if your jeweler offers a custom design program where you and your fiancé/fiancée can design a matched set you both love because you created it yourselves.
If you still can’t agree on a matched set, it’s time to dip your feet into the swirling pool of compromise. Complementary rings — rather than matched rings — could be the perfect solution. Jewelers can show you many choices, but here are just a few options to get your creative juices flowing:
- Two bands of different styles but identical metals.
- Two bands of different metals but the same style.
A band with three diamond accents placed vertically across the center, for example, will look traditional in yellow gold but contemporary and masculine in gray tungsten.
If one of you likes simple design and the other likes more detail, choose rings that look the same except that one is highly polished gold all over and the other has a texture or inlay of another metal in the middle.
Some brides choose an eternity ring — with diamonds going the whole way around. In that case, the groom may consider a diamond wedding band with three stones the same size as the diamonds in her eternity ring.
In the end, only you can decide what wedding band will make you happy, and only your fiancé/fiancée can make the decision for himself or herself. It’s up to each of you to celebrate the other’s view — whether it’s the same or different.