About the Exchange of Wedding Rings
It is traditional in Western cultures for the couple to exchange wedding rings during their wedding ceremony. The ring is placed on the fourth finger or "ring finger" of the left hand of both the bride and groom. The exchange of wedding rings is also traditionally followed with the phrase "with this ring, I thee wed." Wedding ring traditions have not always been this way, and the roots of these traditions come from many cultures.
In a modern Western wedding this portion of the wedding typically occurs toward the end of the ceremony, after scripture is shared, during the vows, and before the minister pronounces the couple man and wife (the pronouncement of marriage).
Know that you will be required to facilitate an exchange of wedding rings every time you perform a wedding ceremony. The wedding officiant's role in this part of the wedding is less than in many of its other components but is important, however; remember, the wedding officiant has perhaps the greatest influence of any party on how memorable and special the wedding ceremony is for the couple and, concordantly, you should not take your responsibilities lightly.
Sample Vows for the Exchange of Wedding Rings
You will need to work with every couple you perform a wedding for in order to make sure that they have prepared vows for their exchange of wedding rings. These statements are ideally short, meaningful, and relate to the vow of commitment represented by the ring. Sample vows are listed below; feel free to pass them on to the couple.
Sample Wedding Ring Exchange Vow #1
I give you this wedding ring to remind you of the love I have for you, the joy I experience when I am around you, and the eternal commitment I will give you. Think of me whenever you look upon it.
Sample Wedding Ring Exchange Vow #2
I give you this ring today as I have given and will continue to give you my love, affection and support. I am yours always, until death do us part.
Sample Wedding Ring Exchange Vow #3
This ring is a perfect circle; it has no beginning and no end. This ring represents my love for you; I have always loved you and will love you forevermore. Take this ring and take me as your [husband/wife].
History of Wedding Rings
The oldest reference to an engagement ring was in ancient Egypt where the circle of the band was to represent eternity and a never ending cycle. The placement on the fourth finger was specifically chosen by the Ancient Egyptians for the vein that was believed to have run from this finger directly to the heart.
In Ancient Rome, the gift of a ring was the last in a series of betrothal gifts bestowed upon the bride by her husband to be. It was a symbol of his wealth and ability to care for his future bride as well as a claim he placed on her.
Engagement Ring Traditions
In modern America, 80% of men offer their bride a diamond ring as a sign of their engagement. It has only been in the 20th century that both men and women wear a ring, as previously the ring was only worn by the woman in the couple. The trend toward both the bride and groom to be wearing engagement rings is a direct result of marketing campaigns waged by jewelers to increase ring sales, and this trend only really took off during World War II when rings were worn by military men and used as a reminder of their families back home.
Like this article? The Universal Life Church Ministries staff sure hopes so! It is the fourth of five blog posts in our "Perform a Wedding" series. The final installment is the "pronouncement of marriage" component that every wedding has as its last step. Make sure to read about this exciting conclusion when we post about it within the next couple of days!
Let us know if there are additional aspects of the wedding that the Universal Life Church Ministries staff omitted and we will be delighted to add them to this series.