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What’s the difference between engagement rings vs wedding rings? It’s a common question that baffles many couples. While both are a symbol of love and commitment, there are some key differences between the two, and it’s actually very simple to understand.

Here, we explain what they are, their significance, and if you really need to buy both. 

Are Engagement Rings & Wedding Rings Different?

a man holding his fiancée's hand with an engagement ring

Yes, totally! While both of them stand for the love a couple shares, there are some key differences between an engagement ring and a wedding ring:

Timing

An engagement ring is presented as a part of the proposal, or at an early point during an engagement.

In the “old days,” if you were planning to propose to your partner, you’d buy the ring and present it. As the proposer, you wouldn’t get a ring in return. Today though, it’s not uncommon for both partners to wear engagement rings.

By contrast, wedding bands are exchanged between partners during the wedding ceremony and worn after that point in time. Couples typically pick these out together, versus an engagement ring you’re picking it out for each other.

Setting

Example of engagement rings vs. wedding rings, showing the difference.

An engagement ring is extravagant and has a diamond as the main in the center, and according to Wedding Wire, 87% of the couples opt for this classic setting.

The diamond either stands alone or is accompanied by smaller diamonds on the side or circumferencing it. A wedding ring doesn’t necessarily need to have a diamond. It can be a plain metal band or diamonds encrusted in a certain setting like a pave.

Price

Engagement rings are more on the pricier side because they generally feature a solitaire diamond along with other details like a pave setting.

Wedding rings are much simpler in nature, as they are mere bands with plain metals, sometimes with a set of small diamonds.

Gender

Once upon a misogynistic time, men presented women with engagement rings not out of romance, but to show ownership. Even after women stopped being considered property (which happened more recently than you may think), the tradition continued.

Thankfully, much has changed even just in the last couple of decades. Today, it’s not uncommon for men to wear them and you can even find gender-neutral engagement rings to eschew all things gender-specific.

As for wedding bands, their past isn’t quite as nefarious. They originated as early as ancient Egypt, where both genders exchanged them as a symbol of eternity (a ring has no end or beginning).

Can You Use Your Engagement Ring As Your Wedding Ring?

engagement rings vs wedding rings: a lady dancing with her man while wearing her engagement ring

Yes, you can. Don’t think twice if you want to ditch one, even after you’re married. While traditions dictate them to be worn in a certain way, it all ultimately comes down to your choice. Let your love and preferences take the front seat.

Here are some rational reasons why couples opt for only one ring: 

  • Single rings are comfortable to wear. A wedding band or set can look stunning, but they can add extra weight to your hands.
  • Selecting only one ring lets you expand your budget and give you more freedom on spending for a ring you’ve been eyeing for a long time.
  • It gives you the liberty to not fuss over two separate pieces of jewelry.
  • Finding a perfect wedding band match for your engagement ring is tricky, especially if they aren’t purchased as a set, which they are generally not. 

Do You Need to Buy an Engagement Ring And A Wedding Ring?

silver wedding rings

The short answer is no. With skyrocketing wedding costs, some couples budget their nuptials so they invest in one good-looking ring that serves as both an engagement and a wedding ring.

Some couples opt-out of an engagement ring completely and go for simple wedding bands instead. With so many styles available in the market, it doesn’t feel like they are leaving out on something and are able to celebrate their love with a remarkable ring nonetheless.

However, if a traditional look wins your favor, then of course go for separate engagement and wedding rings. Opt for specific bridal sets for a more comfortable experience.

They are designed to give a timeless look while saving you from pinches and awkward settings. You can build a ring stack of three (or even more!) bands with time.

Which is More Important – Engagement Ring Or a Wedding Ring?

a girl's hand wearing an engagement ring holding a wood fence

Both have their own significance in the wedding realm. Despite its unsavory past, today an engagement ring is more of a symbol of your commitment and promise to get married soon.

A wedding ring, on the other hand, is a testament to the couple’s dedication towards their relationship and to love and cherish each other for the rest of their lives. So, each has its own value which can’t dominate the other.

But those are just the customary interpretations. The significance of any materialistic object is what you consider it to be. So, you can easily use your engagement ring as a wedding ring too, or vice-versa.

Should You Wear Both At the Same Time?

groom's hand putting a wedding ring on the bride's finger

Traditionally, and generally, wedding rings and engagement rings are worn at the same time after the marriage. They are both placed on the same finger – first goes the wedding ring and then the engagement ring.

This reaffirms the idea that the wedding bond stands before all things and will be the closest to your heart. If you’re not comfortable with both rings on the hand, you can wear them on separate hands. 

On your wedding day, it’s advised to leave your engagement ring off during the ceremony or wear it on the right hand so your other-half can easily slide on the wedding ring onto your finger. Once the ceremony is over, you can put your engagement ring back on, right next to the wedding ring. 

Engagement vs. Wedding Rings in Gay Marriages

gay couple holding a rainbow umbrella on a grass field

Same-sex couples are often confused about what ring they should wear: should it be identical? Should we have a different engagement & wedding ring? Can males wear a solitaire engagement ring as well?

But the question isn’t what should you do, but instead what do you want to do? Wear what you want to wear. Narrow down on a style that fits your individual personalities and something you’d be comfortable and proud of showing off your commitment to the world.

Men can rock a rock as awesomely as women. You can choose an engagement ring, a wedding band, or both. Some gay couples choose to not give a ring during the proposal and pick one they like afterward.

While others settle on both gay engagement rings and wedding rings and wear them as a stack after the wedding. If you want to wear just one ring, you can wear the engagement one on the right ring finger before the nuptials, and then switch it once you’re married.

Bottom line, it’s YOUR hand, YOUR life, and YOUR choice. Wear one, don’t wear one. Heck, wear one on every finger if you want!

When Should You Not Wear an Engagement Ring?

a lady holding her hand with a diamond engagement ring

Chances are once that gorgeous bling is on your finger, you won’t ever want to remove it. For the most part, you won’t need to! However, on the wedding day, to make it easier for your partner to slide on the wedding ring, you can wear the engagement ring on the other hand or finger.

Experts in the industry also recommend taking off your engagement ring during these activities to keep it shining: 

  • Working Out
  • In An Indoor Pool 
  • During Self-Care Sessions (applying moisturizers, lotions, etc.)
  • Cleaning, only if you’re going to come in contact with harsh chemicals
  • When things are about to get dirty, like on a beach or while gardening 

Conclusion

The bottom line? Both engagement and wedding rings are different, but there’s no rule when choosing, designing, or wearing either. Making them surely is an exciting experience in your journey as a couple, so above all – have fun!

In the end, pick the ones that will lend a meaningful symbol to your love and marriage for years to come.

an Engagement ring vs wedding ring

Engagement rings vs wedding rings: which one do you prefer? or both? Share with us below!

NehaOFW
NehaOFW

Neha is an experienced content writer and blogger. She has a passion and knack for writing in weddings, health, beauty, and holistic wellness niche.

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