Traditions may become important parts of weddings…some applied rigorously in an absolutely must have way and others in a nice to have but not really critical way. One that has evolved in a mostly must have way is where wedding rings are placed and worn.
Vena amoris is a Latin name meaning, literally, “vein of love”.
The traditional belief is that this vein runs directly from the fourth finger of the left hand to the heart. When vein was later decided to be too indelicate, it became the nerve straight from the heart. Western cultures reasoned that both the engagement ring and wedding ring should be worn on this finger. This tradition resulted in identifying that finger everyone looks at to learn the married status of an individual and for you to declare that you are tied to another and not available. This is misleading, however, because roughly half of married individuals do not wear wedding bands, and single people may wear rings on this finger as well.
Chains and bracelets first symbolized the bonds of marriage. Later, wedding rings became the standard symbol for wedlock. The ring depicts an endless circle showing the eternal nature of marriage. This everlasting bond encircles a space that is a doorway to things unknown.
The Greeks seem to have adopted metal wedding rings after Alexander the Great conquered Egypt in 332 BC. Previously, engagement and wedding rings were generally fashioned out of hemp, leather, bone, or ivory. In early Rome, metal rings (mostly iron) gradually replaced non-metal rings. Gold and silver rings slowly caught on, proving that a man trusted his wife with his valuable property.
Nowadays, couples may exchange other tokens to signify or symbolize their bonds. Some of the couples we have married exchanged private tattoos instead of rings. Others tattooed their wedding rings directly onto their ring fingers, committing themselves permanently to the permanency of marriage. After sizing, squaring and trying to wear my wedding ring without pain, Jayne bought me a strong gold chain for wearing my ring around my neck. Along with a gold charm signifying Jayne’s birth sign, and old Dutch trading beads from my hip past, my gold chain makes me look even more like I’m from the sixties and Greenwich Village than my white hair and beard.
Your day, your way!