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Few purchases are as riddled with so many options as those of the engagement and wedding rings! In addition to figuring out the stone and style, here are some other questions to consider: How many rings should you set out to buy in the first place? An engagement ring? A wedding set? A wedding band? If you buy more than one, should they match? And, what do you plan to do with the engagement ring once you’re married?

At least it’s easy to figure out on which finger to wear it, right? As the joke goes,

At the cocktail party, one woman said to another, ‘Aren’t you wearing your wedding ring on the wrong finger?’ The other replied, ‘Yes, I married the wrong man.’

While marrying the right person is, of course, the most important decision, you will also be tied to your wedding ring (and possibly your engagement ring) for your happy-ever-after. So how do you make sure you end up with the ring that will also last a lifetime? Here are some considerations to take into account before your wedding day (and perhaps even before your engagement date).

Option 1: The bride wants to continue to wear the engagement ring together with the wedding band after the wedding.
This option is very popular today because: The ring is gorgeous. It cost a fortune. Why only wear it for a year? Why not keep showing it off?

Most brides do keep wearing it, in one form or another.

  • Two separate rings on your left hand ring finger. The wedding band can be worn together with the engagement ring. Make sure the wedding ring goes on the bottom (symbolism: so it sits closer to your heart) and the engagement ring on top. During the ceremony, many brides keep their engagement ring on their right hand, let the groom slip the wedding band onto their right finger, and then discretely move the engagement ring on top of the wedding ring sometime after the ceremony. For this option to look good, you want to plan out your rings to make sure they match in color, shape, size, and style. A simple gold wedding band might be easiest to match, but if you plan in advance, the band can really accentuate, emphasize and extend the engagement ring.
  • Buy a bridal set (also known as a wedding set). To save couples the trouble of having to match the wedding ring with the engagement ring, bridal sets can be bought. Some bridal (or wedding) sets include the bride’s engagement ring and the bride’s wedding band.
    Some of these matching engagement-wedding rings are called “integrated sets”: they interlock perfectly with each other, but the wedding band will look incomplete if it is not worn with the engagement ring. “Parallel sets” are individual matching rings, which do not interlock, but this also means that the wedding band can stand on its own and be worn separately.
    Some wedding sets include three rings: the bride’s engagement ring and wedding ring, and the groom’s wedding ring. If you would like all three rings to match perfectly, this is the most straightforward approach to take.
  • Solder the rings together into one ring. If you are worried about the rings separating, slipping away from each other, etc., some brides get the engagement ring and engagement band soldered together into one ring. The risk in soldering is that, sometimes, you might only want to wear your wedding band, without the engagement ring. You might also want to add an anniversary band later on, or some brides couples a band when they have their first child. Other brides even think about how multiple children can inherit the rings if they’re not soldered together. There are no rules to this – it depends on each bride’s preference. Think about whether you would ever want to separate the rings, and if not, then getting them soldered would add convenience. (If you’re unsure, you can always solder them later.)

Option 2: The bride wants to continue to wear the engagement ring, but not right next to the wedding band.
Reasons: Same as before. It’s gorgeous. It cost a fortune. And she wants to show it off. However…

The engagement ring and wedding band don’t always look good together. Or maybe the bride’s fingers are small enough that two rings really weigh the finger down. Then she will be more likely to wear the rings separately.

  • Wedding ring on the left hand, Engagement ring on a different finger. While the wedding band will always be on your left hand ring finger, some brides decide to place their engagement ring on a different finger (or even a different hand). Most common would be to wear the engagement ring on the right hand, and therefore not have to worry about the two rings matching. They’ll also look better on small hands.
  • Put it on a chain or necklace. Some girls reset their center stone from the engagement ring into a pendant, so it is always close to their heart. Or you could be non-traditional and get engaged with a simple ring, and the center stone directly set into a beautiful necklace. That way, the necklace can keep carrying the emotional significance of the engagement, while the engagement ring is swapped with a wedding band on the wedding day.

Option 3: The bride wants to only wear one ring at a time.
Reasons: There are lots of reasons why a bride might prefer to not wear her engagement ring on a daily basis… Maybe the engagement ring and wedding band just don’t match. Maybe your fingers are so small that a two-part ring looks gaudy and feels like it’s weighing down your diminutive hand. Maybe the high-setting is making the ring catch on clothes, and scratch babies / kids / husbands / furniture, etc. Sometimes, arthritis can make the fingers too swollen and painful for wearing a ring. Other times, the ring might simply just seem too fancy for everyday clothes and everyday situations. You’ll have to take it off anyway when you’re cooking or doing other messy things, which scares some people that they might lose the ring or forget it somewhere. There is also the wear and tear that the engagement ring would accrue due to it being worn in all kinds of situations (which might be of particular importance to those brides wanting to pass on their ring to their daughters).

  • Wear the engagement ring for special occasions. While the wedding band symbolizes the strong daily bond and devotion to one another, the engagement ring will remind the couple of their love’s early days. Pulling it out on special occasions or for special days will surround the ring in the nostalgia of young love.

And what about the groom’s ring?
I’ve mentioned how wedding sets can be bought which include the groom’s ring in addition to the bride’s engagement ring and wedding band (also known as triple sets). This way, you pick one style you like and get all three rings in that style. If you bought a bridal set without a wedding band for the groom, or just a wedding band for the bride, many jewelers can customize a matching wedding band for the groom at that point. Another option is to buy the engagement ring separately from a “band set” (or a dual band set): matching wedding rings from the bride and groom (but no engagement ring). In that case, you know the wedding rings will match, but if the bride plans on wearing her engagement ring together with her wedding ring, you need to make sure those two match and can be worn together, too.

What do you do with your engagement ring?
How did you and your love go about planning what rings to get?

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