Everything You Need to Know About Wedding Bands

Nicole Wegman
Before we talk about shoes, belts, and veils, let’s talk about the most important piece of jewelry you’ll be donning on your special day: your wedding band!

If You Like It, Put a Ring on It!

Wedding bands are traditionally exchanged during the wedding ceremony as a symbol of your unity and an indication of being bound to your partner for eternity. It’s a beautiful way to demonstrate your intention to love this person forever and to exchange a token of your commitment to each other. However, just because you like the symbolism of a wedding band doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to decide on one. Typically, only one of you will have an engagement ring (if you both do, good for you), but both partners usually end up with a wedding band so while there may be slightly fewer options that work for both of you. So, let’s go over some wedding band basics to make sure you’re prepared for some accessory shopping!

How much do wedding bands cost?

The simple - and extremely vague - answer is that wedding bands usually cost less than engagement rings. However, there are many factors that influence price, so don’t start celebrating just yet! First, you’ll want to consider the fact that you’re getting two rings instead of one. That’s an added cost right there! While it can be typical for wedding bands not to include stones where an engagement ring might, it’s also just as possible to have a wedding band with stones. It’s all about making smart decisions with your budget and understanding what you’re looking for. If you’re able to, consider buying a bridal set - an engagement ring and wedding band together; this will not only ensure that the two rings look good together, it also may save you a bit of money by bundling. Like every part of your wedding planning process, it’s important to discuss with your partner what you can feasibly spend and what you want the budget to look like. Make these decisions before you get your heart set on a type of wedding band so that regardless of whether you pick out wedding bands together (more on that later), you know that you are making this financial decision together.

Who buys the wedding bands?

Once you’ve decided on a ballpark budget, you can make decisions about who will buy the rings. Some couples prefer to pool their money and buy the rings together, just like any other wedding purchase. Other couples believe that the symbol of exchanging rings is stronger when each buys a ring for their partner. There’s no right or wrong answer here; it’s all about open and honest communication with your partner to come to a decision that you are both comfortable with. One note here: we specifically suggest deciding on a budget before you end up deciding how you might be paying for the rings. If your financial situation differs drastically from your partner’s, it can feel uncomfortable to hear that they want to buy you a ring and know that you won’t be able to match them dollar for dollar (which isn’t necessary anyway, but it can still feel isolating). Regardless of who ends up buying the rings, the decisions about payment should be made together so that you’re sure you’re on the same page.

Do our wedding bands have to match?

The short answer is no! While some couples may prefer to have a matching set of rings, the most important part of this tradition is the symbol of exchanging rings; it doesn’t matter what those rings happen to look like. The most important thing is that you both end up happy with the rings that you will most likely be wearing every day, so if you have different tastes or different needs, make sure to communicate those so that you don’t end up with a ring that you hate or can’t wear. If you do decide to buy each other’s rings, you should also make sure to communicate any design preferences, as well as practical information such as ring sizing. Again, some couples decide to ring shop together and simply use their own money to make the final purchases, while other couples want the wedding bands to be a surprise for their partner. Regardless of how you end up deciding to do it, it’s important to have clear pathways for honest communication about what you’re looking for and if you’d prefer to pick out your ring. While this is a gift coming from your partner, it will be on your finger all day so be honest about what you’re looking for.

When should we buy our wedding bands?

Experts recommend starting to look for wedding bands between three and four months out from your wedding and trying to have them in hand about a month before ceremony day. Like all rings, bands may have to be specially ordered or sized accordingly, so giving yourself a good amount of wiggle room will help make sure that any delays don’t have you ringless at the ceremony. Many couples also decide to engrave or etch something into the band itself, whether it’s initials or their wedding date, so if this is something you’re interested in, make sure you factor that into the timeline as well.

What if we don’t want wedding bands?

Another relatively easy answer: then don’t get them! Wedding bands are a wedding tradition, but that doesn’t mean they’re meant for everyone. There are plenty of ways that you can symbolize your union with your partner, from exchanging something else at the ceremony to, well, having a wedding at all! There is also the recent trend of getting your wedding bands tattooed on, which besides being practical for those of you who work with your hands all day, is just absolutely gorgeous. Again, the most important thing is that you and your partner are coming together in agreement on something that you want to use as a symbol of starting your life together. If rings aren’t your style, there is no need to have a wedding with them.
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