Engagement Rings

vs. Wedding Rings

Learn all about the differences with this helpful guide.

Engagement Rings vs. Wedding Rings


An engagement ring and two wedding bands

What Are the Differences?

While your engagement ring tends to get all of the attention right after the proposal, the wedding ring is discussed much less, which can make the next steps in your ring shopping experience a little unclear. The wedding ring (also referred to as a wedding band) is typically placed on your ring finger during the ring exchange that occurs at your actual wedding ceremony. The engagement ring is usually revealed during the proposal and symbolizes the approaching commitment, while the wedding ring is worn by both people and symbolizes the matrimony itself.  


In the U.S., both the engagement ring and the wedding ring are worn on the ring finger on the left hand. However, while this is the more traditional route, there’s no rulebook to follow when it comes to expressing your love. Unsurprisingly, you might still have a lot of questions. What are the major differences between an engagement ring and a wedding ring? Do you need both? Or, can you opt to just have an engagement ring? A wedding ring isn’t just used to add a little extra glam to your ring finger. Instead, your engagement ring is a beautiful symbol of your commitment and devotion to your partner and its unique style can complement your tastes. Discover everything you need to know about engagement rings and wedding rings with this helpful guide.

What Is an Engagement Ring?

Receiving an engagement ring can be one of the most memorable moments of your life! It’s a tradition that dates back to Rome, where suitors would ask their loved ones to marry them with a ring. It is often worn on the left hand and placed on the ring finger. Those in Rome and Greece chose the ring finger as they believed the ring finger contained the vena amoris (which is Latin for the vein of love) and supposedly had direct access to the heart. Certain countries like the United States, UK, France, and Germany continue to wear the engagement ring on their left-hand ring finger while other countries like Russia, Colombia, and Denmark choose to wear the engagement ring on their right-hand ring finger.

Nowadays, your suitor might get down on one knee, propose flash mob style, or simply ask, “Will you marry me?” over a candlelit dinner. Modern-day engagement rings feature stunning center stones and can have a more romantic, traditional, on-trend, or simple look to suit your personal style and taste. Popular engagement ring styles include classic, halo, vintage, three-stone, solitaire, infinity, and much more. Center stones come in a variety of shapes like round, cushion, oval, pear, princess, and others, as well as options like diamonds, sapphires, and other colorful gemstones. At Shane Co., you can customize your engagement ring further by shopping by style, metal, price, and center stone, and personalizing it with an engraving!


A diamond solitaire engagement ring
A diamond wedding band

What Is a Wedding Ring?

While it’s unclear when there became a major distinction between a wedding ring and an engagement ring, the early church certainly played a huge role. In the 8th century, it was common for couples to exchange rings, but the ring exchange did not necessarily signify marriage. Thus, one individual might be under the assumption that this ring exchange ceremony resulted in marriage while the other did not. To curb this confusion, the early church authorized marriage and oversaw a church ceremony with the proper exchanging of rings, which may have marked the beginning of assigning meaning and distinguishing between an engagement ring and a wedding ring. 

While wedding rings can be more extravagant, most have a simple design to allow the engagement ring to shine. Wedding rings are placed on the ring finger during the wedding ceremony and symbolize an eternal commitment. We carry a variety of wedding ring choices like vintage, classic, contour, diamond, infinity, sapphire, and more. When picking out a wedding ring, it’s important to keep your engagement ring’s shape in mind, as the two will sit together on your finger. We even offer matching wedding ring sets to effortlessly accommodate your engagement ring’s unique design!


Do You Need Both an Engagement Ring and a Wedding Ring?

Choosing both an engagement ring and a wedding ring or just an engagement ring or wedding ring is totally up to your personal taste and style. If you’ve always envisioned two rings on your finger, go for a wedding ring and engagement ring combination! You can opt for a bold infinity-style wedding ring or a diamond wedding ring for a more simple, timeless look. You may even choose to only wear your wedding ring on specific occasions to protect your engagement ring. However, our Free Lifetime Warranty protects your center stone in the unfortunate case it does get damaged.  

There’s nothing wrong with deciding on an engagement ring that has a more simple wedding ring-like style, or wearing a wedding ring as an engagement ring. Ultimately, this personal decision comes down to how you feel which ring (or pairing) best represents your love story. 

Which Finger Do You Wear
Your Engagement and Wedding Ring On?

Prepare for your wedding day by learning about the traditional placement for your engagement ring and your wedding ring.

Before Ceremony

Before your wedding day, engagement rings are typically worn on the ring finger on your left hand. However, this tends to be more unique to western cultures. In other countries, the engagement ring may be worn on the right hand.

During Ceremony

During the ceremony, the engagement ring switches to the opposite hand’s ring finger. This can be done before walking down the aisle or during the exchange of rings. Removing your engagement ring allows the wedding ring to easily slip onto your finger.

After Ceremony

After the ceremony, the engagement ring can be placed back onto the left hand’s ring finger. The wedding ring does not need to be removed first and is traditionally worn on the inside as it is closer to your heart. How you choose to wear your rings comes down to personal preference. You can choose to wear a stack of rings on your ring finger or spread them out. It’s also not uncommon to wear one or the other for everyday use.


What to Look for When Picking Out Wedding Rings

As most brides pick out their wedding dress before their wedding shoes, a similar approach can be taken when it comes to your engagement ring and the wedding ring. Always consider the style of your engagement ring before making a purchase so the two do not clash and can fit seamlessly next to one another. Raised baskets may allow you to place your wedding ring flush against your engagement ring, while flush baskets (with large diamonds) may require contour wedding rings. Wedding rings are typically purchased three to four months before your wedding. 

While wedding rings are available in a range of prices, they still tend to be less expensive on average compared to engagement rings. You and your partner can pick matching wedding ring styles or opt for different designs. You can choose your style, metal, type, size, and even personalize with an engraving.

We hope we’ve answered all of your wedding ring vs. engagement ring questions so you can confidently continue the ring shopping process. Shop our engagement rings by center stone shape, including round, princess, oval, or pear, and view our women's wedding rings to create a stunning pair that will last a lifetime and tell the beautiful story of your love!