On which hand is the wedding ring typically worn? Like most traditions, the answer is not universal and differs based on cultural norms.
The Argument for the Left Hand
In most Western countries, the wedding ring and engagement ring are traditionally worn on the ring finger of the left hand. The origin of this tradition can be traced back to the very first culture to exchange rings as a symbol of marriage over 5000 years ago: ancient Egypt.
The Ancient Egyptians believed that there was a vein which ran directly from the ring finger of the left hand to the heart. This isn’t true, but their belief started the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on that finger, symbolizing the connection between the heart and the commitment of marriage.
The Romans continued the tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the left hand, calling the ring finger "vena amoris," meaning "the vein of love." Over time, this idea remained consistent and the tradition of using this finger to represent marriage spread throughout Europe.
Countries in which wedding rings are commonly worn on the left hand include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Mexico, and South Africa.
The Argument for the Right Hand
Not all cultures subscribe to the tradition of wearing rings on the left hand. In many countries, the wedding ring is traditionally worn on the right hand, most likely because the left hand was considered “unclean”. Before the adoption of modern hygiene, people did dirty things with their left hand and clean things with their right. We aren’t going to go into too much detail on that one, just trust me.
Countries in which people tend to wear their wedding bands on the right hand include Bulgaria, Denmark, Greece, India, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia and Spain.
Eastern Orthodox Tradition
In Eastern Orthodox Christianity, the wedding ring is worn on the right hand. This practice may stem from the belief that the right hand is associated with blessings and power, and therefore represents a closer relationship with God. Some customs also suggest that a devil sits on a person’s left shoulder, and an angel sits on their right, so choosing the right hand represents siding with God. In a lot of western cultures, Eastern Orthodox weddings will still place the rings on the right hand of each person, even if they choose to switch it to their left after the ceremony.
In Jewish tradition, the wedding ring is also placed on the right hand during the marriage ceremony. Just like with the Eastern Orthodox tradition, this is typically ceremonial and in Western countries, most people will move the ring to their left hand following the ceremony.
According to Islamic traditions, there are no rules for which hand the wedding ring is worn. For women, there isn’t even any specific rules requiring a certain finger, although for men are forbidden from wearing the ring on their index or middle finger. The only exception to this is in Iran, where it is customary to wear the wedding rings on one’s right hand.