Promises, Engagements and Weddings: Which Finger Should You Put a Ring On?

A pair of engagement rings“Keep your fourth finger empty for me.”

The one-liner may seem cheesy, but it effectively serves the purpose of solidifying an age-old tradition. It reaffirms the universal custom that a wedding ring must be on the fourth finger of the left hand. But what’s so special about the fourth digit on your left hand, anyway?

Wedding Rings and the Vena Amoris

Wedding rings are traditionally worn on the left ring finger. This is because of the ancient Roman belief that a vein called vena amoris (vein of love) ran directly from the said finger to the heart. As romantic as it sounds, however, research on the human cardiovascular system debunks the myth. Nevertheless, people still stick to the tradition.

Alternatively, you and your future spouse may wear your wedding ring on the fourth finger of the right hand. This is, in fact, a tradition in Central and Northern European countries, such as Austria, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Norway, Poland and Russia.

Engagement Rings and Sentimentality

Ring placement is also a concern for many engaged individuals, but it shouldn’t have to be. Newly-engaged individuals typically wear bands of gold or silver like those from on their left ring finger. Often enough, people who wear their wedding ring on the right ring finger also wear the ring on the left. After marriage, you may wear both rings on the same finger.

Promise Rings and Commitment

Promise rings do not automatically lead to marriage. They may be a symbol of commitment to relationship exclusivity and abstinence or chastity, as well as a personal promise or friendship. Therefore, promise ring placement does not hold the same gravity as engagement and wedding ring placement does.

If the meaning behind the ring denotes a serious commitment, however, and if you are okay with people mistaking it for another type of ring, you may wear it on the fourth finger. Otherwise, choose another finger to wear it on.

These are universal traditions of promise, engagement and wedding ring placements. In some other parts of the world, ring placement may be different. At the end of the day, what matters is having a tangible symbol of a relationship your commitment.