What’s the Difference Between Engagement and Wedding Rings? | Fun Facts & Tips

difference between engagement ring and wedding ring

So, you’re getting ready to take the plunge and tie the knot, but you’ve stumbled upon a common dilemma: what’s the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring? Don’t fret! I’m here to help you navigate the world of sparkly rings and figure out what sets these two symbols of love apart. Let’s dive right in!

Difference #1: The Reason Behind the Rings

Think of the engagement ring as the ultimate promise ring (with a bit more bling, of course). When one person pops the big question, they often present their partner with an engagement ring as symbol of their commitment and intention to marry. Or, if they’ve already talked about getting married and are ready to take the next step, they might even shop for it together.

The wedding ring doesn’t come into play typically until the wedding day. This ring is all about sealing the deal and representing the couple’s unbreakable bond. It’s a symbol of the love, support, and loyalty the couple vows to give each other throughout their lives together.

Fun Facts

The first recorded use of an engagement ring was in Ancient Rome. They used an iron ring called “Anulus Pronubus” to symbolize “strength and permanence” of the relationship.

Difference #2: The Styles

Engagement rings are usually the showstoppers, designed to elicit “ooohs” and “ahhhs” from friends, family members, and sometimes strangers. They often have a sparkly center stone (hello, diamond!) or gemstone, and might even have a few smaller stones on the band. Engagement ring styles range from vintage chic to sleek and modern.

While the engagement ring is all about the wow-factor, wedding rings are more about subtlety and symbolism. You’ll usually find simple bands made from precious metals like gold, platinum, tungsten, or silver. Of course, some couples opt for unique designs, engravings, or tiny gemstones to add a touch of personality to their bands as well.

engagement ring

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There are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind, however, when shopping for a wedding ring (also called a wedding band) to go with your engagement ring.

  1. Style Coordination: If cohesiveness between the two rings is important to you, shop for a wedding band complements the style of your engagement ring. For instance if your engagement ring is art-deco inspired, you might want to look for a wedding band that has the same vintage flare.
  2. Metal Consistency: Choose the same or similar metal for both rings to make the two rings look like more of a “unit.” This will also prevent any potential damage due to differences in metal hardness. For instance platinum is stronger than gold, yet platinum has a tendency to scratch more.
  3. Proportional Sizing: Consider the width and thickness of your wedding band in relation to your engagement ring. Strive for a balanced look, where neither ring overshadows the other.
  4. Comfortable Fit: Make sure your wedding band sits comfortably next to your engagement ring. A well-matched pair should feel natural and unobtrusive on your finger.
  5. Resizing Options: Keep future resizing in mind when selecting your wedding band. Some designs may be more challenging to resize, especially those with intricate patterns or stones that go all around the band.

Fun Facts

During World War II, due to metal shortages, some couples used makeshift materials like wood or string to make wedding rings as a temporary symbol of their commitment.

Difference #3: How They’re Worn

After the proposal, the engagement ring takes center stage on the left ring finger until the wedding day. Once the wedding rings are exchanged, the engagement ring can be worn above or below the wedding band, or even on another finger.

Shop Our Favorite Engagement Rings on Blue Nile.

The moment you say “I do,” the wedding ring claims its spot on your left ring finger, symbolizing your lifelong commitment. If you’re wearing both rings on the same finger, the wedding ring is typically placed closer to your heart, with the engagement ring above it. Read more about the which finger the wedding ring goes on.

WGM Says: On your wedding day, place your engagement ring on your right ring finger. Then, after the ceremony when your wedding band is sitting comfortably on your left ring finger, you can move your engagement ring back to your left hand.

Engagement Ring Vs. Wedding Ring Cost

Engagement rings can be a bit pricey, thanks to their more elaborate designs and sparkling center stone. The average cost of an engagement ring in the United States can range from $1,000 to $6,000, with the median price around $3,500. The cost varies depending on factors like the size, quality, and type of gemstone, as well as the metal and design.

Generally, wedding rings won’t break the bank as much as engagement rings, mainly because they’re simpler in design and don’t usually feature large gemstones. The cost of a wedding band depends on factors such as the type of metal, the width of the band, and any additional details like engravings or small stones, with prices ranging from $200 to $1,500. 

Shop budget-friendly wedding rings.

Fun Facts

The popular phrase “diamonds are forever” originated from a De Beers ad campaign in 1947. This campaign played a significant role in popularizing diamond engagement rings in the 20th century.

What to Consider When Choosing Engagement Rings and Wedding Rings

  • Is this timeless enough that it will match our tastes for the rest of our lives?
  • Do we work with our hands—i.e., will we be removing the rings often or need rings that can be cut off in the case of an emergency? (That Jimmy Fallon story is horrifying!)
  • Are the wedding rings comfortable?
  • How do I want to wear my engagement ring vs. wedding ring? You can stack them, solder them (not something we recommend!), or wear them separately.

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  1. says: Kairi Gainsborough

    Before my husband and I started getting serious when we were dating, I didn’t know the difference between an engagement ring and a wedding ring. The ring my husband picked had a slim band, so there would be room to wear a wedding band with it. However, I also see many women with single-band rings, and I honestly think it looks great either way!