Engagement Rings vs. Wedding Rings: A Comprehensive Guide to The Differences

Engagement Rings vs. Wedding Rings: A Comprehensive Guide to The Differences

July 21, 2021

Whether you’re getting started with wedding planning or you’re putting together proposal plans, a big congratulations to you and your partner!

But with those plans comes plenty of questions.  You may be wondering what the difference between engagement rings vs. wedding rings is. And do you have to wear both? 

On top of it, you might also need some guidance on when to start shopping for rings and how to choose one in the first place. 

We’re answering all of those questions for you in this post. 

A man proposes to a woman with an engagement ring

What’s the difference between engagement rings vs. wedding rings?

Now that you and your significant other are planning to tie the knot, you’ll quickly realize there’s an entirely different language when it comes to the big day. 

One huge question you might have is “what exactly is the difference between engagement rings vs. wedding rings?” Are they not the same thing? 

Actually, they’re not! And yes, traditionally, both a wedding ring (also known as a wedding band) and an engagement ring are involved in one single wedding.

What are engagement rings?

A man holds a jewelry box with a solitaire diamond engagement ring in it

Engagement rings typically come first in the giving of rings. These are given when a proposal takes place or soon after you and your significant other decide to get married. 

Engagement rings usually have one large, dominant gemstone. Some bands have more stones set into it. And more often, we’re now seeing engagement rings with three large stones or even a cluster of stones.

What are wedding rings?

 A man and a woman hold hands after exchanging wedding rings during their wedding ceremony

On the other hand, wedding rings are usually simple bands made of precious metals like white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, or sterling silver. Some wedding bands have several small diamonds set into it, called pavé diamonds. 

Wedding rings and bands are exchanged during the wedding ceremony itself. Traditionally, it’s a major part of the marriage ceremony! The exchanging of rings symbolizes the union of the marriage.  

Top 3 reasons you may want to have just one ring

But if you love your engagement ring, or if you’ve already picked out the wedding ring you want, do you have to have the other one? 

While it’s common to see both an engagement ring and a wedding ring, it’s up to your personal preference whether you want to have both or only one. 

And if you’re not sure yet, here’s 3 reasons why you might decide to stick with one ring. 

You only have to keep track of one ring: 

Have you ever watched a movie or TV show where the main character dropped her wedding jewelry down the sink? 

It really does happen! And, unfortunately when it does, it’s a lot of sentiment (and money) washed down the drain. Pun intended. 

So if you’re worried about lost, stolen, or damaged rings, then you may want to opt for just one. You’ll only have the one to keep track of, which means any anxiety you may have about having your ring misplaced or broken can ease up. 

You can put more of a budget towards one ring instead of splitting it between two

While we don’t believe the more a ring costs the prettier it is, some people certainly do have their eyes set on a style of engagement or wedding band that may be higher in price. 

Do you want a larger center stone on it? Or do you love the look of the engagement rings that have a cluster of gemstones on it? If that’s the case, and you’re watching your budget when it comes to choosing your wedding jewelry, you may decide to go for one over the other. 

There’s nothing wrong with that! Especially if it means getting the ring of your dreams versus one you’re settling on. 

One ring may feel more comfortable to you

Some people are not ring people. So going from wearing nothing on your fingers to suddenly having two rings on it can feel overwhelming. 

If that sounds like you, then go with either a wedding band or an engagement ring. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable if you don’t have to! 

How to wear an engagement ring vs. wedding ring

Woman wears a wedding ring followed by an engagement ring on her ring finger.

With most cultures, it’s common to wear both your wedding ring and engagement ring on the same finger. Usually, that’s the ring finger of the left hand - the finger right in between your middle finger and your pinky. The ring finger on the left hand has the only vein that runs directly to the heart. And typically, the wedding ring goes on your finger first so it’s closest to your heart.

When (and how!) to pick out engagement rings vs. wedding rings

With the basics of the two types of rings nailed down, we can go over when you should pick them out. And better yet, we’ll walk you through some tips on how to choose them, too! 

When to choose engagement rings

When to choose an engagement ring depends on a few factors. But, the safest bet is to go ahead and start looking at different engagement ring styles when you and your partner start discussing marriage. 

Starting earlier means you can account for deciding on the style, finding the perfect ring and center stone, budgeting for it, and planning the actual proposal. 

When and how to choose wedding rings

Wedding bands can wait a little longer in the wedding planning process. Professionals recommend picking out wedding rings at least 2 months before the wedding date. This will give you plenty of time to make sure it’s created and sized correctly before the big day. Plus, it’ll give you a little wiggle room in case any last minute changes pop up. 

Tips on how to choose wedding rings and engagement rings

Choosing a wedding ring or an engagement ring is a daunting task! It’s selecting a relatively expensive piece of jewelry that will last you a long time. So how do you make sure you choose the right one for you? 

Start early

Once you and your partner start seriously talking about marriage, then start looking at the different types of rings you can choose from. Create a Pinterest board of all the styles you love. Go into jewelry stores and try on different types of rings to see what resonates with you most. Plus, starting early will leave you plenty of time for adjustments and resizing if you need it.  If you need help choosing a jeweler, check out this guide.

Find the styles you truly love - not just what’s trendy

While you’re shopping for rings, make sure you look at all styles. Not just what’s trendy. The trends will come and go, but your ring will stay on your finger through all of it. So don’t worry about what’s fashionable right now. Instead, focus on what kind of rings you truly love on your hand. If you love unique engagement rings instead of what’s trendy, then go for it!

Be open and honest about budgets

From the beginning, you and your partner should be open and honest about your ring budget. The last thing you want is for the two of you to be one different pages. One of you is going to end up disappointed. So, stay honest about how much you can spend on engagement rings vs. wedding rings. 

Decide if you want a matching set or not

If you’ve decided to have both an engagement ring and a wedding band, you can start choosing the styles of each. Many people want an engagement ring that matches their wedding band. And plenty of couples love having a matching wedding ring set to show off their union. 

Shop together

In every movie, the one proposing always goes to the jewelry store and selects the most perfect ring. And the one being proposed to always ends up loving it! But we know movies aren’t always an accurate depiction of real life. Many times, the one being proposed to doesn’t totally love the ring they’re given. And you should love your rings since you’ll be wearing them for the rest of your life! 

You and your partner can shop together so you both get a feel for the styles you like! Shopping together means you can also nail down details like ring size. And to make sure there’s still an element of surprise, your partner can keep the proposal plan itself top secret. 

Groom slides wedding ring on bride’s finger during wedding ceremony.

Like we said, there’s a whole new language in the wedding world. And determining the differences in engagement rings vs. wedding rings is just part of learning that language! 

No matter what you choose, include a Lovecast link in your proposal and ceremony plans. We offer a variety of options to suit your proposal and your wedding day desires! And with the simplest interface, you’ll be sure to get many more congratulations from your loved ones.

Interested in featuring your wedding on Lovecast?
Send us your photos here!
Lovecast - A simple app for livestreaming your wedding

Invite all your friends and family to witness your special day!

Get Lovecast