What hand does a wedding ring go on for a man?
There's a quick answer to the question "What hand does a wedding ring go on for a man?" — and that answer is: The left hand.
But when you dig deeper, men's wedding rings have a long history that varies from culture to culture. The more complex answer to the question is: It depends.
Yes, traditionally wedding rings, at least in America, go on the left ring finger (the second finger from the left) for both women and men. This tradition stems from a belief that goes back to the Tudor era in England in the 1500s that there's a vein that runs directly from the left ring finger to the heart. That belief may even go back as far as Ancient Rome. That meant that when a man put a ring on a woman's left ring finger, he was making a claim to her heart.
There is no such vein, of course. But it's not surprising that a romantic tradition like that has lasted for centuries, since we all want to believe in love.
You'll notice that the tradition back in the Tudor days was just for a man putting a ring on the woman's finger. That's because men didn't yet wear wedding rings. Through the centuries, though, many men have wanted to wear wedding rings just like women do as a symbol of enduring love and commitment.
Why is the second finger to the outside consider the "ring" finger? In some cultures, that finger is traditionally associated with the sun, with beauty, and with romantic relationships. That link between the ring finger and the sun makes it clear why so many people have chosen gold (which is the color of the sun) as the material for their wedding bands — though today, fashion-forward brides and grooms are opting for more creative materials like titanium antungsten.
While most men choose to wear their wedding rings on the left hand today, there are some exceptions. One notable one shows up when left-handers who aren't used to wearing a ring choose to commemorate their marriages with wedding rings. Many left-handers want to keep their dominant hand free of all embellishments, since it's the hand that handles a pen or a computer mouse and that's most involved in gesturing. These lefties often switch their rings to their right hands out of convenience.
Religion may also play a part in moving men's wedding rings to the right hand. For example, the Eastern Orthodox tradition has long been to wearing wedding rings on the right hand. Men of this faith may want to honor their religious tradition and background as well as their new spouse by keeping their rings on the right hand.
In addition, some gay couples choose to wear their rings on the right hand to make a statement of monogamy. While straight people unfamiliar with this custom may not realize that they're seeing a wedding ring, those within the gay community are likely to recognize that handsome men's ring on the right hand as a wedding band immediately.
The left ring finger may be the choice for most Americans when it comes to women's and men's wedding rings, but not all cultures agree. In many countries, the ring finger of the right hand is where the wedding ring goes for both men and women. (Apparently they never heard the story about the vein running from the finger to the heart!)
Cultural traditions that place the wedding ring on the right hand abound in Russia, Poland, Greece, and other countries in Eastern Europe. Many of these countries, of course, are home to large numbers of Eastern Orthodox Christians, so the religious and national traditions are clearly intertwining. Brides and grooms in India also often opt to place their wedding rings on the right hand, as do people getting married in Colombia.
Traditions are wonderful, but many brides and grooms choose to start their own traditions when they get married. For example, several generations have assumed that women's and men's wedding bands should be made of gold (with a few people opting for platinum). Nowadays, however, increasing numbers of people are questioning whether that tradition has personal meaning to them.
Instead, many people are seeking wedding bands, including men's rings, that make a far more unique statement than a plain gold band can do. Bands made out of stone and wood are becoming popular because of the more natural feeling they convey.
These materials are also increasingly popular as elements included as insets within traditional metal wedding bands. Exotic woods like zebra wood and koa wood can make a wedding band look unique. Some adventurous couples even look for more unusual materials, adding splashes of color to their rings in the form of turquoise, or adorning their rings with naturally sourced bone from the shed antlers of male deer. In particular, men's wedding rings tend to follow this new trend.
The bottom line: Whichever hand you want to put your wedding ring on, and whatever type of ring you prefer, you're free to display your commitment any way you want.