Have you ever glanced at someone's ring finger to see if they're married? We've all done that, of course. The sight of that wedding band there tells us that someone is already spoken for.
But you might be surprised to learn that if you looked at a man's left hand just a couple of generations ago, you wouldn't have been able to tell whether he was married or not. That's because, while the tradition of the bride's wedding band goes back hundreds of years, men in America have only been wearing wedding bands since about the 1940s.
Many people believe that men's wedding bands became popular during World War II. Men who were sent into service during the war often chose to wear simple gold bands to remind themselves of their beloved wives.
Their wedding rings, which made a statement that they had someone to go home to, weren't necessarily exchanged at the wedding itself. Instead, the wives of many soldiers bought rings for their husbands before the men were deployed, often with the financial assistance of parents or other family members. Unlike the more elaborate engagement and wedding rings worn by women, these bands were remarkably simple and often of little value.
Women's wedding rings around the world date back to ancient Egypt, when the rings were often made of ivory or bone, or even of leather. But men's wedding bands simply didn't exist in most traditions around the globe. One small exception: In Romania, husbands and wives gift each other a silver ring — but this tradition is pegged to the 25th anniversary, not to the wedding. Twenty-five years is a long time to wait to get to wear a ring.
America turned out to be a trendsetter for other cultures. Now, many husbands around the world opt to wear a wedding band along with their wives. In fact, some people even raise a suspicious eyebrow about a married man's intentions if he chooses not to wear a wedding ring.
Who Buys the Groom's Wedding Band? (Hint: You Have Choices)
Since the tradition of men's wedding bands is — surprisingly! — so new, perhaps it's less surprising that the tradition of who buys the ring is still a bit up in the air.
Many brides and grooms choose to buy their rings for each other. Those with a more traditionalist bent may even decide to surprise each other with the rings at the wedding ceremony.
More often, though, practicality wins out. After all, most brides already have engagement rings on their fingers. If they expect to continue wearing their engagement rings, they'll want a wedding ring that matches, probably even one that comes as part of a matched set. And since many men aren't used to wearing rings, they may want to try on several to make sure a certain style is comfortable for everyday wear.
Some couples choose matching rings, perhaps with personalized inscriptions inside the ring. Sometimes those rings look essentially the same, but the man's ring is a thicker width than the woman's. It's also fine to choose rings that don't match at all — a current trend with new grooms in 2020 is wooden rings.
Choosing the rings is one thing — but paying for them may be a different story. Often the couple just buys the rings jointly, considering them part of the overall wedding expenses. If one member of the couple makes significantly more money than the other, they may choose to buy both rings. And in a fairly new tradition that's just starting to take hold, sometimes the bride's parents buy the groom's ring, with the groom's parents buying the bride's wedding ring, as a statement of family love and solidarity.
The bottom line? Set your own tradition, and decide what works best for you when it comes to choosing and buying the groom's wedding band.
Popular Wedding Bands for Grooms
When men first started wearing wedding bands in the 1940s, they had one basic choice: the plain gold wedding ring. Now, however, men can choose from a wide array of options to fit different personalities and lifestyles. While of course you can still opt for the gold wedding band, take a look at some of your other choices:
Tungsten Wedding Bands
Tungsten wedding bands are ideal for men who like the feeling of a solid, heavy ring on their hands. Men who work with their hands appreciate the durability of tungsten, which resists tarnishing and scratches, unlike softer precious metals like gold and silver.
Because tungsten is so tough, it doesn't bend, holding its shape reliably in the event of an accident. It's also a great choice for those who experience negative skin reactions to gold.
You can personalize tungsten rings or incorporate inlays of various colors to create a bold fashion statement. One heads up, though: Unlike gold, tungsten cannot be resized, so choosing the right size is crucial.
Titanium Wedding Bands
Titanium is one of the toughest metals known to man, making it an ideal choice for a men's wedding band. Compared to tungsten, titanium is very lightweight, so a titanium ring feels graceful on your hand. And like tungsten, it's a good choice for those with sensitive skin.
You can choose from a variety of textures and polished finishes with titanium wedding bands, and their neutral shade creates an elegant, subtle look.
Ceramic Wedding Bands
Grooms looking for a unique look while operating on a budget should take a look at ceramic wedding bands. Don't think about your grandmother's china when you hear the word "ceramic." These rings are actually incredibly tough — stronger than stainless steel, in fact — and they resist scratches.
Many men find ceramic bands especially comfortable to wear because of their curved or beveled edges as well as their lightweight construction. You have a lot of stylistic options with ceramic as well, as you can add interesting inlays to vary the look of these bands.
Once you've found the right men's wedding band to fit your sense of style and your lifestyle, we're happy to help you make the right selection (no matter who you decide should make the actual purchase!).