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Traditions of the engagement

On my quest to find out more about “why we do what we do” in the wedding industry, I have discovered some interesting facts about the engagement.

Engagement rings can be traced back to Anglo Saxon history, when the gift of a ring became a token of promised love. The circular band became a symbol of eternal love and unity, and in later years the diamond, because of its composition, became a sign of the strength of never-ending love. We can trace the custom of a wedding band back to the Egyptians who presented their brides with circlets of hemp or rush. For more information about the ring itself, you can visit the entire history at

The Middle Ages in England was also a time when a groom would slip the ring part way up and then down his bride’s thumb, then first and middle fingers, reciting: ‘In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost’ as he touched each one before fixing it in place on the next finger in line; the third finger of the left hand.

In some parts of Europe and theUSit has been the right finger. There doesn’t seem to be any actual reason for this except that when a man and woman face each other when reciting their vows, the man reaches out for her hand with his right. Of course this assumption goes on the theory that most are right handed.

And why is the ring finger to “ring finger”?… Personally I think it is just the prettiest finger of them all!

And let’s look at the competition – the thumb is to short and stumpy, the index finger is too busy, the middle, too long, and the pinky too small (and it would obviously fall off)– the ring finger is the only real option.

In Elizabethan days, it was very fashionable to wear the ring on the thumb and so the ‘ring’ finger was challenged briefly. But this was also a time when they wore corsets so tight, they broke ribs when standing and thought a good dose of ale would cure everything.

So they came to their senses and the ring finger won out.

The ring pillow is a tradition that started with the coronation crown for royalty. It has evolved as a symbolic way to bring the most precious of all gifts to the bride and groom.

As for the “Marriage Announcement”, well this one is very interesting indeed! Originally the couple announced the engagement to the community so that if anyone wanted to jump in and interject. Luckily now, it’s very rare to have one’s notice in the paper followed by “but wait, I saw her first”.

More about wedding traditions coming soon!

By Michell é brant
- Your Wedding Celebrant Brisbane -

Ph: 0400 207 913

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