Talk To The Hand: What To Do About Your Wedding Rings When Your Cultures Prefer Different Hands

If you're engaged or about to be engaged or married, picking out your rings will be an important step. But you can end up in a bind if you and your partner come from cultures that wear the rings on different hands. While the United States tends to use the left hand for rings, other countries and religions, such as Russia and Poland, use the right hand. That means one partner could end up looking like he or she was not actually engaged or married. It's easy to think that this should not be a major issue if you aren't the one dealing with different cultural requirements, but it can be fairly strange for someone to wear a ring on the hand that they normally don't associate with marriage. However, there are ways to solve the issue. Here are three options that you and your partner should consider.

Switching Rings When Traveling

One option is to wear the rings on the hand used by the dominant culture you're in, but to switch the rings if you travel somewhere that prefers the other hand. So, if both of you are in the United States, you'd both wear your rings on the left hand, but if you traveled to Russia, for example, you'd wear your rings on your right hand.

The advantage of doing it this way is that people generally won't question your status or try to pick one of you up in regular daily life. The disadvantage is that the person who is wearing the ring on the hand opposite what his or her culture uses may feel a twinge or two of inauthenticity, or like the engagement or marriage isn't truly official. One other problem is that ring sizes can differ between hands, making the ring hard to fit on the other hand.

Wearing Rings on the Hands You Choose

You could say the heck with convention and wear your rings on whatever hand you want. So, in a sample American-Russian pairing, the American would use the left hand and the Russian the right. But this could lead to people thinking the Russian partner is either not engaged or married, or that he or she is fairly clueless about which hand the ring is supposed to go on. This would be reversed if the couple traveled to Russia.

Two Simple Rings for Each

Possibly the best option is for both partners to wear a ring on each hand. If cost is a concern, there are relatively affordable gold bands that you can buy. That solves the problem of which hand to use, and plain gold bands are relatively unobtrusive. It also solves the problem of sizing the rings correctly.

If you'd like more advice on handling cultural differences with engagement and wedding rings, talk to a jewelry store (like P.K. Bennett Jewelers) that has a good selection of styles and prices. You'll be able to see if you can afford a two-ring solution, or if there are other options that might work for you.