The Difference Between a Wedding Ring and Engagement Ring

Getting married will be one of the biggest moments in your life, but first comes the engagement. This intimate journey begins with the special question, “Will you marry me?” and continues on until you say, “I Do”. When it comes to planning out an engagement, you should always begin with the basics. Before deciding on how and where to propose, you should purchase your engagement ring. Keep in mind that your plans are no good unless you have the ring.

newly engaged couple sitting

One of the most common questions when planning any proposal is, “What’s the difference between a wedding ring and engagement ring?” While the answer to this question may seem simple, most people don’t know the difference between the two (so don’t feel too bad). Whether you’re proposing to the love of your life or you’re just curious about the difference between the two types of rings, we have you covered with easy explanations and tips for how wedding and engagement rings work.

What’s the Difference Between a Wedding Ring and Engagement Ring?

Engagement rings are given at the time of the proposal and usually have a diamond or gemstone in the center, on top of a gold or silver band. Traditionally, only the woman wears an engagement ring after accepting a proposal, which signifies that she is taken. Weddings rings are the rings that get exchanged between the bride and groom during the actual wedding ceremony. These rings are usually nice bands, without a diamond or gemstone on top. After tying the knot, the man wears his wedding ring while the woman wears her engagement ring plus her wedding ring. Traditionally, women stack their engagement ring on top of their wedding ring, all on their ring finger on their left hand. However, more women are increasingly choosing to wear just their engagement ring after getting married since this ring is usually the more prominent ring. Even if a woman doesn’t plan to wear both rings after the ceremony, it is still necessary to exchange wedding rings during the ceremony.

engaged couple holding red heart balloons

Wedding Ring vs. Wedding Band

While the wedding ring and wedding band have come to serve the same purpose over the years, traditionally, these rings are different in style. A wedding band is a plain band without any paved diamonds, gemstones, or engravings. Meanwhile, a wedding ring is a band with either paved diamonds, gemstones, or engravings. The married couple can exchange his and hers wedding bands if they’d like to keep things simple or they can shop for wedding rings or bands separately. If a woman’s engagement ring isn’t flashy, the man will usually opt for buying a wedding ring for the ceremony instead of a plain wedding band. However, if the engagement ring is quite extensive in style, a plain wedding band is typically preferred to complement the engagement ring. When it comes to men, they usually prefer plain wedding bands but this is not mandatory.

Tips for Ring Shopping

When you’re headed ring shopping, keep a few things in mind before making your selection. You can

  • Find a clever way to find out your partner’s ring size. Without giving away the surprise, do your best to find out your partner’s ring size so the ring fits perfectly during the proposal. If you’re unable to do this, you can still take the ring in to get sized with your new fiance after the proposal.
  • Take a photo of the rings you’re considering and consult with your partner’s close family and friends. As long as your partner’s loved ones can keep a good secret, it’s a good idea to ask them what they think of the ring options and get some feedback on what your partner would like.
  • Buy the engagement ring and wedding ring/band all at once if you and your partner have discussed plans for marriage prior to the proposal.

After getting engaged, your next step in the wedding journey is taking engagement photos with your loved one to capture this special moment in time. You can use our guide on when to take engagement photos if you need a bit of help with your timeline. After scheduling your engagement photo session, you can then decide on a concept and what to wear using our detailed guide on engagement outfit ideas.