Wedding bands signify the married couple's perfect union and eternal oneness. As the couple pledges their love to one another, the bands or rings serve to seal these vows and act as a perpetual reminder of their commitment to each other "till death do us part." Nowadays, wedding bands are made of different materials and designs specific to the couple's taste, style and preference, but the significance remains the same.
Wedding bands signify a number of important elements in a couple's life: eternal love, devotion, commitment, fidelity, honor and respect and the bond of unity. It constitutes a legally binding agreement between husband and wife, as the wife becomes subordinate to her husband, and the husband swears to protect his wife.
The use of wedding bands date back to prehistoric times, when cavemen tied cords to their mate's fingers to symbolize the binding of their spirits. Early Egyptians, on the other hand, fashioned hemps and reeds into circular bands to signify their immortal and eternal love. In Colonial times, however, Americans were prohibited to wear any form of jewelry because of its deemed superficiality and moral worthlessness. So grooms used to give thimbles to their brides as a more practical token of their love and to pledge a life of eternal union. After the wedding though, women usually removed the bottom of their "wedding thimble" and thus, a type of ring was formed.
The wedding band's circular form--with no beginning and no end--symbolizes eternal union and endless love, a promise that cannot be broken. Its round shape is also associated with the sun and the earth, their wholeness and perfection representing the married couple's sharing in peace and contentment. The bands are traditionally made of metal, as a symbol of strength in the marriage bond.
The Ring Finger
Wearing the wedding ring on the fourth finger of the left hand is a habit borne of a belief that blood from an artery on that particular finger flows directly to the heart. Hence, couples place each other's rings on the "ring finger," to symbolize true love that comes from and flows back directly to the heart.
The rings are usually engraved with either the bride and groom's names (as well as the wedding date) or a short verse or phrase as a pledge of commitment. Some couples choose to keep the message secret until the wedding day when they place the ring on their spouse's hand, so as to surprise them with their vows of love.