Engagement Ring vs Wedding Ring: Do You Need Both?

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You or your partner finally pops the question “Will you marry me?” and out comes the ring. You’ve planned and saved up so much for this one moment and now you’re left wondering “Do I even need another ring for the wedding? Isn’t one ring enough?”. Ultimately, the decision comes down to you.

We don’t like to say “it depends” but in this case it really does. However, this article will give you the facts to guide you through your decision-making process for the difference between engagement rings vs wedding rings and whether or not you need both.

Here’s what we’ll cover in this article:

Is There A Difference Between An Engagement Ring And A Wedding Ring?

Yes there is a difference. The most obvious difference is that engagement rings are typically flashier, larger, more expensive, and given during a marriage proposal. On the other hand, wedding rings have a more subtle design, smaller, are less expensive, and exchanged during a marriage ceremony. Do you need both? Not at all.

Although in some cases we’ve seen the wedding ring look flashier and be more expensive than the engagement ring. But the former is what we’ve seen 99% of the time.

Related: Can you wear a wedding band as an engagement ring?

Generally speaking, wedding bands tend to be more simpler but can also sometimes have diamonds in them like this diamond wedding ring from James Allen. In most cases, brides will wear wedding rings with pavé diamonds, plain design, or one with a single row of diamonds.

For an engagement ring however, you can definitely step it up a notch and go for something flashier. But keep in mind that an engagement ring doesn’t always have to be flashy nor expensive if that’s something you know your partner would appreciate. The important thing here is that the engagement ring should be a style that your partner would enjoy wearing.

Check out our helpful guide for The Best Places To Buy Engagement Rings Online.

Also can’t forget, an engagement ring is given at a proposal when a couple decides to get engaged, whereas a wedding ring is exchanged on the wedding day at the ceremony to represent the bond and commitment of two people.

In many cases, we’ve seen brides choose to wear their engagement ring on their left ring finger without an accompanying wedding ring. Here, the engagement ring acts as the wedding ring and is entirely personal preference.

Are You Supposed To Wear The Wedding Band With The Engagement Ring?

It’s very common for brides to wear their wedding and engagement ring on the same finger. Typically when wearing both rings, the wedding ring is the one that is closer to you. In other words, the wedding ring goes on first followed by the engagement ring afterwards. This is to represent the wedding ring being closer to you and your heart (how adorable!).

If the design of the engagement ring and the wedding ring are very diverse and unique, many brides opt to wear them on the ring finger on different hands, especially if they’re not a stackable design.

Is a wedding ring necessary? Absolutely not! Sometimes having a wedding ring stacked with an engagement ring takes away from the beauty of the engagement ring. In addition, some people don’t prefer to walk around every day wearing multiple rings, which brings us to our next question…

Do You Wear Your Engagement Ring And Wedding Band Everyday?

This entirely depends on your lifestyle. If you’re a healthcare professional wearing gloves, it’s probably not a good idea to be wearing an engagement ring with a large diamond that may puncture the gloves.

If you work in a profession or have hobbies that in involve using your hands (doctor, nurse, gardener, etc.), those activities can put your diamond engagement ring and/or wedding jewelry at risk for becoming dirty and picking up bacteria.

Looking to clean your dirty ring(s)?, check out our guide to Cleaning Your Engagement Ring At Home Professionally

On the contrary, if you work a desk job and don’t find yourself having to use your hands too much aside from shaking other hands for in-person meetings and typing on a computer, it definitely doesn’t hurt to let your engagement and wedding rings shine.

Do You Still Wear Your Engagement Ring When You Get Married?

In many cases, brides will still wear their engagement ring after the wedding.

We’ve actually seen some brides solder and fuse their engagement and wedding rings together! While we wouldn’t recommend that as you risk ruining the quality of the rings, we can see why some may choose to do so.

Related: Are Tiffany Engagement Rings Worth It?

If wearing two rings on your fourth finger becomes a hassle, the rings are then typically worn on the fourth finger on separate hands.

In the case that you really value your engagement ring and don’t want it to become dirty or you don’t want the risk of it becoming damaged, many brides choose to store their engagement ring in a safe while only wearing their wedding ring.

The great thing about a marriage is that you can choose how you want to style your ring(s) to fit your lifestyle accordingly. There’s no rule book that says otherwise.

What Qualifies As An Engagement Ring?

The engagement ring symbolizes the proposal for everlasting love and commitment between two parties.

For a ring to qualify as an engagement ring, it typically has a center diamond or alternatively a gemstone.

In addition, just one ring is needed for an engagement (diamond engagement rings are given by the “proposer” to the “proposee”).

Furthermore, a diamond engagement ring is given during the time of proposal.

Aside from that, engagement rings are pretty much fair game. You can customize from a plain metal band to something like white gold or a plain band/eternity band with pavé diamonds.

There’s a lot of flexibility for how you want your engagement ring to look like and that’s the beauty of fine jewelry and an engagement.

What Is The Best Engagement Ring?

If you’re ready to purchase your engagement and/or wedding ring, then we suggest you take a look at James Allen.

They’re our go-to for rings and carry a wide selection of both engagement and wedding rings, and are highly customizable to suit your specific needs.

You can check out our full in-depth review of James Allen here.

If you’re looking to explore more options and shop around online, we have a detailed guide for the Best Places To Buy Engagement Rings Online.

Should The Engagement Ring Be More Expensive Than The Wedding Ring?

Since engagement rings typically have more diamonds, designs, and customizability, engagement rings cost more than their wedding ring counterpart.

However this does not always need to be the case. Engagement and wedding rings can both cost the same amount if you’re on a budget. If you’re on a budget, James Allen and Clean Origin both offer great rings at a discounted price.

If you’re one to value a wedding ring more (although both an engagement ring and wedding ring are equally valuable in their own ways), you can be more lavish with the wedding band.

For instance, you can use a more expensive material for the wedding band like 18K yellow gold or platinum. You can also add small diamonds along the band. Remember not to place a center stone on a wedding band, otherwise it just becomes an engagement ring or could be confused as one.

Are There Rules To Wedding Bands?

Rules are subjective when it comes to wedding bands but we’ve narrowed it down to four non-negotiable ones:

  1. Like we’ve mentioned above, avoid having a center stone on wedding rings since it may be confused as an engagement ring. In other words, leave the flashy diamonds/diamond alternatives in the center for the engagement ring.

  2. The wedding band should also be placed on your left hand ring finger.

  3. Wedding bands are exchanged during a wedding ceremony.

  4. The wedding band does not need to be in a matching set with the engagement ring, although it might be beneficial to have stackable rings if you choose to wear both.

What Is The Rule On Engagement Rings?

The rules on engagement rings are quite flexible since everyone has individual preferences. But there are a few social norms to consider for engagement rings that we might consider as rules:

  1. The ring is given during a proposal. It wouldn’t be considered an engagement ring if it wasn’t given during a proposal now would it?

  2. Engagement ring styles typically have a center stone which in most cases is a diamond.

  3. You need only one ring for an engagement. In other words, if one party proposes to the other, the party proposing will give an engagement ring to the party they are proposing to.

How Do I Clean My Engagement Ring?

Cleaning your engagement ring (and/or wedding ring) can do more damage than you think if it’s not done properly.

You can end up scratching the metal or stain the diamond. Many sources may even give you a wrong answer so you can purchase their cleaning products/services.

Usually depending on the nature of the uncleanliness, a quick rinse under the tap can do the trick to eliminate simple dirt. However, rings tend to be quite pricey so you don’t want to risk damaging the band and diamond any further if the ring has a complex design that running under the tap can’t fix.

We strongly suggest if you need to clean your ring, take it to a professional. However, that can be costly and time-consuming. Luckily we’ve made this article to help you clean your ring at home professionally.

Give these steps a try, but if it needs assistance beyond the scope of the article linked above, consider picking up warranty or insurance if you haven’t done so already, and get the ring checked by a professional.

Final Thoughts

To wrap it all up, there’s quite a large difference between an engagement ring vs wedding ring.

The two rings separately serve their own purpose for their own special occasions. And as a result, they look differently and have a different associated price tag.

If you’re looking to get started to purchase an engagement ring, check out our guide to buying the best engagement rings online. Also be sure to consult with a wedding planner or leave a comment below with any questions and we’ll be sure to help you out.

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John Anderson
With over two decades of wedding experience, John Anderson is the Co-Founder and Executive Editor at Life Line Wedding. He writes a variety of articles spanning over multiple areas of expertise including engagement rings, diamonds, wedding jewelry, and wedding planning. John's mission is to help soon-to-be-married couples make educated and well-informed decisions. He now spends his time writing articles to help couples on Lifelinewedding.com. John is based in Brooklyn, NY.