The Complete Guide to Wedding Bands

Guide to Wedding Bands

PHOTO BY SARA LOBLA

While engagement rings get most of the attention, wedding bands are a huge component of your ring aesthetic—not to mention, they're the steadfast symbol of your love. From choosing a metal, selecting engraving or embellishments, and purchasing the bands before the big day expert, Shannon Haas is breaking down everything you need to know to say “yes” to your wedding band. 

Meet the Expert

Shannon Haas is the CEO of The Ring, home to central Texas’s largest collection of wedding bands.

Wedding Band Shopping Tips

One of the simplest ways to start your band search it to use your engagement ring as a guide. Although there will be times when you rock your wedding band solo, you want to make sure it complements your engagement ring when worn together. Go to local jewelry stores and try on everything—even styles you never thought you'd consider. When it comes down to making a decision, select a band you love and can see yourself wearing for a lifetime. Make sure it’s comfortable, conducive to your lifestyle, and looks great alone as well as with your engagement ring. Finally, “Make sure your jeweler has a great warranty that will take care of your jewelry for you,” advises Haas. They’ll be your go-to for any cleaning, sizing, changes, or repairs for the lifetime of the ring.

Before making your purchase, ask about things like costs for adjustments, replacements, and insurance.

Wedding Band Options

Metals

Yellow gold, white gold, rose gold, platinum, and palladium are the most common choices for bands, but alternatives such as tungsten can be used as well. Most brides chose to select the same metal used in their engagements rings for their wedding bands, but here’s not hard and fast rule here. If you love the look of mixed metals, consider using a different type for your band than your engagement ring or opt for a braided band that combines multiple colors in a single ring. Another thing to keep in mind when selecting your metal is that this ring is meant to last a lifetime (and potentially beyond). If you work with your hands, consider a stronger metal such as tungsten or platinum which are both harder than the classic white gold.

Stones

Many brides and grooms utilize the addition of stones and gems to make their wedding bands unique. While pavé styles (small diamonds line the band) add lots of sparkle and flair, the gems can come loose and fall out over time, especially if you live an active lifestyle. If you still want the glam look but don’t like the risk of missing stones or snags that come with pavé, consider a channel setting instead. This look, while similar, involves cutting a small channel into the ring with stones set in a row inside the channel, making the gems more secure. Finally, when it comes time to select the stones, stick to substantial rocks such as diamonds, sapphires, or rubies.

Engraving/Etching

From vintage art deco designs to stars and florals, there are endless ways to make the metal on your band a work of art. Just keep in mind that intricate etching is more likely to trap dirt (and is harder to clean), and any additional designs (or engraving on the inside) will add to the final price. Expect to pay anywhere from $25 for 15 machine carved characters to $75 for 8 hand-engraved characters.

Width

Ranging from 1mm to 8+mm, the width of your band is arguably one of the biggest choices you'll have to make. Most of the time, brides will match the width of their wedding bands to that of their engagement rings, with the most common being between 2 and 4 mm. That said, mixing widths can create a unique look, so don’t be afraid to shop for something bigger or smaller, depending on the overall vibe you want to achieve.

Finish

“Finishes on men’s rings specifically are popular,” mentions Haas.”And not always just the traditional high polish.” When it comes down to the final details of your band, a finish can really set the accessory apart and help your ring standout. Whether you long for a more textured look found in stone, brush, matte, hammered, or sandblast, or you prefer a satin or high polish, a finish is a final touch that will truly make your band your own.

Wedding Band Etiquette

When should you buy your wedding bands?

When it comes to selecting your wedding band, the biggest key is to start shopping early. “Many couples wait until just a month or two before the wedding to pick out their bands and have spent so much money on the wedding, their bands become an afterthought,” cautions Haas. “Remember: The wedding band is a symbol of your forever. Pick your date then pick your band.” Start searching early and make it an experience. The more time you have to figure out what looks and feels good, the better your chances of selecting something that will stand the test of time.

You want to place your order a least a couple of months before the big day so you have some extra time for any engraving, resizing, or changes that need to be made.

Who buys the wedding bands?

“Today, our couples are so often sharing expenses that they are buying them together,” says Haas. Whether you go the traditional route and buy each other’s bands or you’re going about all of the expenses together, expect to spend around 3% of your wedding budget on the rings. Prices can vary significantly depending on the metal, finger size, and width of the ring. You can expect a simple 14-karat gold or platinum band to cost around $1,000 and additional embellishments will add on to the final price tag.

Do the wedding bands need to match?

Wedding bands are very personal, and there’s no rule that says a couple needs to agree on a metal or style. It’s all about finding what you love and what reflects your individual styles, together! If you do want to have similar bands, consider a unisex option, a braided band that blends two metals you both love, or a similar element such as a hammered finish. Whether you match, find something unique, or forego bands altogether, coming to a solution you love together is what it’s all about.

How should you care for your wedding band?

“To keep your ring in tip-top shape, bring it into your local jeweler once a year and let us clean, polish, and refinish it,” suggests Haas. “If there are concerns with loose diamonds or abnormal wear, we will catch it and be able to make the necessary repairs before too much damage occurs.” In addition to making sure your rings get their annual checkups, daily caution and care will help ensure they hold their beauty and integrity.

Remove your rings when cleaning, swimming, cooking, gardening, playing sports, sleeping, and showering. While plenty of couples love the idea of never taking their rings off, removing them before any activities that could tarnish, scratch, or result in loss is the best way to help your rings stay intact forever. For cleaning between trips to the jeweler, scrub with a soft toothbrush and some gentle dish detergent under hot water (just make sure to close the sink).

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