Take this ring keep it to yourself: why we skipped the ring exchange

Guest post by Hell Pollard
The Rings

Sure, we got married in a dorm common room, had touches of Halloween decorations everywhere, and used a Celtic Loving Cup Ceremony. But the thing that I believe is the most interesting part about our wedding is that we didn't exchange rings during the ceremony… we each put our rings on ourselves.

When we started thinking about writing our own ceremony, both my husband Clayton and I felt that there was something that wasn't really feeling right for us about putting a ring on each other's finger. It could be that we're punks, it could be that we're feminists, it could be for a bunch of different reasons. But even the idea of us saying “please take this ring” instead of “with this ring, I thee wed” or something like that, was just not feeling right for us.

So I thought that instead of exchanging rings, we could just put the ring on ourselves. I like the idea that it would symbolize that we entered this relationship as individuals, and that rather than the other person putting a ring on to bind us to those promises, we freely bind ourselves to them. We wound up deciding to go ahead and do exactly that!

We co-wrote a set of vows, and then crafted special wording for the ring part in the ceremony. We wanted to be sure to include a line to sort of explain to our guests what we were doing, and why, so that nobody in the audience would be lost.

During our ceremony, this ring portion came last. We did the Celtic Loving Cup Ceremony, then I said our vows, then picked up the ring and said “I place this ring on my finger as a symbol of my devotion to you and as a symbol of the vows I make to you this day” as I put the ring on my own finger. He said the exact same vows back to me, as he put his own ring on his finger.

We were worried about how that portion of the ceremony would be viewed by our guests. But afterwards, the few comments that we got from people were just “we loved that part of the ceremony.”

I think that this is really great option for people who aren't that into some of the symbolism/potential meanings behind the ring exchange. I know that I had not seen this, so I hope that this post inspires some more people to consider this option — or just make them aware that this is even option! And don't worry, your guests won't freak out.

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Comments on Take this ring keep it to yourself: why we skipped the ring exchange

  1. This is amazing, and something I never considered! I’ve always found the ring part of any ceremony very awkward. This is wonderful. I absolutely love the symbolism of entering into the marriage, and binding ourselves to the promise or devotion. Very powerful 🙂

  2. I’m going to have to talk to my partner about this. I really love the idea of maintaining that this decision was made by two equals – it goes with everything we’ve maintained since day one of our relationship: that being partners does not mean you give up your individuality, even when you marry.

  3. That’s such an interesting perspective! I feel like for me the ring exchange is not so much another person binding you as much as you’re giving a token of your oaths to your partner for them to carry around with them all the time, and vice-versa. Although my dad and I think a lot of men in that generation didn’t wear rings, so it was more of a one-way street, which I find a little sad. Anyway, interesting 🙂

    • I agree – your partner putting a ring on you doesn’t bind you, it binds them. Maybe like clicking the “I accept” button on a software user agreement, only instead of pressing a button you place a ring and you actually know what you’re promising and you really do accept it 😛

  4. I like that this is more like making a promise to yourself than another person. Sometimes they mean more and are harder to break.

  5. THIS is FANTASTIC. I may steal this… will have to talk to the dude and see what he thinks.

  6. I was sure I remembered something like this in a Norse/Viking wedding here on OBB, so I found it (in the comments) http://offbeatwed.com/2011/07/alabama-viking-wedding:
    Oath Ring
    These were used to consecrate the wedding vows strengthen the link between the concept of the unbroken circle of the ring and the unbreakable nature of the vow.

    Why are they putting on their own wedding rings?
    The wedding ring is a symbol of a binding oath. The Norse believed that an oath could not be placed on a person, therefore the Bride and Groom are placing the symbol of their oath on their own finger.

    It seems to be in how you view the symbol of the ring – whether it is a token of a promise made to another or to oneself.

  7. In many Jewish ceremonies one partner will put the ring on the index finger of the second partner. Then second partner will say something about how they come to the marriage of their own free will while moving the ring to their ring finger. Then it is done the same way for the first partner. A similar idea, but different process.

    • Yes, I remember reading something (probably here on OBB – where I seem to hear about most great ideas?) about one partner handing the other partner a ring saying, “I GIVE you this ring as a sign of my faithfulness, etc,” and the receiver taking the ring and putting it on saying, “I ACCEPT this ring as a commitment to love you, etc.” I thought it was beautiful. I love how OBB makes me re-examine my thoughts about why we do things – wedding or otherwise – and how to make them more meaningful.

        • Has anyone seen a sample ceremony script of this? I’ve heard something similar at a jewish wedding I attended, but can’t seem to find anything on it.

  8. oh brilliant, wish I had thought of that
    Oh well, we made the same points with our words 🙂

  9. I love this idea. Will potentially be using it for our wedding. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  10. Love the ring idea!

    I was just thinking today that I wanted to do something different with the whole ring thing when FI and I get married.

    This will be the second – and LAST – marriage for both of us and I hate the thought of saying the same vows we said to other people being said for our ceremony. And I hate that due to the nature of my fiance’s job he won’t be able to even wear his ring. What to do? Obviously we’ll write our own vows but now my head is spinning with alternate ring ideas!

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