The 21st century is a time of change and transition in lots of areas. Certainly, when it comes to the groom’s ring, there is now a traditional way and a modern way to go about buying it – both of which should make no difference to anyone but the two people getting married.
But let’s take a look at the traditional and the modern options, and see which feels more in tune with you.
The Traditional Way
Traditions are the way things were done in times past. In terms of buying the groom’s ring, that has a distinct impact, because in times past, marriages could only be solemnized between men and women, and women were severely discouraged from being part of the workforce.
It’s also true that before the 1940s, men in America tended not to wear a ring in any case.
That was a tradition based in two lines of thinking. Firstly, that women, not being generally in the workforce, were to be decorated more than men, and secondly, the idea of the bride being the possession of the powerful males in her life.
The ring was as much a mark of chattel-ownership as it was of togetherness – so men didn’t wear one, as they were the “owners” in the equation.
But when wearing a groom’s ring became more popular after the 1940s (when more and more women had been working to keep the family together while men were more often sent off to war), the tradition was established that the groom would buy both rings, as a kind of declaration that he could provide for the family.
Back then, the bride’s ring was designed to be as ornate and impressive as possible, to advertise how financially secure the groom was – and therefore how good a match he made for the bride.
The groom’s ring back then was supposed to be plain and unadorned, because at the most it was supposed to denote the fact of a marriage, and that the groom was “off the market.”
Over time, that also evolved into a different tradition. Because the groom’s ring was simpler and cheaper, some couples traditionally went along the line that the more expensive and ornate bride’s ring was bought by the groom, and the simpler, cheaper, groom’s ring would be bought by the bride (either with her own money, or that of her family as an extension of the ‘dowry’ principle).
It’s worth noting that America set the trend in this evolution of who buys the groom’s ring – or whether the groom gets to wear a ring at all. With some exceptions, groom’s rings were never a thing until America came around to the idea, and the rest of the world followed.
As well as the rise in women in the workforce, this is also a mark of the rise of a wider middle class, where groom’s rings are statistically less likely overall to be subject to the rigors of mining or hard industry in the office and sales economies that have dominated subsequent decades.
So, there are several older, traditional answers to who should buy the groom’s ring.
- What groom’s ring? It’s not necessary to have one at all.
- The groom should buy their own, to prove they’re a good provider, or
- The bride or the bride’s family should buy it as a way of welcoming the groom to their family.
Which tradition, if any, you follow, is up to you. As we said, this is a wholly personal and potentially familial decision, so the tradition you follow should be the one that feels most right to you.
Of course, that’s only relevant if you choose to follow any of the older traditions on groom’s rings. In the 21st century, we tend to take a more fluid, freer view of these things.
The Modern Way
Well, yes – and no.
Certainly, in terms of who pays for what, we tend to be more open, but whereas in decades past, the groom’s ring was either not a thing or was sometimes seen as an optional extra (struggling for a while to get beyond the machismo argument that said that men didn’t wear jewelry of any kind), these days, the groom’s ring is a much more regular and expected thing.
That means the question of who buys the groom’s ring is much more of an important question today than it used to be.
Neither are groom’s rings necessarily bound to be as plain and unornamented as they were in the industrial past.
These days, there are all kinds of groom’s rings available, and they can be as fancy as you decide you want – depending on who’s paying for them.
There are more or less three modern traditions emerging which slightly alter the traditions of decades gone by.
1. Choosing – And Paying For – Your Own
That’s a little different to olden days, as it applies to both brides and grooms. When you trust each other utterly and want to be sure that your partner’s happy with the ring they wear every day to remind them of you, letting them choose the ring they want the most – and pay for it themselves – is a valid option in the modern age.
2. Matching Rings
This is increasingly a thing when couples shop for their rings together. It buys into the whole symbolism of the exchange of rings being an exchange of promises and energies, a circular flow to symbolize the couple.
If you’re shopping for and getting matching rings, the likelihood exists that you can buy them as one purchase, out of shared wedding funds.
3. The 50/50
This is an especially lovey-dovey way to go, especially as it allows the romance of tradition to shine through, without any of the attendant “ownership” narrative. If you go 50/50 on rings, then it allows one partner to choose a less expensive ring, and help the other out with the price of the bling.
Whether you choose to go with one of the older traditions, pick one of the new traditions, or invent your own – put the groom’s ring on the wedding list and let your friends club together to get it(!) – the bottom line is down to you. Make your wedding the way you want it – including who pays for the groom’s ring, if you have one at all.