It was announced on the news yesterday that Britain’s Prince William doesn’t plan on wearing a wedding ring after he and Kate Middleton tie the knot later this month.
Now, we in the States have always been terribly fascinated by anything “royal” — their style of dress, their manner of speech, their day-to-day lives. But aren’t there more critical things taking place around the world today than whether this handsome young man chooses to wear a ring after he’s wed?
The custom of both bride and groom exchanging rings is a relatively new one, according to my online research. Prior to WWII, men traditionally didn’t wear wedding bands. Apparently, it was enough that the woman publicly proclaim she was “unavailable.”
But servicemen during the Great War wanted the world to know it when they were taken. Double-ring ceremonies, spurred by an aggressive marketing campaign from the American jewelry industry, climbed to 80% of all weddings by the late 1940s (compared to just 15% before the Depression).
For women, a wedding band is typically preceded by an engagement ring (generally a diamond). Most women admit to loving jewelry of any kind — from playing dress-up with their mother’s gems to browsing through jewelry stores or online for their own.
Men, on the other hand, seem averse to jewelry. Some equate it with femininity; others, having never worn jewelry, don’t see any reason to start just because of a marriage ceremony. Many men view a wedding band as a “noose.” And some are in jobs where jewelry is banned for safety reasons.
Still, today’s male has more reasons to be accepting of rings. There are class rings for high school and college men, fraternity rings, and even rings for members of organizations like the Masons.
And wedding rings don’t have to be the traditional plain gold or silver band. There are enough innovative styles and materials for even the choosiest of couples.
In the end, wearing a wedding band comes down to personal preference. Most women today seem to feel that, if they’re going to wear one, their husband should, too.
It’s plain that Miss Middleton doesn’t feel that way. She’s given her prince the go-ahead not to wear a wedding band.
I don’t think we have any business judging them. We can’t know what goes on between them, and it’s certainly within their right to make this choice.
Besides, who in the world won’t know they’re married once April 29 rolls around?