When did men start wearing Wedding Rings

It seems rather commonplace today that wedding ceremonies feature the exchanging of rings. However, this was not a practice that was commonly adopted until relatively recently. Before, it was usually the woman who received a wedding ring while the man did not wear one. The two-ring ceremony that you see today did not start to become popular until the 1940s. So when did men start wearing wedding rings? Let’ take a look at the history:

How the Two-Ring Ceremony Came About

As with many things, the reason behind the movement towards a two-ring ceremony was an economic one. By the turn of the 20th century, the small, local jewelers were being threatened by larger competitors that were branching out around the world. Because of these larger department stores and the advent of mail-order catalogs, the smaller jewelers simply could not compete in terms of selection and price.

So, to stay afloat the smaller jewelers started creating new traditions that required rings, such as rings for graduation, girls turning 16, and even babies could not sport rings. However, it was the selling of men to wear wedding rings that was the biggest gap to fill. Before, men didn’t wear rings mostly for practical reasons since working on the farm or in manufacturing meant potentially losing the ring or worse, having it contribute to accidents.

In the 1920s, the push from the jewelry industry which consisted of mostly smaller shops began to sell men on wearing wedding rings. The effort at the time fell flat on its face as most men did not see the reason why they should wear rings both for practical and personal reasons. The Great Depression which followed in the 1930s only made the movement worse.

When did men start wearing Wedding Rings

However, the advent of the Second World War actually pushed more couples into marriage, which was seen as a national movement. With the war ending, a massive move to the suburbs combined with the popularity of owning a home pushed the value of marriage to the forefront. Combined with more jobs opening in white collar areas which meant less manual labor and the movement towards men wearing wedding rings became popular.

During the war, sporting a wedding ring became popular with men because it reminded them of who they were leaving behind. It provided a solid link to the wife they left at home which was boosted by celebrities at the time doing the same thing. For example, Humphrey Bogart sported a wedding ring when he married Lauren Bacall in 1946, further cementing the popularity of this trend.

The flip from men not wearing wedding rings during the Great Depression to the post-World War II era was astonishing. The numbers went from 15% in the early 1930s to 80% by the late 1940s. Today, wearing a men’s wedding ring is quite rare whereas before World War II it was quite common. Because of a combination of factors, men today are now wearing wedding rings the same as women and often people forget that it is a relatively new movement in terms of marriage.