Promise rings have traditionally been viewed as pre-engagement rings between romantic couples hoping to get married someday. Usually, this is replaced by an engagement ring, but what happens to the promise ring after that? There isn’t really a specific etiquette to promise rings: some people put the ring away, while others continue to wear it. It all depends on the meaning of that promise ring for the person who wears it. There are many reasons why people may wear a promise ring after engagement, whether it’s the ring that came first or even a ring that came after the wedding! Here are just a few occasions:
Since promise rings are most associated with a pre-engagement, many people buy the engagement and maybe even the wedding band to match the promise ring. This is especially true if the original promise ring is a family heirloom, with sentimental value just as strong as any eventual engagement or wedding band. In this case, the other two rings are added as the engagement gives way to the wedding, building on the promise ring as the couple builds their lives together. Even if the styles don’t exactly match, a woman may choose to stack the three rings on the same finger—a growing trend in the past few years. Other options for everyday wear of a promise ring include wearing the ring on a different finger or hand, or even putting the ring on a chain to wear as a necklace.
Sometimes promise rings are so treasured that they become the subject of the biggest promise of all! Some people opt to use their promise ring as their wedding band. Since the promise prior to the engagement is so important to the couple, re-using the ring as a wedding band is something couples consider when the decision about the ring comes. Since promise rings are often more simple than engagement rings, they are well-suited for this purpose.
A promise from the engagement can be used to symbolize the remembrance or renewal of the same promise. Couples have been known to use their promise rings in ceremonies to renew their vow; this is often a less formal second wedding, so it is more traditional to use a simpler ring. A promise ring reinforces the vow and is worn like second wedding band. Other couples do not need a second wedding to use their promise rings. An anniversary, especially a meaningful milestone, is a great reason for wearing a promise ring after engagement.
Sometimes the couple is already engaged, but one of them wants to make another kind of commitment to their beloved. Maybe the promise is to quit a bad habit or achieve a specific goal, and the ring is a symbol of that promise. Examples include a promise to quit smoking for their partner or to buy their first house as a couple.
This is not to be confused with a purity ring, which is a ring that is given from a parent to a teenaged child (usually father to daughter) as a promise to keep chaste. A purity ring is a specific type of promise ring, but a promise ring can represent any promise.
Rather than giving a ring at the start of a promise, a married couple can celebrate the fulfillment of a promise to each other and display it proudly with a new ring. For example, after attaining a lifelong goal of visiting Ireland, for example, couples might buy Claddagh promise rings to commemorate their trip. Couples going through a rough patch that successfully resolve their marital problems with therapy may get inscribe their renewed commitment on an engraved promise ring. These types of rings serve as a reminder of not just the life you’ve promised to live with your partner, but the life you’ve already lived and beautiful moments you’ve experienced together.
Conventional practice may claim that promise rings are pre-engagement items only, but as society changes, so do traditions. Promise rings after engagement are becoming more and more common as people make more diverse promises to themselves and each other. No longer do those pretty promise rings need to languish in a drawer after the engagement!