What it means to exchange rings at a gay wedding
This is a guest blog post from Bronte in Melbourne- see his bio at the end of the article!
One of the most entrenched traditions at weddings is the exchange of rings. There’s a long history to this. It was the Egyptians who began the ritual of putting a wedding ring on a finger to signify their commitment. In fact, they believed that a vein ran directly from the third finger of the left hand to the heart. And so, that finger became the one on which a wedding ring is placed during the marriage ceremony.
Let’s talk straight. Weddings have been the province of straight couples since time immemorial. The wedding industry and the language, rituals and traditions that have grown up around it have evolved for straight couples. That is the reason why they’re highly gendered. And yet, their attraction and power are so high that, in the absence of other models of rituals and traditions for couples who are not heterosexual, LGBTIQ+ couples choose to go with some of these rituals in their wedding ceremonies. And exchanging wedding rings is one of them. Personally, gender doesn’t have a lot to do when it comes to ones affinity towards jewellery or for that matter, emotions. To be precise, anything that makes sense to the couple in the picture is a thing. Factually, even wedding rings weren’t such a thing just a couple of decades ago. It came into being as and when couples in love started making it a statement of their love.
When my husband and I got married in April 2019, we decided to exchange wedding rings as part of our marriage ceremony. For us, it was a visible and public sign of the commitment and love we have for each other. We see our wedding ring numerous times each day, and it’s always a beautiful reminder of the fact that we got married.
But, some LGBTIQ+ couples are choosing to do away with that part of the marriage ceremony altogether – and others are putting their spin on it.
For example, I have suggested to numerous LGBTIQ+ couples that there is no legal need to exchange wedding rings at all. And some choose not to.
Some couples may live active lifestyles and may not prefer adorning any jewellery at all. They might still want to opt for a way that shows their commitment to their partner in their unique style. Others choose to exchange a gorgeous watch or a lovely piece of jewellery. These have as much meaning and authenticity to people as a wedding ring might have for other couples.
And there might also be couples who do not believe in symbolising their marital status. There could be multiple reasons why a person may not want others to know of his/her marital status. These couples may opt to ditch the concept altogether. But for those who do, it just means love and commitment. It’s just a silent promise and a gentle reminder of what they have been through together to be able to witness this day.
I recall one lesbian couple whom I married. One of the women loved rings, and so was presented with a beautiful wedding ring at the appropriate time during the marriage ceremony. But her partner didn’t like rings – and to wear one just for the sake of it, when it had little emotion or meaning attached to it, would have meant little. And so, when she was presented with a watch, worth over $10,000, she was overjoyed. Not merely because of the amount of money that had been spent on her. But because her partner knew her tastes and passions so well that she was determined to build that into their special day.
Other LGBTIQ+ couples I have married have exchanged brooches, pendants and bracelets rather than wedding rings, as part of their marriage ceremony. And those exchanges have meant as much to them as the exchange of any rings would have. For such couples, it’s their way of putting their stamp on their wedding day, and not merely following traditions and rituals that have little meaning in their lives. It is not simply because “that is how it’s always been done!” but because “that is what makes sense to US as a couple” and I find that refreshing.
So, the conclusion is when it comes to showing your love and commitment, there are no rules! Do it the way it makes the most sense to the two of you.
You are fortunate to have someone you love and be able to celebrate your togetherness. Your wedding day will be over, and life will eventually take on. But your wedding ring will stay forever; glittering and shining, like your love for each other.
Australia’s Bronte Price is the first ever certified gay celebrant from the continent that now boasts of marriage equality. He is also the co-founder of an Equality Network that caters any LGBT wedding needs by creating a better experience through wedding suppliers. As a member of the GLOBE (Gay and Lesbian Organization for Business and Enterprise), he works tirelessly to empower the LGBT community. His website Gay Celebrant Melbourne is a stunning example of his dedication for celebrancy that unites the power of love. Apart from that, his fiancée Clint and their four-legged fur baby – Bingo are Bronte’s quintessential lifelines. He is also passionate for volunteering as a newsreader at Joy 94.9 and spending time in his organic backyards comes a close second.