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Author Topic: Wedding Bands, right hand or left hand as Orthodox Christians?  (Read 12183 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: October 13, 2009, 01:30:48 AM »

Just wondering what you're thoughts on this is, a bunch of us were talking about it the other day.
In the USA it is the custom to wear the wedding band on the left hand, mostly a Protestant tradition I gather.  However in Eastern Orthodoxy the priest places the wedding bands/rings on the right hand during the Betrothal.  Some people say, oh we switched them to the left hand after the wedding, people in the USA won't know you're married unless you do that.  Then some people seem to say, "well, it's the point that the priest specifically places them on your right hand, why change that?"  What's your thoughts on this? 
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« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2009, 01:58:53 AM »

The priest also reads the prayer from the Old Testament, the last prayer of the Betrothal Service, "..put a ring on the right hand..."

I say, don't let the errant Western Christians change what we Orthodox Christians know to be correct.  Leave the rings on the right hand where the priest placed them and where the sponsor left them after the exchange.
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2009, 02:02:58 AM »

Just wondering what you're thoughts on this is, a bunch of us were talking about it the other day.
In the USA it is the custom to wear the wedding band on the left hand, mostly a Protestant tradition I gather.  However in Eastern Orthodoxy the priest places the wedding bands/rings on the right hand during the Betrothal.  Some people say, oh we switched them to the left hand after the wedding, people in the USA won't know you're married unless you do that.  Then some people seem to say, "well, it's the point that the priest specifically places them on your right hand, why change that?"  What's your thoughts on this? 

Hubby and I were first married in the Anglican Church over 25 years before we became Orthodox, but we chose to be married in the Greek Church where we were received. I remember discussing the matter of removing my wedding ring for the Orthodox ceremony and having it placed on my right hand. My priest told me that once the ring was what was blessed, I could wear it on whatever hand I wished. Being an incurable romantic, I felt compelled to return it to the hand that had worn it for over a quarter of a century. Hubby felt the same way.

My daughter and her husband, however, didn't have their rings placed on their fingers by the priest. He simply replaced them back on the bible for the remainder of the ceremony. SIL's best man handed the rings to them at the end of the ceremony (Antiochian) and he and my daughter slipped them onto the traditional penultimate finger of the left hand. Perhaps different jurisdictions have different customs?
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« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2009, 02:07:22 AM »

I say, don't let the errant Western Christians change what we Orthodox Christians know to be correct.  Leave the rings on the right hand where the priest placed them and where the sponsor left them after the exchange.

I say economy applies here.
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« Reply #4 on: October 13, 2009, 02:13:10 AM »


 What's your thoughts on this? 

I say you better do what your wife wants.  Smiley
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« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2009, 02:18:26 AM »

I say, don't let the errant Western Christians change what we Orthodox Christians know to be correct.  Leave the rings on the right hand where the priest placed them and where the sponsor left them after the exchange.

I say economy applies here.

Indeed.
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« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2009, 02:19:00 AM »

Hubby and I were first married in the Anglican Church over 25 years before we became Orthodox, but we chose to be married in the Greek Church where we were received. I remember discussing the matter of removing my wedding ring for the Orthodox ceremony and having it placed on my right hand. My priest told me that once the ring was what was blessed, I could wear it on whatever hand I wished. Being an incurable romantic, I felt compelled to return it to the hand that had worn it for over a quarter of a century. Hubby felt the same way.

How romantic!
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« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2009, 02:19:13 AM »


 What's your thoughts on this? 

I say you better do what your wife wants.  Smiley

Gabriel! You're just looking for trouble, aren't you?  laugh
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« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2009, 02:20:42 AM »

Hubby and I were first married in the Anglican Church over 25 years before we became Orthodox, but we chose to be married in the Greek Church where we were received. I remember discussing the matter of removing my wedding ring for the Orthodox ceremony and having it placed on my right hand. My priest told me that once the ring was what was blessed, I could wear it on whatever hand I wished. Being an incurable romantic, I felt compelled to return it to the hand that had worn it for over a quarter of a century. Hubby felt the same way.

How romantic!

 Grin
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« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2009, 03:01:18 AM »

It is not only Orthodox Christians who wear their wedding rings on their right hand. There are many people who hail from the Baltics, northern Germany, and the Nordic/Scandinavian countries, who maintain the same tradition.
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2009, 05:15:56 AM »

Just wondering what you're thoughts on this is, a bunch of us were talking about it the other day.
In the USA it is the custom to wear the wedding band on the left hand, mostly a Protestant tradition I gather.  However in Eastern Orthodoxy the priest places the wedding bands/rings on the right hand during the Betrothal.  Some people say, oh we switched them to the left hand after the wedding, people in the USA won't know you're married unless you do that.  Then some people seem to say, "well, it's the point that the priest specifically places them on your right hand, why change that?"  What's your thoughts on this? 

I never took mine off my right hand.
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« Reply #11 on: October 13, 2009, 08:22:21 AM »

Some people say, oh we switched them to the left hand after the wedding, people in the USA won't know you're married unless you do that.
Why change for the ignorant? Is it not better to educate them?
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« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2009, 12:28:03 PM »

My wife and I have them on our right hands. It makes for a good conversation piece when you sit at the table and people look at your left hand and see either nothing or in our case our high school rings and then ask about where our rings are, at which point we both hold up our right hands to get that ever so satisfying "what the heck is that" look. And so then we explain about dominance of right over left and the sheep and the goats and slavic customs and such. To make a long story short, I think its better to have them on the right hand in keeping with what Mr. Y said above.

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« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2009, 01:23:08 PM »

Actually, the tradition of wearing the wedding band on the left hand stems from pagan Roman custom.  The Romans believed that there was a vein that went directly from the ring finger to the heart, hence the symbolism of placing the band there.

A great deal of our modern wedding traditions derive from pagan Roman customs.  Other examples include:

1)  Getting married in June (after Juno the goddess of marriage, though there were some days that it was considered unlucky to get married on even in June)
2)  Carrying the bride over the threshold of the house (to appease Janus, the guardian of doorways)
3)  The bachelor party
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« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2009, 01:38:54 PM »

I remarried last May. I had never noticed or heard of wedding rings on the right hand. I was at first resistant but when the Priest said that is how we all have it, five people around us ( Coffee hour)  picked up their right hand in unison to show their rings.

I'm fine with it now. I went into a local Russian Deli to buy some food and the Russian cashier asked if I was Russian. I said no but she pointed to my ring on the right hand. She said " Is Russian way".. I explained that I was Orthodox and it turns out she attends the Cathedral down town where I was married............... I couldn't get a smile out of her though....... 
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« Reply #15 on: October 13, 2009, 01:54:26 PM »

I remarried last May. I had never noticed or heard of wedding rings on the right hand. I was at first resistant but when the Priest said that is how we all have it, five people around us ( Coffee hour)  picked up their right hand in unison to show their rings.

I'm fine with it now. I went into a local Russian Deli to buy some food and the Russian cashier asked if I was Russian. I said no but she pointed to my ring on the right hand. She said " Is Russian way".. I explained that I was Orthodox and it turns out she attends the Cathedral down town where I was married............... I couldn't get a smile out of her though....... 

Why is that, I wonder? I've had the same experience-meeting up with Russian people and thinking naively that since we are both Orthodox, and can speak to one another in the same language, there will be a love and instant rapport...but often there simply isn't....Sad
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« Reply #16 on: October 13, 2009, 02:22:12 PM »

I remarried last May. I had never noticed or heard of wedding rings on the right hand. I was at first resistant but when the Priest said that is how we all have it, five people around us ( Coffee hour)  picked up their right hand in unison to show their rings.

I'm fine with it now. I went into a local Russian Deli to buy some food and the Russian cashier asked if I was Russian. I said no but she pointed to my ring on the right hand. She said " Is Russian way".. I explained that I was Orthodox and it turns out she attends the Cathedral down town where I was married............... I couldn't get a smile out of her though....... 

Why is that, I wonder? I've had the same experience-meeting up with Russian people and thinking naively that since we are both Orthodox, and can speak to one another in the same language, there will be a love and instant rapport...but often there simply isn't....Sad

 I think it's just a cultural thing. We tend to smile at strangers. Other people around the world consider smiling to be a very intimate thing, reserved only for your loved ones.

The local food store a couple of years ago required the cashiers to make eye contact and smile at everyone checking out.. Men misunderstood the signal and starting hitting  on the cashiers...They had to stop the program 

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« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2009, 01:09:48 AM »

I say you better do what your wife wants.  Smiley


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« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2009, 01:28:18 AM »

I've never seen an Orthodox Christian wear wedding rings on the right hand.

I see people wear wedding rings on thumbs nowadays.  Makes it hard to tell who is single and who is married.   Shocked
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« Reply #19 on: October 14, 2009, 04:27:40 AM »

I've never seen an Orthodox Christian wear wedding rings on the right hand.

I see people wear wedding rings on thumbs nowadays.  Makes it hard to tell who is single and who is married.   Shocked

My dear Sol, you don't seem to have been out much. I, and my spouse, steadfastly wear our rings on the right hand, and so do all of the Orthodox couples I know. And there are MANY of them. When people ask "why the difference", we simply say "this is our custom and tradition".

Wedding rings on thumbs?? OYYYYY!!!!! Is nothing sacred?  Tongue Tongue
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« Reply #20 on: October 14, 2009, 09:23:27 AM »

^ Perhaps there is a difference in custom between the US and elsewhere.  I understand the symbolism on wearing rings on the right hand; At least where I live, I haven't seen wedding rings on the right hand.   Smiley
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« Reply #21 on: October 14, 2009, 09:33:16 AM »

My wife and I have always worn our rings on the right hand.
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« Reply #22 on: October 14, 2009, 09:46:01 AM »

When my husband and I had our marriage blessed in the Orthodox Church, I used it as an excuse to get another wedding ring. Wink
So I have one on each hand.
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« Reply #23 on: October 14, 2009, 01:20:18 PM »

I say you better do what your wife wants.  Smiley


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Duly noted. Wink
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« Reply #24 on: October 15, 2009, 07:25:09 AM »

Some people say, oh we switched them to the left hand after the wedding, people in the USA won't know you're married unless you do that.
Why change for the ignorant? Is it not better to educate them?

See that's what I would say! 
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« Reply #25 on: October 15, 2009, 09:54:33 AM »

'economia'. left hand. i kept knocking the rings around too much on my right hand, and practically destroyed my engagement ring. that, and there are some times a gal wants to make it clear to various someones that she's definitely married, lol
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« Reply #26 on: October 15, 2009, 10:11:09 AM »

Yes, I know this comes from my Protestant background, but there may be something here that relates, though I realize is most certainly not definitive.
Years ago, my family and I spent three years in Paraguay as volunteer missionaries (I taught in an English language school that provided amply for our financial support). We were also very involved in the mission/church work of our denomination. I remember one occasion as we were approaching a wedding that the pastor of the local church had a similar problem to the one being discussed in this thread. The denominational guide clearly stated that the ring was to be placed on the left hand. However, the local custom in Paraguay, as in Brazil and perhaps elsewhere in Latin America, is to place the wedding bands on the right hand. I was asked for my opinion. My advice was to go with local custom to avoid misunderstanding.
Also, as recently as fifty years ago, there were people in my former denomination who refused to wear any kind of jewellery or other "superfluous adornment" (boy, things have changed!). My mother-in-law was one one them. My father-in-law told me the following story: One day my MIL was walking along the street with the two small children that they had. Seeing no wedding band, some bystander made some very rude comment to her. My FIL then insisted that she wear a band. He himself began wearing on sometime later.
My point is that we do have be concerned about the appearance that we give to others and not send out misleading messages.
Yes, I know we can often use our cultural differences to open conversation, but common sense needs to prevail.
Quite honestly, I don't think there's one right answer. Do what is best for you and your family under the direction of your priest.
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« Reply #27 on: October 15, 2009, 06:07:01 PM »

I've never seen an Orthodox Christian wear wedding rings on the right hand.

I see people wear wedding rings on thumbs nowadays.  Makes it hard to tell who is single and who is married.   Shocked

My dear Sol, you don't seem to have been out much. I, and my spouse, steadfastly wear our rings on the right hand, and so do all of the Orthodox couples I know. And there are MANY of them. When people ask "why the difference", we simply say "this is our custom and tradition".

Wedding rings on thumbs?? OYYYYY!!!!! Is nothing sacred?  Tongue Tongue

It's the rings that are blessed not the fingers, so if an Orthodox wedding was performed where it was the custom to wear a wedding ring through the nose, what would be the issue?  Grin Personally, I understand what some of you are saying, but I never thought of my wedding ring as being for curiosity's sake, a teaching prop or a talking piece about different customs and traditions, but of an outward symbol of vows of fidelity between my husband and me. Therefore, it stays on my left hand; as is the English custom. That it was blessed after over twenty-five years, is a plus. And as this was decided between my husband and me without any objections from our priest, if anyone I knew was to express that they had a problem with it, I would advice them that they really needed to get over it.  Wink

edited for clarity..... I think?
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« Reply #28 on: October 15, 2009, 10:04:11 PM »

Years ago, my family and I spent three years in Paraguay as volunteer missionaries (I taught in an English language school that provided amply for our financial support). We were also very involved in the mission/church work of our denomination. I remember one occasion as we were approaching a wedding that the pastor of the local church had a similar problem to the one being discussed in this thread. The denominational guide clearly stated that the ring was to be placed on the left hand. However, the local custom in Paraguay, as in Brazil and perhaps elsewhere in Latin America, is to place the wedding bands on the right hand. I was asked for my opinion. My advice was to go with local custom to avoid misunderstanding.

My husband and I were on an airplane to live in Bolivia three weeks after our wedding, and we switched our rings to our right hands because of this (we were married in a Protestant church in the USA).  We've worn them on our right hands ever since, even though we returned to the USA 15 years ago and have attended Protestant churches until now.  So, when we have our marriage service in the Church (after we are baptized),  it will not feel weird to put them on our right hands!  (ALL the Orthodox couples we know wear their rings on their right hands).
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« Reply #29 on: October 15, 2009, 10:34:37 PM »

Years ago, my family and I spent three years in Paraguay as volunteer missionaries (I taught in an English language school that provided amply for our financial support). We were also very involved in the mission/church work of our denomination. I remember one occasion as we were approaching a wedding that the pastor of the local church had a similar problem to the one being discussed in this thread. The denominational guide clearly stated that the ring was to be placed on the left hand. However, the local custom in Paraguay, as in Brazil and perhaps elsewhere in Latin America, is to place the wedding bands on the right hand. I was asked for my opinion. My advice was to go with local custom to avoid misunderstanding.

(ALL the Orthodox couples we know wear their rings on their right hands).

I know of VERY FEW who do. Perhaps it's a big deal in America? It certainly isn't an issue with converts in the parishes I have frequented in New Zealand (nor even the priests) nor is it, from what I have seen, a big deal in Australia. No one in my family wears their wedding ring on their ring hand; and neither does our priest and his wife.
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« Reply #30 on: October 16, 2009, 12:48:08 AM »

We were married (in 2000) by a friend of mine; an Archimandrite in the Byelorussian Church. He placed our rings on our right hand and they remained there. I asked my wife a few months later whether she wanted to switch them to the left hand. Her answer was an emphatic: No. So, there they stay.

Frankly, I don't think it really matters. The rings were blessed and our marriage was blessed. Most Orthodox folks I know where their wedding rings on their left hands and I see no issue with it whatsoever. I think we can become too caught up in crossing "t's" and dotting "i's" as it were.
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« Reply #31 on: October 16, 2009, 12:58:18 AM »

I was born and raised in the former Soviet Union where wedding bands were worn on the right hand's "ring" finger, from the Chukotka to Kaliningrad, no questions asked or supposed to be asked, period.Smiley My wife and I had a purely secular Soviet wedding ceremony in the early 1980-s, and the designated officer of the Soviet state put our rings on our ring fingers of our right hands. We were completely sure that that's how it is done in the whole world. It never even entered our minds that it could be otherwise. Smiley

When we came to the USA in 1990 and learned that here, people wear their wedding bands on their right hands, my wife immediately bought a cheap imitation of a ring and put it on my ring finger of my left hand, in addition to the ring I had already had on the ring finger of my right hand, saying that she was doing it so that no woman would get a wrong idea. Smiley

Somehow she still wears her Soviet wedding band on the ring finger of her right hand and nothing on the ring finger of her left hand. It is, in her mind, presumed that I would never even think that some man would have a wrong idea. Smiley Smiley Smiley
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« Reply #32 on: October 16, 2009, 01:37:53 AM »

Frankly, I don't think it really matters. The rings were blessed and our marriage was blessed. Most Orthodox folks I know where their wedding rings on their left hands and I see no issue with it whatsoever. I think we can become too caught up in crossing "t's" and dotting "i's" as it were.

Yeah, you are right, Douglas. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gldlyTjXk9A&feature=fvw
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« Reply #33 on: October 16, 2009, 07:57:25 AM »

I still say wearing it in the nose would be the best way!  I think the notion that it is the rings that are blessed not fingers makes the difference.  It seems it would be fine to wear them on the right hand if you lived in Ukraine or Finland.  However 99.9999999990% of the USA citizens wear them on the left .  So when in Rome do as the Romans do.... I'd say wear the rings on the left hand.
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« Reply #34 on: October 16, 2009, 10:04:06 AM »

Frankly, I don't think it really matters. The rings were blessed and our marriage was blessed. Most Orthodox folks I know where their wedding rings on their left hands and I see no issue with it whatsoever. I think we can become too caught up in crossing "t's" and dotting "i's" as it were.

Yeah, you are right, Douglas. No one expects the Spanish Inquisition. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gldlyTjXk9A&feature=fvw

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« Reply #35 on: October 16, 2009, 11:08:21 AM »

When we came to the USA in 1990 and learned that here, people wear their wedding bands on their right hands,

I meant, on their left hands.
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« Reply #36 on: June 17, 2010, 08:50:34 AM »

According to orthodox Christians wedding bands are wore on right hand and the reason behind this is some biblical references. This is seen very clearly in one of the prayers in the Betrothal Service.
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« Reply #37 on: June 17, 2010, 09:40:00 AM »

When my wife and I were married, our priest put the rings on our left hands.  We just went with it, though afterwards (like, a year or so) I brought up the idea of changing.  She didn't want to at first so, like Gabriel so sagely said, I didn't push it.  I, however, switched my own ring to the right hand.

I remember, though, some time later when wifey and I were sitting in a restaurant, and I noticed that she was smiling at me strangely, as if something amused her.  "What?" I asked.

"You haven't noticed it yet!" she said sweetly.

Oh, great, I thought.  Hair?  Clothes?  What? 

Then she held up her right hand, right in my face (Yeah, I'm pretty clueless), with the ring on it.  Been there ever since.  Most folks here at SVS that I've noticed have them on the right hand, but the left-hand custom still seems to be the norm for Anglo societies.

Ultimately, wearing it on the right hand is a nice, minor image (or "icon," as a priest liked to tell me) of the significance of marriage to an Orthodox Christian couple, but neglecting it won't be the end of the world.  Much better to let one's whole married life be that icon.
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« Reply #38 on: June 17, 2010, 06:15:48 PM »

I took the final prayer of Betrothal to heart and have worn mine on the right hand since I was betrothed/ married. Luckily, my wife is Russian and I am a "crazy convert" so it was never an issue. As a designer, it does sometimes give me an amusing anecdote when I have to deal with clients who see my wedding band on the right hand and assume that I "play for the other team."
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« Reply #39 on: June 24, 2010, 10:04:26 PM »

I say, don't let the errant Western Christians change what we Orthodox Christians know to be correct.
I don't think there's a "correct" hand for wedding rings.
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« Reply #40 on: June 25, 2010, 04:18:33 AM »

As a side note, wedding bands for men are somewhat recent. When I was groewing up in the 60's a "double ring ceremony" was becoming more common but was still noted in wedding announcements.
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« Reply #41 on: June 25, 2010, 03:31:16 PM »

Orthodox Christians should wear their wedding rings on the hand on which they have traditionally been worn. Problem solved.
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« Reply #42 on: June 27, 2010, 08:17:50 PM »

I really don't think it matters, and the priest confirmed it when we asked him if we could switch the rings to our left hands.  Not only is it more in line with North American custom, but as a rightie, I like having the ring on my left hand and out of the way. 
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« Reply #43 on: August 31, 2012, 11:30:42 AM »

My husband's family is Greek, but my family is not (my immediate family converted to Orthodoxy about 15 years ago), so most of my side of our wedding guests were unfamiliar with the wedding service.  After the sacrament, the Bishop who married us gave a lovely explanation of some of the key elements of the service for those who were unfamiliar, and one of the things he addressed was the rings.  He said directly to my husband and I, "The Church has placed the rings on your right hands, for the reasons outlined in the prayers of the betrothal service...I hope you will keep them there." 

We had always planned to keep ours on the right hands, as do many of our Orthodox friends, but this enforced that decision.  I feel that it's nice to be able to discuss this curiosity with people who are unfamiliar with the practice, and to explain that Americans typically wear them on the left hands, but in many other nations, the right hand is traditional.  I personally keep my engagement ring on my left hand still, and keep my wedding band solo on my right hand.  (too much bling to combine the two, in my opinion! It also feels weird to have an empty left hand after always having my engagement ring there.)   Wink 

This is a fun topic of discussion...but the ring prayers are so beautiful in the betrothal service, that's what I want to reflect in wearing my wedding band where God and the Bishop and my koumbara placed it.  =)
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« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2012, 12:30:15 PM »

How can any Orthodox Christian dare wearing the wedding ring on the left? Not even the Soviet communists dared to change the holy tradition of wearing the wedding ring on the right.

Btw, I wonder what's the OO custom? I was at 2 weedings in Alexandria, but there was no part of the service where they put on the rings.
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