Why do the Orthodox wear wedding rings at all given the pagan origins and scriptural reference to not wear gold or costly apparel?
There is nothing pagan about wearing a wedding band. From the Orthodox betrothal service, which precedes the crowning service:
O Lord our God, You journeyed with the servant of the Patriarch Abraham in Mesopotamia when he was sent to obtain a wife for his lord Isaac, and by means of drawing water You revealed that he should betroth Rebecca. Bless the betrothal of Your servants N. and M. and make firm the word that they have spoken. Confirm them with the holy unity that comes from You. For it was You who in the beginning created male and female, and it is by You that woman is linked to man as a helper and for the continuation of the human race. Therefore, O Lord our God, who sent truth out to Your inheritance and Your promise to your servants, our fathers, Your elect in every generation, look on Your servant N. and your servant M., and make firm their betrothal in faith and concord and truth and love.
For it is You, Lord, who declared that times a pledge is to be given and made firm in everything. By a ring authority was given to Joseph in Egypt. By a ring Daniel was glorified in the country of Babylon. By a ring the truth of Thamar was revealed. By a ring our heavenly Father showed compassion to the prodigal son. For He said, ‘Put a ring on his hand and bring out and slay the fatted calf, and let us eat and be joyful’.
It was Your right hand, Lord, that armed Moses at the Red Sea, for through Your true word the heavens were made firm and the earth set on its foundations. And the right hand of Your servants will be blessed by Your mighty word and by Your upraised arm. Therefore, Master, with Your heavenly blessing now bless also this putting-on of rings. And may an Angel of the Lord go before them all the days of their lives.
For You are the One who blesses and sanctifies all things, and to You we give glory, to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages.
This beautiful prayer also proclaims that the rings be placed on the right hand, and explains why.
Yes, by the prayer itself, it shows the paganism of the ring within the scriptures.
Joseph was given a ring by a pagan Pharoah to represent his authority.
Daniel was given a ring by a pagan Babylonian king to glorify him.
Moses was given a ring by Pharaoh, another Pagan.
Thamar was given a ring to coax the truth out of her after her brother raped her.
So that leaves the prodigal son, a parable and not an exact story. it showed absolute forgiveness and willingness to give so much wealth to one who betrays you (including killing the fattened calf to eat). Being lost & found again in true repentance.
Then there are other scriptures which command people not to adorn themselves in riches - specifically gold.
Despite the beauty of the prayer, it speaks of so many pagan given rings and a coaxing ring, and a parable ring that didn't really happen as the other stories did.
Why would the Orthodox church accept something so ingrained in paganism and even include the acts of pagans giving rings in their own service to symbolize what they are doing?
It goes from a "pledge" to "a ring"? Also the consideration that many rings are gold & costly, which again is against what is commanded in the scriptures. If somebody could please explain why this occurs I'd appreciate it.