The wedding ring is one of the biggest symbols of any wedding, & even has its own ceremony within the wedding service. Yet when it comes to photographing the wedding rings once they’ve been exchanged, it’s one of the least though about shots and as such can become one of the most awkward.
Wedding Ring Symbolism
The tradition of wedding & engagement rings is thought to date back to Roman Pagan times and is steeped in symbolism. Firstly, the ring was created as a circle as it has no beginning and no end. As such it’s a symbol for eternity- just like love should be. Love also plays a part as to why the ring is placed on the 4th finger of your left hand. In the 16th century it was believed the ring finger was connected to the heart via a vein. By wearing a ring on that finger, a lady could signify that she had a claim on her heart in the form of a fiancé or husband. Men then followed suite when they started receiving rings several centuries later.
The material of the ring has also become important over the years. Originally the ring was a sign of status, not only in terms of being in relationship, but of class & wealth as well. The more expensive your ring was, the higher in society you were. The material is also supposed to be tough, as to symbolise the strength of the bond between a couple. Although not the original choice, these reasons are why Gold wedding bands have become tradition today. Gold is the symbol for wealth, is hardwearing but also an easy metal to be formed into a wedding ring.
The symbolism of rings doesn’t stop there either. Many wedding rings have gems built into them- traditionally 3. Depending on your persuasion these typically represent ‘the past, the present & the future,’ or ‘Friendship, love & fidelity,’ as well as supporting the vision of wealth and status. Personally, I believe ‘Friendship, love & fidelity’ is more in keeping with the rest of the wedding ring symbolism, however I also think these could symbolise anything more personal to you.
However just as these are our current traditions, it doesn’t mean they will always be. Wearing a wedding ring on the right hand is becoming more usual. Firstly, there are cultures such as in India, Poland & Greece (amongst others) where wearing the ring on the right hand has always been the tradition. Also, it is common within the gay & lesbian community to wear the ring on the right hand as a symbol of a monogamous relationship or marriage. They do this not only to signify a difference from a heterosexual relationship, but also as a way of symbolizing their love in areas where gay marriage is not yet recognised or accepted.
How most couples photograph the rings.
With the wedding rings meaning so much, it’s amazing how so many couples don’t give much thought to how they want them photographed, in order to capture the memories of the day as well as the spirit & personality of the relationship.
We’ve been capturing amazing photos for couples on their wedding day for over 12 years now, and I would say at virtually every event, the following situation plays out.
“We’ve finished the main group photographs and now we have just the bride and groom going through the serious of romantic shots. At the end I suggest we take the photos of the wedding rings next. At this point one of the couple will grab the other ones hand, and try to interlace their fingers. As both of them are using their left hand this is uncomfortable & painful for them, so then they look for another approach. The next step is the bride lays (well usually slaps) her hand on top of the grooms only to realise she’s covering up his ring completely!”
Now at this point you may well be asking ‘Why don’t you get involved and suggest something?’
Well, actually this is where we do step in, pose the couple and create a lovely shot of their hands and their wedding rings for them. However, the problem with this, is that by me stepping in and taking control of the creative side, the photo is not necessarily what the couple want- more what I think the couple want, or what we’re able to do quickly, before everyone gets frustrated. Most couples only get the opportunity to capture their weddings once, so why should one of the most symbolic photograph’s of the day, be someone else’s interpretation. If you get your photo’s back and wish you’d tried something else, or you see your friend’s wedding photos next year and which you’d thought of that pose, it will be too late for you to recreate it.
How to avoid the FOMO (fear or missing out!)
Thankfully there is a simple process you can follow, that isn’t complicated or time consuming to avoid the situation becoming awkward & you missing out on your dream photos.
Talk about what you want!
It seems really simple (and it is,) but honestly knowing what photo you want, your mind will already be thinking about how to make it possible. Then when you come to the big day it will be second nature, you’ll be ready without even having to think about it, and within seconds you’ve created your perfect, stunning image you’ll be proud to show off for years to come, with none of the faff or regrets.
It doesn’t take long to work out either. Simply while you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, or during the ad break on your favourite show, log up google and type ‘wedding ring photos’ or similar into the search bar. On the images tab there will be loads of ideas and inspirations for you- many I expect you’ve never thought of! Save your favourites, discuss your options with your partner and make sure you talk to your photographer before the day to let them know what you want, so they can be prepared for your big day as well.
This concept will work for any photos, not just the wedding ring photos. So make sure you have a quick google to find any photos or inspiration you want to recreate, to remember your wedding perfectly. The most popular kinds of Wedding Ring photography To start your ideas off for you, please see a selection of the most popular wedding ring photos below.
The cover up This is probably the most popular pose when photographing the wedding rings due to it being quick and reasonably simple set up. The majority of couples will first try creating this image in the same way they’d hold hands- with both hands facing down. If you do that, you’re much more likely to cover up the ring underneath. Instead turn one of your hands around slightly so the hand on top is covering across the wrist of the other. That way both rings will be visible and provide you a more relaxed pose.
Interlocking fingers By successfully linking your fingers together it brings the rings closer together for a more intimate photo. However, as you’re trying to link 2 left hands together, they don’t fit as snuggly together as you’d think. This is the pose that most couples try on a whim, before realising its uncomfortable and more difficult than the expected, before reverting to the ‘Cover up’ style. This pose is certainly achievable, it just needs a little practise first.
The pinkie knot If you’ve enjoyed the symbolism discussions in this blog, then the ‘pinky knot’ is a pose I suggest you consider. By combining your little fingers you’re bringing back all the childhood memories with the ‘pinky promises’ but also creating a knot that ties together your love and devotion. It’s a pose that is rarely thought about, but actually very simple to create- just turn one of your hands upside down and bring the little fingers together.
The kiss If you’re looking for something a little more creative, then this pose is well worth recreating. By combining a close up of the wedding rings, as well as a kiss in the background it emphases your love for each other. Although again this pose is reasonable simple to create for yourselves, you will need to listen to your photographer's instructions. This is because where you need to hold the rings will depend on the settings and equipment the photographer is using. Hold the rings too close and you’ll lose the effect as everything is in focus, but too far and the background will be too blurred to see what’s going on.
The wedding ring is a highly significant symbol of both your wedding and your love, so make sure they get the photographs they deserve with just a little bit of planning and save yourself the stress and awkwardness at the same time.
Speak to us!
We always like to hear from people that have read the information we create, so If you’d like to discuss anything we’ve mentioned above, or would like to enquire about how we could create stunning images for your event, then please get in contact Click here!
Look forward to speaking with you soon!
South Coast Pictures have been photographing weddings in Portsmouth and the surrounding areas since 2007. Having expanded into photo booths as well in 2015 we've helped hundreds of couples get the most from their big days.
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