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Ch. 5: Engagement Wedding Rings

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204
RINGS
states that the bride's ring should be of silver to show that she is the less honorable vessel, while the bride­groom's ring is of gold to signify the superiority of the man. The brides, however, have shown a disposition to resent this inequality, and, in modern times at least, they are given gold rings also. The old Russian custom is for the husband to wear his ring on his forefinger.20
In the Greek and Russian churches, the rings—of gold for the man, of silver for the woman—are bestowed at the betrothal ceremony, when also a contract between the parties is made. The later nuptial ceremony is gen­erally designated as " the crowning," a crown being placed on the heads of bride and bridegroom by the officiating priest.
The question was often raised whether the mere fact of giving or accepting a ring constituted a definite promise of marriage. The best authorities decided the question in the negative. In reference to this matter Peter Müller writes : " If when a ring is given there is no promise of marriage, the ring shall not be regarded as a betrothal ring, but as a simple gift. Whence it may be inferred that a contract of marriage cannot be proved by a ring alone, since mere donations, bestowed through liberality, do not produce any obligation." 21
The connection between the wedding ring and the bestowal of earnest-money is clearly indicated in the marriage service as given in the Prayer-Book of Ed­ward VI. Here, after the words " with this ring I thee wed," there is added: " This gold and silver I give thee " ; and at these words the bridegroom usually placed in the bride's hands a purse containing a sum of money. There can, indeed, be little doubt that the espousal ring
20 Communicated by Mrs. Isabel F. Hapgood.
21 Petri Mülleri, " De annulo pronubo," Jense, 1734, p. 22.
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