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There’s something about the word “traditional” that makes a lot of us shudder.
Whether it’s a traditional job or a traditional hairstyle, traditional just isn’t the right vibe for everyone. Some of us want adjectives like funky, unique and epic to describe our journey.
That goes for wedding rings too. If you’re not the “diamonds are a girl’s best friend” type of girl or you like princess cut diamonds but prefer they come adorned in an offbeat design, you’re in luck. Wedding rings, like weddings, have turned the corner into the anything-goes realm.
If you’re wondering what the difference is between a wedding ring and a wedding band, the easy answer is — nothing. In the old days, a wedding band was usually a simple ring. It wouldn’t have had any jewels or decorations on it. A wedding ring, however, was usually more ornate and probably included a jewel or two. Over time, wedding band and wedding ring have come to mean pretty much the same thing.
Now, let’s explore the wonderful world of nontraditional wedding bands.
Wooden Wedding Bands
If you’re the outdoorsy type, or you love the idea of a ring that symbolizes growth and strength, then a wooden wedding band should be on your radar. Not only are wooden rings hypo-allergenic but they are also eco-friendly and perfect for anyone. With a hand-engraved wood ring, you have the option of setting gemstones into the wood or adding inlay designs with various wood types. You also have the option of no embellishments ‒ just a simple wooden ring.
Unlike their metal peers, wooden rings are not as strong. In other words, don’t work on your Harley or rock climb while wearing them. But if you take care of them, they will do just fine and you’ll have a ring that is truly, uniquely you.
Textured/Faceted Metal Wedding Bands
Forget the boring, smooth yellow gold wedding band your parents have. Shoot for something a little more unique, a little funky. How about a faceted metal band?
Created out of any metal you choose, including recycled metal, these rings are textured or faceted, which means they have many sides. The style is artsy, elegant and classy.
Resin Wedding Bands
Few types of wedding bands or rings will give you the level of personalization that a resin ring can.
Resin is a mix of synthetic or organic compounds and a hardener. Once mixed, a clear hard substance called resin results.
With resin, the options for designing your own ring are seemingly limitless. If you’re a couple with an outdoorsy side, you might incorporate natural elements into your rings, whether it’s pine needles or flower petals. Precious metals can also be set into a resin ring, as can gemstones such as diamonds, sapphire and turquoise.
Resin rings are durable — they don’t break easily. Unfortunately, they can be scratched by abrasive things, and they can’t be exposed to acetone-based products, chlorine and lotions or perfumes that contain certain chemicals.
Wedding Bands with Inset Stone
For a lot of nontraditional couples, adventure is the name of the game. Whether you’re riding your Harley Davidson to the Sturgis Rally, rock climbing in South Africa or throwing pots in your garage, you’ll want a unique ring that fits your lifestyle. An inset stone is a perfect option if you’re worried about having a ring that will catch on clothes, rocks and everything in between.
Wedding bands with inset stones still give you the glimmer of the gem but with security. Plus, the options in style are limitless, from a ring with diamonds or gems encircling the entire ring, larger gems set into the top of the ring and so much more.
Silicone Wedding Bands
Silicone wedding rings are growing in popularity as people recognize the variety and uniqueness of the style, as well as the safety, they afford.
Silicone is a type of rubber that’s incredibly durable. Some couples get a silicone band to wear during times they can’t safely or comfortably wear their original ring — say while working in construction or backpacking the Appalachian Trail.
Eternity Wedding Bands
Planning to spend eternity together? Why not consider an eternity ring.
Eternity rings feature gems in an endless circle around the finger. The style represents never-ending love, and it is actually quite old, dating back 4,000 years to ancient Egypt.
You’ll have a bit of history on your side as well as a really cool look.
Petite Wedding Bands
Perfect for people with smaller hands, petite wedding bands are — you guessed it — petite. These thin rings are more delicate and understated than a ring featuring a raised gemstone. They are classic in style and look amazing. Plus, they are stackable (a new style) and can be paired with an engagement ring.
Art Deco Wedding Bands
Art deco rings are all about streamlined form and geometric shapes. The style calls for contrasting forms, often mixing square and round gemstones. A style with its roots in France during the 1920s, art deco wedding bands have a distinct aesthetic vibe that’s eye-catching and unique.
Nature-Themed Wedding Bands
Do you spend your time together in nature? Would you rather hike than attend a fancy dinner? If your answer is yes, these rings will speak to you. You chose the metal, accent stones and style, and a goldsmith will make it yours. Choose a couple’s set featuring vines and leaves, or contrast with your partner. These rings can be something wholly unique to you as a couple.
Black & White Wedding Bands
Gone are the days when your wedding ring had to be rose gold or sterling silver. Black wedding bands, usually made from black tungsten or titanium, actually represent everlasting commitment, and it’s hard to beat that sentiment.
Pairing this style with round diamonds creates a really sharp look.
Whether you choose black for the symbolism or merely because they look cool, you won’t regret it.
Tattoo Wedding Bands
Not interested in wearing an actual ring each day but love the idea of recognizing your marriage? A tattoo ring it is.
We’ve seen couples tattoo each other’s names on their ring fingers, tattoo the image of a ring and everything in between. Heck, we know a husband who tattooed (with his partner’s participation, of course) a ball and chain on his ring finger.
Moissanite Wedding Bands
Moissanite gems are a trend right now, especially among couples who are environmentally and socially conscious. The stone is nearly as hard as a diamond, has amazing quality and is about one-tenth the cost of a mined diamond.
Moissanite is a rare gemstone, first found in the center of a meteorite crater more than 120 years ago. They occur very rarely in nature — they’ve only been found in meteorites and upper mantle rock — so most are now created in a lab. This means they have minimal environmental impact and are conflict-free.
Bet you didn’t realize there were that many options to consider! Now that you’ve got a taste of what’s out there for nontraditional wedding bands, go crazy. For more ideas, you can visit some of our Cactus Collective Weddings favorites like Blue Nile and Jeulia.
McKenzi Taylor is America’s go-to micro-wedding expert, often featured in small and major media outlets, such as the New York Times. An experienced wedding photographer, it was after planning her own Las Vegas elopement in 2016 that McKenzi felt her purpose shift into elopement coordination. She started Cactus Collective Weddings soon after in 2017. Since then, she’s helped well over 700 couples elope in style around Las Vegas, San Diego and Black Hills.