Mismatched wedding rings and the stranger
“Why are your wedding rings different?”
The young woman had a wide open face with an easy smile that stretched from ear to ear. Her lanky frame arched over a crossed leg that swung back and forth.
Everyone in the registry office could hear her business as well as her question.
I stared back with my own easy grin, because that’s what I do when I’m caught off guard.
“So? They’re different! How come? You two are married, aren’t you?”
My husband and I were seated next to her at the health care section. We were newly arrived to Canada and a tad confused. The table we shared with inquisitive lady had no privacy divider and staff helped us at the same time.
I felt uncomfortable. Our rings were not obvious. She had to have given us a pretty thorough once-over!
Maybe this wasn’t the first time a stranger had noticed our mismatched rings but it was definitely the first time anyone had said anything.
Weddings rings in Japan
Hitoshi and I met, dated and married in Japan. When we looked for rings in 2007, diamonds for wedding bands were not common. Engagement rings were not used at all.
Marriage was symbolized with a narrow, plain gold band worn on the left ring finger for men and women. If the hands of our recently married friends in typical occupations (i.e. office jobs) are any indication, this style of ring is still the standard.
As for non-typical occupations? You’re free!
One of Hitoshi’s oldest friends is part of a long line of barbers. He owns his salon and his wife is a hair dresser there.
While Hitoshi’s friend is incredibly respectful and knows the rules, he also breaks them with tattoos, wild hair that fits his profession (but not salaryman style – see above) and very unconventional, custom-made wedding rings.
Despite Hitoshi working in a hardcore salaryman job with hair to match, marrying a loud Canadian with strong views and a habit of speaking what little Japanese she knew in an unladylike manner plopped us firmly into the non-typical category.
When we decided to become a permanent couple before the Mismatched Ring Incident, my main reference for the engagement and marriage end of relationships was from growing up in Canada.
The Canada way is usually a diamond engagement ring for the woman and nothing for the man. The wedding band tends to fit neatly with the engagement ring and the man more often than not has a matching wedding band. Rings are usually worn on the left hand but some couples wear them on the right.
I did not place a carefully folded magazine clipping of my hoped-for future engagement ring in my wallet from the time I was 18. I did not pour over wedding magazines the instant I got a sniff of potential marriage. I had no idea about styles, fittings, diamonds or carrots, oops! carats.
Now, don’t get the wrong idea. I spent an awful lot of time as a teen pouring through the jewelry section of flyers and the Sears catalogue. It’s hard to ignore all that sparkle! But I was clueless otherwise.
Despite my lack of… preparation, when it came time to choose my wedding ring, I had parameters.
I did want a diamond because, well, uh, well… because that’s what you’re supposed to have! (baaaaaaaaa….)
I also wanted a flat setting. Ostentatious rocks waiting to pounce and snag anything within a 10km radius were not me.
I thought an engagement ring was a waste of money. Why not wear one ring from the start?
And I wanted something different.
The man chooses his ring in 5 minutes flat
The day we got engaged, we went ring shopping. It was convenient and we were bubbling with excitement!
Hitoshi headed straight for an accessories store. It had a casual, dark and edgy vibe. Looking in a glass case, he saw a ring he liked and asked to try it on.
The middle section was black and etched with a continuous pattern that looked like waves. It was sandwiched between two narrow bands of raised silver.
It fit, Hitoshi paid, done.
Coincidence and Connection – the woman’s turn
Choosing a ring mere hours after getting engaged didn’t work for me but I made my own quick choice a few weeks later.
The first place Hitoshi and I chose in my ruralish city was barely big enough for the two of us and the older woman behind the counter.
Hitoshi and I noticed early in our relationship that we had a knack for crazy connections, coincidence and serendipity. This day was no exception.
One comment led to another and while this woman could not help us with a ring, she told us to visit her relative down the street.
Like before, we started chatting with the owner and he told us his wife was Canadian and a teacher. Wow! Just like me!
More similarities tumbled forth and we knew this was where we would buy my ring.
I settled on a stainless steel band with a single diamond in an angled tension setting. While my choice was not in stock, it might be elsewhere in Japan. Perfect!
Bad omens and rising superstition
The ring I wanted ended up being special ordered.
The day after Hitoshi paid for it, I went online to find out more about the maker.
Strangely, little came up in English or Japanese, except for one page that made my stomach sink like a giant rock.
I read and reread the homepage for the jewelry maker.
The president of the small Austrian company we had just bought my wedding ring from had been murdered by an unknown assailant at his home office only days before.
Should we return the ring? This was bad!
But I loved my choice. And this terrible news had nothing to do with me.
We stuck with the ring and treated the unpleasant information as wacky timing with a very sad incident.
Neither of us can remember why we chose mismatched rings. Having different bands didn’t bother me until it was pointed out so directly. I became a little self-conscious but it didn’t change anything then or now.
We love each other. We love our rings. And should someone ask again, I will give a big smile, hand over the link to this post and say, “because, just because.”
What do you think? Do you prefer matched or do-as-you-wish wedding bands? What is common where you live?