How to have a short and simple ring-warming ceremony

April 28 | Guest post by ginnygrace84

Along with a wonderful idea for a DIY beaded bouquet, Tribe member Ginny also had a good idea to augment her ring warming to suit her small wedding ceremony. Here is her less-than-perfect, but sweet experience.

short but sweet ring warming ceremony
Ginny and Adam's ring warming dish from Etsy. Photo by Kim French, One Fine Day photography.

I had never heard of a ring warming until I discovered the wonders of Offbeat Bride, and then it became an idea I couldn't let go of. It was something I was very adamant and excited about and I tried to explain it to everyone since no one in the Great State of Alabama has ever heard of it.

I've read that sometimes ring warming can take a bit of time. One of our goals was to keep the ceremony short and simple, so we decided to augment the ring warming section to suit our wedding.

We had the idea to keep it to just our family doing the ring warming — though we wanted to include ALL family, so still like 40-ish people. Our guestlist only had about 100 people, so it wasn't going to be huge, but like I said: "short and simple." The coordinator arranged seating so that family would be at the front in our small venue and we told our parents (in the front) and my uncle (who was supposed to be in the last family row) what we needed them to do.

This is what the officiant read at our wedding to explain the ring-warming ceremony:

Ginny and Adam will exchange rings as a physical symbol of the vows they are making to one another. As the ceremony procedes, will the families of Ginny and Adam please warm these rings by passing them down the row. As you hold them in your hands, pause for a moment, and make your wishes for the couple and for their future together before you pass them on to the next person. These rings will not only be a gift from one to another but will be given with the love, support and wisdom of their family and friends.

Originally I didn't want to have any readings in our ceremony (keep it short and simple), but then I got paranoid that the ring warming would take a long time. So I ended up asking both our sisters to do a reading, about two days before the wedding, to fill in time while the rings were being passed, JUST IN CASE. Our entire ceremony lasted about seven minutes, and I had estimated that if all 100 people ended up getting the ring and each person held the ring three seconds, it would take about five minutes for the ring to go around, so that should be plenty of time.

Somehow though, in all the wedding day bliss, my dad misunderstood that he was supposed to pass the rings backwards and instead he passed the rings sideways to Adam's dad.

ring warming
Ginny's mother holding the rings.
We had told the last groomsman in the lineup that his job was to get the rings when they got to the end of the row Adam's parents were sitting in. He apparently took this responsibility VERY seriously because when my dad passed them the wrong way, then Adam's parents got the rings instead of everyone else, Shawn snatched the rings away from Adam's mom. Which means the rings ended up only getting passed down the front row on each side and the bridal party… so it lasted like twenty-five seconds.

When I saw what happened, for a split second I kind of freaked, but then I realized it didn't matter and at least our parents got to hold the rings. In the wedding video, you can see me telling the officiant that he doesn't have to do his readings if he doesnt want to since the rings are already back, and then we all start laughing. And we laughed basically all the way through the ceremony from there. It was awesome!

The video is shaky, and the video missed the part where the ring warming is explained, but here's the link to the last half of the ceremony, so you can see how one works during a wedding.

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  1. Thanks for sharing, Ginny! I've loved the idea of a ring warming since I heard about it as well, but have worried about it lining up with the rest of the ceremony timewise. Nice to hear your experience in which whatever happens, people laugh it off. I also loved your officiant's explanation – might just have to steal that;)

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  2. Ring warming is also an excellent time to have a song performed, if you are wanting music in your ceremony. I had a soloist (who also is a dear friend) perform "For You" by Fleetwood Mac…which to me is the PERFECT ring warming song. It gave folks time to pass the rings, and also gave the folks who weren't currently holding them something to pay attention to. In the end it took a little longer to get the rings back than the song ran, but it was all good anyways.

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  3. I like your idea. We had a small ceremony as well, but still worried the ring-warming would take too long. So I assigned my older sister to take the rings around to pre-determined people (family and VERY close friends) before the actual ceremony. That way, they didn't have to hurry and they could spend a few thoughtful minutes with the rings without feeling rushed. When the officiant got to the rings portion of the ceremony, he mentioned the bit about the symbolism of the rings and also spoke of the ringwarming that took place before.

    My only regret is that I was unable to witness the actual warmings. My sister said she wasn't sure what to expect, but nearly everyone said their wish/prayer/thoughts aloud and she cried right along with them! She told me later she felt everyone who attended our wedding was blessed just being present to bask in the love directed at us by our family and friends.

    I don't think I could ask for a better description.

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    • Yep,that's what we did too, and it worked wonderfully, even with a 220 person guest list. The photos our photographer took of our guests warming our rings are some of my favourites from our whole wedding day.

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  4. We did a ring ceremony at our wedding in Louisiana and no one here had ever heard of it either. Since our wedding was a 45 minute drive and kind of in the middle of nowhere for most of our guests, we started it when the wedding was supposed to start so that if anyone had gotten lost and was running late, they wouldn't miss the official ceremony. It worked out really well doing it before I walked down the aisle because everyone was able to chat and sip drinks and our officiant even juggled. It lasted about ten minutes and we played 4 of our favorite sweet songs so it set the stage for the ceremony without feeling stuffy and boring to our guests. We are huge Beatles fans so our officiant prefaced it with "Although marriage is a devoted union of just two people, like a great British poet once said, you get by with a little help from your friends."

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    • I got the ringdish custom-made by marywibis on Etsy. We kind of had a Starry Night under-theme going on, so I asked her to do something remniscent, and she did an awesome job.

  5. Yay Alabama ring warming! It is something I really want to incorporate into our wedding, but wasn't sure how exactly how to do it. Your reading will be a good place to start.

  6. Great! We're planning on this ritual too, but we have ~175 attending so our working plan is to have the rings passed around during the pre-ceremony cocktail hour (with instructions and a prominent but tasteful ribbon or other attachment tied to them to keep 'em from getting lost or dropped through a grate :)) Reading about how others have worked it gets me more excited!

  7. what was the reading in the background that ended with the part about the tree? it was beautiful

    • That was an excerpt from "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" called "Love is a temporary madness". The first reading that you only get to hear the end of was the poem Carrie read in a wedding in "Sex and the City".

  8. We had a ring warming at our ceremony – an idea that started with OBB and had inspired me ever since. To make sure the ring got back to the front of the church after its rounds (we had about 80 or so guests), we designated one of my friends (dubbed Captain Awesome) to keep an eye on it, and then to deliver it up to the Minister once done. Between the time we started the pass-around and the time it came back, we had two readings and our vows, which seemed to be enough time.

    Then again, Captain Awesome may have just snatched it out of someone's poor hands. I was preoccupied, staring at my guy.

  9. As someone who was in the room, I thought that was the way it was supposed to go. I didn't even notice.
    It was a beautiful wedding.

  10. We had a ring warming before the ceremony actually started. We had the rings tied to the ring pillow at a table station with the guest book and a bowl of white knots that guests could wear to show support for marriage equality. There were little framed signs explaining that people could warm the rings with prayers, wishes or good thoughts, and other framed signs explaining the knots and the guest book. We had an usher guarding the table so no one could walk off with the rings (it was a large public garden area). That way we had our rings warmed and it didn't interrupt the ceremony.

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    • This is similar to what we are doing -I have a dear friend keeping "watch" at a small table which will have our rings (and whatever jewelry we decide to present my 12 yr old daughter as well), as well as to explain the concept to anyone who is unsure of what to do 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing your wording! When I brought up the idea of a ring warming with my family, my little brother started laughing – apparently in 12-step meetings, sobriety milestone chips are similarly "warmed" before being presented to the person in recovery as a symbol of support from the community. Fortunately, my bro was still v. cool with the idea and will be moving the rings along as he steps forward to do a reading 🙂

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