I am going to be a little selfish today. I am doing some research for a book I am writing. The book includes some romance, believe it or not, and one of those romances involves Otto Lueders and Lydia Weinhold of Wittenberg. I am wondering especially about engagement and wedding traditions with regard to jewelry. Weddings and jewelry are not my area of expertise. Of course, neither is romance.
Otto and Lydia were married in 1904. I have their wedding photo.
I have read (and my friend, Lutz Backmann in Germany tells me) that German men wear their wedding rings on their right hands. In the German culture, there is a tradition that some still keep in which the engaged couple wears their “wedding rings” on their left hand while engaged and switch them to their right when they say their vows.
I am wondering when Germans in America switched over to the more American culture of wearing their wedding rings on the left hand. If you look at the above photo, you can see Otto’s ring on his left hand. In other photos that have been posted on this blog, you can see the rings on the right hands.
Hugo Finger (an appropriate name for this post) is wearing a ring on his right hand. Bertha, like so many other brides in those days, do not help with this investigation by wearing gloves.
I’ll throw one more possibility into the mix. Lutz tells me that he has found some evidence that German Lutherans wearing rings on the right hand may be traced back to Martin Luther suggesting that it may be a way of distinguishing Protestants from Catholics. That may or may not be true, but I find it fascinating nonetheless.
Here’s another question. The above photos, like almost all of them, are posed pictures. I think it is highly unlikely that they would have been taken on the day of the wedding. Did people have these posed photographs taken before the wedding or after the wedding? Would Otto’s photograph, for example, be showing the ring on the left hand because it was before the wedding, and he hadn’t moved it to his right hand yet?
This Schneider wedding photo is another one where the groom is wearing his ring on the right hand.
I have another question. All of these wedding photos and several more that I have looked at, show the bride wearing a similar necklace. Is there any significance to that? Is that some sort of German or Lutheran tradition?
Despite the fact that the book I am writing is fiction, I do want it to be as historically accurate as I can. I’m looking for help. Can anyone out there in this blog’s audience help me out on this matter? I’d love to hear from you.