Nuptials: Marriage & Relationships in Fictional Cultures

N is for Nuptials...We’ve talked about birth and death so far, and we’ll deal with coming of age as well, but let’s take a moment to talk about (insert drumroll here!) marriage!

Yes, nuptials is a fancy N word for marriage, because I needed M for military yesterday. 

So what about marriage?

Marriage serves a role in society – it is a binding agreement between individuals for the purpose of creating a stable environment. That environment is used either for the purpose of rearing children, or for a transfer of authority.

There are other numerous aspects of marriage as well, especially from a religious viewpoint, but we’re not going to focus on that as much in this post. Maybe some other time.

Ethics of Marriage

What is the acceptable age for marriage?

Who/what is allowed to marry? (Yes, what. There’s quite a plethora of fiction out there…)

Are any marriages arranged?

What are the rights of each of the parties involved in an arranged marriage?

Legality of Marriage

Is marriage overseen by the government, by the religious authorities, or another entity entirely?

Are there laws in place about incest (sibling/sibling, parent/child, cousin/cousin, etc.), same-sex relations, etc?

How strict are those laws, and who enforces them?

What about common-law marriage?

  • Common-law marriage is the practice of considering individuals married after they have lived together for a certain amount of time, whether they have initiated a formal agreement between them or not.

Are handfastings accepted in place of marriage, or as a predecessor to a marriage?

  • In some ancient societies, a couple would be ‘hand-fasted’ for a year and a day as a trial run of a marriage. There were some legal protections in place for both parties, but for most intents and purposes they were considered married during that time. When the year and a day was up, they would either split up with (the intent of) no hard feelings, or stay together in a binding marriage.
Traditions of Marriage

Is there a time of courtship/dating/wooing before a proposal of marriage?

What traditions are associated with betrothal and marriage?

How do different religions affect marriage ceremonies?

Is there a traditional meal involved?

What about the honeymoon? 😉

To Sum Up Marriage…

Original image used for the header is by Kichik Photography, under a CC BY 2.0 license. The image has been cropped.

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Recent Comments

    • Rebekah Loper
      April 16, 2014 - 3:49 pm · Reply

      Me too, Rachel! I’d say my love for creating worlds, and writing stories in those worlds, is pretty near equal. I’ve been known to get lost in worldbuilding and take forever to actually write the story. Oops!

  • Stephanie Faris
    April 16, 2014 - 2:55 pm · Reply

    I think marriage and its many traditions and “rules” have come under scrutiny in recent years. I remember hearing a story about a couple who somehow forgot to send their marriage license in. They were together for 20 years before some course of events led them to realize they’d never been married at all. But that piece of paper really is only between the couple and the local government. Otherwise, “marriage” is what we tell people…they see pictures and wedding rings and two people living together, but how do they really know they’re married? Because the couple says they are. Food for thought!

    Visiting you from the A to Z challenge sign-up page. Great to meet you!

    Stephanie Faris, author
    30 Days of No Gossip

    • Rebekah Loper
      April 16, 2014 - 4:28 pm · Reply

      I’m one of those people who thinks that marriage isn’t about the relationship being registered with the government, it’s about the vows you and your spouse have made to each other. It really is about the commitment, not the piece of paper.

      Yet the ceremony itself still has some significance. It’s just not the major part of it.

What do you think?

About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.