Worldbuilding Wednesday – Nuptials – October 4

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Marriage serves the role of a binding agreement for the purpose of creating a stable environment. The purpose of that environment might be solidifying the claim to a throne, rearing children, transferring authority, etc. It can be one of these, or all of these. 

The main issue you’ll deal with in your stories, if you have marriages in them, is the legality and ceremony involved. The relationship side will be more part of the characterization than the worldbuilding.

There are numerous options for how you can deal with the legality of marriage:

Civil unions (the government is the only authority required to validate a marriage)
Holy matrimony (a church/deity/religious figurehead must validate the marriage)
Common-law marriage (living together/sharing assets for a certain amount of time is automatically recognized as a marriage)
Handfasting (a trial marriage, essentially – usually lasts a year and a day, and is a test to see if a relationship is actually feasible)

You might like this post, too:   Worldbuilding Wednesday - Knowledge - September 13

Sexual orientation, incest, and cultural sex taboos are also things you should consider as you figure out how marriage works in your society.


Obviously, not all the options above will accommodate a fancy wedding ceremony, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t any wedding traditions at all, or that a ceremony is completely non-existent.

Beyond the exchange of vows, some things to consider for a wedding ceremony will be:

Clothing customs – if there is an official mourning color, for example, it won’t be worn at a wedding except in extreme circumstances (perhaps the death of a monarch, or a close family member).

Tokens exchanged that are symbolic of vows – in many modern societies, this is the exchange of wedding rings. But what if jewelry is impractical or non-existent? What might your people exchange?

Is there a celebration after the ceremony? What about a honeymoon?

Further Questions

  1. Is there any sort of courtship prior to marriage? What if there is an arranged marriage?
  2. What authority governs marriage?
  3. What happens at a wedding ceremony in your world?

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