All over the world, people of different cultures differ in their ways of choosing their partners, the number of partners they have and in their marriage ceremonies. In most western countries, a man may have only one wife at a time and a woman may have only one husband. In many parts of Africa and in most Islamic societies, a man may take several wives but the marriage of one woman to several husbands is very rare. Sometimes there is a rule that one must marry only within the community- the caste or religious group or the local settlement. In all societies marriage is forbidden between close relatives, such as a parent and child or a sister and a brother. In the United States of America, many states forbid marriage between first cousins.
In many societies in many parts of the world, marriages are arranged. Negotiations are handled by the parents of the young couple or by the go-betweens. Sometimes betrothals are completed while the future partners are still children. Marriage partners must often be chosen from outside an individuals’ own kin group or community while in other societies, people have to marry within some particular group.
Marriage may also involve the transfer of property in many African countries; the bridegroom’s family must transfer cattle or other valuables to the bride’s family. This is known as paying bride price. Elsewhere, for example in some Mediterranean countries, the bribe’s parents transfer property to the groom. This is called dowry.
Marriage customs vary according to religion. In many Christian countries, there is both a religious marriage ceremony in church and state marriage. The bride who is married in church usually wears a white wedding gown and carries a bouquet of flowers. She is accompanied by her matron of honour and brides maid for flower girl, while the groom is accompanied by his best man. Wedding bells are rung after the ceremony to celebrate their marriage. Among the Hindus and Sikhs, the bride and groom wear red. In a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony, offerings of roasted grain are thrown on fire. The groom takes the brides hand and they recite traditional mantras or chants, they take seven steps together around the fire as a symbol of their common journey through life.
It is customary for Jewish couples to celebrate their marriage under a canopy. The marriage contract is read and the bride receives a wedding ring. During the marriage service, the couple recite the seven marriage benedictions and the groom crushes a glass under his foot to show that love is finely made and easily destroyed. For the Muslim, the groom takes gifts to the bride’s home on the eve of the wedding. On the wedding morning, the bride washes in water that has been blessed and waits at her home while the groom and his family go to the mosque. The bride’s brother sits beside the groom during the wedding ceremony while the sheikh reads the Quran. The bride’s brother accepts the groom’s offer to marry his sister and shakes his hand. There after they proceed to the bride’s home with the sheikh. The group touches the bride’s hand as a symbol of accepting her as a wife, and then the first prayer is read.
The bride in Japanese wedding ceremony dresses in an elaborate traditional costume. The marriage ceremony usually ends with a feast at the groom’s parental home where the couple must drink three cups of rice wine to celebrate their union. After most weddings, there is usually some kind of party with food and music where the two families meet each other both formally and informally with a treat of a wedding cake and gift sharing between relatives, friends to the newlyweds to celebrate the occasion.