Marriage is an ancient institution that has been around since before recorded history. In the past, it was used as a strategic alliance between families, and young people often had no say in the matter. Unfortunately, marriage was not based on love, but rather on a man “owning” a woman and ensuring that children were his biological heirs. Today, many wedding traditions and rituals are rooted in religions and are still carried out by religious leaders.
However, some marriage traditions are cultural and predate the predominant religions in those regions. In the West, marriages were originally contracts between families of two couples, and the Catholic Church and the state were kept on the sidelines. The use of a wedding ring has long been part of religious weddings in Europe and America, but the origin of the tradition is unclear. Wedding ceremonies usually contain prayers and readings from the Holy Bible and reflect the church's teachings on the spiritual meaning of marriage, as well as its purpose and obligations.
Reverend Duncan Dormor of St John's College at the University of Cambridge explains that Thomas Cranmer set out the purpose of marriage and wrote modern wedding vows nearly 500 years ago in his Book of Common Prayer. The father traditionally gave his daughter as a gift, saying “I promise my daughter for the purpose of having legitimate children”. This is how the tradition of a woman taking her husband's last name began. Today, couples get married because they are in love and want to spend their lives together.
Marriage is no longer just an alliance between families, but a union between two people who have chosen to share their lives with each other.