A Short History of Marriage
It is not easy to know the true date about the start of marriages. Although it is mentioned in the Old Testament of Bible as it was a family affair. The oldest male member who was the caretaker of the girls would be approached by the future husband who would ask the father’s permission for marriage after presenting him with gifts to win his approval. When the father would agree he would transfer his daughter to the husband in public that would represent which would show the marriage. The bride and groom would then have meal with families after which the groom would take the bride home.
During the Roman times, the lower classes who turned into Christians had common law or free marriages. The father would deliver the bride and the agreement was called consensus to wed. This agreement required each partner to honor the marriage vows and keep the marriage intact.
The very wealthy Romans sighed documents containing property rights and letting everyone know that they wanted this union to be legalized. This was the beginning of the official marriage recordings which is done today. Only Roman men had the privilege to dissolve the marriage.
Justinian lawyers drew up their laws during their rein from 527-565 AD called the Justinian Code. This was a regulation of their daily life including marriage. Just saying one was married was enough till the time of the Justinian Code.
Church was not involved in marriages until the 9th century. Blessings and prayers were part of the ceremony till the 12th century and the couple would offer their own prayers. After that the priests would ask for an agreement to be made in their presence.
English weddings among the upper class during the 19th century became religious events but the church only blessed the marriage and did not want a legal commitment. By the 18th century the wedding became a religious event in all European countries.
The customs of the old countries were followed during the Colonial times in North America. Some only wanted a civil ceremony and not a religious ceremony. Civil magistrates would perform marriage ceremonies which even included prayers in the ceremony.
Virginia did not leave the customs of the church and did not permit anyone to have a civil marriage ceremony as they followed the Church of England. Both religious and civil marriage ceremonies became legalized in America by the end of the 18th century.
Today, civil marriage ceremonies in European countries are legal as they are in America. A couple can choose between religion or civil ceremony even in England.