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Difference between Marriage and Wedding

Difference between marriage and wedding

Marriage (Greek γάμος derives from the verb to take)  is a union of partners of marriageable age regulated by society and, in most states, registered in the relevant state bodies of family relations.

T. Andreeva (2005), O. Khrustibskaya (2009) and I. Grebennikov (1991) mentioned that the marriage means the creation of a family and generates new rights and responsibilities in relation to each other and to future children. They singled out three main stages of youth’s readiness for marriage:

  • Physical maturity
  • Social maturity.
  • Ethical and psychological readiness for marriage.

Types of marriage in relation to legislation:

  • Registered civil marriage is a marriage registered in the relevant state authorities without the participation of the church.
  • Church marriage is a marriage consecrated by the church. In many countries it has legal force and in some is the only legal form of marriage. Other states do not currently recognize the legal power of church marriage.
  • Actual marriage: relations between partners not formalized in the order established by law
  • Civil partnership or union exists in many Western countries. It is not considered as a marriage. It takes an intermediate form between registered and actual marriage (cohabitation). Civil partners, as a rule, have a certain list of rights and obligations in relation to each other, but their legal status is not equated with the spouses.

Traditionally, marriage is between a man and a woman. In some states, there are special forms of marriage.

  • Polygyny (polygamy) – refers to the state of a man in marriage with several women. In Shariat there is a restriction on the number of wives – no more than four. In the modern world polygamy is officially permitted in several dozen states of the Muslim world and some non-Muslim countries in Africa (for example, South Africa)
  • Polyandry – refers to the state of a woman in marriage with several men. It is rare to meet, for example, among the peoples of Tibet, the Hawaiian Islands, etc.
  • Temporary marriage – in some countries the legislation recognizes its legal force. Duration is determined by agreement of the parties and is established in the marriage contract. After the expiration of the term of the marriage contract, all the legal relations between spouses are being ceased (in some Muslim countries, for example, in Egypt).
  • Same-sex marriage: marriage between persons of the same sex. The first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriages in 2001 was the Netherlands. There are also countries or regions that recognize same-sex marriages concluded in other countries or regions, but do not allow their conclusion on their own territory.

The forms of marriage according its goals:

  • Arranged marriage is a practice in which someone, except for the couple, makes the selection of the bridegroom or bride, while shortening or completely omitting the process of courtship. Such marriages are deeply rooted in royal or aristocratic families around the world. To date, arranged marriages are widespread in South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh), in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia and East Asia to a certain extent.
  • Love marriage is a union of partners, based on mutual love, affection, attraction and commitment. Although this term is somewhat different in the Western sense, where all conjugal unions are considered as “marriages for love,” it somewhere has a meaning that characterizes the concept of marriage, which differs from “arranged marriages” and “forced marriages”.
  • A marriage of convenience is a marriage union, concluded not for reasons of relationship, family or love. Instead, such a union is arranged for personal gain or other types of strategic goals, such as political marriage.
  • Political marriage is based on political considerations. In the past centuries, the monarchs of some countries resorted to such marriages to strengthen friendly relations between their states.
  • Forced marriage – the term used to describe a marriage union in which one or both parties married without his or her consent or against his or her will, with the assistance of their parents or a third party in selecting a spouse.
  • Shotgun marriage – this is a kind of forced marriage in the case of an unplanned pregnancy.
  • Fictive marriage- feigned registration of marriage without the intention of both parties (and one of them) to create a family. Fictive marriage can be concluded for different reasons: obtaining citizenship, political asylum, housing, property inheritance, receiving a pension, other selfish purposes.
  • “White marriage” is a marriage in which the spouses deliberately refuse sexual relations, pursuing exclusively spiritual goals.

Wedding – a solemn ceremony of marriage that usually is accompanied by religious rites. Many people’s wedding includes a ritual transfer of the bride from the parents’ house to the groom’s house, the exchange of gifts, etc.

Difference between marriage and wedding-1

Types of wedding

  • Religious Ceremony
  • civil ceremony
  • Formal Wedding
  • Informal Wedding
  • Destination Wedding
  • Cruise Wedding
  • Eloping
  • Group Wedding
  • Double Wedding
  • Military Wedding
  • Proxy Wedding

The central figures of the wedding celebration are the bride and groom. In some cultures, a significant role in the wedding celebration is given to the relatives of the bride and groom. In some countries it is customary to hold a wedding with the participation of honorable witnesses.

Short definition Main goal Participants
Marriage union of partners Legalize partner’s relationship bride and groom, state officials
Wedding  ceremony of marriage Celebrate the marriage bride and groom, relatives, honorable witnesses, etc.

What are the differences between Marriage and Wedding?

  • Marriage is broader concept than wedding.
  • Marriage is a legal part of the union while wedding is a ceremony of marriage.
  • In contrast to a wedding, any marriage must be registered officially.
  • In contrast to a marriage, wedding is a public event before the society.
  • Wedding has more participants than marriage. However the central figures of the both are the bride and groom.

Despite these clarifications of the differences, marriage and wedding are tow closely related concepts. The wedding usually takes place after the authorization of the marriage.  Thus it can be concluded that there is no wedding without marriage, but somehow there can be marriage without wedding. 

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References :

[0]Andreeva T.V. (2005) Family psychology. St Peterburg: Speech,

[1]Grebennikov I.V. (1991) Fundamentals of family life. Moscow: Education,

[2]Khrustibskaya O.M. (2009) Marriage on the conveyor of time, "LYMON" magazine.



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