Elves married for life since usually they believed that two partners were destined for each other by fate.Parents had little influence on their children's marriage and arranged marriages were virtually unknown, however parents could make wishes or demands to the person their child had chosen.Marriage among close family members was considered a taboo, even among cousins although it wasn't outlawed. Most elves chose their spouse while they were still young, between their 50th and 100th year, although it wasn't uncommon to marry late.When the two Elves involved decided that they were going to get married they promised to marry each other and gave each other silver rings, they held a betrothal feast, in which they announced their betrothal to the world, and their families met.At least a year passed between betrothal and marriage, to make certain that they really were meant to marry each other,if they decided not to marry in this time, they returned their silver rings publicly, then melted the rings, so no one could ever wear the rings again.At Marriage a feast was held in celebration of the couple's decision, at some point during the feast, the couple joined hands and went to a place where everyone at the feast could see them, then the mother of the bride and the father of the bridegroom came forward and blessed the marriage, the father named Manwë and the mother named Varda as witness to the marriage, and it was one of the rare times that the name of Eru Ilúvatar was spoken.Then the Couple gave back the silver rings they gave each other in betrothal and the rings were treasured forever,then they gave gold rings to each other which were worn on the index finger of the right hand. Noldor had additional ritual for this feast (though it wasn't bound to the feast, it could also happen before the actual marriage ): The bride's mother gave the bridegroom a jewel on a chain, and the father of the bridegroom did the same to the bride. In Times of Trouble however these rites could be skipped and they would simply speak the blessings and give each other Lore Names.Elves married for life and death and so marriage couldn't be parted by death. Divorces were very rare as were second marriages and both had to include the official consent of both Husband and spouse and their families (the only recorded divorce and second marriage was the one of Finwë Ñoldóran and his first wife Míriel Serindë and second wife Indis the Fair).
These Elvish marriage customs had great influence on the customs of the Edain and later Númenóreans and Dúnedain, which in turn influenced the customs of the tribes of middle and lesser men who lived within or near the former númenórean domains.
Elven Terms for Wedding or Marriage:
- Goldogrin or Noldrian Sindarin:bedhri , gadweth, govedhri.
- Quenya: akainusta, kainusta, veryanwë, vestalë.
Elven Terms for Bride and Bridegroom:
- Sindarin: Daer (m), Dî (f), Dineth (f), Dîs (f)
- Quenya: Indis (f), Ender (m)
The Dwarves marriage customs were different from other peoples.Marriages were a largely private matter of only the closest kinsmen of the clan, they were rarely held in public.Dwarven-women married at an age between their 40th and 100th year of life, dwarf-men rarely earlyer than at an age of 100.There was no clergy and no religious ceremony attending a marriage, but blessings by the bride's father or the Clan-Elders were common as were witnesses.Dwarves were monogamous and married for life, divorces were rare and a great pain for the entire clan.However Dwarves were possessive and jealous and not all women chose to marry, especially if they desired a husband who was unachievable or if they preferred to dedicate their life to their work, art and craft instead of children and family.
Hobbits were allowed to marry when they were out of their Tweens, although it was common to wait two or three years after formal engagement.Hobbit Marriages were great feasts of the entire family clans, there were no formal priests or religious ceremonies other than mundane blessings and speeches held by the clan heads or elders, but usually Hobbit marriages were accompanied by an amount of bureaucratic efforts, as professional Lawyers were paid by the clans to state the official matrimonial agreements as well as testaments and inheritance and succession formalities.Hobbits were monogamous and married for life, divorces were rare and virtually unknown.
Númenóreans or Dúnedain
Númenórean Nobles married late,often Bride and Bridegroom were already beyond their 100th year of life.Marriages were held as public ceremonies of the entire home and neighbourhood, often the entire town and for the upper classes even the entire city.There were no official Priests but witnesses and a blessing by the bride's father were customary.
In later Ages the Elendili and Aruwanai descendants of the Númenóreans eased the old tradition, as their lifespans reduced, but it was still uncommon for a young woman to marry at an age younger than 30, while the husband often was 20-30 years older than his wife.The Numenoreans were monogamous and married for life, divorces were avoided and virtually illegal, instead partners chose to live separated lifes if the marriage proved unhappy.The traditional numenorean custom required formal agreement of both, bridegroom and bride for a marriage, but under Black Númenorean law the tradition could change and a young woman could virtually be forced to take a husband against her own will.
Northmen married early in their youth, although the Bridegrooms often were drastically older than their youthful brides.The Rohirrim however, and other Northron Groups influenced by the Dúnedain, grew accustomed to the marriage customs of their gondorian and arnorian allies and often married their daughters at an older age, often in their mid-twenties, their bridegrooms often being already in their early thirties.Marriages usually were ceremonies of the household presided over by the male head of the brides clan, there was no official priestly caste to perform the rites but Elders or Seeresses were often asked to speak blessings or bring sacrifices.
Easterlings and Haradrim
The Men of Darkness had many different and varying customs among their numerous tribes and cultures.Most Peoples were patriarchal but among some of the older or more archaic tribes matriarchal or matrilinear traditions had prevailed. Polygamy was common, especially among the more wealthy classes.Ceremonies could be performed by family or Clan Chieftains , Sages or shamanic leaders and Priests.
Daen had many distinct marriage customs, however many had in common that it was custom for the bridegrooms father to ask the brides father for the hand of his daughter on behalf of his son, even if the to be married couple was already deemed adult, and that Daen marriages were often held on the date of greater festivities, which often led to annual mass-marriages in the greater settlements.Springfestivals such as Reping were often favoured as times for marriage.marriage blessings and offerings to the tribal spirits and ancestors were common and often performed either by the heads of the clans or families, chiefs, wisewomen or seers.
Drúadan weddings were considered odd by outsiders.The rite was performed in the smallest circle and it was considered taboo for the couples fathers to take part. Instead they used to send their best friends as substitutes. It also was common to send strangers (persons who were not part of the clan) out for mock-assignments such as "collecting sacred wedding pebbles", "catch a sacred wedding fish" or "tickle the sacred wedding goat". The ceremonies however were good-natured, merry and joyful events filled with joking and laughing, which were deemed good omens and blessings for the couples future life.
Marriages were rare occasions for snow-man clans to gather and hold happy feasts.The bride couple was clad in white furs and adorned with white flowers (often snowdrops) and invitations were sent to even far removed relatives.Blessings and sacrifices to the spirits were common and usually carried out by the tribal-chiefs or heads of the local great families.Favoured times to hold marriages was Winter Solstice or the height of Spring.