Wedding procedures in Ancient Athens and Sparta
Marriages in ancient Greece were arranged by the parents of the intended bride and groom. A financial arrangement was made between the families in the form of a dowry. Girls married between the ages of fourteen to eighteen, while typically men married in their twenties or even thirties. Spartan men continued to live in the barracks, even after the wedding, until they reached the age of thirty when they could move home with their wives.
Priests did not direct weddings in ancient Greece. Instead, a set of rituals was followed, after which the couple would live together. The rituals started with baths. The groom then would go to the bride’s house in a chariot or a cart. A feast may be held at the bride’s father’s house, after which the groom would take his bride back to his parents’ house. They were greeted at the door by the groom’s parents and led to the hearth. There they were showered with nuts and fruit. The couple then retired to their bedroom. For the wife to be fully accepted into the groom’s family, a child had to be conceived from their union.
Divorces were easily arranged. The man would have to pay back, in cash, the remaining dowry money to his wife’s parents. Divorces were granted on many grounds; for example, if the wife could not bear children. When a wife committed adultery, divorce was legally required.
Greek men did not discuss with others their wives or other female relatives. They dared not even give their names outside their close family circle. They did not want to attract unwanted attention from unrelated males.