Marriages during the middle ages were arranged by the parents. Marriage was also entered at a very young age. Women were usually married off at the minimum of 12. Their husbands, obviously were much older. This was done because it was thought that women lived much shorter lives and if there was this sort of age difference, they would die at a closer age to each other. A dowry was offered to the husband as a reward for the "burden" that he must take on. In other words, the burden of a wife. The larger the dowry, the more appealing the woman. Courtship and romantic love was sometimes present in marriage, although it followed marriage unlike today when it comes before marriage. Three weeks before the date of marriage was planned, a notice was posted on the church door. This was a precaution to see if either of the two were married already or if they were related to each other. Private marriages happened during the middle ages until it was outlawed by the church. Often during private marriages, if the man was unsatisfied with the wife, he would leave her and try to remarry. The "ceremony" occurred in front of the church door. Here the couple announced their desire to wed and bestowed the marriage sacraments. This is also where the bride's dowry and portion of the groom's property (incase his death occurred before hers) was guaranteed. The couple entered the church and participated in the nuptial mass after the wedding ceremony at the church door.
The marriage of the working class and of serfs was very different than the marriage of nobles. The lord's consent was required for serfs to marry legally in the early middle ages. Later on, it was only when a serf wanted to marry a woman from another manor that he needed the consent of the lord. The lords consent was needed for outside marriages because when a marriage such as this occurred, the man would move to the woman's manor, which meant that the lord would be losing a servant. Only one-third of peasant women were allowed to chose their own husbands. The rest had their marriages arranged for them. The dowries of peasant women were usually livestock, household goods, food, or in rare cases a small amount of money. The wedding ceremony was a time of great celebration for the peasants.