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Origin[ edit ] The origins of European engagement in marriage practice is found in the Jewish law Torah , first exemplified by Abraham , and outlined in the last Talmudic tractate of the Nashim Women order, where marriage consists of two separate acts, called erusin or kiddushin, meaning sanctification , which is the betrothal ceremony, and nissu'in or chupah , [a] the actual ceremony for the marriage. Erusin changes the couple's interpersonal status, while nissu'in brings about the legal consequences of the change of status. However, in the Talmud and other sources of Jewish law there is also a process, called kiddushin , corresponding to what today is called engagement. Marrying without such an agreement is considered immoral. This was later adopted in Ancient Greece as the gamos and engeysis rituals, although unlike in Judaism the contract made in front of witness was only verbal. For other uses, see Betrothed disambiguation. Modern engagement gifts basket in Bangladesh. Betrothal also called espousal is a formal state of engagement to be married. In Jewish weddings during Talmudic times c. Since the Middle Ages the two ceremonies have taken place as a combined ceremony performed in public. The betrothal is now generally part of the Jewish wedding ceremony, accomplished when the groom gives the bride the ring or another object of at least nominal value. Typical steps of a match were the following: Negotiation of a match, usually done by the couple's families with bride and groom having varying levels of input, from no input, to veto power, to a fuller voice in the selection of marriage partner. This is not as widely practiced as it was historically, although it is still common in culturally conservative communities in Israel , India , Africa, and Persian Gulf countries, although most of these have a requirement that the bride be at least allowed veto power. Negotiation of bride price or dowry In most cultures evolved from Europe, bride prices or dowries have been reduced to the engagement ring accompanying the marriage contract, while in other cultures, such as those on the Arabian Peninsula, they are still part of negotiating a marriage contract. For adults, it may be anywhere from several hours when the betrothal is incorporated into the wedding day itself to a period of several years. A year and a day are common in neo-pagan groups today. In the case of child marriage , betrothal might last from infancy until the age of marriage. The responsibilities and privileges of betrothal vary. In most cultures, the betrothed couple is expected to spend much time together, learning about each other. In some historical cultures including colonial North America , the betrothal was essentially a trial marriage, with marriage only being required in cases of conception of a child. Almost all cultures are loosening restrictions against physical contact between partners, even in cultures that normally had strong prohibitions against it. The betrothal period was also considered to be a preparatory time, in which the groom built a house, started a business or otherwise proved his readiness to enter adult society. Although these betrothals could be concluded with only the vows spoken by the couple, they had legal implications: Richard III of England had his older brother's children declared illegitimate on the grounds their father had been betrothed to another woman when he married their mother. A betrothal is considered to be a 'semi-binding' contract. Normal reasons for invalidation of a betrothal include: Revelation of a prior commitment or marriage Failure to conceive in 'trial marriage' cultures Failure of either party to meet the financial and property stipulations of the betrothal contract Normally, either party can break a betrothal, though some financial penalty such as forfeit of the bride price usually applies. In some common law countries, including England and Wales and many US states, it was once possible for the spurned partner often only the woman to sue the other for breach of promise or "heart-balm". This provided some protection in an age where virginity at marriage was considered important and having a failed engagement could damage one's reputation, but this tort has become obsolete in most jurisdictions as attitudes to premarital sex have softened and emphasis shifted to allowing people to leave loveless relationships. The priest blesses the couple and gives them lit candles to hold. Then, after a litany , and a prayer at which everyone bows, he places the bride's ring on the ring finger of the groom's right hand, and the groom's ring on the bride's finger. The rings are subsequently exchanged three times, either by the priest or by the best man, after which the priest says a final prayer. Originally, the betrothal service would take place at the time the engagement was announced. In recent times, however, it tends to be performed immediately before the wedding ceremony itself. The exchange of rings is not a part of the wedding service in the Eastern Churches, but only occurs at the betrothal. Traditionally, the groom's ring is gold and the bride's ring is silver. Roman Catholic Church[ edit ] Historically, betrothal in Roman Catholicism was a formal contract considered as binding as marriage, and a divorce was necessary to terminate a betrothal. The concept of an official engagement period in Western European culture may have begun in at the Fourth Lateran Council , headed by Pope Innocent III , which decreed that "marriages are to be In some jurisdictions, reading the banns may be part of one type of legal marriage. Engagement ring A white gold wedding ring and a single- diamond , gold -banded engagement ring. The engagement ring is usually worn on the outside. Customs for engagement rings vary according to time, place, and culture. An engagement ring has historically been uncommon, and when such a gift was given, it was separate from the wedding ring. The first recorded tradition of giving a ring for marriage is in Genesis In fact, it is a long-standing practice within Judaism to contract the betrothal with a ring. Romantic rings from the time of the Roman Empire sometimes bore clasped hands symbolizing contract,  from which the later Celtic Claddagh symbol two hands clasping a heart may have evolved as a symbol of love and commitment between two people. One historical exception arose in monarchical regimes, in which a nobleman entering into morganatic marriage , a marriage in which the person, usually the woman, of lower rank stayed at the same rank instead of rising ranks, would present their left hand to receive the ring, hence the alternative term 'marriage with the left hand' Ger. Ehe zur linken Hand , the offspring of such marriages considered to be disinherited from birth. They are made of silver "alianza de plata" when manifesting an informal "boyfriend-girlfriend" relationship, though this first step might not always happen; howbeit depending on finances, this may be the only ring given at all. The gold band "anillo de compromiso" or "alianza de oro" is given to the bride when the commitment is formal and the [optional] diamond ring "cintillo" is reserved for the wedding ceremony when the groom gives it to the bride. The gold band that the groom wore during the engagement — or a new one, as some men choose not to wear them during engagement — is then given to the groom by the bride; and the bride receives both the original gold band and the new diamond at the ceremony. The bride's diamond ring is worn on top of the engagement band at the wedding and thereafter, especially at formal occasions or parties; otherwise the engagement band suffices for daily wear for both parties. At the wedding, the rings are swapped from the right to the left hand. In Brazil , they are always made of gold, and there is no tradition for the engagement ring. Both men and women wear the wedding band on their right hand while engaged, and, after they marry, they shift the rings to their left hands. In Nordic countries such as Finland and Norway , both men and women wear an engagement ring. In the modern era, some women's wedding rings are made into two separate pieces. One part is given to her to wear as an engagement ring when she accepts the marriage proposal and the other during the wedding ceremony. When worn together, the two rings look like one piece of jewelry. After the wedding, the engagement ring is put back on, and is usually worn on the outside of the wedding ring. Engagement party Some engagements are announced at an engagement party, traditionally hosted by the bride's parents. These parties are given in the family's usual style of entertainment. Traditionally, engagement parties were normal parties at which a surprise announcement of the engagement was made by the father of the bride to his guests. Therefore, it is not a traditional gift-giving occasion since no guests were supposed to be aware of the engagement until after their arrival. In modern times, engagement parties often celebrate a previously publicized engagement. Whether presents are given at these engagement parties varies from culture to culture. Wikimedia Commons has media related to Betrothal. The author uses the specific term proposal, and considers this the first step in a formal engagement. Introduction to Family Law. Cohabiting Couples and Cold Feet: The Episcopal Book of Common Prayer of reworked the betrothal by adding a positive question to the congregation immediately after the couple speaks their words of betrothal. The celebrant asks the congregation, "Will all of you witnessing these promises do all in your power to uphold these two persons in their marriage? Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese published
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