Bigamy – when a person has more than one spouse. In popular culture bigamists are generally thought to have kept the spouses and families separate, and unknown to one another. In the U.S. polygamy and polyandry are considered bigamy and are against the law.
Bride Price – aka Bride Wealth it is money, property or goods paid by the groom or his family to parents of a woman for the right to marry her. Some cultures practice both dowry and bride price exchanges. In market terms it is a payment to the bride’s family for the loss of her labor – and in cultures where her children will now be considered to be of his line the loss of the labor of children she will bear.
Consent as a condition of marriage - historically consent to the marriage has been provided by many sources, not always the couple getting married. Usually consent of parents is required, in some military situations consent of a superior officer can be required.
Coverture – in English and American law when a couple married they were treated as a single entity. In essence the wife’s separate legal existence disappeared as far as property rights were concerned. Unless specific arrangements were made prior to the wedding (See Pre-nuptial agreement) she could not file lawsuits or be sued separately, and her husband could use, sell or dispose of her property without her permission.
Dowry – money, property or goods that a woman brings to a marriage, or is given to the bride by the husband. In some cultures this is the only property that the wife owns and is considered her “bank account” should the husband die or divorce her.
Endogamy – This is the practice and sometimes strictly enforced rule of marriage within a specific ethnic, religious or social group.
Exogamy – this is the custom of marriage outside of one’s clan or other group as defined by the local laws and rules. Acceptable mates are usually defined by kinship rather than on the basis of ethnic, religious or class differences. Marrying a member of one’s own clan or moiety is generally considered incest.
Polyandry – when a woman has more than one husband simultaneously.
Polygyny – when a man has more than one wife simultaneously.
Polyamory - A relationship with multiple consenting partners, sometimes found in a communal structure. Sometimes called “Group marriage.”
Prenuptial Agreement – a signed, notarized contract that spells out how the couple will handle financial aspects of their marriage. While it does not presuppose divorce, it often outlines how monies and property are to be divided should divorce occur. They can also contain “stinger” clauses, which make either spouse literally pay for adultery. Other considerations that can be covered in a prenuptial agreement include: the financial well-being of children from previous marriages; outline which existing debts of one spouse will not become the responsibility of the other spouse, agreements about how financial business will be conducted and creating a contract where by personal and business assets acquired before the marriage can be kept separate within the context of the marriage.
There are plenty of other interesting terms that arise in the world of weddings and marriage and I will get to many more of them, eventually.