Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States?

6 Feb 2023·14 min to read
Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States

The United States of America is one of the most diverse countries in the world, with people from different backgrounds, races, and cultures. There is no standard or universal way of having wedding ceremonies as they are widely based on factors such as one’s lifestyle, religion, preference or culture. Most weddings in the US are either religious or civil and based on tradition. It is customary for a bridegroom to ask for the blessings of his future father-in-law before proceeding to have the ceremony. There are four popular types of marriages held in the USA, namely traditional, military, destination, and elopement. Most of these ceremonies have a professional where a group of people walk down the aisle, and they usually have a reception afterward. Nevertheless, traditional wedding ceremonies are the most common and there are certain practices that make the different types of weddings unique. Without further ado, let’s take a deep dive into the various types of wedding ceremonies and the roles, formalities, costs, and rights involved.

Traditional Wedding Ceremonies

These types of weddings are the most common in the USA, and they are also commonly referred to as religious or formal weddings. Religion plays a huge role in deciding this type of ceremony because most couples prefer to marry in their places of worship. The couples can be Catholic and decide to have their wedding in a church or even Jewish. There are cases where both couples may not be of the same religion, but this does not stop them from having a traditional wedding ceremony. 
Traditional weddings are usually glamorous, and couples invite their family and friends to enjoy the celebration. The people closest to the bride and groom are chosen to be their bridesmaids and groomsmen. From these people, the bride and groom have to select their favorite people to be their maid of honor and best man, respectively. Before the wedding ceremony, it is customary for the maid of honor to plan and organize a wedding shower for the bride-to-be where she will receive gifts from her family and friends. On the other hand, the best man also throws a bachelor party for the groom-to-be, which is usually a wild night of fun to experience life without the commitment and responsibilities of marriage one final time. 
There are key elements and orders involved in a typical American traditional wedding, which are stated below:

A white wedding dress and a suit

A white wedding dress or gown is worn by every American bride in a traditional ceremony, and the groom wears a suit, usually white, blue, or black, with other variants in-between. These outfits can be styled and enhanced based on the preferences of the couples to present them in the best way possible according to their looks and physique.

The Wedding Processional

This is held at the beginning of the wedding ceremony where the parties involved in the wedding ceremony walk down the aisle. Typically, the procession goes as follows: the officiant comes first, followed by the wedding party, flower girls, and ring bearers. The couple's parents come last. The last group of people to walk down the aisle are usually the couples and their parents. 
During the ceremony, vows are shared where the couples profess their love for each other. The officiant then proceeds to ask the crowd if anyone objects to the union between the couples, and if no one objects, the rings are exchanged. Then, the couples share a kiss and are pronounced husband and wife publicly.

Wedding Reception

The wedding reception is held after the wedding ceremony is concluded, and it is where the actual party takes place, full of wine, dining, and dancing. It is tradition for the best man and maid of honor to propose a toast and say one or two things. The reception can last anywhere from an hour to several hours, where the couples are celebrated with gifts and cheers.

The first dance and the wedding cake

The first dance tradition has existed since the 1700s, and it is usually one of the most anticipated parts of the whole wedding ceremony. The newlyweds are yes, here’s to the center of the dance floor where they are cheered on to dance together as a couple. Some couples opt for soft and calm music where they slowly lean on each other to dance and enjoy the moment, while others prefer louder music with a fast tempo for them to display their special moves and choreography.


This is a vacation for the newlyweds which takes place immediately after all the wedding activities are concluded. Couples usually select a romantic and beautiful destination in any part of the world to celebrate their marriage. A honeymoon can last anywhere from a week to two, and couples tend to get involved in activities they can both actively participate in and have fun.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States

Military Wedding Ceremony

This type of wedding ceremony is typically held when one or both of the couples are in the United States Armed Forces. This type of wedding is always formal, and the guests are expected to dress in this manner. The majority of the wedding party are usually in the armed forces, and they are supposed to wear their uniforms for the ceremony. 
Active duty servicemen are active participants in this type of ceremony, and some can be selected by the groom to act as ushers. These ushers form an "arch of steel" with their swords at the end of the ceremony, and the couple passes through the arch to conclude the ceremony. Every element of this type of ceremony is military-themed, but the clergy can be civilian, which depends on the preferences of the couples involved.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States

Destination Wedding Ceremony

Destination weddings are increasingly popular these days, where couples can hold and organize their wedding in any location, they deem fit. This type of wedding is also known as a "weddingmoon," and couples are able to get married in distant locations based on their preferences. Beach weddings and New York City weddings are some of the most popular options explored by couples. 
Destination weddings are usually quite expensive, though, due to the cost involved with the transportation and wedding party. Sometimes, couples opt to hold their weddings in other destinations where a majority of their family or friends are present. Others may decide to enjoy the luxury of flying their entire wedding party to their destination for the ceremony, which makes the honeymoon even easier.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States


Elopement weddings are those ones that are held in secret away from the public. These types of weddings usually include only a few witnesses, and there are various reasons why couples may want to elope. 
Couples may opt for an elopement if they are trying to keep their marriage secret from the public to avoid any attention or media coverage. Other couples may elope as a result of financial constraints or for other reasons. This wedding is usually not elaborate and is concluded quickly with only a few participants.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States

Marriage Laws, Rights, Costs, and Duties

Laws and Rights

It is a right for a citizen of the United States of America to get married in any state, provided that they are at least 18 years old. However, in Nebraska and Mississippi, the official legal age for marriage is different. The legal ages are 19 and 21, respectively. Marriage laws are unique to each state, but they usually involve getting a marriage license or a common-law marriage from the state. 
There are various ways to terminate a marriage in the US. These methods include divorce, the death of a spouse, or annulment. Divorce laws vary from state to state depending on the shared properties, children, and their support duties. A prenuptial agreement may be signed by couples to state their rights and responsibilities regarding their assets and the outcome of events in the case of divorce or the death of a spouse. Some of the rights to benefits while married are: the sponsoring of a spouse for immigration benefits and employment assistance; income tax reductions; intervention in cases of domestic violence; funeral leave; the right to change of surname; and the inheritance of property.


The cost of a wedding (ceremony and reception) typically ranges anywhere from $25,000 to $40,000. This price may go higher depending on the preferences of the couple and how much money they are willing to spend. 
Some of the major expenses involved in a wedding ceremony include the reception venue, wedding dress, videographer, live band, transportation, decoration, photography, invitations, and catering. The size of each item and the total amount of money involved with the ceremony can be decided by the couples according to their finances and number of attendees.


Each state is in charge of regulating marriage laws and duties as well as how marriages can be dissolved. In a marriage, the duties of the husband include the provision of a safe place to live in and paying for the basic necessities such as food and clothing to ensure a stable life. The duties of a wife include maintaining the home, having sexual relations with the husband and caring for the children. 
In the USA, the government can also offer assistance based on the income and assets of the couple, which includes children’s education loans, assistance with housing, home care benefits for veterans, schedules for educational loan repayment, and federal matching campaign funds.

Everything you need to know about marriage in the United States


The type of wedding held by couples in the USA is largely due to their culture and religion. There are various processes involved in the planning and holding of a wedding ceremony as well as laws guiding the act of marriage in the country. Each state has its own laws guiding marriages, and you should do well to learn about the marriage laws in your own state before proceeding with your wedding. 
We hope this article has helped you understand everything you need to know about weddings in the United States of America.