This article documents the many marriage traditions found around the various cultures and religions of Tamriel.
Eight and Nine Divines Marriage
Most of Altmer, Bosmer, Bretons (except for Reachmen), Imperials, Khajiit, Nords, and Redguards worship Mara as the Goddess of Love and patron of marriages. Priests of Mara (or Morwha, under Crown form) officiate and have officiated weddings all across Tamriel. Because of this, the Pledge of Mara, the name under many times is known this kind of marriage, is, by far, the most common form of union.
Lowborns usually marry for love, while nobles will be more likely to take part in an arranged marriage to strengthen relationships between royal or noble houses. Among the different cultures, reasons for marriage may differ.
Altmer are famous for their interest in lineage and heritage over other reasons behind a marriage. Due to this, Summerset High Elves' marriages are commonly arranged and, often, loveless. Highborn Altmer are expected to seek guidance from the Stars and the Gods for auspiciousness of the future union: from the very suitability of the couple to the date of the wedding. Matchmaking usually lasts years or decades to solidify in a marriage. Breaking an arranged betrothal usually makes those involved in outcasts to their own families and communities. Interclass marriages are not unheard of, but they are despised by Summerset society. Pure blood is the most important part of the couple, so secret vampires and werewolves may turn to suicide or murder as the only way out while keeping their own family's honor. The same reason restricts interracial marriage between Altmer (specially Summerset Altmer) and member of the other races, but there are notable exceptions to this custom along history: from Direnni intermengling with their Nedic vassals to the marriage in the Third Era between the daughter of Queen Barenziah, Morgiah, to the High Kinlord of Firsthold.
Eight and Nine Divines Churches say that Mother Mara loves all her children regardless of form. So, when two mortals, regardless of their race, gender, and sex, married, it is their souls, not their bodies, that are united. This way, same-sex and interracial marriages are allowed under Eight and Nine Divines Faiths. Discrimination towards interracial couples, however, exists and even sometimes civil administration disapproves this kind of union. Vampires, however, as undead, are explicitly excluded from becoming legally married under the eyes of the Mother Goddess. The Church fears that by marrying these people, they will spread corruption and, therefore, both marriage and love interests between vampires or between non-infected and vampires are prohibited. Regarding polygamy, it is not allowed by ecclesiastical authorities, and monogamous marriages have been practiced by Mara-worshipper races since the Merethic Era.
Typically, priests of Mara officiate most marriages in their temples. The ceremony is arranged a certain time before by one of the members of the future union. Words said by the priest before the attendants are, "It was Mara that first gave birth to all of creation and pledged to watch over us as her children. It is from her love of us that we first learned to love one another. It is from this love that we learn that a life lived alone is no life at all. We gather here today, under Mara's loving gaze, to bear witness to the union of two souls in eternal companionship. May they journey forth together in this life and the next, in prosperity and poverty, and in joy and hardship. Do you agree to be bound together, in love, now and forever?". The spouses will then say,"I do. Now and forever" to confirm their intentions. After that, the priest will continue, saying, "Under the authority of Mara, the Divine of Love, I declare this couple to be wed. I present to the two of you with these matching rings, blessed by Mara's divine grace. May they protect each of you in your new life together". The exchange of rings between the couple will finish the ceremony and they will become married. The couple is typically accompanied by their closest friends and family during the ceremony.
Beloved ones can marry without the assistance of a priest of Mara too, devoting themselves to the Goddess of Love at a Shrine of Mara, where the couple exchange Rings of Mara, which sealed the wedding before the Divines.
Argonians believe the Hist ensure that life-long mates meet and find love in each other. They think that the sentient holy trees make the future marriage to meet in place and in time, exactly when both of them are prepared for love and, later, marriage.
Their tradition dictates that the one who proposes marriage will have to present a unique wedding ring to the potential mate to represent their future bond. The jewel is supposed to be forged in gold and to have three amethysts as part of the design. Two of the gems, the ones on the outside, represent the couple to be married: one for the husband, and one for the wife. The amethyst in the center represents the Hist, the entity that all Argonians consider a sacred part of their lives.
Both House and Ashlander Dunmer honored their departed ancestors when they wed. Therefore, marriage traditions did not change when the Tribunal rose, during the early First Era (when the Dark Elves were still known as Chimer), or when they fell, during the late Third Era. Wedding ceremonies are known to take place at shrines to Almalexia.
The member of the couple coming from the lesser clan is commonly brought into the greater clan. This member binds himself or herself through ritual and oath into the new clan, and gains communication and benefits from its ancestors; however, his access is lesser than those born into the bloodline. Despite this new bond, he or she retains some access to the ancestors of his or her own bloodline.
Motivations behind Dunmer relationships and marriages are political in most cases when a high-rank House Dunmer is involved. However, for most of the common people, both House Dunmer and Ashlanders, sexual performance, a lewd attitude, and physical beauty play a key role in mating and selecting partners, who will marry or not in the future.
House and Ashlander Dunmer usually did not use to marry between themselves due to their religious differences during the Tribunal rule, however, sometimes an intercultural wedding occurred. After the rise of the New Temple, the previously persecuted Ashlanders, who had continued to worship the three daedra throughout the Tribunal's rule, are now lauded as the keepers of the old ways. It is now quite common for many of the House Dunmer to make the arduous pilgrimages into the ash wastes, tightening ties between the two peoples.
Although most Dunmer marriages are monogamous, polygamy is practiced in some situations. Same-sex marriages and relationships are accepted within Dunmer society.
Orcish Stronghold marriages under the Code of Malacath are always between a male and a female, as the capability of procreation is very important for the survival and strength of the community under the rule of the chiefs. In strongholds, the only male allowed to be married and to father children is the chief of the clan, a title gained and lost through challenge and combat. He will marry an unlimited number of women, who become his hearth-wives, forge-wives, hunt-wives, and shield-wives. Hearth-wives are the ones who will most commonly sleep with her chief and take care of household business; forge-wives are very appreciated among her strongholds, as they master the fires of the forges; hunt-wives are more common in isolated strongholds, where hunting is more important to the economy of her clan; and shield-wives are known to be fighters and accompany her chiefs in battle. Traditionally, the title of chief can only be achieved by male Orcs, but in certain exceptional circumstances a female Orc may rule her clan. During the successive foundations of Orsinium, Kings acted as primus inter pares chief and married a large number of other chiefs' daughters to strengthen the kingdom.
There exists a certain Orcish traditional engagement ritual. First, the suitor must smell of battle and of his enemy's blood. An Orc chief often fight a powerful foe before wooing a wife. Then he must give the best echatere cheese and spiced ale to the maiden as a present, which they are thought to have aphrodisiac properties. Finally, the wooer should recite a love poem, typically with war, blood or revenge background, but at the same time, flattering. Once performed, the maiden could or not accept the proposal.
The male sons of the clan will not be able to marry until they become chiefs of their own clan. Those unable to defeat their own fathers are destined to lonely duty to their clans or exile. The chieftain is replaced by whichever member of the clan grows strong enough to challenge, and usually kill, him.
When a chief passes away, the mother of the next chief (and widow of the previous one) becomes "mother" of the stronghold (or kingdom, in some cases). The name combinations are the same: Hearth-Mother, Forge-Mother, Hunt-Mother or Shield-Mother.
The female daughters of the clan will often be betrothed to other chiefs to strengthen the relationship between allied clans or to forge new alliances. These arranged marriages are most valued. Orc women may want to escape being "just another wife" to the chieftain. They leave to join the Imperial Legion, see the world or otherwise seek their fortune; some eventually return to the strongholds, but many do not.
Marriage customs among Trinimac-worshiping Orsimer differ, as they do not follow the Code of Malacath. The High King of the Orcs, historically the ruler of Orsinium, is allowed to practice polygamy, often marrying many more wives than even stronghold chieftans. According to the teachings of High Priestess Solgra, if two Orcs are married at heart, it is as valid as a real marriage. Depending on the political situation, an Orc chief may have no choice but to let other married Trinimac-worshiping Orcs reside in a stronghold.
- Though marriage has been seen among NPCs in many of the earlier games, more recent games also feature it as a gameplay mechanic among players. For more information, see the Skyrim and ESO articles.
- Varieties of Faith in the Empire — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Shezarr and the Divines — Faustillus Junius
- The Whithering of Delodiil — Unknown
- Knight-Paladin Gelebor's dialogue in Skyrim
- Augustine Viliane Answers Your Questions — Sybil Augustine Viliane
- Kinlady Ilunsare's dialogue in ESO
- Esterdel's dialogue in ESO
- Niralin's dialogue in ESO
- Esterdel's dialogue in ESO
- Tableau's dialogue in ESO
- Nafarion's Note in ESO
- Niralin's dialogue in ESO
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 1st Edition: High Rock — Imperial Geographical Society, 2E 864
- Pocket Guide to the Empire, 3rd Edition: The Blessed Isle: Alinor and the Summersets — Imperial Geographical Society, 3E 432
- Jagnas's dialogue in ESO
- Federic Seychelle's dialogue in ESO
- Biography of the Wolf Queen — Katar Eriphanes
- Artorius Ponticus Answers Your Questions — Bishop Artorius Ponticus
- Hasathil's dialogue in Oblivion
- Maramal's dialogue in Skyrim
- Events of Skyrim
- Shrine of Mara's description in ESO
- The Hist's Fire — Pegareem
- Talen-Jei's dialogue in Skyrim
- Ancestors and the Dunmer
- Shrine to Mother Morrowind in ESO
- A Less Rude Song — Anonymous
- Kaushad's dialogue
- Morrowind events
- The Reclamations — Thara of Rihad
- 36 Lessons of Vivec, Sermon 24 — Vivec
- The Code of Malacath — Amanda Alleia, Mercenary
- Varieties of Faith: The Orcs — Brother Mikhael Karkuxor of the Imperial College
- Chief Burguk's dialogue
- King Kurog's dialogue
- Ushruka's dialogue
- Forge-Mother Alga's dialogue
- Rulfala's dialogue
- Yatzog's dialogue
- Borasad's dialogue
- Lazdutha's dialogue
- Hunt-Wife Lurgush's dialogue
- Lokra's dialogue
- Ashgel's dialogue
- Balarkh's dialogue
- Notes on Racial Phylogeny — the Council of Healers, Imperial University
- Journal of the Lord Lovidicus — Lord Lovidicus
Note: the following references are not from official sources. They are included to provide a rounder background to this article, but may not reflect established lore.