How Were Marriages Arranged in Ancient Greece?

How Were Marriages Arranged in Ancient Greece?

In ancient Greece, marriages were not typically based on love or personal choice, but rather on practical considerations such as social status, wealth, and alliances between families. The process of arranging a marriage was complex and involved various rituals and negotiations.

The Role of Parents

Parents played a crucial role in arranging marriages in ancient Greece. It was their responsibility to find suitable partners for their children. This task was particularly important for fathers, who were responsible for ensuring the continuation of the family line and the preservation of the family’s social standing.


Once a potential match was identified, matchmakers were often involved in facilitating the negotiation process between the two families. These individuals acted as intermediaries and helped to establish contact between the families.

Negotiations and Dowry

Negotiations between the families involved discussions about the dowry, which was an essential aspect of marriage arrangements. The dowry consisted of goods, money, or property that the bride’s family would provide to ensure her financial security within her new household.

  • The dowry could include valuable items such as jewelry, clothing, or land.
  • The amount and quality of the dowry often depended on the social status of both families.
  • A generous dowry could enhance a bride’s desirability as a potential wife.

The Wedding Ceremony

The wedding ceremony itself was an important event in ancient Greek society. It typically took place at night and involved various rituals and customs.

Pre-Wedding Rituals

Prior to the wedding, both the bride and groom would undergo purification rituals. These rituals aimed to cleanse them of any impurities and prepare them for their new roles as husband and wife.

The Wedding Procession

The wedding procession was a significant part of the ceremony. The bride would be escorted from her home to the groom’s house or another designated location, accompanied by her family and friends. This procession symbolized the transfer of the bride from her father’s household to her husband’s.

The Wedding Feast

The wedding feast was a joyous celebration that followed the ceremony. It involved feasting, music, dancing, and entertainment. Friends, family, and members of the community would gather to celebrate the newlywed couple.


In ancient Greece, marriages were primarily arranged by parents based on social considerations rather than personal choice. The process involved negotiations, dowries, and various rituals surrounding the wedding ceremony. Understanding how marriages were arranged in ancient Greece provides insight into the social structures and values of that time.