This irregular series of posts, like the title says, will be themed collections of questions for building your fictional world – I know I love those. Let me know if you like mine!
What does marriage mean in your society?
Do the married partners vow to stay sexually loyal to each other, look after one another in illness, raise children together, protect each other from harm? Do both partners have the same obligations, or is it different based on gender, profession, financial or societal standing?
Are partners legally entitled to something from each other – sex, money, time?
What happens if one partner doesn’t fulfill their obligations? Are there legal repercussions, or are they shunned by their neighbours? Are the consequences the same for either partner?
Do partners become part of each other’s families after marriage, legally or otherwise? Or just one of the partners? Does one partner adopt the other’s name?
Are marriages (meant to be) permanent, or are they limited time only – until the kids are raised, for example?
Why do people marry – love, money, politics, to rise in the social hierarchy? Do some people break these conventions and marry for a different reason than usual? If yes, how do others react to that – their families, for example?
Who gets married?
What’s the minimum age to get married? Is there a maximum age? Do people marry early in their adult life, or do they wait until they’ve established themselves in their career? Is it the same for everyone, or does it vary with gender or social class?
Are same-sex marriages allowed? What about marriages across different social classes?
Is polygamy allowed? If yes, for everyone or just for people of a certain sex or societal position? If no, how is it monitored? Are all partners equal, or does the first, or last, or random favourite get special treatment legally?
Do partners get to know each other or live together before marriage, or do their families arrange everything?
What are weddings like?
Who proposes – does it not matter, or is a partner of a certain gender or societal standing more likely to? Do the parents, other family, people higher up in the social hierarchy have a say in the matter, or is the answer entirely up to the partner being proposed to?
Are weddings big events? Does everyone the partners know get invited, or only a small circle? Are certain people formally invited but never expected to show up, e.g. a king?
Who marries the couple? A priest, a government official, a captain? Are there multiple options? Do these have different implications, legal or otherwise?
Which traditions are associated with weddings? Is there special food? What clothes do the couple wear? The guests? Is there anything that’s a complete no-go dresscode-wise? Where do people get married, and celebrate?
Are there any supertitions? Customs to attract good luck, fertility, wealth? To ward off bad luck or strife? Is the weather, date, time of day thought to have an influence?
Are divorces an option?
Can either partner file for a divorce, or just one? How does society view divorces? Divorced people? Does it affect their chances of finding a new partner?