Marriage is a religious institution in which a man and a woman take vows that allow them to cohabitate, engage in sexual relations and reproduce.
In case of members of noble families, marriages are almost always arranged by the heads of the houses and often seal political alliances. Marriage make both noble families kin, thus obligating each other to provide military aid in case of wars or aggressions from other noble families. If a marriage pact involves children, the marriage, or at least the consummation, is postponed until the boy comes of age or the girl has experienced her flowering.
While marriages between first cousins are allowed, marriages between brother and sister are forbidden. The Faith of the Seven, however, turned a blind eye to the incestuous practices of House Targaryen in exchange for their support and defense of the institition.
Historically, some marriages signaled the adoption of an independent kingdom under the authority of another one. Such was the case of the marriage of a King in the North with the daughter of the last Marsh King, which brought the Neck into the Kingdom of the North, or the marriages of Daeron II Targaryen with Myriah Martell and Maron Martell with Daenerys Targaryen, which brought Dorne under the authority of the Iron Throne.
Ceremony and customsEdit
Marriage ceremonies may vary depending on the religion. In the case of the Faith of the Seven the ceremony is conducted by a septon. The bridegroom puts a cloak in his family colors over the bride, symbolically bringing her under his protection and into his house. The septon may then welcomes the attendees to witness the union of man and as "one flesh, one heart, one soul" for the rest of their lives. Sometimes while he speaks the words binding man and wife for eternity he will wrap a strip of cloth to join the hands of bride and bridegroom, symbolizing their union. They are then instructed to look upon each other and say the following words at unison:
"Father, Smith, Warrior,
Mother, Maiden, Crone, Stranger.
I am hers/his and she/he is mine,
from this day until the end of my days".
Afterward the newlyweds may kiss one another.
Following the ceremony, a feast is held for all attendees. After some time, the traditional bedding ceremony takes place and the newlyweds are carried to the marriage bed to spend the night together. The feast continues for the guests.
Sometimes a couple who wish to marry for love but are forced by marriage pacts to marry another or wish to marry against their family's wishes may perform secret weddings. These are still lawful, and only require, in case of the Faith of the Seven, a septon to perform the ceremony and the couple to speak their vows.
- Tywin Lannister and Joanna Lannister, cousins who married out of love.
- Eddard Stark and Catelyn Tully, bound to marry after Catelyn's first betrothed, Brandon Stark was executed by the Mad King.
- Jon Arryn and Lysa Tully; along with Eddard and Catelyn's wedding, this marriage sealed the alliance of the houses in rebellion against the Mad King.
- Robert Baratheon and Cersei Lannister, this marriage cemented the support of House Lannister to the new King.
- Tyrion Lannister and Tysha, a secret wedding carried out by a drunk septon. Forcibly annulled by Lord Tywin, with Tysha sent away after being accused of being a whore and gang raped by Lannister guardsmen under Tywin's orders.
- Khal Drogo and Daenerys Targaryen, arranged by Illyrio Mopatis to secure an army for Viserys Targaryen's return to the Seven Kingdoms. Ended with Drogo's incapacitation and mercy killing by Daenerys herself.
- Renly Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell, cementing House Tyrell's support for Renly's claim to the Iron Throne. Went unconsummated before Renly was assassinated.
- Stannis Baratheon and Selyse Florent, carried out before Robert's Rebellion. Helped cement the support of House Florent to Stannis' claim to the Iron Throne following the death of Renly.
- Robb Stark and Talisa Maegyr, secretly married for love, breaking the marriage pact between House Stark and House Frey and ultimately leading to the Red Wedding.
- Tyrion Lannister and Sansa Stark, arranged and forced by Tywin Lannister to provide House Lannister with power over Winterfell and the North through Sansa's claim. Unconsummated.
- Roose Bolton and Fat Walda Frey; Bolton chose her when Walder Frey offered him any of his grandaughters in marriage; with the bride's weight in silver as dowry. Bolton chose the fattest girl.
- Edmure Tully and Roslin Frey, arranged by Robb Stark with Lothar and Black Walder Frey on behalf of Lord Walder Frey to amend the Stark-Frey alliance. Led to the Red Wedding.
- Joffrey Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell, arranged by Petyr Baelish to cement the Lannister-Tyrell alliance. Breaks the bethrothal of Joffrey with Sansa Stark that had been arranged by the late King Robert. Unconsummated because of Joffrey's death at the wedding feast.
- Petyr Baelish and the widowed Lysa Arryn. The marriage was meant to bring the Vale back under the authority of the Iron Throne, as House Arryn had remained neutral in the War of the Five Kings, and to make Petyr the Lord Protector of the Vale. The marriage lasts only a fortnight, as Petyr murders Lysa.
- Tommen Baratheon and Margaery Tyrell, arranged by Tywin Lannister and Mace Tyrell to secure the Lannister-Tyrell alliance following the death of King Joffrey.
- Queen Daenerys Targaryen and Hizdahr zo Loraq, arranged by Daenerys cement her hold over Meereen by binding the House of Loraq to her.
- Ramsay Bolton and Sansa Stark, arranged by Petyr Baelish and Roose Bolton to cement the hold of House Bolton over the North, where loyalty to House Stark runs deep and ancient. This marriage is considered lawful because Sansa's previous marriage was never consummated.