For most, marriage can be one of the happiest days of their lives. The majority of Themblise marry for love or for companionship. Arranged and forced marriages are illegal in both Maithas and Croon (they were formerly legal in Bevenkras until the Black King conquered the monarchy in 770). Pressured marriages for political or economic gain still exist, but are frowned upon.
Courtship can happen at any age, although children “courting” is considered adorable and not serious. Courtship is exclusive: once two people begin dating each other, they cannot court anyone else unless they break up. A couple cannot sleep or live in the same house together until they are married.
On average, courtship lasts one to three years before a couple decides to get engaged.
If a creature is an uncommon or rare specie, they will often travel to the cities. The cities are home to Courting Corners, where creatures can see if they can find a suitable corner. Courting Corners are busiest in the summer and winter.
The legal age for marriage depends on the specie, as many species mature faster or slower than others. For humans, a couple can get married at sixteen with parent permission, but any couple can get married without parent permission after the age of eighteen. Most species land within two or three years of the human marriageable age, on either side.
Ordained Priests and Others
It is most common to get married by the neighborhood Raviekan priest. However, couples can also get married by certain government officials, including, if one is lucky enough, the king or queen of their monarchy.
After a period of time, typically one to three years after courting, a couple agrees to become engaged. When a couple becomes engaged, they notify their families, who will hopefully support the match. Then the two families then send gifts of goodwill to both the betrothed and the other family. Depending on the social situation, this is anything from food to cloth to tools to money.
During the time of engagement, the betrothed do not live together. Typically, they will continue to live with their families, as is the habit of most unmarried creatures.
The wedding typically takes place one year after the engagement. As a part of wedding planning, the bride and groom, and sometimes their families, meet with the local priest or an ordained government official to create a marriage contract both agree to. This contract will be signed at the wedding. These contracts are nothing more than a formality for most marriages, but for marrying monarchs or wealthy merchants, they are something to be written very carefully.
The wedding traditionally occurs outside, so that the spark of the deity Ravieka within each person than join the sparks of Ravieka in the nature. It is meant to represent that everyone is a part of the world, and that the world is a part of each individual. To be married in nature is to be married in front of Ravieka.
Because the wedding occurs outside, spring, morning or evening summer, and fall weddings are the most popular.
Bells, windchimes, lanterns, and ribbons are hung from trees. Garlands may be made and placed over branches and bushes. Bunches of seasonal flowers are placed everywhere, adding a splash of color. The couple may be married underneath an arch, but this varies depending on their choices.
If the wedding is taking place inside of a building (because it is winter, for instance), then the building is heavily decorated with flora. A carpet of dirt is placed for the couple to stand on during the ceremony.
A wedding is a formal event, and for most Themblise, they will wear their festival attire when attending a wedding. Preferably, those in attendance will wear seasonal colors to match the scenery.
The bride and groom both go barefoot. As long as it is formal, it does not matter what style their clothes are. Women can be married in pants, while a man can go in a kilt if they so desire. It is popular for their clothing to match or accent the colors of nature around them. Orange, yellow, red, and shades of brown are popular for a fall wedding. A coastal summer wedding may have the bride and groom wearing white, cream, blue, and grey. No matter the color, the wedding attire is heavily embroidered, usually created by the family members. Hidden within these embroidered geometric or floral patterns are charms symbolize protection, growth, and other positive messages.
Jewelry, if worn, is simple but elegant. Flowers and floral garlands are sometimes worn by the bride, groom, or both, depending on what they have decided. These garlands and flowers sometimes sit on the shoulders or on the wings, or are woven into hair, fur, manes, or tails.
The wedding begins with the bride and groom greeting guests as they arrive. The guests are allowed to sit or stand wherever they would like, but immediate families sits at the front of the group near the local priest (or ordained government official). The families sometimes choose to separate themselves from each other, but if the two families are close, they intermingle. Out of courtesy and common sense, larger guest creatures sit in the back and smaller guest creatures sit in the front.
Then, the priest rings a bell three times to signal for everyone to settle and to quiet down. The bride and groom excuse themselves and walk up towards the priest. They then stand on either side of the priest.
The ceremony begins with a short speech from the priest, usually bringing in details of the lives of the bride and groom and their relationship. Some priests will mention how the sparks of Ravieka inside of bride and groom may combine to spread the life of Ravieka. This is a thinly veiled metaphor about having children, which some couples feel uncomfortable about.
The priest then takes a length of ribbon, and ties it to the feet (or front feet, depending on the specie) of the bride and groom. The bride and groom then take turns saying something like: “I will follow you anywhere. The future is a road we will walk down together.”
The priest then gives the bride and groom each a harvested crop of the season. For herbivores, this might be apples, berries, or carrots. For carnivores, this might be a piece of a freshly butchered mundane pig or tuna. The bride and groom each eat, and say a version of: “Whether the harvest is bountiful or the fields are bare, I will grow with you through the ages.”
The priest then pours a little bit of wine into one goblet. The bride and groom take turns drinking out of it, then say something to the effect of: “I will be fluid, and together we will work together throughout the trials of life.”
With another long piece of ribbon tied into a circle or a floral garland, the priest places it over each of their necks, loosely circling them together. The bride and groom then take turns saying a rendition of: “Whether our heads bend in joy or sorrow, I will speak words of kindness and love.”
The priest then takes out the marriage bracelets, which the couple will wear on their left wrist or equivalent for the rest of their marriage. These bracelets are usually made out of carved wood or copper or bronze. The wealthy will have gold bracelets, sometimes with semi-precious or precious gem stones in them.
If the couple have planned any other speeches or vows for each other, or someone else is going to speak, then this is done now.
After the bracelets and any necessary speeches, then the couple sign their marriage contracts. There are four: one for each couple, one for the priest, and one to be sent to the monarchy for records. The contracts require the priest to sign, the couple to sign, and three witnesses to sign. Most Themblise are illiterate, so signatures tend to be a scribble.
Friends and family give their gifts to the newly married couple after the ceremony. Traditionally, the gifts are fairly practical, and are usually objects that the couple will need to start their own home. These vary from pottery to clothing to furniture to tools. The two families will typically work together to raise enough money so that the couple can buy a house of their own.
Food, Drink, Music, and Dancing
Themblise love their food! After the gift giving, the married couple and their guests celebrate with a massive feast! Traditionally, each of the guests bring a dish so that the married couple and their families do not go broke trying to feed everyone. Exactly what is served varies depending on the species attending and the season. One thing is for certain: there are a ton of desserts, and a lot of alcohol.
During the feast, the bride and groom sit together, and are usually wedged in their families. The families and friends should intermingle, and, generally, once there is enough alcohol liberally poured, making new friends is much easier.
After chowing down, dancing takes place. Weddings typically have fast, loud dances, especially jigs and reels. Friends and family sing and play instruments, or hire a band to make an appearance. Snacks and more alcohol is continually poured throughout the night. At some point, the exhausted bride and groom usually sneak off and let their merry guests make fools of themselves.
Finances, Divorce, and Other Topics
Finances and Property
In Themble, female and male creatures are seen as equal under the law. Once married, the couple shares ownership of all finances and property. Sometimes monarchs have different legal marriage contracts for finances, to retain stronger control of their finances.
Inheritance is typically split evenly among children once the parents pass away, depending on the will.
Divorce is uncommon in Themble. It is generally frowned upon, even if for a good reason. In order to get an annulment, a couple has to go to a courthouse, most likely in a city. A couple has to be married for at least six months before filing for a divorce except in extreme reasons.
There are two forms of divorce in Themble:
Both spouses agree for divorce. This generally takes a few months to complete, due to the splitting of finances and property, which varies depending on the agreement. Typically finances and property is split 50/50. However, if the marriage less than five years old, finances and property are split into a percentage equal to what the couple had before they were married.
For example, a mare originally had 75 gold aunders and a stallion had 25 aunders before they were married and their finances combined. That means, out of the 100 aunders they had together, 75% of it had originally been the mare’s, and 25% of it had been the stallion’s. If in four years, they decided to get divorced, but their net worth was now 300 aunders, then the mare might receive 225 aunders and the stallion 75 aunders. However, it rarely is ever this easy.
One spouse files for divorce. This form of divorce requires a strong reason, such as domestic abuse, criminal conduct, or severe misuse of funds (such as a gambling addiction). Depending on the actions of the other spouse, as well as the legal system, this can take anywhere from a half year to multiple years depending on the investigation. For some, it is safer and easier to simply run away and adopt a new identity.
Marriage for Monarchs
It is always a political hassle when a monarch gets married. Monarchs are encouraged to marry, not for love, but for political or financial benefit. Most monarchs end up marrying successful merchants their relations, either from the monarch’s own country or a neighboring one. The reason behind this is that it can be difficult to find a spouse of equal position who is the same species and the opposite sex.
The spouse of the monarch is called the consort. For instance, the Consort of the King, or Queen Consort.
If a monarch doesn’t marry or doesn’t have children, then traditionally they choose and train their own successor over a period of years. Depending on the successor and the ambitions of the court, this is either honored once the monarch dies, or the successor is killed or exiled and another takes the throne. This sometimes leads to civil war.
Notably, the Black King has refused to get married in the nine years he has ruled, despite early pressure. His reasons for not getting married are not publicly known.
Marriage for Cousins and Widows
In Themble, a creature can court and marry their first and second cousins, but this is uncommon.
Widows and widowers are able to get married one year after their spouse has died. It is usually encouraged for them to remarry, even if only for companionship.
Marriage and Other Sexualities
One thing to note is that Themble has no current concept of other sexualities beyond heterosexuality. It is a society that puts a lot of pressure on getting married and having a lot of children. Because of this, homosexuality and such is considered to be a weird rumor, a myth, and is generally met with confusion, and sometimes hatred and fear for challenging social norms.
The Raviekan religion says that any living being has a piece of Ravieka in them, Fey, mundane, civilized, and plant, and that each should be respected. Because the religion is more of a mythos on how the world was created, and a philosophy on how to live, it is not generally used as an argument against other sexualities except by those who twist its message or lie.
In contrast to Themble society, the Fey have a very fluid concept of sexuality.