I never was a big fan of weddings. People make a big deal out of one day, and it really puts a relationship to the test– the stress test! I look down upon Vegas weddings; if you’re going to get married, do it with dignity, don’t treat it as a joke (on the other hand, if you’re renewing your vows in a themed wedding and it’s a theme you both love, that’s ok). It’s the rest of your life, a commitment, a promise–you’re supposed to be in love! At the same times, I feel that a wedding in the sense of a white dress (or a white kimono, if you’re Japanese) and a priest is very religious, but you don’t have to be religious to be in love; a courthouse marriage is just fine. Back when I was studying Celtic traditions, I though handfasting was a pretty keen way to go. Besides that, different cultures all over the world have their own unification ceremony. I also strongly believe two people in love should be able to join together regardless of their genders. I’m sure that’s come through in my writing already.
On Lorata, they don’t have the words marriage, wedding, husband or wife. There are, however, a few equivalents, and I describe them a lot in Book One: The Champion of the Goddess. The Loratannh idea of marriage is the Kuetzarrin Rites, and it’s a lot more spiritual and magical. In Christian weddings, the priest says he’s uniting you in the eyes of God, and devout followers also believe that and feel it on a spiritual level. Still there are lot of people (especially in America) who don’t see it as that sacred. On Lorata, you don’t really have that choice. If you take the Kuetzarrin Rites with someone, you are literally united with them on a spiritual level, and that’s where I bring in the astral plane (which is different from the D&D idea of the astral, mind you). It’s like taking everything we believe in and make it literal. A woman who has taken the Kuetzarrin Rites in his k’haarana (the equivalent of a wife), and he is her k’hurin (kind of a husband).
The Rites are really serious, so not everybody takes them. On Lorata, it’s perfectly acceptable to be in a committed relationship and have a family together without taking the Rites; they are very, very deep. Some couples eventually go through the ceremony when they know their love is deep, but it’s not a requirement. In America, you have shotgun weddings and people looking at you in disdain if you have a child ‘out of wedlock,’ but not on Lorata. If you love each other, that’s enough. Also, gender does not matter, and you can have two k’haaranas together, or two k’hurins. A little side note, elvan and fae conception are very different, and it’s not as easy as it is for humans.
There are a couple of other ways to unite your spirit with someone else. There are a couple kingdoms that promote the idea of polyamory, and it is generally accepted in most others, even though it is not as common. The idea is not to be ‘kinky’ or lustful, but to let your love grow and develop. In poloyamorous relationships, each member must love bother other members. It’s not like in America and couple other countries where the man gets a harem or women. On Lorata, everyone is equal, and whether the third person is male or female doesn’t matter, as long as there is mutual love. Like I said, it’s not common, and it’s not for everyone, but I wanted to create that different culture for my world. It’s also practiced on Earth without being a perversion, but having been instituted for practical purposes. Really, when love is really, who are we to judge? You can see a polyamorous relationship in book two.
The sorcerers of Lorata, the ones who get to use all four alignments of magic, have a special relationship available to them, and it also unites souls on the astral level. They can have a magical supporter, someone who protects them and helps them channel greater magical power, which I call the Rrandah. When you read book one, you’ll see who the sorcerer takes as his Rrandah. Their lives becomes intrinsically linked, to the point where if one dies, so will the other. One’s Rrandah must be someone he/she is in love with, otherwise yo don’t have the trust and devotion that allows the whole thing to work.
The way I see it, there is no one way to be, so there is no one way to create a fantasy world and all of its myriad relationships.
**All of this said, I will add that here on Earth, I feel like you should be able to break up if the relationship is dangerous or unhealthy; sometimes divorce is an appropriate, even necessary option, and it all depends on your individual circumstances. I just think people should treat marriage with respect and love from the heart.