In the United States, marriage is the legal union of two persons as spouses. As a general rule, a minimum of four persons are legally required for a marriage ceremony: the couple to be married, the officiant (a person legally qualified to perform a marriage), and a witness. In the United States, the legal requirements and qualifications for marriage are established by the state, territory, tribe, or other jurisdiction in which the marriage occurs. International legal requirements and qualifications vary.
The marriage occurs during a wedding ceremony conducted by the officiant and attended by the participants and one or more witnesses. Afterwards, the officiant executes the marriage certificate and then delivers it to the appropriate public offical for recording in the public records of the jurisdiction—generally the county and always the state—that issued the wedding license.
The wedding ceremony is very much a product of cultural, ethnic, national, regional, and religious traditions. These traditions, explicitly or implicitly, inform every marriage ceremony.
- Cultural wedding traditions include the Amish, Appalachian, Arabic, Celtic, English, Farsi, Germanic, Hispanic, Jewish, Moravian, Mennonite, Quaker,
- Ethnic wedding traditions common to the United States include the Acadian, African, African-American, Arabic, Armenian, Basque, Cajun, Chinese, Czech, English, French, German, Greek, Hawaiian, Hispanic, Hmong, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Jewish, Korean, Lebanese, Mexican, Native American, Pacific Islander, Pakistani, Polish, Puerto Rican, Russian, Scots, Slavic, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, Welch,
- National wedding traditions comprise those of the 192 members of the United Nations, whose official languages are: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
- Regional wedding traditions include the: African, Arabic, Asian, Baltic, Caribbean, Central American, Chinese, Eastern European, Indian, Middle Eastern, North American, Oceania, Pacific Island, Persian, Slavic, South American, and Western European traditions.
- Religious wedding traditions include: Baha’i; Buddhist; Christian—Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, Protestant, Quaker; Confucian; Hindu; Islamic; Jain; Jewish—Conservative, Orthodox, and Reform; Mormon, Quaker, Shinto, and Zoroastrian traditions.