Marriage is a social union or legal contract between individuals that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged by a variety of ways, depending on the culture or demographic. This union may also be called matrimony, while the ceremony that marks its beginning is usually called a wedding and the married status created is sometimes called wedlock.
External recognition can manifest in a variety of ways. Some examples include the state, a religious authority, or both. It is often viewed as a contract. Civil marriage is the legal concept of marriage as a governmental institution irrespective of religious affiliation, in accordance with marriage laws of the jurisdiction. If recognized by the state, by the religion(s) to which the parties belong or by society in general, the act of marriage changes the personal and social status of the individuals who enter into it.
People marry for many reasons, but usually one or more of the following: legal, social, emotional, and economical; the formation of a family unit; the education and nurturing of children; legitimizing sexual relations; public declaration of love.
Marriage practices are very diverse across cultures and may take many forms, and are often formalized by a ceremony called a wedding. The act of marriage usually creates normative or legal obligations between the individuals involved. In some societies these obligations also extend to certain family members of the married persons.