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Marriage vs. Wedding: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 28, 2023
Marriage is a lifelong union between individuals, while a wedding is the ceremony celebrating the start of a marriage.

Key Differences

Marriage represents a legal and social contract between two people, often symbolizing love, commitment, and partnership. A wedding, on the other hand, is the event or ceremony where the act of getting married takes place. Marriage signifies an ongoing relationship that evolves over time, encompassing mutual responsibilities and emotional bonds. Weddings are typically one-day events, often marked by rituals, celebrations, and legal formalities.
In marriage, the focus is on the relationship between the partners and their life together. In contrast, a wedding often involves planning details such as venue, attire, and guests. Marriage entails a long-term commitment that might include aspects like cohabitation, financial sharing, and family planning. Weddings, however, are about the public declaration of entering into marriage, expressed through vows and celebration.
Legal aspects of marriage include rights and responsibilities towards each other and society. Weddings, while marking the legal commencement of a marriage, are more about the ceremonial and festive aspects. Marriage is recognized by the state and, for some, religious institutions. The wedding is the occasion where such recognition often commences.
Marriage involves emotional and practical adjustments as individuals build their life together. A wedding is a gateway to this journey, often remembered as a special day but distinct from the ongoing nature of married life.

Comparison Chart


A legal and social union between individuals.
The ceremony celebrating the union.


Long-term, often lifelong.
Usually a single-day event.


Relationship, commitment, partnership.
Ceremony, celebration, legal formalities.

Legal Aspects

Rights and responsibilities, legal status.
Marks the legal commencement.

Cultural Significance

Ongoing life together, adjustments.
Celebratory, ritualistic event.

Marriage and Wedding Definitions


Legal union between partners, often based on love.
Their marriage has been a journey of growth and understanding.


Festive event celebrating a couple’s union.
The wedding was filled with laughter, dancing, and joy.


Social contract signifying commitment and partnership.
Their marriage is admired for its strong bond and respect.


Ceremony marking the beginning of a marriage.
Their wedding was a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity.


Lifelong relationship with shared responsibilities.
In their marriage, they share both joys and challenges equally.


Formal occasion where marriage vows are exchanged.
During the wedding, their vows were heartfelt and moving.


Emotional and legal alliance between individuals.
Their marriage represents a perfect blend of love and practicality.


Gathering to honor the start of marital life.
The wedding brought together friends and family from afar.


Union recognized by law and often by religion.
Their marriage was not only legal but also deeply spiritual.


One-day event filled with rituals and festivities.
Their wedding was an unforgettable day of love and celebration.


A legal union between two persons that confers certain privileges and entails certain obligations of each person to the other, formerly restricted in the United States to a union between a woman and a man.


The act of marrying.


A similar union of more than two people; a polygamous marriage.


The ceremony or celebration of a marriage.


A union between persons that is recognized by custom or religious tradition as a marriage.


The anniversary of a marriage
A silver wedding.


What is a "destination wedding"?

A destination wedding takes place in a location away from the couple's hometown, often in a picturesque or exotic setting.

Are weddings always religious events?

No, weddings can be religious or secular, depending on the couple's preference.

What's an "elopement"?

Elopement is when a couple gets married in secret, usually without an elaborate ceremony or reception.

What is a wedding?

A wedding is a ceremony where two people are united in marriage.

How does a wedding differ from marriage?

A wedding is the event or ceremony, while marriage is the union or relationship that follows.

Not exactly. While they're related, "wedding" refers to the ceremony, and "marriage" refers to the ongoing relationship or the act of becoming wed.

Which one is a verb, "marry" or "wed"?

Not commonly. The verb form is usually "to wed."

Are anniversaries celebrated for weddings or marriages?

Anniversaries are celebrated for marriages, marking the years since the wedding took place.

Which term is used in legal documents, "wedding date" or "date of marriage"?

Typically, "date of marriage" is used in legal contexts.

Cultural and Miscellaneous

How do weddings differ globally?

Weddings vary based on cultural, religious, and personal preferences, affecting attire, rituals, and celebrations.

Are there rituals for ending a marriage like there are for starting one?

While not as common as wedding ceremonies, some cultures and religions have rituals or ceremonies for divorce or separation.

Both can be verbs. "To marry" and "to wed" both mean to enter into the institution of marriage.

Can "wedding" be used as a verb?

Are weddings and marriages universal concepts?

While the specifics vary, most cultures have some form of wedding ceremony and recognize the concept of marriage.

Comparative Questions

Is "wedding" a synonym for "marriage"?

What is a "shotgun wedding"?

It's a colloquial term for a wedding that is hurried because of a pre-marital pregnancy.

Is the diamond ring essential for weddings or marriages?

Not universally. The diamond ring is a tradition in many cultures, but not all. Its significance and use vary.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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