Priests, ceremonies, and even witnesses were unnecessary.
Children of men who died remained in the man’s home and a part of his extended family; his wife did not.
Instead, widows returned to the control of their own families, who now had to reassume their support or scramble to arrange a second dowry sufficient to attract another marriage proposal.
Brides, especially in Florence, were typically much younger than grooms.
Women as young as fourteen were often married to men in their thirties, partly to ensure the bride’s virginity. Young men were more or less free to visit prostitutes, who were semi-sanctioned in certain outlying districts.
Kress Collection Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art time and energy.
Marriage customs varied somewhat from one city to another; this account is based primarily on the many descriptions of weddings that survive from Florence, but it reflects general practices elsewhere in Italy.Before 1563, when reforms enacted by the systematized and formalized the process, the only requirement for marriage was the mutual consent of a man and woman not already married to someone else.