Indeed, marriage was considered a special privilege, so much so that there were clear lines to differentiate the married from the unmarried in such places as church and in modes of address. First there was the consent of both parties, publicly announced or symbolised through the exchange of gifts. Finally there was the wedding ceremony, preceded by the calling of banns.
Real marriage during this period was controlled by public ritual and not by the Church.
Moreover, sexuality is fast being taken for granted. Then the term `couple' was reserved for married people, with a status clearly distinct from single people.
The wedding was therefore an important social event, symbolising the couples leaving their homes and being installed in a totally new social relationship.
On the other hand, marriage always involved property.
The wedding itself therefore sometimes took place at a young age, often when the couple was far too young to understand what it was all about.
Indeed, the aristocracy often tended to scorn marriage, making no secret of their adultery, of their concubines or their illegitimate children.
For both groups therefore marriage was always late.