Marriage is an important part of mer life and culture. This is not to say that all mer marry in their lifetimes, but marriage and even betrothal is a monumental event in a mermaid or merman's life.
Unlike many human engagements in which they simply decide that they will marry someday soon, merpeople have a formal ceremony that is legally binding, though not completely so. The Promising is often made for love, but in royal circles couples are engaged without knowing their intended spouses. The age of a Merrovingian Principessa's betrothal is sixteen years.
A less eleborate version of a wedding dress is worn by the mermaid. Like in the wedding, there is at least one bridesmaid, and a Justice of the Seas or a Canta Magus conducts the ceremony. There are witnesses present and an exchange of rings, afterwards, a document, most likely a certificate is signed to acknowledge the legality of the situation. In a Miromaran state ceremony, the principessa vows to give the realm a daughter to inherit someday.
The Promising Vows/Mahdi and Serafina's Promising CeremonyEdit
Mahdi and Serafina's Promising Ceremony was conducted in secrecy by a Justice of the Seas named Rafael at the home of Carlos and Elena Aleta Roja off the coast of Costa Brava. Coco was bridesmaid and she wore a pink dress that had been worn by Elena's now-grown daughters. Carlos walked Serafina down the aisle. Elena had decorated the garden where the vows would be said with a canopy of moon jellies with darting silver minnows, anemones of all colours, Mauve stinger-jellyfish with ruffled tentacles floating like lanterns, red sea roses and sea lilies, while tiny lava globes filled urchin shells and shone on top of rocks and corals. Mahdi was waiting with Rafael and he wore a borrowed blue seaflax jacket, while Sera was in Elena's betrothal gown of pale green sea silk.
At the ceremony the Justice sings the first verse:
The sea is still and bathed in light
As we begin these hallowed rites.
With Neria’s help, I now will sing
The sacred vows of Promising."
After this, the would-be couple exchange rings. Once that was done, the Justice wound a kelp rope with magic and knotted it.
The Justice Sang
Around your limbs these ropes do wind, Just as your hearts these vows will bind. What the goddess joins forever
Is not for mortal mer to sever.
Be sure before you sing your oath,
You truly wish to plight your troth.
These vows of love and faith once spoken
Must forever be unbroken.'
At this s/he pauses to make sure the couple understand the binding of the words and vows they would undertake and give them a chance in case they changed their minds. Then s/he looked at the would-be groom, singing:
'"Let no rough waters rend apart
Two who have become one heart.
For love’s not love that can’t withstand A rogue wave breaking on the sand."
The groom sings:
'"As strong as the pull of the tides,
As strong as the wind and the weather,
My love has the force of ten oceans.
I vow it will keep us together."'
The Justice addresses the bride, singing:
"Love must be constant, not ebb and flow,
Like storms and frets, tides high and low.
For love’s not love if one must force The beloved one to stay the course."
At this the bride sings:
'"As sure as the seabirds in flight,
As sure as the endless deep blue,
My love is as certain as sunrise
I vow it will keep us both true."
The Justice sings again:
"Stay heart to heart and hand to hand,
As close as water touching land.
For love’s not love if feelings fade
And hearts grow cold, despite vows made."
Then the couple both sing:
'"You've taken vows, you've given rings,
Now comes the end of Promising.
Go forth, be true, be kind and strong.
Live a life both good and long.
But most of all, never forget
It's what you give, not what you get,
In seas below, or far above,
Be guided, evermore, by love."'
At this the kelp rope binding the couple's hands unwind by magic and sink to the floor. The couple kiss and witnesses applaud. A legal document verifying the nature of the couple's relationship is signed and neither are able to marry anyone else as long as they both live, or at least for as long as they both decide to remain bound together. The celebratory dinner is held afterwards.
A wedding is conducted in front of guests and witnesses. A priestess of Neria typically conducts and the bride wears a green wedding gown and there are a number of bridesmaids. Mahdi and Lucia's supposed ceremony was cut short- due to Mahdi not actually intending to marry Lucia, but based on what was seen, royal weddings had to take during a Syzygy, when the sun, earth and moon are aligned, the tide is at its highest and the magic is therefore, strongest.
What is known about mer weddings come from Mahdi and Lucia's interrupted- and phony- ceremony which was cut short. Mahdi had intended to escape and join Serafina and the Black Fins before the ceremony commenced, and only went ahead to kill Lucia's father, Vallerio as he believed Sera had died, once the ceremony was over.
The Bull Shark party was the mer equivalent of a bachelor or stag party. At some point after the ceremony, the fathers of thecouple approach to congratulate and kiss them, followed by the mothers. This was when Mahdi planned to shoot and kill Vallerio.
Only parts of Lucia and Mahdi's wedding was shown:
It was held at Neria's temple, conducted by her priestess. The court songcasters, the best in the realm, joined their voices together to sing:
Suspended in the vast night sky,
Glows a moon so full and high. Tonight with sun and earth aligned, her magic will two royal hearts bind.
Rise now, cherished wedding guests,
As the moon moves east to west,
Offer blessings, prayers and heartfelt songs,For lasting love, both true and strong."
At this point, the bride swims up to the altar, flanked by her bridesmaids. The bride wears an elaborate wedding gown in green, and she swims on her own to represent her coming to this union of her own free will. The priestess announces the purpose of them being there, and binds the couple's hands together with kelp rope, and at some point music starts again. It is unknown what the lyrics of the next song are, except that they include, "... come together now... to witness two souls make their vows..." The songcasters sing of Miromara's proud history and the solemn vows about to be taken. They reminded the bride of her duty to her realm to produce a daughter someday.
The priestess sings:
"For the goddess Neria demands nothing less
That one or both will now confess,
If vows to another were made in the past,
For if so, new vows cannot be cast."
At this point she waits for them, if they will acknowledge that if either of them are Promised to anyone else.
The bride and groom then both sing:
"Freely I declare my love,
In the magical light of the moon above. My heart is my own to keep or to give,
I pledge it to you, for as long as I live."
At this point Mahdi cannot sing because he had already Promised himself to Serafina, who is in fact alive. His voice falls flat and the ceremony is halted.