From the time of Solon, the procedure would begin with a verbal
agreement. The agreement was a kind of contract between the
husband-to-be and the girl's father or guardian. It was called engyie.
The bride-to-be was normally not present at this ceremony, since
her consent was not required by law. The dowry
was an important part of marriage at Athens. Only in very
exceptional circumstances could a girl get married without one.
The husband gave a pledge that should the marriage be dissolved
or his wife die, he would - if there was no heir - return the
dowry. The marriage became legal as soon as the pledge was
made. But proceedings were not complete until the bride had
moved her effects into the groom's house. The
festivities lasted three days. Two ceremonies, the proaulia
and the epaulia, were celebrated on the days immediately before and
after the wedding. (These names came from the verb aulizomai,
'I pass the night'). Athenians preferred winter
marriages, and many of their weddings were celebrated in Gamelion,
the seventh month of the Athenian calendar, sacred to the goddess Hera,
the patron of marriage.