In most socieites, marriages are closely tied to the distribution of property both within and between families and incur substantial and complex transfers and exchanges with social and political as well as economic implications. The main forms of marriage transfer are:
bride wealth, a substantial payment in
good, cash, or both from the groom or his family to his brides's
dowry, a endowment that the bride's parents vest
in the family that she establishes with her husband,
often placed under his control.
Other forms of transaction include "groom price", bride service,
and the endowment of the bride by the groom.
In general, property exchanges are structured according to one or another
of these systems but they sometimes occur in combination.
For example, the Old Testament mentions both bride price and dowry
within ancient Hebrew society.
In early medieval England, a woman's dowry from her family was
complemented by an endowment from her husband,
who also contributed "morning gifts" after the wedding night.