Dating and Marriage Vocabulary in English

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This dating and marriage vocabulary guide provides common expressions used in English to speak about romance, going out and getting married including the verbs, nouns, and idioms used with these expressions. These are often similar to those used when ​​speaking about romantic relationships.

Before Marriage

Verbs

to ask someone out - to ask someone to go on a date

Alan asked Susan out last week. She still hasn't given him an answer. 

to date - to see someone repeatedly in a romantic sense

They dated for two years before they decided to get married.

to fall in love - to find someone that you love

They fell in love while on a hike through Peru.

to go out - to date once, to go out repeatedly (often used in the present perfect continuous form)

We're going out next Friday. We've been going out for a few months now. 

to court - to try to date someone (older English, not often used in modern, everyday English)

The young man courted his love by sending her flowers every day.

to go steady - to date regularly over a long period of time

Tim and I are going steady. 

to have a boyfriend/girlfriend - to have a continuing relationship with one person

Do you have a boyfriend? - That's none of your business!

to arrange a marriage - to find marriage partners for other people 

In the US most people find a partner by dating. However, it's common to arrange marriages in a number of cultures around the world. 

to woo someone - to try to go out or date someone

How long have you been wooing Anna? Have you asked her out yet?

Nouns

speed dating - modern technique to find someone to date, people speak to each other quickly one after the other in order to find someone to date

Speed dating might seem strange to some, but it certainly helps people find others quickly.

online dating - sites that help arrange relationships by meeting possible romantic partners online

As many as one in three marriages start with online dating these days.

courtship - a period of time during which a man tries to convince a woman to marry him (not generally used in modern English, but common in English literate)

The courtship lasted for six months, after which the couple married. 

relationship - when two people have a committed attachment to each other

I'm in a relationship at the moment.

Idioms

a match made in heaven - two people who are perfect for each other

Bob and Kim are a match made in heaven. I'm sure they'll have a happy and healthy marriage. 

love at first sight - what happens when someone falls in love the first time they see someone

I feel in love with my wife at first sight. I'm not sure it was the same for her.

love affair - a romantic relationship

Their love affair lasted for more than two years.

blind date - to go out with someone you have never seen before, blind dates are often arranged by friends

She was surprised at how much fun she had on her blind date last week.

Becoming Engaged

Verbs

to propose - to ask someone to marry you 

I'm going to propose to Alan next week.

to ask someone to marry you - to ask someone to be your spouse

Have you asked her to marry you yet?

to ask for someone's hand in marriage - to ask someone to marry you

Peter arranged a romantic dinner and asked Susan's hand in marriage.

Nouns

proposal - the question made when asking someone to marry 

He made his proposal when they brought out the champagne.

engagement - the state of being engaged, making the promise to marry each other

They announced their engagement at the Christmas party last week.

fiance - the person to whom you are engaged

My fiance works in education.

betrothal - a literary term synonymous with engagement (not commonly used in modern English)

The couples' betrothal was approved by the king.

Idioms

to pop the question - to ask someone to marry you

When are you going to pop the question?

Marrying

Verbs

to get married - the action of becoming husband and wife

They got married in a historic church in the countryside. 

to marry - to get married

They are going to wed next June.

to wed - to get married

We wed twenty years ago on this day.

to say "I do" - the agree to marry the other person at a wedding

The bride and groom said "I do" after their vows.

Nouns

anniversary - the day of your wedding, celebrated by married couples

Our anniversary is coming up next week. What should I get her?

marriage - the state of being married

Their marriage is very good. They've been married for twenty years.

wedding - the ceremony during which people get married

The wedding was lovely. I couldn't help crying a little.

matrimony - the state of being married (used less commonly than 'marriage')

The matrimony withheld the test of time. 

wedlock - the state of being married (used less commonly than 'marriage')

We've been in wedlock since 1964. 

vow - the promise made between two people during a wedding

We exchanged our vows in front of our family and friends. 

bride - the woman who marries

The bride was so beautiful. They looked so happy together.

groom - the man who marries

The groom looked arrived twenty minutes late for the wedding. Everyone was very nervous!