It was considered good for the bride and groom to be the same age (tulyavaya), ideally 16, although the Kama Sutra recommends that the bride be three years younger than the groom. Usually the groom went in procession to the bride's house, bedecked in garlands and accompanied by music and dancing, although sometimes it was the bride who went (A.II,61). The essential feature of the ceremony was when the father of the bride took her left hand and with a pot with his right hand poured water over her hands, a ritual marking the giving away the bride to the groom (A.IV,210; Ja.III,286). In the Jataka the Bodhisattva gives this wedding benediction: ‘May your friendship with your beloved wife never decay’. (Ajeyyau ea tava hotu metti bhariyaya kaccana piyaya saddhim, Ja.VI,323).
In ancient India the bride's family sometimes paid a dowry (dayajja) and at other times they gave her a dower (nahanamula), although such customs seem to have been practiced mainly by the wealthy. Some features of the ancient ceremony still prevail in Theravadin countries, although mixed with local customs. According to the Buddha, monks and nuns should not get involved in ‘the giving or taking in marriage’ and thus they have never been wedding celebrants (D.I,11).