In ancient Sparta and Athens marriage was a large part of life, the government and society ostracized those who failed to wed. Spartan marriage was considered more of a ritual in a spartan's life, mainly as men and women in Sparta were tasked with the creation of strong warriors and mothers of Spartans, Failure to do so was failure to the state.
Athenian Marriage; In Athens the daughter would have a suitor picked by her Kyrios, (Kyrios was the Guardian, until the girl was married the Father would be her guardian) Love had rarely played a part in matter, as the Father would usually use the daughter to strengthen their families wealth and to bring property and a dowry to the new household. (K.Kapparis, 2012, Womens family in Athenian law.)
"Women from rich families would normally bring into their new household a large dowry, which would then be managed by the husband, even though he never owned it, and had to return it in its entirety in case of a divorce (Demosthenes cited by K.Kapparis)
A girl in ancient Athens would often be married off at a much younger age then their sisters in Sparta, In several historical accounts women were reported to have been married off in their early teens, sometimes leaving an age gap to their husband.
"Once an Athenian maiden reached sexual maturity, she knew that her male guardian would marry her off, but she had no say in the matter." "Athenian girls were married as soon after the onset of menstruation as possible. This meant that most brides were roughly half the age of their husbands." (H.P. Schrader, 2012, Sparta Reconsidered; Marriage (4/09/2014)
Spartan Marriage Spartan marriage was a somewhat more tricky affair then the average Athenian marriage and differed significantly, many more factors were involved and the wife had more freedom in marriage. Marriage in Sparta usually occurred after the girl had finished her education or reached the age of twenty, this resulted in little to no age gaps between partners unlike Athens. (G.Agis, 2009, Marriage in Sparta; (26/08/2014)
A Spartan custom of capturing a wife into marriage was also common in Spartan society and would proceed like this; A woman would be captured then taken by a family relative or friend who would then shave the head of the captive and dress them with men's clothing (a robe a belt or potentially other articles of clothing.) then taken to a dark room and laid on a mattress waiting until the man would arrive and take her off to bed. (G.Agis, 2009, Marriage in Sparta; (26/08/2014) Dowries did not play a part in Sparta society as they were outlawed from early archaic times. (H.P Schrader, 2012, Sparta reconsidered; Marriage (4/09/2014)
In Comparison to each other Spartan marriage while it seemed barbaric to the Athenians gave more rights to the women and Athenian marriage was mainly based upon the transfer of wealth between two parties, where no love came into the matter and basically girls were sold off in their teens to older men.
"A young Athenian woman was married off to a suitor chosen by her father" (R.Burrel, 1991, The Greeks, Oxford university press, Oxford)