Annoucment of the interest and availability : This is when the guardians of the groom or bride announce that they are in market for an alliance. Securing of a stable job, engagement of an elder sibling, graduation are some of the events triggering this step.
Horoscope Matching: The interested parties trade birth horoscopes as a sign of showing interest. Those who believe in horoscopes consult with astrologers and priests to find out compatibility. The compatibility score is often used to reject an alliance.
Photo Exchange, Interview, and Background Check: Till this step the bride and the groom do not know what the other partner looks like! The pictures (and sometimes videos) are exchanged and if in agreement, one or more face to face interviews (called darshan) are arranged, during which elders are also present to help with familiarization. Background inquiries are conducted to dig past, bad habits through relatives and friends.
Dowry and Contract Negotiations: The logistics of marriage are then discussed. Who pays how much for the wedding expenses, the gold, the dowry, girl's and boy's net worth, the house they'd live in etc.
Engagement: If all the parties are in arrangement, sweets are shared to announce the engagement. Sometimes called as "easting of the sugar" this marks the end of an arranging of an arranged marriage, and the gift exchanges begin.
The Role of Matchmaker
Depending on the complexity of marrying (not so good looking bride, divorcees, past broken engagements) Middlemen could help in the arranged marriage who are commissioned by the arrangers. The matchmakers are sometimes professional institutions counseling on "resume alteration", "broadening of selection criteria", and other marriage matters. The matrimonial classifieds (like personals in the west, but placed by the parents, for the attention of parents) are very popular. With the advent of the Internet, there are a lot of matrimonial agencies on web.
More on Classification of Marriages
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More on Types of Marriages