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As a rough rule, marriage has more legal ramifications than other types of bonds between consenting adults.A civil union is "a formal union between two people of the same or of different genders which results in, but falls short of, marriage-like rights and obligations," according to one view.Other traditional elements of a wedding may be changed or omitted, and weddings may even vary wildly in format from the traditional template.As of 2012, the median cost of a wedding, including both the ceremony and reception, but not the honeymoon, in the United States, was about US ,000 per wedding, according to a large survey at an online wedding website.This results in a high rate of single mother households among African Americans compared with other ethnic groups (White, African American, Native Americans, Asian, Hispanic).In the United States, the two ethnic groups with the highest marriage rates included Asians with 58.5% and Whites with 52.9%.The map on the bottom left shows that the west coast had the highest percentages of households to go through divorce.

The religious vows may be replaced by vows written by the couple themselves, and most venues today discourage the throwing of rice and encourage the use of birdseed or grass seed.Asians have the lowest rate of divorce among the main groups with 1.8%.Whites, African Americans, and Native Americans have the highest rates of being widowed ranging from 5%-6.5%.They also have the highest rates of divorce among the three, ranging from 11%-13% with Native Americans having the highest divorce rate.According to a report in 2013, the percentage of heterosexual couples who marry has fallen dramatically, but couples who marry are more likely to have college degrees and higher income than those who do not marry.

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