You can marry anyone regardless of your Dragonborn’s race or gender, so long as you’ve fulfilled whatever conditions make them your friend. Housecarls will be wiling to wed you as soon as they enter your service, mercenaries must be hired first, and other candidates have fetch quests or other requirements.
You’ll also need to exhaust the dialog options with Maramal, the priest in the Temple of Mara in Riften, and be wearing an amulet of Mara in order to initiate a marriage proposal. It does not have to be an amulet purchased from Maramal, any amulet of Mara will do. There’s a free one in a tent along the shoreline east of Dawnstar. Others appear at random throughout the game.
Skyrim allows one marriage and only one per Dragonborn, even if your spouse is killed — unless you use mods or console commands. There’s a persistent rumor that players can kill their spouses and remarry, but I suspect that’s a feature added by the Unofficial Skyrim Patch that PC players frequently download, or possibly a very early gameplay bug that was patched in subsequent updates, so don’t assume it will work for you. Choose your spouse wisely.
There’s only one Altmer and one Redguard, both female, who can be married. The Hearthfire DLC adds a second Redguard female. There are no Bosmer (wood elves) or Khajiit (cat people) to marry, at all, male or female, unless using mods or console commands.
After the wedding, all male and female spouses will give you a homecooked meal and 100 septims a day. You can live in your spouse’s home or move them into one of your homes, though some spouses may leave — such as Camilla taking over her brother’s shop if he dies or Ysolda taking over the Bannered Mare if Hulda dies. I’ve also read that only spouses from the Dragonborn DLC can be moved to Severin Manor on Solstheim, but I don’t have confirmation of this.
The main differences between spouses, other than appearance and voice, are where they live, whether or not they can be followers, and how likely they are to be killed. I recommend marrying someone who is a follower, even if you don’t take them with you on adventures, because you can access their inventory and give them weapons, armor, staffs, enchanted items and health potions, to help keep them alive. Towns and Hearthfire homes do get attacked, and death does happen, unless your spouse is one of the few programmed “essential,” or unless you’re using mods and console commands.
Let’s take a look at our choices…
The Companions are a warrior guild in Whiterun and for many players the first faction of friends and potential marriage candidates you’ll meet. Some are both teachers and followers, which allows you to buy skill training and then access their inventory and take back the gold, essentially getting training — and level ups — for free.
All live in Jorrvaskr, where you can live anyway if you join the guild, so you won’t gain additional housing through marriage. Several players have also reported glitches in which steward or married Companions return to Jorrvaskr instead of living in the Dragonborn’s home.
Aela is Supreme Werewolf Queen of Side-Boob, which makes her almost as popular a wife choice as cranky Lydia. Aela and Njada are both Nords and trainers, in archery and blocking respectively. Ria is an Imperial. All three are skilled warrior women and possible followers, but Aela’s level cap is 50, while the others max out at 25.
Between Vilkas’ tear-streaked emo eyeliner and Farkas’ dumb-yet-endearing-jockishness, the Brothers Werewolf are popular husbands.
Vilkas is a two-handed trainer, follower, spouse and steward. Farkas is a heavy armor trainer, follower and spouse. Both are level capped at 50. Torvar is a potential follower and spouse who is a surly drunk. He’s capped at 25.
All three are Nords. There’s also a Dark Elf in the Companions who can be married, but I’ve listed him with the Dunmer, below.
All housecarls are Nords, except Rayya who’s a Redguard. All begin with the same armor, weapons and stats, except Valdimar who is a spellsword, while the rest are classified as warriors. They live in houses that belong to you, so you won’t get a bonus house through marriage.
All are possible spouses, stewards and followers who will defend you unto death. They are all level capped at 50, so should be able to stick with you through most of the game, assuming you continue to improve their weapons, armor and other gear. Don’t forget to put health potions in their inventories.
The basic game gives us Argis the Bulwark (Vlindrel Hall in Markarth) and Calder with the groovy mutton chops (Hjerim in Windhelm). Hearthfire evens up the score with two more male housecarls — Valdimar (Windstad Manor) and Gregor (Heljarchen Hall).
There are several gray-skinned Dunmer to marry, perhaps because of the popularity of Morrowind?
Avrusa Sarethi is an alchemist with her own farm.
Brelyna Maryon is an apprentice mage at the College of Winterhold (no bonus house there) and she can also be a follower, level cap 30.
Dravynea the Stoneweaver is an Expert Alteration trainer who works in the Steamscorch Mine and lives in Braidwood Inn in Kynesgrove.
Jenassa is a mercenary follower living in the Drunken Huntsman, level cap 40.
Revyn Sadri is a merchant in Windhelm and a speech skill trainer, but will only marry or train the Dragonborn if you help him with his request to return a stolen ring. If you don’t side with him, it is possible to marry Viola instead (see below).
Romlyn Dreth is a bootlegger with a small home under the city of Riften.
Sondas Drenim is a food vendor at Darkwater Crossing, a mining camp.
Athis is a member of the Companions who can be a follower or spouse, as well as one-handed skill trainer, level capped at 25.
Anwen (Redguard), Orla (Nord) and Senna (Breton). All of these ladies live in the Temple of Dibella, goddess of love, in Markarth. Note: There seems to be some kind of bug with Orla where refuses to leave the temple and live in any other homes.
While not devotees of a love goddess, these three seem to be popular hunky husband choices for their looks, personality and skills.
Marcurio the sassy Imperial mage mercenary can be hired at his residence, the Bee and Barb in Riften, and is level capped at 40.
Onmund is a sweet apprentice at the College of Winterhold who is a potential mage follower (level cap 30) and steward, whose Nord family does not supporting his interest in magic.
Vorstag is a warrior mercenary who can be hired from his residence, the Silverblood Inn in Markarth. He has a sweet disposition while also being a badass fighter, and possesses one of the softer Nord voices in the game.
AND MORE HOTTIES
Camilla is sister to the proprietor of Riverwood Trader and the Imperial creamy center of a love Oreo between Faendal the Bosmer archer and Sven the Nord bard. If you marry her, her “friends” will continue to visit her at your home, wherever you live. She may also return to Riverwood and take over the family business if her brother dies.
Muiri is a Breton alchemy assistant who inherits the Hag’s Cure in Markarth if her employer is killed (and who also has an interesting love life, too, which you will hear about while doing the Dark Brotherhood questline).
Ysolda is an enterprising Nord drug dealer with her own tiny house in Whiterun, who takes over the Bannered Mare if Hulda the innkeeper is killed. She was made “essential” by one of the official updates (which are automatically included in some versions of the game), so cannot die, I assume because of her role in the quest “A Night to Remember.”
Sylgja manages to retain her youthful beauty in spite of being a hard-working Nord miner, and her big bust apparently doesn’t get in the way of swinging a pickaxe all day at Redbelly Mine in Shor’s Stone.
Sorex is an Imperial whose father owns the Winking Skeever in Solitude, involved in a love triangle with Vivienne Onis and Roggvir until the latter was beheaded. After marriage, he may continue flirting with ladies who enter the inn and he hates every home except Proudspire Manor.
Quintus is an Imperial alchemist who takes over the White Phial shop in Windhelm when his employer dies. I don’t know if he qualifies as a hottie (maybe if he lost that hat), but he’s young and seems to be kind.
Wilhelm owns the Vilemyr Inn in Ivarstead. While the Nord cannot be a follower, he possesses pickpocket skill and is marked “essential” so he can never be killed.
Roggi Knot-Beard is a Nord miner in Kynesgrove, drunk and in debt, who can be a potential spouse, steward and follower, though his skills are minimal and his level is capped at 20.
If you prefer your spouse to be a little older and wiser, we have…
From left to right: Aeri, Nord owner of Anga’s Mill and her own house. Gilfre, Imperial owner of Mixwater Mill and her own house. Temba, Nord mill owner in Ivarstead. Uthgerd the Unbroken, Nord mercenary, level cap 30, for hire in the Bannered Mare and owner of a decent house in Whiterun.
Ainethach is a prominent Breton who runs the Sanuarach Mine and owns a farmhouse in Karthwasten.
Filnjar is a Nord blacksmith with a house in Shor’s Stone.
Stenvar is a Nord warrior mercenary with a decent sense of humor who may be hired from his home, Candlehearth Hall in Windhelm. He has the same voice as Farkas and Balimund. I married him in my first playthrough. He makes an excellent follower but is capped at level 40 and I had to retire him to Proudspire Manor with our kids sometime between levels 45-50.
ORCS & ARGONIANS
If you like the kind of spouse who has green skin and tusks, we have the orcs or “Orsimer” of Skyrim.
Female orcs: Borgakh the Steel Heart is the daughter of the Chief Larak of the Orc stronghold of Mor Khazgur and a potential follower, level cap 30. Ghorza is a blacksmith and smithing trainer in Markarth, who lives with her brother in Understone Keep.
Male orcs: Gat Gro-Shargakh is a miner who lives in Kolskeggr Mine, east of Markarth. Moth gro-Bagol is Ghorza’s brother and also a blacksmith, working and living in Understone Keep in Markarth. Ghorbash the Iron Hand is an Orsimer living in Dushnikh Yal and is the brother of Chief Burguk. He is a potential follower (capped at level 30), spouse and steward.
Or if that isn’t exotic enough for you, the Argonian spouses…
One lizard lady, Shahvee, and two lizard gentleman, Derkeethus and Scouts-Many-Marshes.
Scouts-Many-Marshes is a light armor trainer but not a potential follower, so you probably can’t retrieve your gold from his inventory after training. He and Shahvee live in the Argonian Assemblage bunkhouse in Windhelm, if you marry and move in with one of them.
If rescued from Darkwater Pass, Derkeethus can be a follower (ranger class, level cap 30 and the only Argonian follower in the game) and potential marriage candidate. After being rescued, he will move back to the small mining camp of Darkwater Crossing and might get killed by Falmer who spawn there.
DRAGONBORN DLC SPOUSES
One male and two female marriage candidates are added by the Dragonborn DLC. All are Nords. From what I’ve read, these are the only spouses who can live with you in Severin Manor, but I’m not sure if they are limited to Solstheim or can move to Skyrim, too. I imagine they can, since they have to have the wedding in Riften?
Halbarn Iron-Fur and Hilund are residents of Bujold’s Retreat/Thirsk Mead Hall and Morwen has her own home in the Skaal Village (Dragonborn DLC). Halbarn and Hilund are level capped at 60, but I’m not sure if any of them can be followers or not.
These are the final three eligible females, but there’s much more to discuss on the male side. I’ll follow up with that in a sec.
Mjoll the Lioness is a Nord who lives with Aerin in Riften. She is a skilled fighter who can be a follower, and while capped at 40, what makes her special is that she cannot be killed. Even after her quest is finished, she will not die. Keep in mind that wherever she goes, Aerin will follow.
Taarie lives in the Radiant Raiment shop in Solitude, which is pretty special if you decide to move in with her, but what makes her really special is that she is the only Altmer (High Elf) marriage candidate in the game.
THE BAD AND THE UGLY
Omluag is a Breton who lives in the Warrens (basically the homeless shelter) of Markarth.
Odfel is a Nord who shares a small house with an orc and whose claim to fame is a unique pickaxe called Rocksplinter.
Perth is a Breton miner in Soljund’s Sinkhole who looks like he should be following Dorothy and Toto to see the Wizard. He shares a house with Tuthul (who is kind of hot looking and has a cool mohawk, but isn’t a marriage candidate – why?).
Pavo Attius seems to be the best catch of the bunch, since the Imperial owns the Kolskeggr gold mine and a house outside Markarth, but he will remain in miner’s clothes unless you have a PC mod. Forsworn might also invade from time to time and can kill him when you’re not around, unless you move him to another home.
Angrenor Once-Honored is a homeless Nord war veteran who lives on the streets of Windhelm.
Belrand is an old spellsword for hire in the Winking Skeever.
Benor is a Nord thug who lives in Morthal and has been denied a job with the city guards but still lives in the guardhouse anyway. Beat him up to win his heart.
Cosnach is a drunk whose heart can also be won by a brawl. In my experience, he’s a decent follower with some funny dialog about “aiming for the one in the middle” (since he’s drunk, get it?). He lives in the Warrens of Markarth.
Octieve is a retired old Breton veteran who offers some two-handed training. He gambles, drinks, and lives with his grown daughter Evette in Solitude.
I WISH I COULD HAVE MARRIED
Blazing badass Teldryn Sero fills all top ten of my list. My heart is forever broken that the Dunmer spellsword can neither marry nor become a steward so we could have at least lived together. It might have been nice to marry Faendal, the sweet Bosmer archer of Riverwood, or black leather clad bad boy Brynjolf of the Thieves Guild.
Really, just about any of the Thieves Guild members would have been acceptable partners. Partners for what, exactly? Yeah, I guess they’re not really the marrying type.
But what about those conservative, patriotic, family-values, Talos-worshipping Stormcloaks? I wouldn’t kick any of the named Nords out of bed for eating crackers. There’s Ralof, my braided buddy from Helgen, or Arrald Frozen-Heart, who slaughtered the Miraak cultists while also helping my assassin Silvara defeat a legendary dragon in Morthal, then shrugged it off as a “training exercise.” But, alas, they are all unavailable, unless you’re rocking a mod on PC. I’ve been playing on PS3.
~ J.L. Hilton
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