This habit has been very common in noble families, especially in reigning ones, at the scope of combining and perhaps enforcing the respective strengths of originary families (and kingdoms) of the spouses. A relevant part of history has been influenced by these unions.
The arranged marriage is also the marriage concluded with the help of a middleman, once frequent in less cultivated social classes. In some areas it is the man who chooses his wife, often paying some money for her, to her family.
Arranged marriage was common in many countries until the 19th century (and is still the habit in use in some areas), but an increasing number of young people today refuse arranged marriage.
Arranged marriage is still commonly practiced in India (as of 2003). Some cases are reported of Indian high tech engineers working in the Silicon Valley (U.S.A), that take some time off from work for a wedding trip back to their homeland to marry an Indian girl by an arrangement. It is said that these unions would work out well because these engineers have a heavy working time and consequently have no time left for dating and courtship. Arranged marriage could then be an easy way to marry in a short time. On the other hand, it had to be noted that, normally, courtship is not generally intended as a mere sequence of actions caused by the need of marrying or that automatically could produce a marriage as an effect. This cases, therefore, essentially put in evidence that mentalities about marriage and personal choices (and considerations) about certain important decisions, can be very different across the cultures and among single men.
It has also been said that in some cultures where divorce is forbidden or uncommon, arranged marriage would work out nicely because both husband and wife would accept the marriage producing their best efforts to make it a success instead of breaking up at the slightest conflict. Others do object, however, that in an "ordinary" sentimental marriage there would be no reason not to make the same, or even greater efforts, in the aim of a success that could be much more relevant for the couple (in presence of true sentiments of course).
See also mail-order bride