In some cultures, the bride or her family pays a certain amount of money or property to the groom when a couple is married. This payment is called a dowry.
Traditionally, a woman's family offered a dowry to potential husbands in order to make the match more attractive to the man and his family. The word dowry can actually mean "payment," but it can also refer to whatever property or savings a woman herself brings into a marriage. The Latin word dotare is the root of dowry, and it means "to endow or to portion out."