MUNDANE MYSTERIES: What Happens If Someone Objects At A Wedding?

It’s a well-known rom-com movie trope: at the wedding of a woman who’s loved by someone else besides just the groom, the minister utters those fateful words “speak now or forever hold your peace”, and…out comes an objection. Think “The Graduate”, “Four Weddings & A Funeral”, even “Shrek”. Usually, this steers the plot toward a quirkier happy ending. But, what happens if someone doesn’t hold their peace & speaks up at a wedding in real life? Is that really a thing? And, if so, why?

11th-hour objections in real-life aren’t all that common, but they’re not unheard of. It’s not illegal to speak up, but personal issues don’t invalidate a union. It was the Catholic Church that started soliciting objections during 12th century wedding ceremonies as a way to reveal any reasons why it might be unlawful for a couple to get hitched. Maybe the groom had a different wife in another town, or perhaps the bride & groom were actually half-siblings…those sort of reasons. Because, without the bureaucratic processes & databases that we have today to help keep track of everyone’s personal details, back then it was up to the community to help ensure each marriage was legally permissible.

Nowadays, any potential snafus come to light when a couple tries to secure a marriage license, which is usually completed before the ceremony. If you happen to still be legally married to your previous spouse, the county clerk will usually remind you of that little detail. So, because the whole “speak now or forever hold your peace” thing is essentially obsolete now, that’s why it’s often cut from a lot of weddings these days.

But, what would happen if someone were to actually object at a wedding today? It would be up to the officiant as to how to deal with it. The most likely way it would play out would be that the proceedings pause, the objecting person gets pulled aside, and the officiant talks over their reasoning with them (without an audience). Then, unless it’s a legal matter, the ceremony would most likely go on as planned.

So, if you’re worried about any potential outbursts at your own future wedding, it might be a good idea to discuss the strategy with your officiant beforehand. And, also maybe rethink your guest list, as well.

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