wedding interruptus

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Time for our weekly wedding-related question, which today issues from Nick from Colorado:

During a wedding ceremony, the question is asked, “If anyone knows any reason these two should not be joined in matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.” What the hell could somebody say that would make everybody stop what they’re doing and leave?

Say for instance, it is revealed that the groom has cheated on the bride; does the bride not have the right to say, “Go on with the wedding”? What kind of system is in place to proceed ceremoniously after such an interruption?

Nick has omitted some important words: ‘lawful impediment’ (/modern-language equivalent). Though of course poor form, the groom cheating on the bride is not actually unlawful. Remember one of literature’s greatest examples of someone not forever holding their peace: in Jane Eyre, when [SPOILER!] the heroine and Mr Rochester’s wedding ceremony is scuppered by Mr Mason turning up and mentioning that Mr Rochester already has a wife up in the attic, and their marriage is still legally binding even though she’s a bit nutty and no longer good-looking.

Aside from bigamy, lawful impediments might include the bride and/or groom being underage, or too closely blood-related; although in Britain at least, these possibilities have to be discounted beforehand else you will be denied a marriage licence. I assume that our registrars have nonetheless kept the phrase in the script because the audience would be disappointed to be denied the famous moment of tension, followed by either OMGOMGOMG SCREAMING TEARS WEDDING CATACLYSM or relieved nervous giggling.

Actually, let’s push aside Nick’s questions for a more interesting one: readers, have you ever attended a wedding where this happened? Or where the bride and groom split up at any point during the proceedings of the day? Speak now (in the comments) or forever hold your peace (until our next call for your responses).

Of course I don’t wish misery upon any of the people I know, but I do think it would be a bit amazing to see, and admit it – so do you. You’re tired of all these weddings where everyone’s happy and well-behaved and no relationships go down in flames, aren’t you? AREN’T YOU?

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14 Responses to “wedding interruptus”

  1. Ash Says:

    I’ve been hearing versions of this urban legend for ages, but not sure it ever happened! Fun read, though: http://urbanlegends.about.com/od/sex/a/grooms_revenge.htm

  2. Helen Zaltzman Says:

    A friend of mine attended a wedding where the groom dumped the bride during his speech. He had discovered she had been cheating, so in the spirit of supercold revenge, decided to go through with the ceremony then do the Big Reveal.

  3. Dick Says:

    While I have never been to an entertaining wedding, I did see this piece of art topping a wedding cake recently. The cake wasn’t delicious but it did give me a chuckle.

  4. Guy Stewart Says:

    I used to work for a charity and had a lot of dealings with a local hotlier who had his eye on the mayoral seat. The first time I met him, i turned up to his seedy hotel to discuss some big fundraising/self-promoting feature. The hotel had been hired out for a wedding that day, but when I got there, the groom and best man were being bundled into a police car, while the bride sat on the kerb sobbing into a hanky. Apparently, the groom had turned up late for the ceremony, and was more than a little drunk.

    When the question was asked during the service, the father of the bride piped up “yes, he’s always bloody late.” At which the groom turned round and punched him square in the face. Then a brother of the bride tried to break up the ensuing fracas, h was assualted the best man (also the worse for drink).

    • Guy Stewart Says:

      *when a brother of the bride tried to break up the ensuing fracas, he was assualted by the best man (also the worse for drink).

    • Dick Says:

      It seems my last reply did not go through, but it was important as it involves a question. Please answer me this: Would it be wrong if I claim personal connection to this story whilst embellishing it for acquaintances? It’s a good story and it would work better in practice if I did not reveal the true source.

  5. Ed Says:

    If you interrupt a wedding for invalid reasons (e.g. “she loves me more!”), you can be sued, according to a vicar who talked to our class at school.

  6. Susanne Toppenberg Says:

    In Denmark we don’t have this sentence in the wedding ceremony, but I have witnessed a wedding that split up before they could actually dance the first dance. It was a rather big wedding with 80 guests held on an upper scale hotel. I was at the party held in the room next door to the wedding party (It was my grandparents’ diamond anniversary, need I say that there wasn’t much drama at that party?).
    What happened at the wedding was apparently that the bride and groom fell out during dessert and the groom stormed out and did not return to the party. The poor bride used most of the evening out on the fire escape crying and smoking cigarettes.

  7. psycomedia Says:

    They also do this in churches prior to marriages (the reading of the Banns), our current vicar has taken to asking for people to tell him at the end and discreetly if they do know any lawful impediment, which suggests maybe he has seen it happen. Wouldn’t work as well in a movie.

  8. Brian Says:

    I’ve never seen it, but now wish I’d been a receipitent of it, ….why oh why did no-one shout out????

  9. Julia C Says:

    This is something I’ve been trained by films and soap operas to expect, and I have been waiting patiently for it at every wedding I have ever attended. No joy yet, but I’ll be sure to write in if it ever happens!

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