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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?