What Happens if Someone Objects at a Wedding?

Michael Bold
Written by Michael Bold · Posted in Advice Last Updated February 17, 2024 · minute read
In This Article

    A wedding objection is a nightmare scenario for any couple out there that is about to say “I do”. 

    We’ve all seen it in the movies, usually, a guy rushing to the ceremony in a last-ditch attempt to win the affection of a bride. The officiant utters those words “If anyone objects to this marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace”, cue the guy bursting through the doors to the Church clutching his breath “I OBJECT” he shouts. The bride ditches her husband-to-be and runs off with the objector into the sunset. The rest is history. 

    title image of wedding guest objecting at a wedding

    What Happens if Someone Objects at a Wedding?

    Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? but it happens. Not nearly as often as the movies and T.V. would have you believe, but it does non the less. 

    With that being said it is essential to know what happens if someone objects at a wedding. That’s what we intend to cover in this article.

    We’ll take it right back to where this tradition of objecting began. What to do if someone objects at your wedding and we’ll also take a look at some frequently asked questions.

    At the same time we’ll look at things from the objector’s point of view, why might someone object to a wedding? Can you object after the wedding?

    So, let’s not beat around the bush and get stuck into the touchy subject of all things wedding objections.

    What is the history of wedding objections?

    Yeh, you guessed it, it’s those crazy cats across the pond in Europe where this all started. 

    The custom comes from Christianity and has been recited for centuries at ceremonies. It did of course spread throughout the world mainly in countries that were strongly influenced by the British Empire. It’s now a staple of almost every traditional white wedding.

    The full line is actually a little more in-depth as the priest says “Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace”. Nowadays, you’ll usually get silence and then laughter from the congregation. Or someone will make a quip but it’s usually in good spirits rather than to be taken seriously. 

    In the past, its purpose was to stop marriages if, for example, the bride was underage, one of the parties was already married, they were somehow related or they were unbaptized. Of course, these are all still legitimate reasons to object in the present day as well. 

    However, nowadays you have to obtain a marriage license first which deals with many of these potential problems there and then. This is usually handled long before everyone has turned out in their finery at a wedding.

    In our 15 years as wedding photographers, we’ve never seen anyone legitimately object to a marriage. Perhaps we’ve been lucky! but with over 1000 weddings under our belt, we’d say it must be pretty rare. We find that it’s more often than not just said out of tradition rather than to expect an actual response from the audience.

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    So, what happens if someone objects at a wedding?

    As we’ve already touched on, the legalities of a marriage are usually already dealt with by the time a couple gets to their wedding day. 

    A genuine objection, however, as a couple is about to deliver their vows would likely be unpopular with the congregation. You could expect to see arguments, booing, crying, shouting, and all manner of things not typically associated with the happiest day of a couple’s lives. It will not only make the ceremony last a lot longer but will also disrupt the entire day.

    There are no two ways about it though, If someone is hell-bent on ruining the day for the couple then this is the way to go. The objection will tarnish the event and be a very upsetting experience for everyone involved.

    A disgruntled ex for example can’t just object unless they have legal cause to. Of course, they can storm into the ceremony and make a scene. 

    They’ll likely be escorted away by the Ushers or anyone else in a bid to protect the marrying couple. This can affect the flow of the ceremony so it will really be a personal decision as to what happens from here. However, there’s no reason that the remainder of the service shouldn’t carry on as normal.

    There are, of course, the jovial objections we’ve already mentioned. Someone may cough as the officiant says “Are there any objections” or a best man may raise their eyebrows. 

    These are the typical things that we see at a wedding week in and week out. The officiant will usually just carry on with their delivery of the ceremony with a smile on their face.

    Reasons to object to a wedding

    Legal reasons to object to a wedding

    • Underage marriage: It goes without saying really, doesn’t it? If one or more of the people attempting to get married are under the legal age then someone may object. The laws on the legal age to marry vary around the world so the person objecting would have to gen up on the laws where they’re from. However, it’s a very legitimate reason for objecting.
    • Bigamy: Probably the one we’ve all seen in films and on T.V. is someone that “forgot” that they were already married. This is probably the most likely reason for an objection on our list. A disgruntled ex turns up to remind Clive that he’s still legally married.
    • Illegal relationships: Yeh we’re talking about a Game of Thrones type situation now. No, you can’t be marrying your sister and it’s highly likely someone will object to the union if you attempt to. 
    • Legal capacity: Someone may object to a marriage if they think one or more parties that are getting married don’t have the mental capacity. There may also be cause for objection if the couple is highly intoxicated and doesn’t fully understand what they’re doing.
    • Fraud: Busted! If an objector raises genuine evidence that the marriage is being forced or there’s an element of fraud it’ll need investigating.

    Of course, with all these types of objections, the person raising the concerns needs to be 100% sure and have evidence. Otherwise, they’ll just be ruining the perfect day for the sake of upsetting the couple that is getting married.

    Personal reasons to object to a wedding

    A personal objection will be taken much less seriously than one that has any actual legal credence. 

    However, that’s not to say they don’t happen. A personal reason may not legally cause a halt to the wedding but it may give a bride or groom food for thought about who they thought they were marrying.

    For example, say June has been having her way with Tom, the best man. Well, someone may object at this point to truly embarrass the two of them in front of everyone. 

    Alternatively, someone may object if they think their sister has the potential to come to harm. She may have already voiced her concerns but may attempt to use this as a last-ditch effort to save her from physical harm. 

    Or, the objection could come from something as harmless as a couple not being together long before having a shotgun wedding.

    The trouble is that these are often subjective reasons. As long as the couple is happy the ceremony will continue as planned.

    The best way to deal with an objection

    Now that you know what happens if someone objects at a wedding we will let you know how to handle one should it arise.

    As we’ve said they are rare but there are a few things to keep in the back of your mind. 

    Everyone will likely be stunned into silence should a genuine objection be made. It will then be the responsibility of the officiant to speak directly to the objector.

    Tips for handling the situation

    • Keep calm and carry on: It may be difficult in the moment but a couple should try to stay composed and as calm as possible. Responding by arguing or raising voices may antagonize them further. 
    • Pause the ceremony: If you absolutely have to you could pause the ceremony and speak to this individual in private. This prevents a scene from being made in front of all your guests.
    • Have the person removed: Once you’ve heard them out and if they haven’t changed your mind or that of the officiant they should be removed from the building. An Usher or wedding coordinator may take it upon themselves to carry out this role. Anyone you deem capable should wait with them or ensure they’ve left the building. If they are particularly aggressive you could also call 911 and ask for some assistance
    • Resume the service: After this brief intermission, a couple should try to compose themselves. The officiant can make a quick apology for the delay but shouldn’t reveal any of the gory details. 
    • Attempt to forget it: Much easier said than done. However, that’s exactly what the objector is after, they’re set on ruining your most special day. If you let it get to you then they’ve succeeded in their goal.

    At the end of the day how a couple handles an objection will vary. It’ll be largely influenced by their personalities and the level of confrontation caused by the objector. At the same time, a couple may not be able to keep their cool which is perfectly understandable given the circumstances. 

    If the objection has been particularly upsetting for a couple then it wouldn’t be unreasonable for them to postpone the wedding entirely. As we’ve said though the objector wins if that were the case.

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    FAQs about wedding day objections

    Is the wedding objection line a requirement?

    No, for the majority of people getting married there’s no rule that says you have to include this line. However, if you’re both members of the Anglican or Episcopal Church it’s more likely your officiant will want to say it. You’ll need to speak with them beforehand to discuss your wishes.

    If they refuse to remove the line from the Ceremony then you may have to look elsewhere to get married. That being said you could perhaps persuade them to word it differently or to say it and move on very quickly.

    However, with all that being said, what are you worried about? Whether or not your officiant says the line shouldn’t be of concern unless you’ve got strong suspicions someone is likely to object.

    Are you allowed to object after a wedding?

    People can of course object to a wedding at any point, including after the “I do’s” have been said. 

    However, whether or not that will serve any purpose is another question. Once a couple is legally married that is that. The only way to undo the marriage is through divorce. There are usually specific time periods required before these proceedings can begin. 

    So, whilst someone can object and a couple might split up because of it they may be unable to be divorced for a good few weeks or even months after the marriage.

    Should I object to a wedding?

    Generally speaking, no, we wouldn’t advise it. Unless of course, you’ve got genuine concern for the bride or groom’s welfare it’s best to remain silent. 

    At the same time, it may be best to raise your concern either in writing or in person first. You could go directly to the officiant who will know all the correct laws and channels to address your information.

    If you’re objecting because you have a grudge against a couple or are hoping to win a partner back, don’t. They’ve clearly moved on with their lives and found someone they love. All you’ll do is make them hate you even more than they already do. Real life isn’t like the movies.

    How do you prevent people from objecting?

    It’s difficult to control the behaviors of other people. Particularly so if they’re hell-bent on ruining a wedding.

    However, someone with grievances against a couple is unlikely to be invited to the wedding in the first place. That doesn’t stop them from showing up uninvited though. If they’re objecting they’re unlikely to be concerned with the rules of etiquette.

    Alcohol could also play a role in people objecting. Try to limit what people are drinking before the ceremony. 

    You can of course think about how many people you should invite to your wedding as inviting fewer could reduce the possibility of any objections. Or you could have a nontraditional wedding such as an elopement. No guests means no one to object!

    Ultimately if you suspect anyone might object, try to speak to them beforehand. If they’re really against your marriage, politely ask them not to show up. 

    Can the wedding go on if someone objects?

    Yes! If someone objects to your wedding the ceremony can continue once everyone has calmed down. Of course, if their objection is about the legalities of the wedding then it may have to be paused or even postponed. If they have evidence for example that one member of the union is already married with a family that needs looking into.

    If the objection is someone simply airing their grievances the wedding can of course continue. 

    How soon after the objection that this happens will be down to the individual couple. For some, it will really upset them, and could take them a while to regain their composure. Others may just brush it off like it’s nothing and get on with enjoying their big day.

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    Romantic comedies would have you believe that objections happen at every single wedding. 

    However, in reality, they’re much more rare occurrences. 

    As we’ve already mentioned we’ve been to over 1000 weddings and it’s never happened. That’s not to say it doesn’t still happen though. There will be weddings all around the world that people are still objecting to. Whether that’s for personal reasons or whether they have a legitimate claim about the legalities of the union. 

    Nevertheless, if you find yourself getting married and someone does object you should try to handle it in a calm and dignified manner. That way when people ask you what happens if someone objects at a wedding you can simply tell them, nothing. 

    This can be the only way a couple can win against their objector. To simply acknowledge their concerns but move on into wedded bliss regardless.