What Happens If Someone Objects at Your Wedding?

Generally speaking, you're likely to only hear the words "speak now or forever hold your peace" and witness an objection in movies these days.

You spent months planning for your dream wedding. The song that plays as you walk down the aisle. The arrangement of your flowers. The guests that attend. The only thing you can’t plan for is if someone objects during the wedding ceremony. However, the days of an unrequited love coming to haunt you at the altar are almost obsolete, said Pamela Henry, a wedding officiant.

Speak now or forever hold your peace

“Wedding objections, or the common phrase ‘speak now or forever hold your peace’ is a Christian marriage ceremony tradition that was first introduced during medieval times,” Henry said.

Before technology made it easy to communicate between different towns, someone’s word held a lot more power. Henry explained that objections were introduced as a last-call for community members to highlight any legal reasons why the couple should not be wed.

Keyword: legal. Examples included either party being married to someone in another town, not being of legal age, or if there was proof that someone was being illegally forced into the marriage. Today, though, Henry notes that these objections are not nearly as common as they are portrayed in movies, as someone cannot object to a marriage solely because they’re in love with the bride or groom. However, when attending a wedding today, you absolutely cannot break these 10 wedding etiquette rules.

Should someone actually object during the ceremony, Henry said the practice is to pause the ceremony and speak to the objector privately to confirm the reason—which Mike Robinson, a former civil rights lobbyist, witnessed while he was the best man in his friend’s wedding.

“I couldn’t believe it when the mother of the bride stood up and declared she objected to the marriage,” Robinson said. “It was a shocker for everyone that was in attendance, including the pastor who actually stopped the ceremony while both sets of parents, the bride and groom, and the wedding party stood there asking me, ‘Can she legally do this?'”

According to Robinson, she couldn’t. A marriage license that’s obtained before the wedding creates the legal union, so Robinson advised the mother that it was best that she forever held her peace. If you thought this mother’s request was crazy, wait until you read these 11 crazy requests that wedding planners get.

“As fast as the group huddled up to have this heated debate, we broke apart and the wedding proceeded,” Robinson said.

The words “speak now or forever hold your peace” have great theatrical pizzazz to them, but Robinson said the only true objection to a marriage would come from the county clerk or government entity issuing the marriage license. Objecting to a marriage should be added to this list of 22 outdated wedding rules that no one follows anymore.

“Most ceremonies have discontinued using those words,” Robinson explained. “One thing is for sure, I’ll make sure they’re not used if I’m ever asked to be a best man again.”

Isabelle Tavares
Isabelle Tavares is a journalism graduate student at the Newhouse School of Syracuse University and former ASME intern for RD.com, where she wrote for the knowledge, travel, culture and health sections. Her work has been published in MSN, The Family Handyman, INSIDER, among others. Follow her on Twitter @isabelletava.