What Happens If Someone Objects at a Wedding? We Spill the Tea

And they said, "Speak now."
Bride and groom crying walking away from altar
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Elizabeth Ayoola
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Elizabeth Ayoola
The Knot Contributor
  • Elizabeth contributes a range of lifestyle content to The Knot.
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  • Elizabeth has a degree in Environment, Politics, and Globalization from King's College London.
Updated Nov 16, 2023

Many of us have watched movies or shows where a couple is at their wedding ceremony and the officiant asks if anyone objects. Although it can make for great TV drama, this can happen in real life. What happens if someone objects at a wedding? A number of events could follow. Dee Pearson, a wedding officiant and owner of HeyDee Events shares her insight about what happens when someone objects at a wedding and how to move through that.

In this article:

Wedding Objections: The History

Why do they say, 'if anyone objects' at a wedding? The saying stems from the Catholic Church during the 12th century. The purpose was to ensure a union was legal before making it legally binding. During this time period there weren't tools like search engines or yellow pages to research people and extract information. For this reason, they relied heavily on word of mouth to determine whether a couple should get married or not.

How it would work is the marriage would be publicly announced ahead of time to give community members time to bring any critical information about the couple to light.

Information that could cause people to object could include the couple being related, one party already being married, being underage or having made commitments to a religious body. Fast forward to the present day, it isn't as important to announce this during a wedding since technology can adequately answer many of the mentioned questions. With a quick search, you can find out whether someone is already married, for instance. Even within the context of movies, the objecting usually relates to emotional or moral grounds for two people not being married, which doesn't hold water legally.

What Happens If Someone Objects at a Wedding?

Someone objecting at a wedding can trigger emotions like hurt, anger and embarrassment. Here are a few things that can happen in a real-life scenario.

Ask them to leave.

If someone objects, does the wedding stop? Not necessarily. The person who objected may be asked to leave, however. Pearson says this has happened once at a wedding she officiated and that was an action she took.

"I have only had one objection and was immediately told by the couple that they were a guest they had reservations about, and politely asked for them to be escorted out by security," she says. "Apparently it was an ex that was still friends with the groom."

There is also an option to pull the objecting party to a separate room during the wedding to hear their reasons.

Find out if the couple wants to continue.

After such an unexpected and rattling turn of events at a wedding, a possible next step is to continue the ceremony. Despite it being potentially awkward or upsetting, the wedding officiant is responsible for continuing the ceremony. That said, before continuing, they may ask the couple whether they're happy to proceed, says Pearson. It's possible they may want to take a break or even consider not moving forward at all. In the best-case scenario the couple may not let that moment ruin their wedding and pick up where they left off.

Ignore the objection.

It is possible to ignore an objection and continue on with the ceremony. While it may feel like there's an elephant in the room, the objection doesn't have to overshadow the couple's special moment.

As mentioned in the history behind objections at a wedding, there are some legal grounds where a marriage shouldn't happen. Here are a few to consider.

Current Marriage

If one or both of the parties getting married are still legally married, that can be legal grounds for an objection. In the United States, it's legally only possible to be married to one person. If a couple were to proceed with the ceremony without first getting divorced, the marriage would be void and grounds for an annulment.

Potential Abuse

"In the event the objection is related to domestic violence or someone's safety is at risk, I am obligated to discontinue service right away without the possibility to reschedule," says Pearson. "This is where an investigation would be conducted by local authorities, if applicable."

Most states have banned marriage between close relatives, so that is a legal objection that could hold weight. While in some states you can marry a first cousin, in many others this practice is banned.

Can You Still Get Married if Someone Objects?

Couples can definitely still get married after someone objects at the wedding, says Pearson. Unless the objection confirmed doubts or suspicions you already had or legal issues, it doesn't have to ruin your day.

"People may have personal vendettas when objecting," Pearson says. However, before moving ahead, the wedding officiant must get the couple's consent so they can proceed with the union.

How to Prevent Someone From Objecting

You can't control other people and their behavior, but it is possible to set expectations. To prevent unwanted objections, consider speaking to everyone invited to the wedding ahead of time about it. More particularly, you may want to reach out to people you know aren't happy about the union or have had complaints throughout the course of your relationship. It could be a family member who you aren't on the best terms with or family members who lack boundaries around your relationship. Let them know if they aren't genuinely happy about and in support of the relationship, it may be best not to come.

"During the booking process, I ask if there could be someone on the guest list that would want to object," says Pearson. "It is also advised to not include or consider anyone that may want to object in the wedding ceremony."

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