What happens if there’s an objection at a wedding?

by | May 29, 2019

We’ve all seen it in at least one movie. A couple are getting married, the minister asks “If anyone can show just cause….” and the long spurned lover comes forward and delivers an impassioned plea. So we all know that the objection question is often asked during a ceremony but what actually happens if there is an objection? 

I should say that after 1500 weddings and 20 years this has never happened at a wedding I have done and I’ve never heard of it happening. So it would appear that it is exceptionally rare. Additionally, most Marriage Officer’s don’t even ask the question anymore. It had become unnecessary, it’s obsolete. 

The reason the question was asked at all were based in tradition, religion and poor records. 150 years ago there were no central records so it was possible for a person to get married to someone while still being married to another. Let’s also remember that getting married for romantic reasons is pretty new. In ages past a marriage was a contractual transaction. A man might pay a “bride price” and the bride’s family might pay a dowry. If there was a reason that this couldn’t happen it would need to be brought to light if possible. Reasons might include one or both already being married, inability of the groom to pay the promised price or the bride’s inability to bear children. Thankfully we’ve evolved and marriage is now a consensual, romantic commitment. 

I don’t think I’ve asked the question in over 5 years and we are not legally bound to ask it. 

However, should there be an objection the responsibility of the Marriage Officer is to establish the grounds for the objection. And the only valid objection would be for legal reasons and there are only two real legal reasons two people can’t be married: 1. One or both are already married and, 2. The couple are too closely related. For a list of who cannot be married see this article: who cannot be legally married? 

If it is established that one of these reasons apply the ceremony would have to be stopped or delayed. Otherwise, it would proceed. 

 

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