You know that classic movie wedding scene, when the bride and groom are saying their vows, and the officiant says, "If anyone objects to this marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace ..."? Then some lovelorn loon from the back yells, "I OBJECT!" Craziness follows. Old ladies throw their big, floppy hats, children cry, and the bride runs off with the objector. And they all live happily ever after!
Well, that's the movies. What about reality? Suppose you have darn good reason to think a bride and groom should not marry. What's the proper wedding etiquette for objecting? I mean, there is a WikiHow on how to stop a wedding, but it involves speech writing, crashing the wedding, and having a getaway car. There must be an easier way! We asked founder of The Protocol School of Texas and national etiquette expert Diane Gottsman for advice.
Gottsman's suggestion is much simpler: Keep your mouth shut. "You just don't. A wedding is the wrong venue and the wrong time to voice your opinion," she says. Butbutbut -- what if you're really, positively, most assuredly convinced that this wedding must not go on? Here's what you should keep in mind.
1. Stopping a wedding is rude. "You have to remember, when you object it's all about you and how you feel," Gottsman says. "Keep in mind the bride and her family." It's just plain self-centered and inconsiderate to stand up and make a scene at someone else's event, especially with so many other people gathered there.
Also, as this rebuttal to that stop-a-wedding WikiHow tutorial points out, you don't want to be that crazy person everyone is warned to keep out of the wedding.
2. Talk privately, well in advance. If you have a serious concern, talk with the bride or groom now, before the wedding. "You voice your opinion in a polite way privately, and then you respect their wishes," Gottsman advises. "If you can't say it before the wedding that says more about your character."
3. Remember, you don't know everything. You may have some disturbing news to share -- maybe you're positive your friend's fiance is cheating on her. Should you share that information? Yes, but keep in mind you may be misinterpreting a situation, or the bride and groom may have a special understanding. Just know you probably aren't seeing the whole picture.
More from The Stir: 10 Real Stories of Marriage Proposals Gone Wrong
4. Accept that this decision is not yours to make. If the bride or groom decides to continue with the wedding despite what you said, let it go. "Your friend is an adult and you have to respect her choice," says Gottsman. "Sometimes we're surprised" by how the marriage turns out "and sometimes it's a lesson we need to learn. It's all about respecting."
And it ends there, full stop. It may be hard to watch a train wreck in slow motion, but if the bride is determined, you need to let her see the wedding and marriage through. Be a good wedding guest, keep your lips zipped, and give her a good hug after the ceremony. Wish her well, like a supportive friend.
Have you ever seen anyone object at a wedding? Have you ever wanted to?
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