Wedding Objections: What Actually Happens If Someone 'Speaks Now' (& How To Handle It)

Long before she encouraged listeners to "Shake it Off," Taylor Swift created a generation of young girls with wedding revenge fantasies. Her third album, "Speak Now," featured a track where Taylor disrupts a wedding. After hearing the wedding officiant's line, "Speak now or forever hold your peace," she jumps out of her seat to prevent a lover from "marrying the wrong girl." Though it's unknown if anyone has ever objected to a wedding through song, the concept of "Speak Now" itself isn't entirely unrealistic. 


If you've attended a few weddings, there's a chance that you've heard a preacher or officiant call for objections prior to sealing the marriage. But why even leave an opening for the dramatics? If you're planning a wedding and have nightmares about someone disrupting your big day, this one's for you. Here's everything you need to know about this strange tradition and how to handle any objectors who may emerge from your guest list.

The phrase comes from medieval times

The tradition of soliciting objections seems hand-crafted to give our favorite sitcoms dramatic finales. However, "speak now or forever hold your peace" comes from a time long before TV. or "Friends." It emerged during medieval times, and a lack of technology is the exact problem it tried to solve. After all, in those periods, no Instagram posts revealed that your boyfriend was marrying someone else. Instead, wedding announcements would be posted weeks in advance so that people from neighboring areas could come and raise the alarm about any marital mischief. 


The practice of "speaking now" served as an accountability measure and helped ensure that the upcoming marriage was on the up and up. It shouldn't be surprising that the historical era known for military invasions and general chaos should be the dawn of marital objections. But beyond just leaning into their flair for the dramatics, medieval objectors could actually wield power with their words. 

Objections don't hold as much power as they used to

Back in the day, objections had real-life, immediate consequences. In conversation with Brides, Minister Jason C. Lody explained these interruptions were given under oath and ceremonies would be suspended until the outbursts could be fully investigated. Because medieval marriages often came with implications for the transfer of wealth and land ownership, it was crucial that all unions be fully legitimate. 


Given that divorce was much less common in the past, "speaking now" at a wedding was often the last time to impact a union. Friends and family were also not as easily in regular contact with prospective couples, meaning they wouldn't have time to intervene before the big day. The world has changed significantly since medieval times. You can reasonably hope — if not expect — that your loved ones would be capable and empowered to offer their opinions before you arrive at the altar. With objections holding no legal power and their inconvenient timing, it's no wonder that many wedding ceremonies have stopped soliciting them altogether. 

You don't need to ask for objections

Wedding officiant Jill Magerman has good news for anyone dreading objections at their wedding. When talking with Brides, she explained that, although weddings are often filled with incredibly rigid traditions, soliciting objections "is not really one that's held onto anymore." So if you're nervous about making it through the pause after "speak now or forever hold your peace," you can skip the anxiety altogether. As mentioned previously, much of the legal and patriarchal logic that made this ritual necessary in the first place is now hardly relevant. 


Some couples may choose to preserve the tradition, however. The solicitation of objections is rooted in Christianity, with the language embedded in the "The Book of Common Prayer." If you're keeping this section in your marriage liturgy, you can still protect yourself against unexpected outbursts by thinking through possible objections and crafting plans for responding to wedding-day disruptions. 

Reasons for objecting to a wedding

If you don't have a secret spouse or any jilted lovers, the possible reasons for someone rejecting your wedding are drastically reduced. Historically, objections would mean well-kept secrets being brought to light. Nowadays, with the prevalence of social media and Facebook relationship statuses, these secrets likely wouldn't make it all the way to the altar. Wedding objections could also come from well-meaning family members. Unfortunately, whether you're the objector or objectee, you'll likely quickly realize that the wedding day is not the ideal place for life-changing interjections. 


In a fascinating Reddit thread, users shared their own stories about witnessing or experiencing objections — for a variety of reasons — at wedding ceremonies. The trend seems to be that most protests go ignored after quite a bit of awkwardness. If you want a game plan for navigating big-time disruptions, our tips (and your professional officiant) are on your side. 

Handling objections at your wedding

Whether you hire an officiant for your wedding or have a best friend get ordained, this essential role can play a large part in mitigating risks of objections and navigating uncomfortable circumstances. You can start by instructing your head of ceremonies to skip the line altogether. However, if a disgruntled audience member doesn't wait for an invitation, have a backup plan in place. 


The wedding publication, Brides, notes that it is often enough to pause and move on. If you're feeling generous, you can acknowledge the concerns and use the opportunity to reaffirm your confidence in your decision. You could even equip your officiant with a small joke: "Let's save all of the excited yelling for the reception." 

Another tip is to hire a bouncer if there's room in your wedding budget. Still, we can't emphasize this enough: You'll probably be just fine. A wedding is a day for your closest friends and family to celebrate you and your partner. Everything you do in the planning stages should help ensure the day is as fun and supportive as possible. 

Guarding against the possibility of objections

In theory, removing the "speak now" line from your ceremony should be enough to stop any objections from coming forward. If you're worried about an outburst from a guest on your big day, you can take some additional steps to mitigate the risk. As you work on developing your guest list, you'll probably want to steer clear of jilted lovers and unpredictable family members. 


If you're unsure how your friends and family feel about your upcoming union, you may want to have a conversation with them ahead of time. Although your future and happiness shouldn't need the approval of others, knowing that everyone is on the same page can be reassuring leading up to the big day. 

You can also provide reminders to your guests to avoid unexpected outbursts of any kind. Silencing cellphones, limiting unprofessional flash photography, and following any preferences for whether or not children are allowed at the ceremony will guard against interruptions and help the wedding run smoothly. If all else fails and you're still worried, eloping is more private and often cheaper than a traditional wedding!


Moving on from wedding objections

If you happen to have someone object at your wedding, it can be easy to feel your moment is ruined. However, there's no reason to let a disruption (which could one day become a Reddit-worthy anecdote) take over your big day. Lean on your partner and the trust you've built in your relationship leading up to your union. Feel free to take some space between the ceremony and the reception to regroup and ensure that any mean-spirited disruptors won't cause any problems for the rest of the night. 


If an objection strikes a chord with you and makes you doubt things, you don't need to make drastic decisions immediately. When panicked, it can be easy to lose trust in yourself and your decision-making. You can go through with the day — after all, there shouldn't be any medieval, empire-altering land deeds on the line — and talk things through with your partner and trusted loved ones. 

Should you ever object to a wedding?

Forget about handling objectors — what happens if you want to speak up at a friend or family member's wedding? Is there ever an appropriate time? Probably not. While Good Housekeeping's list of the rudest things to do at a wedding doesn't mention objecting, the outlet is firmly opposed to disrupting the ceremony or disturbing the bride and groom for any reason. 


If you believe your soulmate is marrying the wrong person or your best friend's future spouse is a jerk, you're better served by telling them long before they reach the altar. They might brush you aside, but that is their right! Don't rely on surprise or humiliation to get your point across. Open communication is a much better option than an antiquated matrimonial ritual. And, if you manage to sway them early enough, they may still have time to cancel venues and vendors to save some money.