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Do you ask if anyone objects?

By Published On: April 1, 2020Categories: All About Weddings

If you watch any Hollywood movie involving a wedding, the celebrant/minister will often ask if anyone objects to the marriage. I often get asked if I have to say this during an Australian marriage ceremony. In a word: no. This is absolutely not a requirement or even a thing that happens in Australian civil wedding ceremonies.

History

As with many of the traditions we see in Australian weddings, the offer for people to object comes from the Christian church. The actual words are as followed:

Should anyone present know of any reason that this couple should not be joined in holy matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace.

These words were included in the marriage liturgy section of the Anglican Church’s Book of Common Prayer.

The words weren’t included in the Anglican marriage ceremony for religious reasons, nor because of love, but for legal reasons. In the 16th century there was no mass communication. Churches wanted to let people know marriages were coming up, just in case anyone knew of a reason why either of the parties to the marriage shouldn’t be married. They would publish a list of upcoming weddings in parish bulletins, which would also be read out by the priest.

The ceremony was the last opportunity for someone to speak up about why one of the couple shouldn’t be married. The only reasons for someone to object would be if they knew one of the parties was already married, underage, too closely related by blood, or not consenting. If someone had this kind of information about someone planning to get married, it was considered their duty to speak up.

Objections in the 21st century

These days all the legal requirements for marriage are discussed with couples long before the ceremony. The authorised celebrant should be asking all the questions to make sure the couple meets the requirements. Therefore, the need for someone to object should no longer be required. It’s not a sentence that appears in Australian civil marriage ceremonies. It doesn’t appear in most religious ceremonies either, although there are a few Christian denominations that still include it.

What if someone objects anyway?

Stories where someone turns up at a wedding and proclaims their objection tend to end up in listicles. They’re pretty rare and they often have no impact whatsoever.

If someone heckled me with an objection at a wedding I was performing, everything would stop immediately while I investigated what was going on. You never know, someone might have something useful to say! Hopefully it would just be an unfunny joke and we could continue on with no concerns.

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