Is "Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace" Required?

It's a tad dramatic, no?

Bride and groom hugging during ceremony

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Have you ever noticed that every single movie wedding follows almost exactly the same script? Not only do they use the same wording, but they also tend to differ from what happens at a real-life wedding ceremony. For some reason, in movie wedding ceremonies there's often a dramatic moment where the minister says "If any of you has a reason why these two should not be married, speak now or forever hold your peace." It's an overused plot device in movies that gives an opportunity to an ex-lover of the bride or groom to rush forward, proclaiming his or her love, or for some new shocking information to be revealed about the couple. It seems to solely exist to create dramatic tension, which isn't necessarily good for an actual wedding.

Where Does This Come From?

The wording in this phrase, "speak now or forever hold your peace" is based upon the marriage liturgy of the Christians' Book of Common Prayer, so if you are getting married in a church, this phrase may be a required element. If you're able to alter the script for your wedding, we'd suggest removing it from your ceremony. Perhaps rather than asking this question in the negative, we would suggest asking your guests for their support in marriage and love for one another by asking them to make some vows as your community.

Community vows of support can take a number of different forms during a wedding ceremony. You could ask your guests to simply say that they believe the two of you should be married and that they encourage this union and promise to support you in good times and bad.  

Everyone benefits when they are part of a community. Your family and friends are your community and your marriage will be a part of the community as well. Having committed family units of many different kinds (not just marriages) helps to strengthen and stabilize a community. Odds are, most of your friends and loved ones will support you in this way even if you don't ask them to, but the ritual of acknowledging the need for that support, and receiving those assurances, can be a very important and powerful part of a wedding ceremony. Everyone who is attending on your wedding day wants to see your marriage succeed because they love and believe in you, so having them promise to be supportive along the way is super meaningful.

Community Wedding Vows

Here are some possibilities of community vows to use in place of "Speak now or forever hold your peace":

  • Do you support this union and affirm that these two should be married today? (Guests respond, "We Do.")
  • Will you surround this couple in love, offering them the joys of your friendship? Will you support this couple in their relationship? At times of conflict will you offer them the strength of your wisest counsel and the comfort of your thoughtful concern? At times of joy, will you celebrate with them, nourishing their love for one another? (Guests respond, "We Will.")
  • The bonds this couple has made today are sacred and holy, and should not be broken. But nearly every relationship is tested at one point or another, by conflict, temptation, strife, and change. Will you, their loved ones, family, and friends, agree to help them keep those bonds holy, reminding them of their love for one another, and helping them cross through those stressful periods? (Guests respond, "We Will.")
  • The wedding rings that these two will give each other will be a reminder of their love, and the vows they will make here today. They have asked me to pass them around the room so that each of you, who is an important and loved member of their lives, can bless the rings and give your support for their marriage. (Rings are passed from guest to guest.)

Don't these seem like some nice alternatives to the dramatic question that only seeks to cause trouble? Try requesting community vows rather than inviting an awkward incident.