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Real Fake Wedding

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The Real Fake Wedding occurs when someone attempts to trick someone into marrying them by staging a fake wedding with their intended partner (by saying it is for a play, that they need a stand-in for the bride/groom at a wedding rehearsal, etc) then replacing the fake celebrant with real celebrant.

Needless to say, such a "wedding" would have no legal standing in the real world. This is because a marriage certificate still has to be registered and the wedding itself is typically a fancy way of signing paperwork. In most areas, you have to wait a couple of days before you can have the wedding to prevent this trope from happening. Some even requiring blood work before the certificate can be signed. Being misled or under a misapprehension about a "significant fact" about the spouse-to-be or indeed a marriage only coming into being due to fraud is also grounds for an annulment in many jurisdictions and even in some religious law codes. However, characters in fiction will almost always treat such a ceremony as if it was legally binding.

Compare Accidental Marriage, Bride and Switch, and Tricked into Signing. See also Metaphorical Marriage.


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    Comic Books 
  • In Bodie Troll 2015 Free Comic Book Day issue. While making a delivery, Bodie comes across a girl playing tea party who invites him to join her. He does so, surprisingly getting intoxicated despite the "tea" being root beer, and during one of their games, they do a fake wedding. However, the kingdom they live in has some very oddball laws, one of which allows the wedding to be legal. Luckily Bodie's friends, Cholly and Miz Bijou, find out about the root beer and reveal that the drink has an alcoholic effect on trolls (since rotted roots are their favored food as opposed to sugared roots) and, as such, Bodie wasn't in his right mind at the time to consent to the wedding. Thus getting the wedding annulled.
  • In Tomahawk #31, a woman attempts to trick Tomahawk into marrying her by staging the wedding in a play about his life (where she has talked him into playing himself). It fails when the preacher she sent for from Boston turns out to be a bandit in disguise and has no authority to marry anyone.

    Fan Works 
  • The Lady of Rivers and Storms: Because Hoster Tully is unwilling to be content with a mere betrothal, Lysa marries Stannis Baratheon with Elbert Arryn standing in for Stannis at Ned and Catelyn's wedding. They were supposed to be married in a double wedding with Robert and Lyanna, but Lyanna died and just one couple was married that day.
  • The Friends fic "The One With the Thanksgiving Kiss" features Chandler getting so drunk during a visit to Vegas that Phoebe talks him into a 'Vegas marriage', convincing the drunken Chandler that marriage in Vegas is only valid in Vegas and reasoning that a "practice marriage" is a good way to help him get over his fears about marrying Monica. Fortunately, in the end it turns out that their marriage in Vegas wasn't valid in the first place, as they signed themselves 'Chanandler Bong' and 'Regina Phalange' respectively.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic "Trixie At the Royal Wedding", Twilight's friends play a prank on Trixie that leads into a play wedding between her and Twilight. Unfortunately, they find out afterwards that Pinkie Pie, who officiated the ceremony, is a licensed minister, meaning that Twilight and Trixie actually did get married.

    Film — Live Action 
  • In the Sandalwood film Gowri Ganesha a woman named Gowri agrees to take part in a staged wedding reception as the “bride”. She desperately needs money to pay for a life saving heart surgery while her “groom” Chandramouli is doing this so his parents in distant Punjab will think he has actually got married and won’t disinherit him. However, it backfires tragically when Chandramouli’s parents, livid at not being asked to participate in the nuptials, try to guilt trip their son into flying to them by pretending to have been victimized by terrorists. He takes a flight to Punjab that night which is actually attacked by terrorists and dies. Because he had to suddenly leave, he couldn’t pay Gowri and she dies penniless of her heart condition.
  • At the end of The Muppets Take Manhattan, Piggy and Kermit are supposed to get 'married' at the climax of the big musical. Gonzo was supposed to play the minister but Piggy replaces him with a real minister. (To add to the metatextuality of the affair, the man in question was played by a real-life Presbyterian pastor.)
  • A variant in Way Down East, in which the bad guy fakes a wedding, complete with a fake priest, in order to get the virginal heroine to go to bed with him.

  • In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Count Olaf casts his ward Violet as the bride in his play in a bid to gain full control over her inheritance. Olaf definitely plays this trope straight and casts a real officiant in the play, who is very distressed to learn she had been tricked. Violet gets out of it, however, by signing the marriage certificate with her non-dominant hand, rendering it null and void.
  • Inverted in one Sherlock Holmes story, where the groom claims the pastor (and therefore the wedding) was legitimate. Holmes replies that even if the pastor was real (doubtful at best) the forced wedding won't hold up in court.

    Live Action TV 
  • In season 3 of Arrested Development George Michael and his cousin/crush Mabey take part in a fake wedding at the hospital for alzheimers patients, only for a real priest to step in. While it's mentioned in the next episode and is legally binding, it's not mentioned again.
  • On an episode of Bridezillas one bride decided (against both her and her fiancé's better judgment) that she was going to invite her guests to an "engagement party," and then announce in the middle of it that it was really a wedding. She did manage to pull off the "surprise wedding," but needless to say, this was a logistical nightmare, and involved a lot of lying to family members. (Which did get her called out by her mother, who almost missed the wedding, thinking it was only an engagement party which she was only going to make an appearance at for a short while).
  • Charlie's Angels did this in a Con the Conman scenario. The conman was targeting a mousy, shy woman. The Angels convinced him he could fleece her with a fake marriage. They had Bosley pretend to be the minister so the conman could get the "real" one out of the way. The real minister performed the ceremony and the Angels already knew something the conman didn't. The bride's father was a noted underworld figure who would ensure his new son in-law made his daughter happy.
  • One episode of The Drew Carey Show saw Drew impulsively marrying a woman he met in Vegas. He thought it was just a gag (the priest was dressed as Jimi Hendrix), but it turned out to be legally-binding; the woman was stuck in a custody battle with her ex-husband, and hoped that marrying Drew would help her keep her kids.
  • In an episode of Fantasy Island two actors with Belligerent Sexual Tension play characters who get "married" during a musical comedy performance. Unknown to them until after the ceremony, the minister is a real minister who was having a fantasy of his own fulfilled (performing in a professional show). Now they really are married.
  • General Hospital's Ned Ashton was madly in love with Lois Cerullo, who knew him as "Eddie Maine" but being blackmailed into marriage by Katherine Bell. He promptly enticed Lois to run off with him to Las Vegas and marry him, holding his hand over the marriage license so that she couldn't see his real name written down and ensuring that he would at least be legally married to her instead of Katherine.
  • In one episode of Happy Days, Fonzie agrees to be Jenny Picalo's date to a costume party on a boat, and for the talent show at the party, they decide to hold a staged wedding scene, being as they were dressed as a bride and groom. However, Roger later tells Fonzie that he thinks a wedding ceremony on a boat, even if it's meant to be make-believe, means that the marriage is legally genuine, much to romance-hungry Jenny’s delight and freedom-loving Fonzie’s dismay. And Roger eventually finds out that he was wrong and they are not legally married. Fonzie is relieved upon learning this but Jenny’s disappointed.
  • In one episode of Hogan's Heroes, the group has to prevent a captured member of the French Resistance from spilling his guts. His captors try to demoralize him by telling him his lover is unfaithful, so Hogan and company trick Colonel Klink into marrying them (reasoning that he has the authority to do so, for the same reasons as a ship captain) under the guise of a play.
  • On The Office (US), Dwight gets a priest who only speaks German for Andy and Angela's wedding. He does a practice ceremony where he stands in for Andy, and makes the priest believe Dwight's the groom and it's a real ceremony. Angela does not accept it as a real marriage, however. She does end up having to anull the marriage, however, since Dwight had his cousin Mose sign as one witness and tricked Andy into signing as the other on the pretense of signing a rental contract for the wedding venue, then had the priest file the paperwork before anyone knew what had happened.
  • The Real O'Neals: A variant occurs in the episode where Kenny gets cast as the lead in his school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Eileen gets too into planning the wedding scene of the play, making it seem like a real wedding. When Kenny confronts her about it, she says it's because he'll never have a traditional wedding like she always dreamed of.

    Puppet Shows 
  • In the Marisa Berenson of The Muppet Show episode, Miss Piggy has Kermit agree to participate in a wedding sketch at the end of the show, which is implied to be a real wedding. Kermit escapes by, instead of saying "I do", introducing Lew Zeland and his boomerang fish act, who had earlier lobbied unsuccessfully to be in the show.

    Western Animation 
  • On King of the Hill, a prank war erupts between Bobby (who's twelve) and Luanne (his older cousin). After he replaces her birth control pills with candy, she convinces him that women have to take a birth control pill every day or they get pregnant. Hank and Peggy actually get in on the joke and put on a fake Shotgun Wedding, to Bobby's horror. Then, to teach Luanne a lesson too, they claim that the celebrant, Bill, is actually an ordained minister and their marriage is valid. Also, you supposedly can't get divorced in Texas for at least a year.
  • The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show: Trying to impress her sister, Christine gets Peabody to hold a fake wedding with him on-show, having Mr. Hobson officiate so that it won't count, but things get complicated when an emotional sister insists on officiating the wedding herself which would make the wedding real.
  • The pastor in the "Truth or Square" episode of SpongeBob SquarePants thought it was a real wedding instead of a play. A deleted line has Spongebob saying "It doesn't have to be", only to get slapped by Sandy. Since it was a real minister who performed the marriage that was supposed to be for a play, this means Spongebob and Sandy are accidentally married.
  • On Total Drama World Tour, the contestants have to fake-marry for the Niagara Falls challenge, and Cody gets stuck with Sierra. In the confessional, she explains that she's an ordained minister on the Internet, and attempts to say the wedding vows really fast and trick Cody into saying "I do." She eventually succeeds, but it's Subverted in the next episode when Heather notes that that's not actually legal.

     Real Life 
  • Winona Ryder joked about possibly being married for real to Keanu Reeves during the filming of Bram Stoker's Dracula, in which their characters Jonathan and Mina Harker were husband and wife.
    Ryder: In that scene, [Francis Ford Coppola] used a real Romanian priest. We shot the master and he did the whole thing. So I think we're married.
  • In traditional Jewish religious law, if a man hands a woman an object of value (it needn't be a ring) in the presence of two unrelated male witnesses, while saying "Behold, you are consecrated unto me according to the law of Moses and Israel," the two are legally married, even if there's no rabbi involved, and even if done as a joke or as part of a performance. Their only recourse is to obtain a divorce through a rabbinical court.
    • The rabbinical court can also declare that no marriage occurred, either straightforwardly (there is a real-life example of a woman who immediately threw down the object while stating that she did not want to marry the man) or by finding some reason to disqualify at least one of the witnesses.


Video Example(s):


SpongeBob & Sandy's "wedding"

SpongeBob reminisces the time he and Sandy got married (it was really a play).

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / RealFakeWedding

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