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Sham Wedding

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Alcazar: We all have needs. I needed five weirdos to scrub my five castles. [...]
Leela: But why all five weddings on the same day?
Alcazar: You know the price to rent a tux that changes shape?

Congratulations! Two lovers have just tied the knot... Except it turns out they haven't really. The wedding was not real and the marriage is therefore not valid.

Either the bride or the groom was tricked by the other into believing the wedding was real. It gets revealed it was all a sham and the wronged party feels terribly betrayed. One potential reason for this is that one party is already married or has a second family: in most countries that have bigamy laws, the second marriage is automatically void.

In cases of a fake wedding done for tricking the parents who for some reason want their child to be married (and where both the bride and the groom know it is a fake ceremony), or to milk their family and friends for nice presents. However, they don't get married for real.

Subtrope of Sham Ceremony.


Relational troping:

  • Fake Relationship: Can be faked by both parties involved, or can be fake from one side only.
  • Marriage of Convenience: People get married for various reasons (social standing, reputation, money, citizenship, political marriage, to play gay/straight, to help a single parent, for practicalities, as a back-up plan, to please parents etc.) but in this case, the wedding and the marriage are real.
  • Not Really Married Plot: A comedy trope when a married couple discovers they were actually never legally married.
  • Oops! I Forgot I Was Married: The character genuinely assumes that whatever wedding ceremony they had, it didn't count, or they conveniently forgot to mention the wedding to friends and close ones and they never bothered to get an annulment or a divorce.
  • Real Fake Wedding is the inversion: a real wedding is held on the pretence of it being a fake one, but the characters are tricked into marrying for real, often to someone they didn't intend.
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  • Smithical Marriage: The fake couple may hold the ceremony or make reservations at a hotel as "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"
  • Undercover as Lovers: The characters may hold a sham marriage as part of their disguise.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In One Piece, Sanji gets roped into a sham wedding as part of a political deal between his father Judge and Big Mom. However, Big Mom planned on double-crossing Judge the entire time and tried to have her daughter Pudding assassinate Sanji at the altar. But these plans went to hell after Sanji complimented Pudding's third eye, which made her break down as Bege attempted to assassinate Big Mom.

    Comic Books 
  • Marvel Star Wars (2015): This ultimately turns out to be the case between Han and Sana. While technically their marriage was legally binding, the whole thing was just meant as a cover for a con, and neither of them consider it to be legitimate.

    Fan Works 
  • How to Fake a Marriage, a Miraculous Ladybug fanfic by quicksilversquared, starts with Adrien arriving in London to study for a Physics degree and running into Marinette. Adrien's father had banned him from dating while in London, and once Marinette hears about that, they both decide to stage a fake wedding to prank Gabriel, since he didn't ban marrying.
  • In the Empath: The Luckiest Smurf story "Hefty, The Luckiest Smurf", Smurfette is marrying Hefty at the beginning of the story, with Empath watching them happily getting hitched...except that it turns out to be an Imaginarium fantasy setting, where Smurfette wanted to explore that moment of being married to Hefty at the altar. Both Empath and Smurfette knew it wasn't real, but Empath wanted to give Smurfette something special for Valentine's Day.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Bekka is set to marry Orion, son of Darkseid, as part of a peace brokerage between Apokolips and New Genesis. While she's initially disdainful of the idea, she realizes that Orion has potential to be more than the monster his father was. Unbeknownst to Bekka, the wedding was a ruse designed to gather Apokolip's leadership in one place for assassination. After Darkseid, Orion, and the rest of Apokolip's elites are dead, Bekka is so disgusted with Highfather that she uses her betrothal gift, a sword-shaped Mother Box, to flee to Earth, becoming Wonder Woman.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Way Down East, Lennox and Annie have a wedding ceremony, which Lennox later reveals was a sham and not legally binding. The whole thing was a sham to get in her pants, and Lennox leaves her after the reveal.

  • Jane Eyre: Jane Eyre's wedding to Edward Rochester gets interrupted when somebody speaks up in the Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace moment: It turns out that Mr Rochester is already married. Had the ceremony proceeded, their marriage wouldn't have been legal and Rochester would have been guilty of bigamy.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory Penny discovers that she legally married her ex-boyfriend Zach in what she thought was a fake wedding in Vegas.
  • The Drew Carey Show: In "Drew's Inheritance", Drew and Kate throw together a fake wedding to try and claim an inheritance from Drew's uncle.
  • In Samurai Sentai Shinkenger and it's American adaptation, Power Rangers Samurai, an episode involves the villains abducting women at their weddings. So the Rangers arrange a fake ceremony between two of their teammates to lure the monsters to them.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • AJ Lee tricked Daniel Bryan onto being married, only for the marriage itself to be a lie because, when AJ said that she accepts, she was responding to Vince McMahon's offer for her to be a General Manager.

    Video Games 
  • In Final Fantasy IX, when the party arrives at Conde Petie, the residents tell them that the destination they need to travel to continue their journey is a sacred area that only newlyweds are allowed to venture to. Garnet immediately drags Zidane to the altar and the two undergo a wedding right on the spot. Zidane doesn't realize her plan and thinks it's real, but as soon as the priest declares them unified in marriage, Zidane finds himself kissing the space where Garnet used to be, who has already moved on ahead.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Futurama, "A Bicyclops Built for Two": Alcazar has five fantastic castles and he needs five wives to take care of them. So he goes out and finds five women who are the last of their kind and courts them, including Leela. Fry and Bender expose him, and his five brides are furious, beating him up and cancelling the marriage.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: Pleakly convinces his family that he has a fiancée, only for them to come over expecting him to marry said girl. Pleakly needs the help of his ohananote  to fake a wedding to get his family off his back. Jumba acts as the bride because Nani refuses to do it even if it was fake. However, Pleakly's lie is revealed after Gantu brings up Fibber who had been buzzing the entire episode because of Pleakly's lie.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "The Real Housewives of Fat Tony", Selma marries Fat Tony, the local mafia boss. However, it turns out the wedding wasn't real and the ceremony was held in Italian (which Selma doesn't know), and she only agreed to be Tony's house mistress. Fat Tony's real wife laughs at the size of Selma's ring.
    • In "The Wandering Juvie", Bart arranges a fake wedding for himself and "Lotta Cooties" (there is no such a girl/woman) so he can return the gifts the invited guests will bring for store credit. He ends up getting busted and sent to juvenile hall.


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