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The Bride with a Past

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Meeting the fiance's family is always a tense situation, ready to explode with drama for a story. What makes it worse? One of the family members already knows the fiancée, and she has a secret.

A big one.

Maybe she was a hooker or a stripper, or less scandalously, maybe she dated an old friend or juicy rumors surround her. Maybe she was Mistaken for Cheating. It could even be a positive secret, such as secretly being royalty Obviously, they have to share with the rest of the family, and the entire family discusses it in private, away from the happy couple.


Often, the prospective groom already knows, and the episode ends with an Honesty Aesop, a story about tolerance, or no moral at all.

Compare Milholland Relationship Moment.


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  • In You Again, Marni realizes her brother is about to marry the Alpha Bitch who made her life miserable in high school.
  • In Kill Bill, the central character is all set to marry an unsuspecting young man (hence her being known as "the Bride" for most of both films) when her ex shows up. And he brings a whole group of old friends. Things don't end well. For the uninvited guests, either.
  • In The Mighty Aphrodite the groom realizes that the woman performing in the stag film at his bachelor party is his bride-to-be. The wedding is called off.

  • Not a bride, but the main plot of Scott Pilgrim is Scott's journey to come to terms with Ramona's past, in terms of emotions and fight scenes.

  • This is the basic plot of the novel Redeeming Love, in which a former prostitute in the Old West marries a good man who treats her with kindness and respect, despite the attempts of people he knows to convince him to get rid of her. It’s not played for comedy; in fact, the groom’s argument with his horrified brother gets quite ugly, especially once the groom reveals that he already knew the woman was a prostitute when he married her. It takes almost the entire novel for them to resolve this.
  • Tess of the D'Urbervilles: It's only after the wedding that Tess confesses her past to her husband Angel, namely, that she was Alec d'Urberville's mistress after Alec raped her. Angel, being a sanctimonious douchebag, dumps her.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Happy Days: Howard remembers that he saw Fonzie's fiancée as "The Lone Stripper" at a hardware convention. Having been under the impression that his lady was a virgin, they break up.
  • Step by Step directly rips-off Happy Days when Frank recognizes Cody's potential bride as a stripper by her distinctive laugh just as Howard recognized Fonzie's.
  • Family Matters: Carl's recognized his boss's fiancée as a stripper and was worried about breaking the man's heart by telling him. The boss was not only aware of his fiancée's jb (they'd met in a strip club in the first place), but he was offended that Carl portrayed it as a bad thing.
  • Inverted in Friends when Phoebe visits her boyfriend's stuck-up parents and proudly announces a few shocking details of her past to them without any prompting. The Aesop-y end result is the same.
  • Moonlighting: Dave's father was engaged to marry a younger woman. When Dave meets her, he recognizes her as someone he met in a bar years earlier and had a brief but intense affair with. When Dave confronts her, she admits to having a troubled past in which she habitually got drunk and seduced random strangers. She'd met his father when she attempted to do the same to him, but he'd won her over by not sleeping with her, and treating her with respect. The kicker being that she'd had so many of those affairs, she doesn't remember Dave at all. Dave is moved enough to keep his mouth shut and give the wedding his blessing.
  • In The George Lopez Show, Ernie is dating a woman who has a history of alcohol abuse and gambling problems. Angie tells George that the woman is pregnant, but not sure who the father is. Unfortunately, she tells Ernie it's his.
  • On the Angel episode "Bachelor Party", Doyle's ex-wife visits with her new fiancé, who turns out to be a demon. The ex-wife is informed, but already knew. In this case, it's Played for Drama in a different way—Doyle is half-demon himself and assumed that this was why his ex-wife left him, but this proves that no, it was his reaction to the news that ultimately ruined their marriage. (Oh, and also, the new beau wants to eat Doyle as per his species' tradition, though the ex-wife doesn't know that part).
  • In Everybody Loves Raymond, Robert Barone is still not being allowed to forget that his first wife Joanne was formerly a "dancer" in Atlantic City. His mother brings this up practically every time her name is mentioned.
  • Dharma & Greg has a variant: while attending the wedding of Kitty's housekeeper, Dharma and Greg run into her now-married niece, whom Greg supposedly lost his virginity to as a teenager. This information reaches her husband, who's angry because she told him that she was a virgin on her wedding night. Eventually Greg confesses that the two almost had sex, but he, er, finished rather early. Greg explains this to the Spanish-speaking husband (the priest offers to translate), who finds it hilarious.
  • In the Brazilian telenovela Força de um Desejo the protagonist is a former High-Class Call Girl who gets married with a wealthy and respectable coffee baron. She keeps her past life an closely-guarded secret until it's inevitably brought up by their enemies to discredit her husband. Not to mention her other secret, that before her marriage, her stepson was the love of her life...
    • Olívia, a friend of the protagonist, was engaged to the town's doctor, but she never told him or anyone else that she is a fugitive white slave (she had a white father and a black mother, while she looks fairly white) and the marriage is not celebrated because she captured shortly before.
  • Girlfriend version in The Big Bang Theory when Amy reveals to Sheldon "We all have a past". Of course her shocking history was once punching all of the buttons on an elevator before exiting.

  • The George Jones song "She's The Rock" is about a guy who's married to a woman with a shady past. He not only knows about it, but he forgives her for it and defends her to people who bring it up.
  • The song "The Flower of the Plateau" from mothy's Evillious Chronicles franchise; the bride, Mikulia, was previously a prostitute. In a variant of this trope, it's two outsiders (her old handler and her abandoned son) who come and threaten to reveal her past. So she kills them. And it later turns out that's just the start of the bride's issues.

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