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Wedlock Block

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"Never shall the younger be wed before the older ones!"

A couple or several couples are ready to get married, but they're not allowed to (probably because someone's parents won't allow it) because someone else's nuptials (usually an older sister's) have to take place first. This can cause delightful complications if a lower-priority couple needs to Altar the Speed. Settle for Sibling is often the result of this.

Compare Unable to Support a Wife and Dowry Dilemma.


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    Fairy Tales 
  • In "Vasilissa the Beautiful", the Wicked Stepmother justifies rejecting all of Vasilissa's suitors on the grounds that her stepsisters are older than she is.
  • "Prince Lindworm" has the titular character demand to be wed ahead of his twin brother (with the rallying cry "a bride for me before a bride for you!"), as he is well aware that his monstrous form compared to his brother's has made him the ire of his family. He ensures that he is wed before the other prince by blocking the latter's routes to other kingdoms during his own search for a bridal candidate.
  • In a number of fairytales that offer the Standard Hero Reward (with the youngest sibling of three being the protagonist), the hero has to go on two quests to get a spouse for their older siblings before finally embarking on the third quest to get their own spouse. Thanks to Rule of Three, the last quest ends up being the most dangerous. "Molly Whuppie" is one example.

  • One of The Brady Bunch movies has the parents reluctant to officially approve Jan's marriage plans because Marcia is single. Naturally this puts Marcia in an awkward position, as she explains to a random male stranger she meets shortly thereafter...and, naturally, this begins a relationship and a double wedding soon ensues.
  • Cristabel, the "hottie" in The Hottie and the Nottie, self-imposes this trope: She won't even think about having a relationship until her best friend, the hideously ugly June Phigg, has a boyfriend.
  • In the climax of The Pirate Movie, the female lead gets hit with this, so she starts randomly pairing her older sisters with the various pirates and police officers who had been fighting only minutes before.
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You, the '90s Setting Update to The Taming of the Shrew, a strict father will not allow his social butterfly of a younger daughter to date until his iconoclastic older daughter does.

  • Found frequently throughout the works of Jane Austen. Though it is not required, it is considered highly improper if the daughters do not marry in order of their birth—the only time it's acceptable is if the older sister slips into the category of "Old Maid" around age twenty-three. Furthermore, it's considered unusual (as in Pride and Prejudice) to have the youngest daughter (of five) "out" (accepted as grown-up and eligible for marriage) before the eldest is married. In contrast, once Charlotte Lucas' engagement is announced, her sisters are delighted because now it looks like they'll be coming out maybe a year or so earlier than they expected.
  • Features in Like Water for Chocolate: Tita is not allowed to marry because the youngest must look after her mother.
  • A variation in A Brother's Price. This is a world where men are so rare that they marry every sister in a family, sisters who themselves are descended from several different women. After the disastrous marriage to Keifer, the Queens tell their eldest surviving daughter, who is very much in love, that the princesses can only marry the boy if all of her living of-age sisters agree to marry him. Since one has been missing for months and another is too put off by Keifer to consider it, Ren has a hard time of it.
  • In Thorn In My Heart, Logan initially opposes Jamie's desire to marry Logan's daughter Rose, asserting that Leona, as the elder sister, should be married first.



    Western Animation 
  • In the Bob's Burgers episode "The Gayle Tales", Tina writes a story in which four sisters (played by herself, Louise, Gayle, and a gender-flipped Gene) cannot get married until the oldest, Gayle, does so. Unfortunately, Gayle is too shy and neurotic to get a man, to the chagrin of Tina, who wishes to marry Jimmy Jr.'s fantasy counterpart.

    Real Life 
  • As a matter of basic thoughtfulness, if you and your fiancé/fiancée get engaged around the same time as close mutual friends or relatives, someone will almost certainly have to wait, unless they agree to go for a double wedding option. This is not only to avoid Claire and Dan upstaging Alice and Bob but also because of the expense the mutual friends and family would have regarding wedding gifts, bridesmaid dresses, etc.