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Why Waste a Wedding?

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"I'm sick of this. I don't care who it is, but I'm gonna marry somebody today."
Minister, Spaceballs

The guests have arrived, the priest is waiting at the altar, and the organist is playing "Here Comes the Bride". There's only one problem: the happy couple isn't getting married after all. A resourceful character suggests that one of the following occurs:

  1. another couple gets married in their stead (alternately, an older married couple may choose to renew their vows)
  2. the original bride (or, less frequently, groom) marries her (or his) true love
  3. everyone just has a big party (yes, even that "happy couple")
The important thing is that the wedding paraphernalia won't go to waste.

If they already got most of the way through the wedding the first time before it got called off, somebody may suggest they Skip to the End on the do-over.

Compare/contrast Wedding Bells... for Someone Else.


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    Comic Books 
  • In the Post-Zero Hour Legion of Super-Heroes, Saturn Girl and Cosmic Boy's marriage gets called off when it's discovered he's currently comatose, and she's been subconsciously manipulating his body telepathically for... a while.. While pretty much everyone else is busy dealing with that, Ultra Boy and Apparition take advantage of the minister being present to get married instead.
  • In X-Men: Gold, the wedding between Kitty Pryde and Colossus gets called off when Kitty ends up getting major cold feet. However, Gambit ends up deciding to finally admit his feelings to Rogue and asks her to marry him. She agrees and, with everything set up, decide to take over the wedding themselves.

    Fairy Tale 
  • In The White Wolf, the prince's wife had reached him before he married another bride. He marries off his new bride to one of the guests.
  • In Princess Belle-Etoile, the king had resolved to marry again, but his own children appeared at the wedding feast and told how he had been deceived about his first wife. He takes her back, and rather than waste the feast, marries his daughter off to her cousin.

  • The Pokémon fic "Runaway Mermaid" has a variation of this; after reuniting with Ash before her wedding to Rudy, Misty realises that she still loves Ash on the day of the wedding itself and manages to catch Ash as he's about to leave Trovita on the boat. As a result, Ash suggests that he and Misty get married right now as they're both dressed for the occasion and captains can legally perform marriages, even if they don't take over Misty's original ceremony but just have one of their own

    Films — Animated 
  • In Corpse Bride, this trope happens to Victoria while Victor's trapped in the Land of the Dead with Emily. Upon learning Barkis is unmarried, the Everglots promptly decide to substitute him in for the groom (unaware, of course, that he plans to kill Victoria in hopes of stealing money they don't have.) Mayhew, upon relaying the news to Victor, even jokes that they "didn't want to waste the cake." And a second time at the very end, when Emily is freed of her curse and lets Victor marry Victoria, in this case the wedding initially was to be Victor and Emily's.
  • Implied in Shrek, since the final two scenes skip from Fiona and Farquaad's ruined wedding to her and Shrek leaving on their honeymoon. They even have the same cake, many of the same guests, with the fairy tale creatures included, and even the same minister who performed Fiona and Farquaad's wedding marries Shrek and Fiona.
  • In The Book of Life, Maria and Joaquin's wedding is interrupted by the bandits. After the Final Battle, it resumes with Manolo as the groom instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Philadelphia Story. The female love interest (Katharine Hepburn) and her Disposable Fiancée call the wedding off, so she re-marries her ex husband (Cary Grant), instead.
  • High Society (which is The Musical of The Philadelphia Story), though the leads are Grace Kelly and Bing Crosby.
  • Carefree (1938): Everyone gathers for Amanda and Stephen's wedding, but after a behind-the-scenes scuffle, it turns out to be Amanda and Tony's wedding instead.
  • Mamma Mia!: When Sophie and Skye decide to delay their wedding to travel the world, Sam reveals that he's always loved Donna and is now divorced; he proposes to Donna, using the trope name.
  • The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement ends with Mia deciding she'll become Queen without having a husband and gets the marriage law abolished while respectfully letting her groom off the hook. Instead, her grandmother Clarisse and her bodyguard Joe get married. "I know it is rather sudden, but we were all dressed!"
  • LaWanda in the movie Problem Child 2 is Ben Healy's fiancée, but she decides to marry Ben's father instead when the wedding is crashed.
  • Spaceballs starts with Princess Vespa ditching her wedding to Prince Valium. Unfortunately, since he's the only prince in that part of the galaxy, she still has to marry him, so at the end of the film they try to marry a second time. At which point Lone Starr bursts into the chapel, revealing his newly discovered heritage as a prince. Thus Vespa and Lone Starr get married instead. Valium, being a complete narcoleptic, doesn't even notice.
  • Kuch Kuch Hota Hai: This was relatively common in pre-90s Bollywood films; usually the rationale was that the local astrologer had gone to a lot of trouble to find the most auspicious possible date, and postponing the wedding could be even more disastrous than playing eeny-meeny-miney-moe in search of a replacement groom.
  • In Madea's Family Reunion, near the end, Lisa decides to cancel her wedding to Carlos after he abused her. The wedding planner laments that her lavish Paris-themed wedding will not be used. Lisa's sister Vanessa's boyfriend decides to propose to her right then. She accepts and they get married.
  • In Runaway Bride the decision (same bride, different groom) is made the night before, but the trope still fits. Naturally, she ends up running.
  • Foolin Around: when Annette O'Toole decides to marry the protagonist (Gary Busey), her mother (Chloris Leachman) 'saves face' by marrying her butler (Tony Randall).
  • Nanny McPhee at the climax of the film as Cedric and the children ultimately wreck the wedding to the wretched Mrs. Quickly...but Cedric still needs a wife to meet his former aunt-in-law's deadline to continue her much needed financial support. However, he and Evangeline decide to marry on the spot, thus satisfying the requirement set for Cedric (though he also has to quickly explain to Adelaide that Evangeline wasn't actually his daughter).
  • At the very end of In & Out, after Howard and Emily's wedding is called off, the venue is still used for a wedding and reception anyway - by Howard's parents, who renew their wedding vows.
  • A rare example of the C-type, in The Movie adaptation of The Beverly Hillbillies, the con artists are thwarted at the end of the film and Jed's wedding to the female con artist is off. They just decide to throw a big party instead rather than waste the wedding.
  • Life in Pieces has a variant. Colleen's wedding was cancelled a while ago, but not soon enough to get a refund on her reception. She and Matt decide to take advantage of the empty ballroom, champagne tower, and DJ on their date.
  • In Who's That Girl, although Louden Trott's wedding to Wendy Worthington was called off when Louden confessed his love for Nikki Finn, the passengers on the bus that Nikki was riding on waste no time taking advantage of the food being served at the wedding.

  • In Once Upon a Marigold, the princess' Arranged Marriage gets called off once the evil queen is gone, but the princess' true love has just conveniently shown up and she marries him instead.
  • Semi-subverted by Thursday Next, because even in her admittedly screwy reality you need to formally advertise a marriage in advance; however, they immediately book the same church for a month hence, and the festivities are repurposed as an engagement party.
  • Possibly played straight in The Westing Game. While it's uncertain how early Angela decides against marrying Doctor Deere, everyone still holds a wedding for Crow and Otis Amber instead.
  • In Murder With Peacocks, after Meg Langslow's mother Margaret's groom is exposed as the murderer during the wedding, the bride marries her original husband, Meg's father. Luckily a spare judge was in attendance to speed things up a bit!
    • At another wedding in the book (there are three!), this is inverted — after all that work arranging the wedding, the bride goes through with it, before disappearing with a groomsman in a convertible blaring the Beach Boys' "I Get Around".
  • Miss Flitworth's backstory in Reaper Man: When her bridegroom disappeared just before the wedding, she thought "what life expects me to do now is moon around the place in the wedding dress for years and go completely doolally", but instead she buckled down and got on with things, including having the reception anyway because it's a crime to waste good food. They're reunited in the end.
  • Dave Barry mentions a friend of his who was in the mood to have a wedding, but all but one of her children were already taken. So she decided to have one between her son and an inflatable pool toy. The son got engaged somewhere along the line, but "you had to feel bad for the pool toy".

    Live-Action TV 
  • On ER in the first season finale, when Carol Hathaway's doctor fiance pulls out of the wedding at the last minute, her family goes through with the reception. As Carol put it, "What's a little humiliation when there's free food and drink?"
  • On One Day at a Time, Julie ends up marrying the best man.
  • The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Will and Lisa decide not to get married, so Will's mother and Lisa's father get married instead. Which would have been very awkward if Will and Lisa had been married...
  • On Felicity, Elena and Tracy decide not to get married, realizing they're not ready yet. However, Meghan and Sean end up taking advantage of the ceremony all set up to get married instead. When the series does its infamous time travel storyline, the marriage was wiped out with Meghan telling Felicity (the only one who remembered the wedding) how crazy her and Sean getting married like that was.
  • On A Different World, Dwayne and Whitley got married at her wedding to Byron. When Jaleesa and Walter decide not to get married at their wedding, they have a big party instead.
  • Doctor Who, "The Runaway Bride": Donna mysteriously disappears from her own wedding. When the Doctor brings her back, she's furious to discover that the guests have decided to hold the reception without her.
  • Brian and Andrea do this on Dirty Sexy Money after yet another failed wedding for Karen.
  • When Kate does a runner from her wedding to Lord Blackadder, Lord Melchett claims that it is traditional in these circumstances for the groom to marry the bridesmaid. The bridesmaid is Baldrick, who unlike Edmund seems quite happy with this.
  • In the third-season finale of Two and a Half Men, Charlie and Mia travel to Las Vegas to get married. Just before the ceremony, Mia tells Charlie that he'll have to kick Alan out of his house after they are married. Charlie refuses to do so and the wedding is off. Then, Alan and Kandi get married instead... which leads to Alan moving out of Charlie's house.
  • In Grey's Anatomy, Meredith and Derek seem finally ready to tie the knot, but opt out so the cancerous and dying Izzy can marry Alex before she becomes too weak to walk down the aisle.
  • In Scrubs, Turk misses his and Carla's wedding ceremony due to a mix up with directions. They end up going ahead with the reception, and stopping by the hospital later and getting a patient to officiate.
    • The same thing happened in Spin City almost ten years earlier. Paul and Claudia don't get to have a wedding ceremony because Mike mistakenly booked their wedding for the following week, and the Priest only agrees to marry them in the short time before a funeral is to take place in the same church, which is impossible for them. As a result they hold their reception and the Mayor, who has the legal authority to do so, marries them there.
  • in The King of Queens, Arthur almost marries a 'famous' singer, Eva, but it turns out she only marries gay men, for companionship. Once she realized Arthur wasn't gay, she ran out on the wedding. Arthur, ever the penny-pincher, up and proposes to Spencer's mother. The marriage apparently lasts only a year.
  • On Glee, after Emma flees from the alter from her wedding with Will, Santana urges him to let the reception happen anyway in the form of a giant party. It does, but Will understandably doesn't join the guests.
  • Played with in Bones where Angela and Hodgins had to leave the altar because they found out that Angela was already married, thus leaving Brennan (the maid of Honour) and Booth (the best man) still standing at the altar. They look at each other and Booth even asks something along the lines of "What now?" Sadly, nothing happens, but it certainly amps up their Unresolved Sexual Tension and Ship Tease.
    • Turns into a Type C, with Hodgins advising the gathered guests to enjoy the catering while he and Angela run off together.
  • The 2010 finale of Home and Away uses this. Bianca runs out on her wedding, and Gina comes up with the idea.
  • Three's Company: After Larry's gold-digger bride runs off when she finds out he's not rich, the gang convinces Roper (who paid for the whole thing) to use it as an opportunity to renew his vows with his wife.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Subverted in the episode "June Bride". When the French Teacher's "proxy wedding" gets cancelled, Mr. Boynton tells everyone that he has no intention of wasting the opportunity or the minister. Naturally, everybody, especially Miss Brooks, believes that he's finally going to propose. Instead, Mr. Boynton sees this as the perfectly opportunity for a square dance as he's Oblivious to Love.
  • In How I Met Your Mother's "Shelter Island," Stella's sister cancels her wedding, so she and Ted offer to take it instead, though Stella ends up leaving Ted at the altar.
  • In White Collar Peter went undercover and had to plan a wedding with a Black Widow. After the arrest is made, he uses the decorations and things to give his wife the wedding she'd always wanted.
  • The Nanny: In "Stop The Wedding, I Want To Get Off", Maxwell Sheffield's sister Jocelyn was going to marry Nigel, but Fran realizes that she is really in love with her chauffeur, Lester. Eventually, the two of them realize it on Jocelyn's wedding day - and Jocelyn marries Lester instead. Unfortunately, the marriage doesn't last.
  • The Lifetime Movie of the Week "With This Ring" uses this trope when Vivian and Sean marry after Trista decides (at the altar) that she doesn't want to settle for marrying her college boyfriend.
  • Subverted on Shake it Up when after Jeremy and Georgia broke up at the alter, CeCe and Rocky tried to make this an opportunity for CeCe's parents back together after they kissed the night before the wedding. However, the parents refuse.
  • On Sisters, the women's mother and her fiance abruptly decide that they don't want the lovely garden ceremony that has been planned for them and decide to go off to the courthouse. Oldest sister Alex reluctantly decides to accept her daughter's recent elopement and give the couple her blessing by allowing them to use the arrangements.
  • General Hospital. As Mac and Felicia prepare to marry, psycho Ryan Chamberlain (who's been obsessed with Felicia for the past year) shows up to wreak havoc, planning to either kill everyone in attendance or kidnap Felicia. In the ensuing melee, Mac is badly injured and must be taken to the hospital. Not wanting to waste the arrangements, Felicia urges Jenny to trade dresses with her so that she and fiance Paul can marry.
  • Revealed to have happened at the end of The Moodys. When Bridget's pregnancy interferes with Terry and Yvonne's wedding, Terry sends Dan and Cora to cancel the hot air balloon he was planning on exchanging his vows in. The balloon handler and the celebrant refuse to budge on the issue due to working for a discount, so Dan and Cora take the balloon ride themselves and get married. Despite this, Terry and Yvonne are able to salvage their wedding day.
  • In The Dukes of Hazzard Reunion Show when Daisy and Enos call off their wedding, Bubba and Bertha Jo get married instead.
    Daisy: Who wants a free wedding?


  • In Side Show, when Violet's big publicity event of a wedding fails to go off, her (conjoined twin) sister Daisy proposes to the man she's in love with on these grounds. He turns her down.
  • There is a ballet about a young woman called Lisette whose mother wants her to marry the much younger son of a rich widower. Lisette already has a boyfriend and at the rehearsal dinner he hides in her room but the two of them get caught by the guests together with Lisette in her underwear (she was changing for the dinner) and the mother is humiliated, calling the wedding off (to the delight of the two children). It then ends with her chatting up the father, remembering he was a widower...
  • In La Sylphide on the day of his wedding to Effie, James chases after the mysterious Sylph. A Wicked Witch tricks him into killing the Sylph and he wanders out of the forest to discover Effie leaving the Church married to another man.
  • In Zemsta the wedding cake has letters M and H (Maciej - Cześnik, and Hanna - Podstolina) on it. But after all the hijinks, it's Waclaw and Klara who end up married.

    Video Games 
  • May be implied in Dragon Quest VIII: the rulers of Argonia and Trodain had made a pact for their heirs to marry and unite the kingdoms. Unfortunately, while Princess Medea turned out well, Prince Charmles... wasn't a good match. This leads to Medea pulling a Runaway Bride during both endings; in the better one, however, Argonia has learned that the hero is the son of his long-lost brother and is utterly devoted to Medea, and reveals this to those gathered for the wedding ceremony. Instead of fleeing the chapel, the happy couple end up walking out together, arm-in-arm.

    Western Animation 
  • There was a variation in an episode of the Care Bears cartoon. Two of the villains were supposed to get married, but because they were villains, that didn't work out so well. Nonetheless, the Care Bears had agreed to host the wedding for them, and decided to just throw a party with the leftover food and decorations.
  • Kind of inversion in Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Harry Osborne interrupts the very happy wedding of Peter and MJ, and tries to force MJ to marry him. Liz shows up as a Last Minute Hookup, confessing that she's always loved Harry. This ends up neutralizing him as a threat, because it makes him harder to manipulate by his evil father (who's currently trapped in another dimension, along with the real MJ, but that's a whole other story).
  • In the Futurama episode "Zapp Dingbat", Zapp Brannigan falls in love with Leela's recently divorced mother, Munda, and they nearly get married. The ceremony is interrupted by hostile aliens, who were supposed to sign a peace treaty on that very day. The wedding is canceled when Munda discovers that Zapp was tricking the aliens, who then attack. Luckily, her ex-husband Morris arrives to save the day, and in the end they decide to remarry, taking advantage of all the preparations already in place.
  • In The Smurfs episode "Papa's Wedding Day", the intended wedding of Papa Smurf and Flowerbell the woodnymph was called off because she was revealed to be the infiltrator intending to have Papa Smurf fall in love with her so he could be captured by Balthazar, only to soon have a Heel–Face Turn and help the Smurfs rescue Papa Smurf from Balthazar. With a big wedding cake going to waste, Papa Smurf decides that they should all enjoy it together.
  • In the cartoon special Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, Snoopy is all set to get married to a dog named Genevieve when Lucy soon arrives with news that the bride-to-be has just run off with a golden retriever. Snoopy is heartbroken at first, but soon lightens up at the prospect of remaining a bachelor, and enjoys the wedding cake with Woodstock.


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