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Till death do us part!

"Brides walk the land cloaked in sorrow, searching for love - the only thing they ever wanted during their lives. Or maybe they're zombies who think they look good in wedding dresses. Either way, BE AFRAID."
— Tour Book description of the Bride, Brütal Legend
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A darling of Gothic Horror, ghosts in wedding dresses are common sighting both in fiction and Real Life accounts. Often they are the ghosts of women who have died on their wedding day, forever haunting wherever they died without the satisfaction of saying her vows and consummating the union.

The idea is not just applied to disembodied spirits. Zombies and vampires are also likely to wear them, often stained with gore to emphasize the blasphemy of such unholy abominations wearing clothes meant for a sacred occasion.

Sub-Trope of Incongruously-Dressed Zombie, Jacob Marley Apparel, and Ethereal White Dress. May be the result of being Widowed at the Wedding. If purposefully invoked for real weddings, see Themed Wedding. See also Cute Ghost Girl, Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl, Death and the Maiden, and Living Statue (The Venus of Ille and the like).

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Examples:

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    Anime and Manga 
  • Sailor Moon Crystal: In "Makoto - Sailor Jupiter", Nephrite creates a bride mannequin youma to lure men and steal their life energy. The rumors that spring up around the disappearances refer to the youma as the Ghost Bride. The youma later fights the Sailor Scouts and gets destroyed by Jupiter's Flower Hurricane attack.

    Comic Books 
  • Alpha Flight: In "Rage Against the Dying of the Light!", the team goes up against Amy Brewer, a mutant with the power to raise the dead. Her power awakened upon her own death, which happened from food poisoning right before her marriage to Malcolm Codsworth. She was buried in her wedding dress, only to furiously rise from her grave and command a legion of zombies to abduct her groom and half the town to finally have her wedding. Alpha Flight stands no chance against her undead army, but Aurora reasons that Amy's power will deactivate if she's placated with the wedding she so desires. Malcolm agrees to it, holding Amy in his arms when she happily makes her vows and dies for good.
  • Batman: In "Wail of the Ghost Bride!", Bruce reads up on the mysterious death of Corrine Hellbane, a wealthy woman who fell overboard during her honeymoon 41 years ago. Her husband, Alex March, was suspected of having pushed her for her money, but nothing could be proven. Whether a true ghost or Batman's overactive imagination, he sees her bridal image everywhere and hears her pleas to solve her case. He makes his way to Hellbane Manor the night it's to be demolished and finds Alex there tearing open a wall that holds Corrine's remains from the day she was wedded. She never left the house and Alex had another pose as her on the boat so that any investigation would be far away from Corrine's true resting place.
  • Hellboy: Koshchei the Deathless was leader of a mercenary band in life, with an Ignored Enamored Underling named Elena. Long after she'd died imprisoned, he dug her up (having brutally murdered the men who'd killed her), reanimated (not truly resurrected, that was beyond him) and married her... just as a much younger and beautiful woman a glamoured-up Baba Yaga showed up to take the spot. The last that's seen of Elena is her corpse in a wedding dress endlessly repeating "Koshchei...".

    Films — Animation 
  • Corpse Bride: The corpse bride is Emily, who has been murdered several years ago by the man she tried to elope with. Now a zombie woman dwelling in the Land of the Dead, she awaited the day when she would finally be married. This is eventually fulfilled by the main protagonist Victor, who placed a ring on her skeletal hand confusing it for a branch as he practiced his wedding vows, kicking the plot off.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • Beetlejuice: During the climax, Barbara Maitland is summoned into her wedding dress thanks to Otho's seance-turned-exorcism.
  • Bram Stoker's Dracula: Lucy after she comes back to life as a vampire is found wearing the white dress she was buried in. Word of God claims that it was deliberately designed to evoke the design of a wedding dress, her subsequent death and vampirization occurs at the same time as when Mina and Jonathan marry in Transylvania. While Mina's wedding dress was designed to fit the Victorian standard to emphasize Mina's modesty, Lucy's costume was meant to emphasize her new lack of humanity, the lace and frills comparable to that of a clown or a lizard.
  • Day of the Dead (1985): An Incongruously-Dressed Zombie wears a wedding dress.
  • The Fall of the House of Usher (1928, France): Upon her apparent death, Madeline is prematurely entombed in her wedding dress. When she wakes up, she claws her way to freedom and in a barely lucid state stumbles her way back home to her husband Roderick. She appears to him and his guest as if she'd risen from her grave through supernatural means, but because Roderick already couldn't shake the concern that he buried his wife alive, neither man doubts that Madeline is, in fact, not undead. Any initial emotions from the eerie reunion have to wait when the house falls apart and they have to get out.
  • The Innkeepers: The main ghost at the Yankee Pedlar Inn is Madeline O'Malley, a bride who hanged herself in the 1800s when her groom changed his mind at the altar. The urban legend goes that the owners of the inn hid her body in the basement to avoid bad publicity. The ghost hunter Claire becomes obsessed with Madeline and tries to come in contact with her, but the ghost bride lures her into the basement, where Claire dies from a stress-induced asthma attack.
  • Insidious: It is revealed that Josh Lambert possesses the same ability to enter The Further, a dark netherworld home to various restless spirits and demons, that his son Dalton has. It is explained that as a child, he was the target of a sinister apparition that took the form of an elderly woman wearing a pitch-black wedding dress simply known as The Bride in Black, who intended on taking over his body. By the end of the first film, in Josh's efforts to bring Dalton back to the real world, his body winds up being possessed by the bride. In the sequel Insidious: Chapter 2, her backstory is expanded upon, revealing him to be a Creepy Crossdresser serial killer who was driven to madness by his abusive mother, his intent to possess the young Josh born from a desire to live a normal childhood.
  • Played for Laughs in Mean Girls when Cady dresses as this for Halloween. (She says that her costume is an "ex-wife".) When she greets Janis and Damian while wearing it, they freak out. Having been raised in Africa by zoologist parents, she grew up thinking that Halloween costumes were actually meant to be scary as opposed to sexy.

    Folklore 
  • A Jewish folktale that goes by the name The Finger or The Bride's Finger is about a man set to be married. While practicing his vows, he slides the ring over a branch that turns out not to be a branch, but a corpse's finger. Depending on the version, the corpse is either an unmarried woman or a woman specifically murdered on her wedding day. The corpse insists on her status as the man's bride, while the man obviously doesn't want to marry a corpse, so they take their case to the local judges. After deep consideration, they side with the man on the key argument that a marriage between the living and the dead is not a thing no matter the circumstances. On hearing this, the corpse falls dead once more.
  • Ohaguro-bettari is a youkai who appears as a woman in a traditional wedding kimono. She would be pretty if not for her face devoid of features except for the mouth, which proudly display black-dyed teeth as married women used to have.

    Literature 
  • Alonzo the Brave and Fair Imogene: Imogene promises faithfulness to Alonzo while he goes to fight in Palestine. Her promise specifically notes that would she break her vow, his ghost is welcome at the wedding to claim her and drag her into the grave. And so it occurs a year later when Imogene breaks her vow for the riches of a baron. From that day on, the sprite of Imogene in her wedding dress appears inside the baron's castle at midnight four times a year. During this time, she dances with Alonzo in the company of other specters who never let her forget that she broke her vow.
  • The Epilogue to the Crew of the Copper-Colored Cupids novel The Time of the Toymaker mentions that classical Victorian ghost Horatio Topper's wife is an equally-classic Lady in White.
  • Encyclopedia Brown: One of the cases concerns a man who bursts into the Brown home late at night, convinced he has just seen the ghost of Jennifer MacIntosh while camping on the beach. A local legend has it that Jennifer's fiance was lost at sea the night before their wedding 100 years ago, and Jennifer still walks Idaville's beaches in her wedding gown, searching for his body.
  • Great Expectations: A Trope Codifier. Miss Havisham is not a wight, though one could very easily mistake her for one. The trauma of being left at the altar while her groom ran off with her money has aged her prematurely, making her look like she's ready to doze off into the grave when she's not even forty. On the day she was left unmarried, she sent everyone home and has since been living like a recluse — away from the sun, forever dressed in her wedding gown, and surrounded by her wedding decorations, food included. When Pip meets her, he is simultaneously reminded of a "ghastly waxwork" he's seen at the fair and "a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress" he once witnessed being dug up.
  • "John Charrington's Wedding": Despite being dead, John returns to Brixham to get married to May. He arrives looking like death and the state of his suit isn't any better, but while it unnerves everyone, no one wants to utter anything but a reasonable explanation. And so the wedding proceeds and ends with the newlyweds leaving in their wedding carriage. It is in here, where it is just the two of them, that John confirms to May that he's dead, frightening her to death. He himself disappears from the carriage before it comes to a halt at May's family home.
  • Rot & Ruin: The Bride of Coldwater Spring is a zombie bride incorporated in a trading card game developed in the post-zombie apocalypse era. She is card #66 and according to the description one of the most active and dangerous zombies in existence.
  • Twilight: After becoming a vampire, Rosalie kills her ex-fiance and rapist while wearing a wedding dress. She deliberately invokes this trope to scare him.

    Live-Action TV 

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Su Yung's persona in the ring is the Undead Bride. She occasionally teams up with KC Spinelli, who then goes by the Undead Maid of Honor, and has two assistants in Kimber Lee & Brandi Lauren, a tag team known as the Undead Bridesmaids.

    Theater 
  • Giselle: Wilis are the spirits of women who were jilted by their lovers prior to marriage. It depends on the production how much the wilis resemble brides. Under the reign of Queen Myrtha, they dance together and force any man who crosses their path into dancing himself to death. Giselle herself becomes one when she dies from either madness or suicide when it turns out that she's her fiancé's other woman. However, the revelation doesn't diminish her love and she saves Albrecht when a swarm of wilis ensnares him.
  • Mary Zimmerman's 2007 Metropolitan Opera production of Lucia Di Lammermoor: Two examples of this trope are present. The first is in Act II, when Lucia sings of seeing the ghost of a young woman beckoning her: in this staging, the audience actually sees the apparition, who wears a white dress. Later, in the final scene, the ghost of Lucia herself appears in the same white dress and a wedding veil, beckoning her lover Edgardo, and finally guiding his hand as he stabs himself so they can be Together in Death.

    Theme Parks 
  • The Haunted Mansion: One of the most iconic characters is the Bride. Initially a nameless haunting figure (sometimes referred to as the Beating Heart Bride) who might have been a Black Widow in the earliest days, she lost the story once her partner, the Hatbox Ghost was removed, and became a lonely, mournful figure. Later on, she was replaced with Constance Hatchaway, who brought back the black widow story in full force. Constance was a beautiful woman who sought to obtain wealth and luxury. She accomplished this by marrying several rich men, including bankers, businessmen, farmers, and barons. However, each was murdered after the wedding by the deadly bride, decapitated with a hatchet so that she could claim their inheritance. Despite her crimes, she was never punished (likely due to lack of evidence), though the public did dub her "The Black Widow Bride". The Paris version of the ride, Phantom Manor, instead features a more developed version of the "lonely bride" story, telling how Melanie Ravenswood lost her suitors and died unmarried. All three versions of the Bride wear their wedding garb when seen in the rides, emphasizing the ways marriage went wrong with each.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Betrayal at House on the Hill: The Ghost Bride is an apparition in white and Haunt 20. For years, she's waited for her groom and the moment of the wedding. The heroes try to help her out by digging up the corpse of her would-be groom and bring it along with the ring to the chapel. If successful, an apparition in black rises from the remains and marries the Ghost Bride, after which they both disappear. On the other hand, the traitor tries to help by getting one of the heroes killed to serve as the Ghost Bride's groom.

    Toys 
  • Barbie: One of the Haunted Beauty dolls is the Zombie Bride, who "heads for the altar to begin her happily-ever-afterlife."
  • LEGO: A zombie bride and a zombie groom are the guardians of the Zombie Moonstone at the graveyard in Monster Fighters.
  • Teddy Scares: Annabelle Wraithia is a bride teddy bear who was part of a decorative piece at a wedding along with a groom teddy bear. When the festivities were over, she was left behind and soon after ended up in a garbage bag at the dumpsite. A one-way trip into the incinerator followed and all that was left of Annabelle was a ghost with the ability to remove her head. She is friendly with the other teddy bears, but longs to be reunited with her groom, whose whereabouts are unknown.

    Video Games 
  • AdventureQuest: The Undead Bride and Groom are rare armors that can be found at the CruxShadows.
  • Bloodborne: Invoked by Queen Yharnam's attire, which looks like a Blood-Splattered Wedding Dress, symbolizing her backstory as the metaphorical "wife" of an Old One and the failed mother of its child, the stillborn god Mergo. Given how this happened thousands of years before the game, it is also pretty clear that she is not alive anymore in the conventional sense — not that it makes any difference in this universe.
  • Brawlhalla: One of Mirage's skins is the Corpse Bride, which puts her in skeleton armor, a bride's veil, and flower accessories. The both of them look like skeletons in tattered wedding outfits.
  • Brütal Legend: Brides are a type of support infantry unit of the Drowning Doom faction. They are dressed in wedding gowns and carry around a parasol with a perpetual rain cloud that debuffs enemies. They can't directly attack enemies, but if an opponent attacks them they'll retaliate with a lightning bolt from their rain cloud (Drowned Ophelia can directly attack with the Bride's lightning bolts during a team attack).
  • The Curse of Monkey Island: Guybrush encounters a ghost bride named Minnie in the Goodsoup Crypt on Blood Island. She was left to die of a broken heart by her "schnoobums" LeChuck, who only wanted the diamond from her engagement ring. To help her (and get the engagement band), Guybrush tracks down the corpse of another man who could've convinced Minnie to marriage, Charles DeGoulash. He catapults it over to the crypt, where the lovers reunite and ghost-marry each other.
  • Dead Rising 2: The Zombie Bride is encountered during the mission Here Comes the Groom. She is a woman who was forced into a marriage ceremony by the psychopath Randy, but killed some time during. Her corpse is left in a guest seat at the chapel while Randy captures himself another bride. Chuck defeats Randy in combat, at the end of which the former bride rises as a zombie and deals Randy the finishing bites.
  • Epic Seven: The Banshee Queen Rubellite (and higher-strength Palette Swap versions in the later Banshee Hunt stages) is a ghoulish bride. With some variants, her outfit more closely resembles a bridal gown, but the overarching design motif is present in all variants. To an extent, the same goes for her Banshee underlings.
  • Ghost Master: In life, the banshee Brigit was a hopeless romantic who wanted nothing more than to get married. However, she was wooed by a lecherous sleazebag who ultimately stood her up at the altar. Driven insane by this act of cruelty, Brigit was institutionalized and escaped some years later to commit suicide by lightning. Her seething bridal spirit can be recruited by given her the opportunity to enact revenge upon a philandering man, that being Dr. Seth Greenwood.
  • Ghostwire: Tokyo: The shiromuku are spirits resembling brides with long stringy hair, faces hidden by their wataboshi, and ice powers. They are born from feelings of profound envy and resentment.
  • Koudelka: A monster called "Mummy Bride" is fought as a boss early in the game. She's most likely the "mad woman" mentioned in the Guard's Diary. She was a merchant's daughter whose hand had been promised to the heir of a wealthy family, but the groom-to-be had a change of heart and abandoned her. She was subsequently locked in the monastery to keep her out of the public eye. The guards cruelly forced to wear her wedding dress until the day she died.
  • League of Legends: One of Morgana's skins is the Ghost Bride, which puts her in a white dress, gives her a blue hue, and Grim Reaper-styled wings. Her description notes that there's a legend of a weeping bride who searches for her lost husband along the river bank and who kills anyone she encounters out of spite for their ability to be happy.
  • Left 4 Dead 2: The Passing: The party has to move through an outdoor wedding that was interrupted by the Zombie Apocalypse. There's a Witch in a wedding gown sobbing on the altar, but she won't attack if you keep your distance and don't do anything to disturb her... like, say, hitting the switch to start playing the wedding march on a speaker system. There is, naturally, an achievement for doing just that.
  • Overwatch: Sombra's Halloween Terror skin turns her into the Bride, an adaptation of the Birde of Frankenstein with a more traditional wedding gown.
  • Pascal's Wager: In Exilium, Terrence meets the Headless Knight, Patrick, who explains that his fiancée, Jenny, took his head and nailed him to the wall to keep him safe from the Scarlet Meteor's influence while she went in search of a cure. Patrick asks Terrence to find her. He succeeds, but Jenny herself has succumbed to the meteor's influence and comes at Terrence armed with a halberd and ice magic, riding a horse, and dressed in her wedding gown. Terrence has no choice but to end her.
  • Raid: Shadow Legends: Rotos the Lost Groom and Siphi the Lost Bride are members of the Undead Hordes. They and their guests were murdered on the day of the couple's wedding on orders of a money-lender who sought revenge against Rotos for skipping on his debts for over a decade. Because Rotos had spent that time as a pirate, he wasn't missed and not much was done by law enforcement to catch the murderers. The locals, however, did bury them, only to find that two roses left on the couple's graves turned an eerie shade of blue. The couple's murderers are the first to find out that it's a blue that represents the couple's ghostly hide, but none of them lives to tell.
  • Realm of the Mad God:
    • The Troll Matriarch and the Ghost Bride are mother and daughter and serve as the first two bosses of the Haunted Cemetery. The gruesome murder of the bride on her wedding day by "a familiar face" (implied not to be the groom) has left them in an undead state powered by strong emotions. While the Troll Matriarch makes use of an army, the Ghost Bride fights mostly on her own, first by possessing the statues Fate and Glory, then by fighting as herself.
    • One of the skins available for the Assassin is Vampire Groom.
  • Resident Evil Village: Angie, the mutant-skeleton-looking puppet who represents Donna Beneviento and shares a parasite with her, wears a wedding gown to compliment and contrast Donna's mourning clothes.
  • The Secret World: There's a set of skeletons to be found at Lovers' Creek. They're the haunted remains of a couple that died there. Interacting with the set summons either the Wailing Bride or the Lost Groom, both of which are classified as spectres.
  • Terraria: The Blood Moon brings out armies of the undead to terrorize your town. Survive long enough through a Blood Moon and eventually, you might encounter the Bride and Groom, a pair of zombies in wedding attire. Defeating them allows you to take their clothes for yourself.
  • Twisted Wonderland: A character visually based on the Beating Heart Bride from The Haunted Mansion, Eliza is the ghost of a princess of a fallen kingdom. Her dream of marrying her ideal prince was never fulfilled in life, so every year she and her ghost servants arrive at Night Raven College to search for a suitable living man to be her groom; fittingly, she wears a tattered white bridal gown and a rose crown veil on her head. During the Ghost Marriage ~Proposal of Destiny~ event, she gets married to Chubby, another ghost who has been in love with her for half a millennium.

    Web Animation 
  • Gwain Saga: A long time ago, two jellyfishes made a pact to meet on the South Coast on what would become Bride's Island to marry. The bride showed up, but the groom didn't. Considering he's a lost soul in the present, he likely perished on the way. The bride, in any case, perished from a broken heart and came to haunt Bride's Island. In the present of Episode 8, the two reunite due to intervention from Geo and Ami and ascend to the afterlife together after completing their wedding ceremony.
  • hololive: A rare example not played for horror is to be found in the Indonesian branch member Kureiji Ollie, whose second outfit - while not the white wedding dress familiar to Western audiences - invokes a traditional Indonesian bridal dress. This seems to be a nod to her tendency to trick her senpais into saying things like "Do you want to marry me?" in a language they don't understand.

    Web Novel 
  • Heaven Official’s Blessing: Tian Guan Ci Fu: In life, Xuan Ji was a general who fell in love with the enemy general Pei Ming and betrayed her nation to win his favor. He wasn't interested, for which Xuan Ji committed suicide. As a ghost, she wears a tattered blood-red bridal robe and haunts Yu Jun Mountain. While no one's safe from her, she particularly has it out for brides because in her obsessive mindset they're competition for Pei Ming's love. Xuan Ji is defeated by Xie Lian and thereafter comes to terms with Pei Ming's disinterest and moves on.

    Western Animation 
  • Extreme Ghostbusters: In "Till Death Do We Start", the workaholic Leonard Bates happens upon a wishing well and wishes for a wife to ease his loneliness. The well gifts him a woman fashioned for a wedding, but its evil nature promptly shows as the bride's skin vanishes and she proceeds to gradually drains him of his life force with kisses. Whenever Leonard escapes, she easily catches up by travelling through reflective surfaces. After some failures, the ghostbusters realize that the only way to destroy the bride is to destroy the well, because it will just keep making more copies to honor Leonard's wish.
  • Hey Arnold!: An urban legend holds that 80 years ago a woman, Cynthia Snell, was to be married to a man she loved very much. He, however, stood her up at the altar so that he could marry her sister the very next day. Enraged, Cynthia donned her wedding dress the night following her sister's wedding, got herself a well-sharpened axe, walked thirteen blocks to her sister's house, and hacked the newlyweds to pieces in their sleep. The cops found her throwing rice at the corpses while humming the Wedding March, and before they could overcome their shock, Cynthia had already jumped out of the window to her death. She was buried in her wedding dress and the story goes that each year her humming ghost returns to make more victims. An investigation by the kids suggests that, if nothing else, the legend's ghostly humming is real.

    Real Life 
  • A Trope Codifying urban legend known by many names, such as The Lost Bride, The Bride in the Box, and Bride-and-Go-Seek, tells of a bride who on her wedding day participates in a game of hide-and-go-seek. She finds a large trunk in the attic to hide in, but perishes inside from lack of oxygen or starvation as the lock falls shut. Nobody is able to find her, and everyone assumes she ran away; many years later, someone opens the trunk and discovers the bride's long-decayed skeleton, still dressed in her wedding gown. So far, this urban legend has been traced back in time to an 1809 issue of The Monthly and Boston Review, which named Germany as the setting of the incident, but many other locations, particularly manors in England, have been associated with some version of the legend since. While the 1809 newspaper article is about the tragic discovery of a perfectly normal corpse, versions where the bride returns as a ghost are only a few decades younger.
  • There's an Urban Legend regarding a bride mannequin dubbed La Pascualita. It began when in 1930, shortly after the death of her daughter, Pascuala Esparza put a new mannequin in the store window of her bridal boutique in Chihuahua, Mexico. The mannequin is very detailed and carries a resemblance to Esparza's daughter, which caused the locals to speculate the mannequin was actually the daughter's embalmed corpse. About a century later, that particular rumor has lost its conviction because corpses can't be kept in pristine condition for so long. But the secondary rumor, that the mannequin is possessed by the daughter's spirit and moves around at night, has not been negated by time.
  • The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta, Canada is a hotel that plays host to various alleged hauntings, one of which is the Bride, the spirit of a young woman who had died on her wedding night and now haunts the halls in her wedding dress.


 
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