A Rant : “The Speech Cliché”

We’ve all seen the scene before. It’s the end of the movie, the bride and groom are standing before the priest, ready to exchange their vows, and then he asks the question —

“If anyone here has any reason why these two shouldn’t be joined together as man and wife, speak now or forever hold your peace…”

For a few seconds, the church is quiet. The bride and groom look round at the people gathered to celebrate and wonder whether someone’s going to fuck things up. And then suddenly, someone crashes through the church doors. His/her clothes are bashed up, because she had run all the way. Or had taken a bus that had gotten stranded in the middle of nowhere and had resorted to hitchhiking on the back of a farmer’s truck, sharing the space with just enough hijinks with barnyard animals to make the audience laugh.

But he/she put up with it, because it would all be worth it in the end. Why? Because of the speech.

They run down to the altar, panting, clothes and pride torn to shit, heart on their proverbial sleeves, eyes pleading at the professed love of their life, standing next to said true love’s intended partner. They begin. And in its paraphrased form :

” I know I’m not perfect, or haven’t achieved *fill in blank space*. But I love you. And I’m better than *intended partner*. And here, I have conveniently with me *a list of reasons intended partner is an asshole*. Take a chance. Choose me. Did I mention I love you… “

The assembled guests are gasping in turn. The camera pans to approving or disgruntled parents, and the music swells. And then the bride/groom runs down from the altar towards him/her , smile on face, worries to the wind and intended partner forgotten.

Why though?

   No, really? Why? Let’s explore this. You decide to spend your life with a person. You tell your families. And preparations go underway. You meet with the wedding planner, pick out your dresses and tux. The venue is picked, the whole sha’bang. You’re both in high spirits, because it’s finally happening. You’re getting married. Then, a speech changes your mind?? 


  Yes, forget all the work you put into your wedding. Forget the people you’ve invited to share your day with. Forget how expensive the whole thing was to put together in the first place. Forget the fact that you’re in a freaking relationship with someone who you were about to exchange vows with, literally seconds before the interruption.

    Were you just going to marry someone you didn’t really want to be with if someone hadn’t intervened?

Now, I understand. the movie usually sets it up that we side with the protagonist, that is, the person that chooses a person’s wedding day to make up their mind, and the intended partner always turns out to be an awful person; thus making the choice easier.

And I understand that it is a movie, and rightfully so, because real life doesn’t work that way. The whole thing baffles me really. Who started this trend? Who wrote the first script depicting the scene, thus kick-starting the trend, forever more, in movies? – Meet me outside, I just want to talk.

Kudoz to “The Graduate”, a movie that stayed on to show what happens right after the high of “the speech”. The slow, hounding realization of the ashes of a relationship left behind, in lieu or rushing forward towards the attractive unknown/uncertainty. The heady feeling of jumping off a building met with the rush of the ground towards you, security net left behind on the roof.


  Mbok, join me in the Anti-AltarSpeech movement in the comments!

    Does the altar speech get to you too, or are you a die-hard romanticist true and true? Let me know. I can’t be the only one that feels this way…


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