The easiest, quickest option is for the characters to head to the justice of the peace, or simply turn to the holy man or woman in the party, and get it done in a matter of minutes without the commotion of a big damn wedding (I know my husband and I wish that’s what we had done in real life…but that’s another story). It doesn’t take up a big chunk of the game session, there isn’t a lot of roleplaying involved, and there’s not a lot of work involved, either. This is a perfectly legitimate way for two characters to tie the knot, and is probably the most common.
If you and your players love a lot of detail, and a lot of roleplaying, why not have the big damn wedding? It makes for a nice break from the regular party activities of crawling through dungeons and saving the world.
So, how do you decide how a fantasy wedding works? What are the traditions and customs? Do dwarven brides wear white? Is a fancy cake a realistic option for the reception? For your game world, it’s really up to you how the wedding should proceed, but here are some ideas to help get you started.
What do you think the odds are that dwarven weddings and elven weddings are much alike? Slim to none, if you ask me. While both races might tend toward very solemn, serious ceremonies, the dwarven ceremony would likely be held in a cave, perhaps even before a forge, and the couple might take turns hammering at a blade as they recite their vows. The elves would marry out in the open of the forest, in tune with nature, making vows to the earth as much as to each other. A dwarven reception would involve copious amounts of alcohol and raucous story-telling, while the elves would have a glass or two of mead and dance merrily with the fey of the woods. Halfling and gnomish weddings are bound to be a ton of fun; half-orc weddings might be almost brutal and harsh.
If the two getting married are of different races, there comes the challenge of combining their customs. A traditional elven wedding ceremony may seem too stuffy for the human groom, but his elven bride-to-be thinks the type of wedding he wants is too casual. Like in real life, finding common ground they can agree on to make sure the wedding represents them both is a challenge and a mark of how well they really get along.
Most game worlds have several, if not dozens, of deities for your characters to follow. If your characters aren’t overly devout – or pay lip service to whatever god can help them out the most – they may choose a civil ceremony, or go to a temple of a faith that is very inclusive and not overly demanding in their wedding ceremonies. For the religious character – especially if the character is of the cloth themselves – some more thought has to be given to the faith’s marriage customs.
The goddess of commerce might consider marriage as she would a business contract – legally binding, not to be broken except under the most dire of circumstances – and weddings held in her name would be rather serious, formal affairs. A ceremony between followers of the god of luck would be lighthearted and more like a party than a wedding, with lots of dancing and gambling. If a priestess of the goddess of pleasure is getting married, the ceremony is probably going to be in the nude, and the reception will likely turn into an orgy.
Some game supplements contain information on wedding traditions for various faiths (the old Faiths and Avatars and Powers and Pantheons for the Forgotten Realms, for example), but if you can’t find any established customs, just read carefully through the dogma of the deity in question and do what you think makes sense.
Nothing Ever Goes Off Without A Hitch
After you’ve figured out the traditions and customs the wedding party should follow, the easy part’s done, and now the wedding can go on without a worry, right? As those of us who are married know, even the most perfectly planned wedding has its little disasters.
Now, don’t be a dick of a GM and ruin the characters’ wedding day! There’s no good reason to turn a fun gaming experience into something miserable. That said, maybe in a wedding party full of rogues, the bride’s ring temporarily disappears. A rival adventuring party might crash the reception and make a brief scene. Perhaps the reception gets cut short because the party’s help is needed to rescue some kidnapped children or stop a goblin raid. Don’t automatically pick something troublesome to happen – make it random, at a smallish chance, and not a major ordeal.
The most important thing for an in-game wedding is that it be fun, and that the happy couple stays happy. With just a little imagination and creativity, you can turn a simple game session into a memory your players talk about for years to come.
How have you handled weddings in your game?