You've heard the line, "If anyone objects to this marriage, speak now or forever hold your peace." More likely you've heard it in movies, because it is rarely included in wedding ceremonies anymore, except in places and cultures where it is required. What happens if someone objects depends on what he or she says, and whether or not it is necessary to move the movie plot forward. But where did the tradition start?
As to the ultimate origin of this idea, it came about thanks to a few changes to marriage law within the Catholic church in and around the 12th century. Essentially biblical scholars of the day were attempting to figure out how to properly define what a marriage really was, when it started exactly, and what was required to make it happen. Many of these changes were made to try to make it easier for people to wed, which was deemed a good thing to keep people from sexual sin.
This all culminated in Pope Alexander III decreeing that two people were married when they both declared such to one another in the present tense. If done in private, this created a clandestine marriage. The problem, of course, was this allowed people who the church would not normally deem legally able to marry given church rules to get married anyway. This also allowed some unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of, say, a buxom young lass by declaring his marriage to her privately and then deny he ever did so the morning after, or a variety of other similar situations.
There's a lot more to it. Read about the history and legality of marriage objections at Today I Found Out.
(Image credit: ChrisFigueroa/Chris Fig Productions)