Illustrative Photo: Vulture; Photos courtesy of HBO
Wedding bells are ringing in Westeros once again, though, this being Westeros, weddings tend to be pretty dangerous. (Also the bells, for that matter.) episode five of house of the dragon featured the wedding of Rhaenyra Targaryen and Laenor Velaryon, two crazy kids who would rather be with their uncle and boyfriend, respectively, but had to marry for political expediency. The wedding was the ninth that we saw on screen in the franchise, after eight that appeared in game of Thrones, but it’s almost pedestrian compared to the real-life wedding seasons that 20-somethings and 30-somethings have endured recently. Who among us hasn’t spent weekends in a row celebrating, or spent hundreds of dollars criss-crossing the country from one wedding to the next?
Since attending a wedding as a guest is more familiar to the average person than being part of an arranged political marriage with life and death stakes that will decide the fate of a kingdom, it makes sense to approach the nine Westerosi weddings in the same way as a guest could. Let’s say she snagged an invite. Which weddings would be worth RSVPing to, and which ones would make you wish you hadn’t saved the date? We rank from worst to best.
Because Robb Stark broke his promise to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters in exchange for passing through the Twins, Edmure Tully, Riverrun’s heir, had to marry one of his daughters as compensation. However, Walder actually used the event as a means to kill all the Starks and their men with the help of the Lannisters, who were at war with the Northmen, and the traitorous Boltons. Because you would almost certainly have been brutally murdered, the Red Wedding would be the worst Westerosi wedding to attend by far. Also, the non-mortal parts seemed like a drag. Walder Frey didn’t spend any money on decoration and it shows.
Reflexes: The bride and groom seemed to genuinely love each other despite the circumstances. Doesn’t really make up for, you know, the rest of the night, but good on them.
low light: Definitely the part where the Freys and the Boltons massacred all the wedding guests. The gang was also pretty bad, but that’s because they weren’t really “a gang” but rather “disguised crossbowmen waiting to massacre all the wedding guests.”
Best Registry Gift: The Lannisters had figured it out: skip the wedding and just send “hello”.
Rhaegar’s “kidnapping” of Lyanna Stark was the incident that launched Robert’s Rebellion, a brutal civil war that took place nearly two decades before the events of the war. game of Thrones pilot, killing hundreds and ending the long reign of the Targaryens in Westeros. However, it turns out that Lyanna it was not kidnapped, she was actually in love with Rhaegar and they went to Dorne, ostensibly Las Vegas of Westeros, to secretly marry. (Never mind that Rhaegar was already married.) While the royal wedding sounds lovely, this one would be hard to attend, and not just because of its future implications. This is too small and intimate a ceremony for anyone to feel comfortable joining as a guest. Remember how weird and out of place Bran looked standing there, watching the wedding flashback with his Three-Eyed Raven powers? This is how you would feel.
Reflexes: The beautiful private ceremony that unites two people who are passionately in love with each other.
low light: The lack of any type of reception or visible bar. How is a guest supposed to enjoy a wedding? sober?
Best Registry Gift: Champagne glasses inscribed with “R + L =
The King in the North had already promised himself to one of Walder Frey’s daughters in exchange for passing over the Twins, but he broke his promise when he met and fell in love with Talisa Maegyr while saving lives and amputating limbs on the battlefield. They married privately, unintentionally condemning the Northern cause in the process. As with Rhaegar and Lyanna, this wedding is too intimate to attend as a guest. The septon doesn’t ask if anyone objects, and that’s a good thing because it would be hard to hold on if he did. Robb is already engaged to someone else, and an objection to this wedding could have prevented the Red Wedding and reversed the course of the entire series.
Reflexes: This is the rare marriage in Westeros that is out of love, not duty, and it shows on their faces.
low light: At least Rhaegar and Lyanna had their secret ceremony by a beautiful river. Robb and Talisa’s place is in the dark in front of a big dull rock.
Best Registry Gift: That guy’s leg was amputated together, they dissected it; a treasured keepsake of the first meeting of hers.
sansa Stark’s third engagement and second wedding sees him marry Ramsay Snow, Roose Bolton’s legitimate bastard and heir to the Dreadfort. Sansa doesn’t yet know what a real Ramsay sociopath is, instead she trusts that Littlefinger knows what he’s doing by setting up the nuptials. Although somewhat severe, the Old Faith wedding ceremony in front of the weirwood tree is different from the typical Westeros wedding, eschewing the hand-wrapping and cloak of the Faith of the Seven for a more austere and naturalistic call and response. It’s an interesting evening.
Reflexes: An outdoor winter wedding can be a recipe for disaster, but the light snow ends up making for a beautiful venue, and Sansa looks gorgeous in her furs.
low light: We’re going to assume that the average guest doesn’t know the whole truth about Ramsay’s depravity, but the vibes are still incredibly bad. Sansa’s heart is clearly not in it (can you blame her?) and Myranda, who appears to be part of the wedding party, is visibly in love with her boyfriend and throws daggers at her girlfriend. Uncomfortable!
Best Registry Gift: They both like dogs, so maybe some Pinterest “Welcome to the pack” banner for Sansa?
Sansa’s first wedding was only marginally better for her and her guests. Caught up in the clutches of the Lannisters, she is forced to marry Tyrion, who isn’t too keen on the whole thing either. At least here are two nice people in a bad situation, compared to most Westeros affairs, where at least half of the couple is a monster. But the family drama ruins what should have been a pretty nice ceremony and reception; Joffrey humiliates his uncle at the altar by taking his stool, and there is almost a big altercation when Tryion gets too drunk at dinner. It’s the kind of wedding you’ll quietly gossip about with your fellow guests for years to come.
Reflexes: Based on Tyrion’s level of drunkenness, fine wine, and open bar.
low light: Joffrey’s malicious insistence on “a bed ceremony.” No, thanks!
Best Registry Gift: A set of cutlery. (To make sure the boyfriend’s fucking nephew needs to fuck his girlfriend with a wooden dick!)
Since Margaery Tyrell’s marriage to Joffrey Baratheon lasted a couple of hours, the families opt for a much more modest celebration by remarrying her to Joffrey’s younger brother, a literal boy even by game of Thrones‘ defaults. It’s a lot less elaborate, and everyone seems relieved that it came off without a hitch. It’s possibly the least memorable ceremony of the bunch, but compared to some of the others, maybe that’s not a bad thing. Come in, write your name in the guest book, wish the happy couple well and leave without getting your throat slit.
Reflexes: It was a basic, normal wedding that wasn’t crazy at all!
low light: It was a basic, normal wedding, which was not crazy at all. At the very least, Ser Pounce should have been part of the ceremony.
Best Registry Gift: No poison Yes, it’s stupid not to give a wedding gift, but you single bought something for her and Joffrey.
After Rhaenyra is accused of fooling around with her uncle, King Viserys decides she has to get married. now, to the Velaryon heir to shore up that political alliance. The wedding welcome dinner, held inside the grand hall, is one big party that looks pretty fun as long as you don’t read too much into the groom’s obvious sexuality, the bride’s one-night stand, the provocative fashion of Queen Alicent or murder.
Reflexes: Do the Targaryen equivalent of “The Cupid Shuffle” on the dance floor.
low light: Weddings tend to end abruptly (the place says everyone needs GTFO by 11pm!), but the murder of the groom’s lover, by the bride’s lover, Really brought things to a sudden and early end. Due to that incident, the couple gets married in a rushed private ceremony, depriving the guests of a lavish public celebration.
Best Registry Gift: Looks like they’re taking separate vacations, so maybe just cash.
In the first episode of game of ThronesViserys basically sells his sister Daenerys to Khal Drogo in exchange for his help in retaking the Iron Throne. The implications of that are obviously bad, even if Daenerys does come to love Drogo…somehow. Still, the Dothraki know how to party; Illyrio Mopatis points out that “a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths is considered a dull affair,” so assuming you can avoid being one of the three (or more) casualties, this gathering is one hell of a time.
Reflexes: The loud, sex and violence-filled reception was great, but the highlight of these nuptials is the mercifully short wedding ceremony. Khal Drogo walked over, looked at Daenerys, didn’t kill anyone, and then left. There is nothing worse than a ceremony that goes unceasingly. Some call the Dothraki savages, but this is the most civilized thing of all.
low light: No gift can compare to three dragon eggs. Here’s a Le Creuset, Daenerys.
Best Registry Gift: Assuming you don’t have the money for a fourth dragon egg, Daenerys loves soaking in the tub. Maybe something from Bath & Body Works?
Ah, the Purple Wedding. Yes, it ends abruptly and yes, it ends in chaos and the brutal murder of a child. But, consider this: the Tyrells and the Lannisters passed a tone gold at this wedding, and it shows! The decor is impeccable, the food is luxurious, there is live theater, and the boyfriend, who is a piece of shit, dies! An incredible wedding to attend as a guest.
Reflexes: The grounds outside of Red Keep are enough to inspire a destination wedding in Dubrovnik.
low light: Joffrey ruined what looked like a good cake by cutting it with a sword and killing the pigeon inside. He further ruined it by dying of poison, preventing the guests from having a chance to taste the non-pigeon parts. Poor me.
Best Registry Gift: Something returnable.