Content Warning: This article contains discussions of murder, violence, and sexual assault.
The world of Game of Thrones was characterized by blood, death, and misery. Even a wedding, an event that’s characteristically joyful, was often a gruesome affair in Westeros. Marital unions on the show were often political maneuvers; from Tywin’s plots to secure the Tyrells’ loyalty to Ramsay marrying a Stark to stake a stronger claim on the northern lands.
Some weddings, like Daenerys’ and Drogo’s Dothraki union, were brutal as they were happening, with death and bloodshed during the celebration. Others, such as Lyanna’s and Rhaegar’s secret ceremony, went without a hitch but kicked off serious carnage and tragedy, leading to bloodshed, death, and assault.
8 Tyrion & Sansa
Sansa was lucky to escape her betrothal to Joffrey, only to be forced to marry Tyrion instead. Their wedding in season 3’s “Second Sons,” was a sad affair, mostly because neither of them was happy about the marriage. To add insult to injury, Joffrey made a mockery of the ceremony by escorting Sansa in place of her father (whom he’d had killed) and took away the stool Tyrion needed to be able to cloak Sansa.
As far as weddings in Game of Thrones go, this was a civil one. There was no bloodshed or death during the ceremony and even after. When Sansa and Tyrion met later in season 8, she told him that out of all the men she’d married or been betrothed to, he was the best of them. Especially because he’d respected that she hadn’t wanted the marriage and didn’t force himself on her. He was kind to her too and Sansa became one of Tyrion’s friends.
7 Tommen and Margaery
Determined to be Queen of the seven kingdoms, Margaery married Tommen after Joffrey’s death. Their wedding had far less pomp and circumstance than the first royal wedding and was also less tragic. Tommen luckily didn’t suffer the same fate as his brother and lived long enough to at least see his wedding night.
The second royal wedding may not have had much carnage during the actual nuptials, but it set off events that led to Margaery and Tommen’s tragic end, along with many others. Apart from the disturbing fact of the difference in their ages, their union led to tensions between Cersei and the High Sparrow, which culminated in her destroying the sept with wildfire, along with everyone who was in it.
6 Robb & Talisa
Despite the agreement Robb made to marry one of Walder Frey’s daughters, he fell in love with Talisa and married her instead. Their wedding in season 2, episode 10, “Valar Morghulis,” was a secret ceremony carried out at night without any guests. In spite of this simplicity, it was a lovely wedding and one of the few on the show that was actually based on mutual love.
Other than the beautiful vows Robb and Talisa recited in the light of the Seven, nothing of note happened during their wedding. However, their nuptials broke the agreement Robb had with Walder Frey, leading to the terrible events of the Red Wedding.
5 Rhaegar & Lyanna
By the time Game of Thrones began, Rhaegar and Lyanna were long dead but their story had far-reaching consequences throughout the show’s eight seasons. They exchanged their vows in Dorne and the ceremony was only revealed in one of Bran’s visions.
Not much was shown about the wedding, but tragedy followed those secret nuptials. Believing that Rhaegar had kidnapped Lyanna, Robert started a rebellion against the Targaryens. Ned’s father and brother were also burnt alive, Elia Martell (Rhaegar’s ex-wife) and her children were murdered by Ser Gregor, and Jon Snow—the couple’s secret love child—suffered a miserable childhood as Ned led everyone to believe he was his bastard to protect him.
4 Drogo & Daenerys
The very first wedding in Game of Thrones hardly looked like a wedding at all. Like many weddings in the show, Daenerys’ betrothal to Khal Drogo was an arrangement. In return for Viserys giving Drogo a wife, he was to get an army to take back the seven kingdoms.
Customary for Dothraki weddings, there were a number of deaths during the actual ceremony itself. In fact, Illyrio Mopatis told Danerys that a Dothraki wedding without at least three deaths was considered a dull affair. Aside from the brutal tradition, their wedding night involved sexual assault and was difficult to watch—although eventually, Daenerys and Drogo’s relationship on Game of Thrones evolved into a loving one. It didn’t last long though as it ultimately led to his death, the loss of her child, and the birth of her deadly dragons.
3 Sansa and Ramsay
After witnessing her father’s beheading, being held captive in King’s Landing, and almost being killed by her aunt in the Eyrie, Sansa finally returned home to Winterfell. However, at the time, the Northern land was under Ramsay’s rule and she was forced to marry him. She was a beautiful bride and the aesthetics of the wedding scene were some of the best in the show, but the ceremony ended on a disturbing note.
Following their fairly decent ceremony, Ramsay sexually assaulted Sansa on their wedding night and made Theon watch the whole thing. She’d suffered so much already and this violation in the place she called home was one of the worst things to happen to her. Thankfully, she escaped after that with Theon’s help and Ramsay eventually got his comeuppance.
2 Joffrey and Margaery
Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding was a grand affair—befitting of royals. From Margaery’s magnificent dress to the gigantic pigeon pie, they really pulled out all the stops to make it one for the ages. For all its grandness, the Purple Wedding had an ending no one saw coming when Joffrey was poisoned and dropped dead in front of his new bride and all their guests.
A groom dying at his own wedding is sure to be a gloomy affair, and this was true for Joffrey even though he was one of the most hated characters. In addition, fans of Game of Thrones believed the relationship was doomed from the start. His death set Cersei on the warpath, too, as she believed Tyrion was responsible.
1 The Red Wedding
After Robb reneged on his deal to marry a Frey girl, the duty was left on his uncle, Edmure Tully. After the wedding, the couple was carried off to their bed chambers for their wedding night. Everything seemed forgiven until all hell broke loose when Caitlyn, Talisa, Robb, and his bannermen were slaughtered right in the middle of the wedding celebrations. In addition, the groom was thrown into a cell and kept there until much later in the series.
The event is aptly called the Red Wedding because of this ruthless massacre. By then, the audience had become acquainted with the show’s tendency to kill off main characters, but Robb and Caitlyn’s deaths in this episode managed to shock everyone.
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