I just got back from a wedding in rural Bavaria, which was as rich in lederhosen, amazing beer and odd traditions as you could possibly want. At some point during the 7th or 8th speech full of involved German jokes that I didn't fully get my mind wandered to the uses of weddings, especially in small, rural places like where you might find yourself adventuring.
The sleepy town with three moderately interesting NPCS, two unusual buildings and one source of conflict that your PCs go stumbling into on a monthly basis – get one here! - doesn't have to be in social stasis all the time. Wandering into town hours before the big wedding that everyone is going to be attending is an immediate way to make a town an active scene rather than just a painted backdrop, in much the same way as a festival or a fair but with more chance to put a couple of NPCs centre-stage: and of course the wedding will inevitably have some charming local customs/unforseen hitches/both that you can use as adventure hooks. Here are d10 of them -
1 – It's a small village and literally everyone is invited to Hrothgar and Haelwin's wedding: but it's also a remote village and there are wolves and worse about. Someone had better patrol the outskirts of the village from the beginning of the service until sunrise when the revelling finally stops.
2 – It's a small village and literally everyone is invited to Vlodimir and Ruslana's wedding. This close to the imperial capital there's nothing by way of serious external threats, but the whole village in one feasting hall with lots of booze is a recipe for reopening old wounds and settling old scores. Someone had better enforce the 'no weapons at the wedding' rule and make sure nothing gets too ugly.
3 – Everyone seems to be excited about the wedding except for Smoke Tiger herself, who clearly cannot stand the idea of marrying Jade Sunset. She wonders if group of armed strangers who just showed up in town could be paid off to 'abduct' her and dump her somewhere a few towns away until it all blows over? The Sunsets won't be happy, mind you.
4 – Per longstanding tradition the bride is to be 'kidnapped' by her friends and family immediately after the wedding and hidden somewhere while the groom searches the village. It's all in fun and the bride usually ends up being 'hidden' in a tavern – but Orianna doesn't have roots in the village (her betrothed, Rodrego, is the local) and needs some help. Maybe the strangers with the horses and the showy weaponry could help out with some performative kidnapping? (This is a real thing, btw, in Bavaria among other places. Obviously it has its roots in grim nonconsensual bride-theft, but that shit doesn't belong in your game. Wedding adventures are light-hearted.)
5 – Ysmail's family is tiny, whereas Rushnura's is huge, so there'll be dozens of her siblings and cousins helping to kidnap and conceal her and create plausible distractions. Ysmail would love it if he had some canny scouts willing to help him ride around town, check in all the haylofts, and fight his way to his bride should her 'defenders' get too enthusiastic. Just as long as nobody really gets hurt...
6 – A wedding feast without entertainment? Impossible! But old Birdhands the bard is dead and his apprentice Athra Whitepeak is the one getting married – to lucky old Slytha who lives near the mill – so someone else is going to need to do the honours. Music, singing, storytelling, tumbling, maybe a little comic skit or two: who could possibly help out? Best if nobody mentions that time they broke the travelling harpist's hands for not knowing any of the best tunes. (This one is all the better if the party doesn't have a bard.)
7 – Half the hamlet still doesn't believe Hua will actually marry Lao. The date is set, the feast is cooking and the families are keen, but Lao's such a hopeless dweeb. Maybe there are some tough-looking types around who could be persuaded to start and then lose a fight with him outside Hua's house? What could possibly go wrong?
8 – If Gerhard and Gunther are to wed, there must be a feast reflecting their families' wealth and status! Nothing short of the Great White Boar that still haunts the hill north-west of the village will do as the main dish: not least because Gerhard's father still has tusk-shards from the old bastard in his leg. But somehow nobody wants to go out and kill it...
9 – Hedwig and Bridget's wedding ceremony can't start until the traditions have been observed: and foremost among those traditions is the Traveller's Welcome, for what's a feast without providing hospitality to some gang of bedraggled wanderers? Hopefully they brought a nice enough gift, and hopefully they remember all the correct formulae for toasting the happy couple, their parents, their grandparents, their namesakes, their clans, their patron gods...
|Here in this caption to this Roman wedding I will place|
my unobtrusive agreement that yes, weddings are in
many ways the worst and to be shunned. But still.
That's yer lot. Also, though, weddings that go wrong? Weddings where one half of the happy couple maybe doesn't reach the end of the evening alive? Weddings where the suddenly bereaved survivor needs to leave town and their exciting new feud very very quickly? Great source of new PCs.