Written by Horav Yosef Yeshaya Braun, member of the Badatz of Crown Heights
A ‘mock wedding’ – Kiddushei schok – can have serious halachic repercussions.
If a boy gives a girl a ring – or anything of value – and says, albeit in jest, “Harei at mekudeshes li…” (You are hereby consecrated to me), or something similar indicating intention to marry her, it is called kiddushei schok.
Although they both think it’s a joke, the Rama says that kiddushei schok should be taken seriously due to “chumra d’eshes ish,” (the severity with which the Torah regards the laws pertaining to a married woman).
One explanation why such a kiddushin should be taken seriously is that devarim shebelev einam devarim (thoughts that are not verbalized nor acted upon, do not count); what matters is what is observed by others, and in such a case, it appears that he is actually being mekadesh her.
When she subsequently marries someone else it’s possible that she might be a married woman according to halachah, and therefore her marriage could be not kosher, and her children potential mamzerim, chas veshalom.
When the boy gets married he might be violating cherem D’Rabbeinu Gershom (Rabbi Gershom’s ban against marrying more than one wife concurrently).
If a kiddushei schok does take place the boy and the girl in question should approach a competent rav as soon as possible to clarify whether the kiddushin has legitimacy or not, even though it was intended as a joke.