- Outlander -Jamie & Claire’s Wedding Night In The Books Vs. The Show — A Comparison
While their romance eventually spans centuries, Jamie and Claire’s journey doesn’t actually begin in earnest until Season 1, Episode 7, in an episode titled: “The Wedding.” The episode, which premiered nearly six years ago on September 20, 2014, is based on Chapters 14 and 15 from Diana Gabaldon’s book Outlander. The pivotal moment in the Outlander series however — and I mean pivotal with a capital P since this episode marks the first time(s) Jamie and Claire have sex — plays way differently in the book than it does in the show.
At first glance, the biggest difference is the structure. In the chapters "A Marriage Takes Place" and "Revelations of the Bridal Chamber," the story is told sequentially with Claire waking up with a monstrous hangover, getting wed to Jamie, and consummating the marriage (what a day!). The TV series, on the other hand, decided to use non-linear storytelling with Claire and Jamie starting the episode already married and then using flashbacks to show how they got there.
In the behind-the-scene feature of the episode (which you can check out below), episode writer Anne Kenney explained, "In the book, you're in the room with Claire and Jamie for a very long time, which isn't a bad thing. But dramatically, you might want to break it up a little bit."
Dramatic indeed, considering some book readers' initial response was that of outraged shock that the show was going to dare to skip the wedding, as Outlander Cast co-host Mary Larsen noted to director Anna Foerster on the podcast. But the show mercifully didn't actually skip these iconic nuptials. Here's how else the book and the scene compare.
Flashback To Frank
The TV show decides to start "The Wedding" episode with a flashback to Claire and Frank's impromptu wedding at the registry office before Claire is to meet Frank's parents for the first time. Claire doesn't go full flashback in the books, but she does panic about Frank when she sees where she will be marrying Jamie.
In the books, Claire and Jamie get married at the same. exact. chapel. that she had married Frank 200 years in the future. How's that for a mindfuck? The show's version is a little less tormenting to Claire, plus, gives a more romantic version of her past (future?) life with Frank.
Claire's guilt over her new polygamist status (after all, only six weeks earlier, she had been celebrating her second honeymoon with Frank) bookends the episode. In the final TV scene, she wakes up from her lust-filled wedding night and finds her gold wedding ring from Frank has fallen to the ground. She picks it up and places it on her left ring finger and the episode ends with her forlornly staring at the two wedding rings on her hands.
As for Claire's official wedding band from Jamie in the books, that's a sore spot for readers since the show diverged and didn't do a recreation. But, as Gabaldon told Town & Country, all's well now that Claire got a more accurate replacement ring in Season 4.
The Outlander book is written entirely from Claire Elizabeth Beauchamp Randall Fraser's perspective. Yet, the show decided to give us some insight into Jamie's mind and his "conditions" for the wedding. Jamie enlists Highlanders to gather essential items for the wedding, like Ned Gowan going to a brothel for Claire's wedding dress. Although Jamie is a doting husband in the book, he is not as involved in the wedding details.
In the rush of their marriage, the Highlanders forget to get a ring, so Jamie gives Claire his father's wedding ring off of his own finger during the ceremony. There's no priest drama and Murtagh, with a little help from Ned, is responsible for getting a Claire a decent wedding dress... that didn't come courtesy of a "whorehouse."
The Blood Oath
Just like on the show, Claire didn't understand the Gaelic words she was saying during the blood oath portion of their wedding ceremony. Although she finds out what she had recited at different points in the book and the show, the meaning is the same: "Ye are Blood of my Blood, and Bone of my Bone. I give ye my Body, that we Two might be One. I give ye my Spirit, ’til our Life shall be Done.'"
Swoon-worthy if, admittedly, more primitive than traditional English vows.
The Bridal Chamber
Even though they've got chemistry, Claire and Jamie are, understandably, a bit reluctant to just jump in the sack with one another. As Claire notes in both the book and the show, she doesn't even know Jamie's full name. (It's James Alexander Malcolm Mackenzie Fraser, Claire.) So the two get to know each other a bit in the bridal chamber.
Jamie outlines his family history and life in the book, but the show goes the way of a montage and conveniently uses Claire's voiceover narration to skip over some of the details: "When he told me his family history, I reciprocated in kind and we each spent the next several hours drinking and talking and generally getting to know our new spouses for the first time."
Ah, the main event. The marriage between Jamie and Claire couldn't be official until the deed was done... and the Highlanders weren't going to trust the newlyweds to their own devices. Though they aren't in the room where it happens, Jamie's crew provides them with plenty of witnesses just outside the door.
As for the intimacy details, the married couple engages in few rounds of sex on their wedding night on the page and the screen — and much of the show scenes are pulled directly from Gabaldon's words. For instance, Claire, impressed by Jamie's kissing skills since he pointed out his celibate status multiple times, asks him, "Where did you learn to kiss like that?" That leads to Jamie's classic line that the show could never skip: "I said I was a virgin, not a monk. If I find I need guidance, I'll ask."
Jamie did get advice from Murtagh, Ned, and Rupert in both versions. But their words didn't help inform Jamie that he could have sex face-to-face rather than from behind like horses — a fact that Claire finds very amusing. They also didn't let him know the joys of oral sex, which makes Jamie's heart feel like it's going to burst.
Interestingly enough, Claire admits to Jamie she's never experienced oral sex performed on her and it's something Jamie promises to do another time — but on the show, we saw Frank venture down south on Claire in the ruins of Castle Leoch in the very first episode. As for Jamie's mother's pearls that he gives Claire — well, they were presented as a pre-wedding gift in the book and used much more chastely than on the show.
Even with the change in format, Outlander gave book readers the awkward ceremony and sensual night that Gabaldon wrote in her book. So while their wedding was rather unconventional, here's a cheers to the couple, who are still living a long and (usually) happy life together.