© Bridal Musings / UNICEF

There are flowers everywhere. The bride and groom wear beautiful clothes. Family members look on proudly. It seems like Lily’s wedding will be the beginning of a lifetime of love, happiness and fulfillment.

She’ll remember this day forever - but for all the wrong reasons. Watch Lily’s unforgettable wedding video below.


Child marriage: not just a story

Lily’s experience of child marriage involved acting for a video produced by UNICEF and Bridal Musings. Her glamorous wedding ceremony is in stark contrast with the harsh reality of child marriage for kids all around the world. 

While the highest prevalence rates of child marriage are in Africa and South Asia, UNICEF hopes that portraying a girl who may not seem at risk of child marriage in a highly stylised "Western" wedding video will provoke conversations on equal rights for girls everywhere. 

Because for the 41,000 girls under 18 who will be married today, and the millions more who have already married as children, this story is real. Their days as child brides are more likely spent working full-time, tending to domestic duties or looking after children of their own.
Hened is a 14 year-old Syrian refugee in Lebanon. Her husband died six months after they wed in their homeland. Pregnant at the time, she later miscarried — due, she said, to the pain and fear she felt. © UNICEF/UNI198616/Aggio Caldon

Girls who experience child marriage are more likely to be out of school, suffer from health issues, and be victims of domestic violence. They’re more likely to contract HIV/AIDS, experience complications during pregnancy or childbirth and have children who are stillborn or die very young.

15 million girls will be married this year. This will become their daily reality.
Florence, 14, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, was ostracised from her family when she refused to get married as a child. “I want to go to high school and then become a tradeswoman.” © UNICEF/UNI199292/Dubourthoumieu

Protecting children every day

UNICEF is working to let girls be girls - to prevent early marriages and to help girls who have already been wed. We're educating parents and communities on the dangers of child marriage, increasing girls’ access to education and health care services, and strengthening and enforcing laws that establish 18 as the minimum age of marriage.

If you'd like to help, you can support this and all of UNICEF's work to protect the rights of children by becoming a Global Parent today. Your monthly gifts will help to protect children from early marriage, child labour and exploitation, and to deliver lifesaving water, health and nutrition supplies wherever the need is greatest.