The usual doom and gloom of Emmerdale village was temporarily left behind in favour of celebrating the heartwarming nuptials of Marlon Dingle (Mark Charnock) and Rhona Goskirk (Zoe Henry) – and the soap delivered a refreshingly joyous hour that proved the perfect respite from all the non-stop drama.
Just this year, we've seen the last stand of murderous Meena Jutla (Paige Sandhu), a terminal cancer diagnosis for Faith Dingle (Sally Dexter) and a harrowing drug overdose for Leyla Cavanagh (Roxy Shahidi).
Then there was poor Moira (Natalie J Robb), whose grief for late daughter Holly Barton (Sophie Powles) resurfaced thanks to Suzy Merton (Martelle Edinborough).
Add to that the extra Dingle turmoil of Noah's (Jack Downham) stalking campaign, and Priya Kotecha's (Fiona Wade) struggle to come to terms with the burns she sustained in a fire caused by Meena, and it's safe to say the villagers haven't had anything to smile about lately!
Long-suffering mainstay Marlon's trauma has been another central storyline, as the character had a sudden stroke back in March, just as he and Rhona became engaged. In the minutes between that beautiful scene and his shocking collapse, Marlon feared his future had been ripped away from him.
He and his family endured a tough few months as he began the journey towards recovery, and now all Marlon and Rhona wanted was to tie the knot in peace.
Thankfully, that's exactly what happened – but naturally, the day wasn't completely free of stress. This is a soap, after all! On the eve of the big day, Marlon's attempt to get back on his feet led to another collapse and a stint in hospital, where the doctors warned him about his high blood pressure. Best man Paddy (Dominic Brunt) was on hand to help, although he could barely keep himself calm, let alone the frantic Marlon!
But, eventually, they made it to the church where Marlon was able to walk down the aisle to surprise his thrilled bride. Emotions were running high as Rhona took in the sight before her, and the couple exchanged vows, causing even the steely-eyed Cain Dingle (Jeff Hordley) to wipe away tears!
As Marlon and Rhona were declared husband and wife, that burst of applause and the smiling faces of Emmerdale's latest newlyweds rang out into the village – which was, for once, quiet and calm. Stars Charnock and Henry shone with poignant performances as the celebrations continued, and the jubilation spread far beyond the wedding party.
Chief organiser Priya honoured a touching pact she had made with the groom, discarding her jacket to bare her scars for the first time as she partied in a backless dress at the reception. Meanwhile, Cain surprised us for a second time when he agreed to share a dance with ill mum Faith – and her eyes sparkled with delight as she savoured the moment.
And, after Jai Sharma (Chris Bisson) punched two-timing Kit (Thoren Ferguson), he and ex Laurel Thomas (Charlotte Bellamy) sat down for a chat, at which point she remembered Gabby's (Rosie Bentham) promise that her late dad Ashley (John Middleton) would send Laurel someone who would fight for her. Circumstances seem to be bringing this former couple back together.
They certainly aren't the only ones enjoying a second - or third - chance, as Rhona reminded guests that she and Marlon had already embarked on two past romances together before reuniting. "I've found where my home is," she tearfully informed everyone.
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Will their happiness last? Well, Emmerdale has revealed some new gossip about its upcoming 50th anniversary, teasing that a storm will change the village forever! We can't help but note that the last time such weather rocked the Dales, Marlon's first wife Tricia (Sheree Murphy) lost her life in the wreckage.
Whatever happens next, though, it was about time we saw Marlon and Rhona smiling. These are two characters who have had everything and more thrown at them over the past few years, and their union was a welcome slice of joy in the lead up to what is sure to be an explosive autumn.
- Emmerdale 50th anniversary preview: 11 spoilers for soap's stormy month
- Emmerdale confirms three returning characters for 50th anniversary
- Emmerdale's Mark Charnock on "intense" Marlon and Rhona wedding episode
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