|"Are you a wizard or not?"
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- "In any case, within a few months of the scene we have just witnessed, the village of Little Hangleton enjoyed a tremendous scandal. You can imagine the gossip it caused when the squire's son ran off with the tramp's daughter, Merope."
- —Albus Dumbledore relates the tale of the marriage to Harry Potter[src]
The wedding of Merope Gaunt and Tom Riddle was held in either the fall or winter of 1925. The wedding likely took place in Little Hangleton, since both the bride and groom had lived in the village prior to the marriage.
The marriage was instigated by Merope’s use of a powerful Love Potion to seduce Riddle, who then fell in love with Merope. This was a rather scandalous marriage among the citizens of the town, due to the bride and groom's extremely different backgrounds. The bride was a pure-blood witch and the daughter of Marvolo Gaunt, who was denounced by the villagers as a mentally unstable and impoverished man, and had a rotten attitude toward the people of Little Hangleton. The groom was a Muggle, the son of the wealthy Thomas Riddle and Mary Riddle, who were generally unliked among the villagers, also due to their attitude. Merope's father, Marvolo Gaunt and brother Morfin Gaunt were absent, since both had been arrested by the Ministry of Magic months prior to the wedding. Although the marriage raised plenty of eyebrows, there were some in Little Hangleton who thought that due to the unpopularity of both families that the bride and groom may have found commonality; in essence Merope and Tom were two lonely young people who found soulmates in each other.
- "Within a few months of their runaway marriage, Tom Riddle reappeared at the manor house in Little Hangleton without his wife. The rumour flew around the neighbourhood that he was talking of being 'hoodwinked' and 'taken in'... He left her, never saw her again, and never troubled to discover what became of his son."
- —Albus Dumbledore on Tom Riddle Snr[src]
After the wedding, the couple had left for London. A few months later, Merope had become pregnant with their son. Vainly hoping that the elder Riddle would have developed genuine love for her, or at least stay to raise the child with her, Merope revealed to her husband that she was a witch, as well as ceased to administer him Love Potions. When Riddle regained his free will, he callously fled Merope in disgust and returned to his ancestral manor, leaving his wife to die alone from a broken heart.
Although no one knew at the time, the wedding would end up becoming one that had shaped the history of the wizarding world, as well as causing some of the most notorious atrocities in the history of that world and the Muggle world. On 31 December, 1926, Tom Marvolo Riddle, the only child of Merope and Tom, was born. The younger Riddle would as an adult become known as Lord Voldemort, the most powerful Dark Wizard in history. The revelations of his paternal lineage disgusted the younger Riddle to the point where he despised Muggles and wizards with Muggle relations for the rest of his life.
Merope's act of using magic to coerce Tom into this wedding is a symbolic reason for Voldemort's inability to understand love, as there is little more prejudicial ways to enter the world than as the result of such a loveless union.
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (First mentioned)