Victor Van Dort, the son of wealthy fish merchants, and Victoria Everglot, the neglected daughter of impoverished aristocrats, prepare for their arranged marriage, which will simultaneously raise the social class of Victor’s parents and restore the wealth of Victoria’s family. Although both fall in love for each other, the shy Victor ruins their wedding rehearsal by forgetting his vows. Fleeing to a nearby forest in embarrassment, he practices his wedding vows with a tree, and places his wedding ring on a root. However, the root transpires to be the finger of a dead woman named Emily, who rises from the grave as a zombie claiming that she is now Victor’s wife, and spirits him away to the Land of the Dead. During his time with her, Victor learns that Emily was murdered years ago by an unknown perpetrator on the night she secretly eloped with him. Desperate to reunite with Victoria, Victor tricks Emily into wanting to have her meet his parents in the Land of the Living.
Emily brings Victor to the see Elder Gutknecht, the kindly ruler of the underworld, who grants them temporary passage to the Land of the Living. Victor asks Emily to wait in the forest, and takes his leave to find Victoria and confess his wish to marry her as soon as possible. Before the pair can share a kiss, Emily discovers them and drags Victor back to the Land of the Dead, feeling betrayed and hurt. Victoria quickly tries to tell her parents of Victor’s situation, but neither believe her and assume he has left her. Against her will, they decide to marry her to a presumed-wealthy newcomer in a town named Lord Barkis Bittern, who appeared at the wedding rehearsal. Meanwhile Victor apologizes to Emily for lying to her, and the two reconcile.
When his family coachman arrives in the afterlife, having succumbed to ill health, Victor learns from him of Victoria’s impending marriage to Barkis. Upset over this news, he decides to marry Emily, learning that this will require him to repeat his wedding vows in the Land of the Living before drinking the Wine of Ages, a poison, in order to join her in death. The dead swiftly prepare for the ceremony and head up to the Land of Living. Upon their arrival, the town erupts into a temporary panic until everyone recognizes their loved ones from the dead, and they have a joyous reunion. In the chaos caused by their arrival, Barkis panicks and lets slip that his marriage to Victoria was for her supposed wealth, leading her to reject him and proceed after the procession of the dead heading for the village’s church. Victoria arrives as Victor completes his wedding vows and prepares to drink poison, only to be stopped by Emily when she realizes she is forcing him to do this against his will.
Just as she tries to patch up the relationship between Victor and Victoria, Barkis arrives and interrupts the group, causing Emily to recognise him as her former fiancé and the man who murdered her. When Barkis attempts to kidnap Victoria, Victor duels with him, whereupon Emily intercedes to save his life. Barkis mocks Emily for dying unwed and proposes a toast to her, but unwittingly drinks the poison that Victor nearly took. Although the dead cannot interfere in the affairs of the living, Barkis’ death allows them to eagerly take retribution against him for his crimes. Emily, now released from her torment, swiftly frees Victor of his vow to marry her and returns his ring to him, allowing him to marry Victoria. As she exits the church, she throws her wedding bouquet to Victoria, and then proceeds to fade away into hundreds of butterflies in the moonlight as Victor and Victoria watch on in each other’s embrace.