Nigerian Chinedu Amadi arrived at Leicester Registry Office to marry a complete stranger - Hungarian national Szilvia Basco-Porkolab, who donned a traditional white wedding gown for the occasion.
But unbeknown to them Home Office investigators who were tipped off by a suspicious registrar and lay in wait in a side room for the pair to arrive.
These pictures show the moment the 'couple' were told they had been caught and were arrested.
Amadi, a Nigerian student, paid £5,000 to an unknown 'fixer' to arrange the bogus wedding with an EU national to allow him to stay in the UK.
After their arrest, investigators discovered Basco-Porkolab was involved in an earlier sham marriage to another Nigerian, Ikechukwu Egbe, at Greta Green in May 2011.
Basco-Porkolab, 38, living in Leicester, admitted two counts of conspiracy to breach immigration laws relating to sham marriages, and was jailed for 34 months.
Amadi, 27, of Livingstone Road, Gillingham, admitted a similar count and was jailed for 20 months.
Egbe, 34, of Narborough Road, Leicester, was convicted of one offence of conspiracy, and jailed for 30 months.
A fourth person, Rubin Durgos 39, admitted conspiracy, in the intended sham marriage of Amadi. She was to be the bride, before Basco-Porkolab stepped in at the last minute.
Durgos, a Hungarian, of Forest Road, Coalville, Leicestershire, was jailed for 20 months.
Sentencing at Leicester Crown Court, Judge Philip Head said: 'What you did in your own ways was to cheat all those who loyally and honestly abide by the system.'
Andy Radcliffe, a Home Office inspector, said after the case: 'These were brazen attempts to trample over both the immigration laws and the institution of marriage.
'Amadi had such contempt for the law that he felt he could change his bride during the process of organising the wedding and still get away with it. Durgos and Porkolab thought they could marry as often as they liked. They were wrong.
'The message is clear - immigration abuse will not be tolerated and we will take the strongest possible action against those involved.
'We work closely with registrars across the region and our dedicated crime teams will continue to make life as tough as possible for those who seek to abuse the immigration system.'
Neil Bannister, prosecuting, told the court: 'The offences came to light with the intended marriage, initially, between Durgos and Amadi.
'Both attended Leicester Registry Office to give their notice of intention to marry, on October 21. They met the deputy superintendent registrar for Leicester, Debra Webster.
'Mrs Webster recognised Durgos as someone she knew as Rita Durgos, a Hungarian who had acted as an interpreter for more than one marriage.
'These marriages involved Hungarians and nationals from countries outside the European Economic Area.
'Mrs Webster became suspicious as to whether Durgos and Amadi were going to enter a genuine marriage.
'Durgos struggled to pronounce the first name of Amadi and he struggled to remember his address.
'Mrs Webster also thought the couple were being excessively affectionate and gained the impression they were trying too hard to demonstrate they were a couple.
'Arrangements were made for a marriage on January 19.
'On that date, a woman claiming to be Rubin Durgos turned up but Mrs Webster did not recognise her. It is not known who that woman was.
'Amadi was an hour late and missed the ceremony, so a further date was arranged for 2pm on February 14.'
By then Mrs Webster had alerted the authorities.
Mr Bannister added: 'Meanwhile, information came to light Durgos had been married to a Godwin Okechuku, a Nigerian, on July 4, 2008, at Christ the King Church, Beaumont Leys, Leicester.'
On February 14, Mrs Webster noted the bride was different from Durgos and the woman who attended on January 19.
When arrested in a wedding dress, she initially told officers she was attending as a witness.
In mitigation, the court heard Egbe and Amadi had entered the UK legitimately on student visas, which had not expired.
Egbe enrolled at Leicester Business Academy, which then closed and he was concerned his visa would be revoked.
He was 'desperate' to stay in the country, the court heard.
All the defendants are likely to be deported after their sentences.
TUMESHIRIKI NA KUCHAMBUA KUTOKA DM''