City Hall Marriage, Then Wedding 8 mths Later…

posted 3 years ago in Elopement
Post # 3
5207 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 2013

@javababy87:  First of all, I’m so sorry about your fiance’s dad. Hugs to you and your family.

I got married at city hall and had a large celebration a few months later. It was great. All our family and friends were able to attend and there was nothing weird about it. It actually a lot of stress off, not having to keep a timeline.

Post # 4
615 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I did the same.

Once I graduated from college I had no health insurance with the university, once FI got a job we married for insurance initially, but it wasn’t special, just went in wearing what we wore on daily basis and did the paperwork, no one came and no one knew about it

when family did find out due to last name changes and new credit/bank cards that got sent to my parents they only asked if the formal wedding/celebration was still on.

of course it is! I don’t consider that my wedding I know a lot of people will disagree but I had already told people the date of my formal wedding celebration before we went to city hall and deposits were placed.

the cityhall wedding like yours was unexpected and needed to happen due to benefits

Post # 5
42117 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

 Firstly, I am sorry to hear about DH’s Dad. This will be a hard time for all of you. We are never ready to say goodbye to our parents.

There have been many posts about similar situations. Go ahead and have the ceremony now so he can be part of his son’s wedding.

The one factor I suggest you consider is your comfort level with deceiving your guests if you choose not to share the fact that you had a civil ceremony. Technically your second ceremony will be a vow renewal as you will already be married.

I am sure your friends and family won’t care that you are already married and will whole heartedly attend the second ceremony and reception.

Post # 8
10899 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

@javababy87: It makes a great deal of sense why you and your FI would want to have your wedding now, with your immediate families, at City Hall, while your FI’s father is still with you. 

I agree with @julies1949: that your extended family and friends will still want to celebrate with you for your vow renewal ceremony and reception in October, even if they know you will already be married, and why.

I am so sorry about all that your FI’s dad and family — and you and your FI — are going through as a result of your FFIL’s illness.

Post # 9
6073 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

@javababy87:   I have a slighty similar situation to this actually. 


My dad had cancer for 6 years.  He always seemed to buy time with surgeries, chemo and radiation. 


Then in January 2012, all that was not working for the tumors any more so he decided to stop everything and just let it take him.  It was mestatisized into his lungs too.  The doctors said that the cancer would take his life in 4-6 months to their guess – other doctors would not even say a time frame though.  And guess what?  Our wedding was set to be in 5 months.  Nearly all paid for, everything was booked too. 


So we ended up cancelling the wedding and getting our money back – well most of it.  For the next 5 months I made it my mission to fly home often to see my dad.  I flew home 4 times in that time frame, with the 4th trip being the day he died.  I got to be at his bedside for 5 hours before he passed.  It was 45 days before the planned wedding we had.  So we were glad we cancelled it. 


This board had so many votes to go ahead and have a small wedding while dad is still here.  The logic being that during this sad time a wedding will bring joy and happiness to a family.  Nice idea in theory.


Well, my sisters told me that is the worst thing I could do at that time.  They said, “Don’t make us put on fake happy smiles for your wedding when we all know what is happening.”  My mom was already a wreck and was very uninterested in a wedding.  My dying father was the priority and a wedding was the least of his worries.  My dad did not really have any desire to be there.  He already knew my FI (now H) and loved him, and that was all he needed to know.  Plus I did not want to make H’s family fly to my dad.  It was not what we envisioned either, plus no one wanted it on their plates.


I was married before and I made a few new rules for myself for the next time I got married (which is this time 2012).  Note – these were for ME (which may not apply to others).  Firstly, don’t get married due to circumstances.  Let it be the absolute right time for us both – not to speedy, hurry things along for anything, not to get health insurance, not to save money, etc. (my dad even said don’t change our plans on account of us, but I really did not want a funeral and wedding in the same MONTH). 


In my first marriage (12 years ago), we did a quick courthouse thing with goals of redoing it much nicer for family.  That never happened.  So our day came and went without any hoopla or recognition really.  We did do the celebration party route months later, but it was low key – we were so poor.  With that said, you just get one wedding day so make sure to make it be what you wanted (or somewhat close, we don’t always get what we want!).  This is speaking from my own personal experience.


With that said, since your soon to be courthouse wedding will have family and a bridal party, it would not be right to have a second wedding with bridal party and everything else.  I would not lead people to believe that it was a wedding in October either.  I think your courthouse wedding sounds very lovely and intimate (if everyone is all on board for that idea – it did not work for my family).


For October, maybe call it a vow renewal (but having a bridal party would be unnecessary to me). Vow renewals under one year don’t make sense to me though.  More like a 10 year or 20 year thing perhaps. 


Or just have a good old celebration party using the services you’ve already booked – make it as nice as you want, but it won’t be a wedding.  It will be a celebration party.  I’d wear the wedding dress again, normally you do not at celebration parties, but I think people would understand.  I just don’t think you NEED to put on a vow show for relatives honestly.


Or just call it good and make the soon to be courthouse wedding THE WEDDING.  Take a risk with the desposits.  It’s not going to ruin other peoples’ year if they don’t party with you.  Trust me!


Post # 10
28 posts

I am very sorry about the medical situation….

I can definitely understand your circumstances and doubt anyone would be truely upset about it…

I am actually glad to hear the positive posts since I seem to be in a somewhat similar situation with having a civil marriage done and a cermeony much later. My situation however is due to my FIs upcoming deployment. We both want to be married before he leaves in October, however we have a very small budget and little time to plan a truely nice wedding, si i think we may wait until he gets back…which is almost 2 years from now.  

Post # 11
5160 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

@javababy87:  I’m sorry about your family’s health situation.

I have done something similar (civily married 2 months before my wedding).  Here is what I found:


– works for your own extenuating circumstances.  

– you can keep it quiet and not make a big deal about it with others 


– the weddingbee wedding police will get all up in your face.  No one else cares.  

Post # 12
1367 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

@javababy87:  We did it due to immigration reasons. It was amazing since our parents came to city hall (and met for the first time – they live on opposite ends of the world.)

6 months later we had our reception – 100 of our closest friends and family from around the world.  We wrote our own vows and a friend officiated. It was great because our parents had already met and were reuniting.

ETA:  no cons other than some bitchy people on this board making snarky remarks.  The fact that we were legally married meant we could have so much fun with the vows and our guests didn’t have to sit there being bored during the licence signing.  Our guests were supportive and understood.  Based on your situation it totally makes sense and if any of your friends were to judge you I would think you wouldn’t want to be friends anymore.

Our city hall smooch:


Our reception



Post # 14
381 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

I also did it for immigration purposes. We did it last minute as well, and only invited two friends because we needed witnesses. Our parents knew about it, but did not come because I made clear that our big celebration was really our wedding. Also, I have a lot of parents due to divorce/adoption, and I didn’t want it to be a big thing. 

I agree with the cons mentioned by @cbgg  @canuckandakiwi. I normally try so hard not to let strangers on the internet get under my skin, but the whole “You don’t get to call your wedding your wedding because you didn’t sign the papers that day” really creams my corn. Also, agree with the poster who mentioned how fun their ceremony was since they didn’t have to deal with legal stuff. A close mutual friend of ours performed our ceremony in two languages, gave a beautiful and personal heartwarming speech at the beginning, and we exchanged bilingual vows. It was totally awesome!

Not to give any credence to the whole snarkiness against this idea, but if there ARE people who you know who might be bothered about not being there for the legal stuff, you might want to ask your families how to navigate that. We didn’t lie, but we didn’t advertise it either, and no one asked. 

Post # 16
5160 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

@giru618:  +1 to everything that you said!  We handled our seperate ceremony the same way (and our reasons were a combo of visa, DW, and LDR).  

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