Civil marriage then wedding?

posted 2 years ago in Military
Post # 2
3016 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2014 - Prague

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having another ceremony to celebrate your marriage. I wouldn’t keep it a secret, only b/c there’s nothing to be ashamed of and a secret means you’re trying to hide something. 

I wouldn’t consider your wedding gift grabby at all. People often have to do a civil ceremony beforehand, for all kinds of reasons. And if any of your judgemental family make snarky comments, you don’t have to give a hoot! You know exactly why you’re making the decisions you’re making. They don’t have to give you a gift if they are that petty.

Post # 3
314 posts
Helper bee

honestly I would keep it a secret and do NOT tell your parents because parents can’t keep secrets from other family members! you have to keep this a secret and take it to the grave- or at least keep quiet for 10+ years so then when people find out they will laugh

Post # 4
5208 posts
Bee Keeper

Jordonblackman:  It isn’t really fair to mislead your guests. There is nothing wrong with a civil marriage first and then a church wedding later, so why lie about it? If you are concerned about family members thinking you are doing it for money, tell them not to bring a gift or give you cash.

Post # 5
353 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015 - The Fairmont, SF

I’ve never understood why people view it as “misleading” if you have a wedding ceremony and reception after a civil marriage and choose not to share that fact you’re legally married. I know, I know. “Your guests are there to see you get married for the first time” and “There’s nothing to be ashamed of; just own that you’re married” are common arguments against my viewpoint and maybe they’re valid.

On the other hand, I just see the civil ceremony and the church/fancy ceremony as two distinct entities – I personally was raised to see being married by the law as being different from being married in a religious ceremony. Maybe I’ve convinced myself that my POV is acceptable because my SO and I will be doing something very similar due to visa issues (he’s moving to America from the UK to be with me prior to the wedding). Who knows?

If you don’t want to share that info with others, it’s none of their business, really. No one will ask, so why do they need to know?

Post # 7
744 posts
Busy bee

My cousin is doing the same thing as you, and trying to keep it secret from the family because she is afraid people won’t come to the wedding if they find out.  My take is that people would be understanding of her reasons and still want to celebrate her union with all of the people who love her.  BUT people don’t like being lied to, and I fear if they find out she tried to hide it, they will be very upset.  And that may impact attendance far more than if they knew the truth. 

There may be some people who think it’s a gift grab, but I think it’s all how you present it – emphasizing that you want to celebrate your lifelong commitment in front of all of those you love.  And this applies to all weddings in general, but obviously you’d want to be particularly sensitive to avoiding any mention of gifts and registries except when asked directly.

Post # 8
7664 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

I know several people who have done this, for the simple reason that they could not get a license for a religious wedding, so they had to get a license for a secular wedding (there are fewer legal requirements for that here) and then have a church wedding immediately afterwards.

This is also apparently the norm in several European countries.

Post # 9
5160 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

Jordonblackman:  I went through the same thing (for immigration, not military) and I decided to keep it quiet.  I think this is a legitimate choice because we really conisdered that day “just the paperwork.”   We didn’t exchange rings, didnt’ say our personal vows, didn’t start calling each other husband and wife, we don’t celebrate that day as our anniversary, etc.  It was just the day we needed to get the paperwork done in order to get our immigration moving.  We consider our wedding day to be the day two months later when we had a full cermeony and celebration in front of our family and friends.  I don’t think that I lied to anyone, and no one asked.

If you feel better telling people that you’ve already legally married and that you’ll be celebrating your “vow renewal”, go for it.  But I don’t think it’s required.  In the day and age most people have the ceremony to celebrate the social and religious transition, the fact that you signed some paperwork a few months before isn’t really anyone’s busienss.


Post # 10
8677 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

My husband and I got married December 9th in our living room with our parents. We had a wedding the following June and it was lovely. We live in Oklahoma and all our friends and family are back home in California, so it was nice to be able to celebrate with them, too. We didn’t keep it a secret but we didn’t tell each individual person that we were already married, plus it was already all over facebook. So if someone didn’t know, it was their own damn fault.

<br />Do what you need to do. My husband is Navy and what we did was the best for us. No one in our families said anything, but if anyone ever did, then it helps weed out the unsupportive people so I can simply cut them out of my life (Exceptions apply.)<br /><br />ETA: Don’t let anyone tell you that it **HAS** to be a vow renewal. We had a wedding, not a vow renewal. Don’t let anyone bully you into changing the terminology or your thoughts on the matter.

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Post # 11
1806 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - EDD Aug '15

Jordonblackman:  I got civilly married 6 months before our wedding. All my guests knew and noone made a comment or celebrated any less. Being a military bride should be even easier to understand than our reasons! Don’t overthink it, you should tell them.

Post # 12
333 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2015

Military weddings can often be complicated to plan and require a lot of flexibility on the couple and their family’s behalf. My fiancé and I are getting legally married in a few days, but our wedding is next year in august. I think a lot of your decision depends on when you consider your actual wedding day to be. Like a PP mentioned, my upcoming courthouse wedding is just a day for paperwork, and my fiancé and I consider ourselves still engaged until our wedding next year. For this reason, I don’t feel like we’re lying to our guests. Ultimately, it’s up to you and your fiancé. It’s your decision, and you should only do what you feel is best! I definitely don’t think your  wedding is a “lie.” Whoever thinks of it that way is probably not very supportive of your relationship, so forget them! 

Post # 13
111 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

We are planning to do a civil marriage and not tell anyone. Our problem is we want somebody close to the both of us to officiate (our roommate of several years) and PA is a backward a** state that will not recongize a marriage preformed by somebody who got ordained online. I do not feel as if this is a lie to the guests beecause we will not be viewing/recognizing the civil marriage as our ceremony…its more of a formality of filling out paperwork.

Post # 14
529 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I think military weddings are worlds away from civilian weddings. I would 100% support a friend that was marrying military who got married first, told the guests about it, and then had the wedding however many years/months later. In that situation, I wouldn’t hold it against the couple or think it gift grabby. I still think you should tell people, but in the case of military weddings, I respect the couple even if they choose not to tell (though I think it usually comes out, anyway)


On other boards you’ve looked at, they likely weren’t started by military brides. I’m firmly on the side of “it’s shitty to lie to the people that you are supposed to love and care about” but for military brides, I think they deserve the leeway to do what they feel is best without any judgement.

Post # 15
1 posts
  • Wedding: June 2015

Hi All,


I know I’m late to the topic. I am now going through the same thing with my fiance. He wants to get married this winter before his orders to Korea come down in hopes that they can be changed to an accompanied tour. Even if they aren’t changed it will help to have all of the military paperwork (DEERS, Tricare, etc) done early because his date of arrival for his new assignment is 3 days after our June wedding. I come from a faith that doesn’t really acknowledge the wedding until its done by the church too, so I am going back and forth on whether or not to tell people for all the reasons discussed on this board. I was wondering though, which date do you consider your anniversary? The legal marriage or the ceremony?

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