A trend: Marriage first, wedding later?

posted 8 years ago in Vow Renewals
Post # 3
94 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

In many countries and cultures, legal weddings are simply formalities that are on a to-do list so to speak so it maybe a newer concept to you but it’s been going on forever.  In my family being married legally makes no difference, you aren’t married till you are married in church. Everyone in my family has been married legally first and then followed with a church wedding and reception within the year. Personally we chose to get married legally first because of immigration issues (since I am Canadian and he is American) so that we could actually live together during our first year of marriage as opposed to it being full of paperwork and dealing with the government.

I am glad we got married legally first, we enjoyed a little celebration of just us two and our two witnessses while checking things off our list (Type-A here;)) For some people like us it’s for purely practical reasons and for others it’s to maybe have a ceremony they dreamed of or to have a private wedding their way. At the end of the day, we will celebrate the day we got married in front of friends and family and not the legal date.

Like you, I don’t understand couples who decide to have a wedding years after but to each his own and as long as it makes them happy and doesn’t hurt anyone who am I to judge.



Post # 4
1940 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

I think you can use the same argument about couples that live together before marriage.  You are basically acting as “husband” and “wife” although that is not your official title.  Afterwards you get married.  

My husband and I lived together before getting married, but it caused me to sometimes wonder why we were going to have a full-fledged wedding.  I felt very “united” even before we were married.  Our families knew that we were together (we were together for 5 years prior to marriage) and viewed us as a couple.  We have only been married a few weeks, but there hasn’t been a lot of changes in our relationship at all (other than legally of course).  Not sure if that makes sense…


Post # 5
1562 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

it really depends on the person and their views. 🙂 (obviously! lol)

we “became legal” on April 13, 2009 – as we like to call it – so that he could be immediately put onto my insurance and have pretty much a life-saving surgery (he’s had scoliosis since childhood and has had two steel rods in his back since he was 10).

we ONLY told a handful of people – my parents (who were there) one of our ministers (who did the ceremony) my bestfriend/MOH and her husband (who were also there) and his mom, brother and sil who came to town for the day of the surgery and of course, asked how he was having surgery without insurance…

so everyone else had no idea. oh yeah, we also ended up telling my godfather because he’s also a minister and he performed our wedding.

We called it our “wedding” 100% because it was the day that truly made it “official” for us as it’s what we’d been planning for for over 2 years. we were able to become SPIRTUALLY united as well as legally. We were able to share with our family and friends the love we have for one another and party all night long. 🙂

We didn’t wear our rings (well, I wore my e-ring) and I didn’t change my name until 2 months before our wedding this year.

We only “became legal” a year early because he HAD to have surgery – AND it was right in the middle of us already having been engaged and planning our actual wedding.

We still decided to have our wedding because we wanted to celebrate with everyone and have the wedding of our dreams – which we did! Plus, again, 90% of our guests/friends/family had no idea we were legal anyways…

of course, though, to each their own! 😀

Post # 6
2392 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

We are doing a legal wedding prior to the ceremony.  Granted, it will only be 2-3 weeks before the ceremony, but still I can understand lots of reasons why people do this.

For us, it’s about family and distance. We live on the west coast and most of our family is on the east coast.  We will be flying home to have a very quiet, simple courthouse (or backyard) ceremony with our parents, siblings, and grandparents and then will follow it with a larger wedding for family and friends on the west coast, where we could plan it in person, brew our own beer, not have to outsource everything.  We’re not keeping it quiet that we’re doing it legally first – it doesn’t seem like people have really cared, actually. 

While part of me wishes our wedding day will have more legal significance, I also know that it will be the first time we affirm our partnership publicly, when we start wearing our rings, and referring to each other as husband and wife.  Also – our families and friends love to party and be loud, and they’re kind of excited that they can have it both ways – share the wedding with older, less raucous relatives AND have a wild party.

Post # 7
1465 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

I have only seen this online, never in real life. And yes it is a recent trend. What many people don’t realize or care is that when you get married and sign the legal documents, that is your wedding. Anything afterward is a renewal of vows and should be treated separately.

Contrary to belief, people will find out they were lied to that the couple was legally married before even if they are calling the vow renewal their “actual” wedding. That will cause many hurt feelings and potentially permanently sever relationships and friendships when they do find out, which they will. Not everyone is willing to risk that.

Post # 8
7771 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2010

Maybe the couple was more comfortable getting actually married the first time in a small ceremony.

Maybe they couldn’t afford/ didn’t want to splurge on the wedding.

There are a MILLION reasons people do this.  Who cares?

Post # 9
2090 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

@EvaBostonTerrier: I disagree with you that it’s like couples who live together before marriage. The reason people get married before having a wedding is generally to confer benefits on the other that are not available except through marriage…whether that be health insurance coverage, military benefits, tax benefits/savings. 

I live with my FH, but I’m not entitled to any of those benefits, but would immediately be if we were married.

I understand why some people marry first and have a wedding later, and for things like health insurance, I can understand it, but except for the exceptions (health insurance reasons, some military reasons), I don’t agree with it. It will probably ruffle some feathers, but its my opinion that choices have consequences. If you want to marry and enjoy the legal/financial benefits that provides, I think it’s a bit “have your cake and eat it too” to then have a wedding. And I think it’s always wrong to lie about it. People will find out, and will be hurt.

Post # 10
1562 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

@Selene221: I don’t want to argue – and I’m not trying to start anything – but i believe this is your opinion, which you are obviously entitled to. But I also believe – until you have actually done this or known someone who has done this then you can’t say “it’s not a WEDDING” our wedding was our wedding – NOT a vow renewal.

Honestly in the grand scheme of things – if a couple decides to legally marry BEFORE their wedding there is nothing wrong with that. And if they still want to celebrate with their family and friends and have a gorgeous wedding. They can. It’s their prerogative.

I’ve told a lot of friends at work (who were at our wedding) – and while they were shocked at first – they all completely understood and were totally happy for us!

I did have one person give me a bit of flack – but everyone understood.


Post # 11
61 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: November 2011

My Fiance and I are getting married in Vegas on 11/11/11. We are having a celebration on 6/2/12 in Ohio. We really wanted 11/11 for many personal reasons, but are both outdoorsy people and I’ve always dreamed of an outside wedding.

Since we both have kids from previous relationships, the celebration on 6/2/12 is going to be more of a commitment to each others children (his childrens mother died 4 years ago) and my son LOVES him.

I’m walking down the aisle and only wearing my dress at the June celebration. Everyone knows what we are doing and are fine with it. Like I said, it is more of a vow renewal, but we are adding something special for the kids.

To each his own, as those of us doing it all have our own reasons. We aren’t doing the June celebration for gifts or attention either. We are simply celebrating in June to include all of our family and friends.

I have listed 6/2/12 as our wedding, because that’s when my “wedding” is. However, my anniversary will be 11/11 and that is the day I will be married…one year from tomorrow! Can’t wait!

Post # 12
4480 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: March 2010 - Calamigos Ranch

My parents did that 30+ years ago, as did a lot of their friends–I don’t think it’s a trend as much as it is a practical option for some people. I don’t think it means anything other than that sometimes it’s easier to separate the legal formalities from the reception.

Post # 13
1556 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I agree with @spaniel in that I don’t think it’s really a trend.  However, it’s not common, so many people don’t know anyone in real life who has done so.  But on a board like Weddingbee that attracts brides from all over the country, there will be quite a few who do so, and posts about brides with two ceremonies are very visible on the boards.  But I don’t think there are really a lot more people doing so now.  We are just exposed to the wedding plans of far more people when on Weddingbee than any of us ever are in real life.

Post # 14
1110 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

My husband and I became “legal” March 6, 2009. I am Catholic, at the time he wasnt a practicing Catholic. Since then, he has became a “practicing Catholic”. We are in the process of completing all the requirements in order to have a ceremony in the Church. We will have a small reception in a back yard after, there will be cake, there will be food, there will be a photographer, there will be a DJ… I WILL wear a wedding dress (which I never got to do.) Our entire family knows we have been married for over a year. Those that love us and know how important this ceremony is to us spiritually will be there. I do feel awkward referring to it as a wedding. Our invites will not state that it is a wedding.. However they will say “Sacramental Marriage”. I would also find it weird calling it a “renewal of vows” when weve only been married for 1 year and are younger than 25 years of age.

Post # 15
751 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

We did it, mostly for health insurance and financial reasons.  I think there is a difference between hosting a wedding and getting legally wed.  To be legally married and be entitled to all of the legal benefits of marriage you just have to sign a piece of paper, there doesn’t have to be rings, family, cake, or even vows and frankly has little to do with love, honor and commitment – it’s a legal contract for government purposes.  I know many of you will disagree, but really, that’s all the legal part is.  Which is why we have weddings. 

A WEDDING, is a joining of families, lives, love, etc.  It is a promise to each other and  your community, not your government, that you promise to love and honor each other.  A wedding unites you spiritually and is a shared event.  It’s beautiful and meaningful and that’s why even those of us who chose to be legally married beforehand still have weddings.  And why shouldn’t we?  

Post # 16
714 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

A wedding is, by definition, the act of getting married.  Once you’ve done that, you’ve had a “real” wedding regardless if it was with all the pomp and circumstance, at the courthouse with just the two of you and the JOP or with Elvis in Vegas. 

Also, as a guest, i wouldn’t feel quite the same witnessing a show put on by an already married couple.  Its just not the same as they’re already married!  Not that I wouldn’t enjoy it and not that I wouldn’t be happy for them – I would and if they want to do it, fine by me.  But I wouldn’t feel like I was attending a “real” wedding because the “real” wedding already happened.   

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