Post # 1
I’m less than 3 weeks from my wedding and truly struggling. I’ve been reading weddingbee daily for about a year and have always been impressed with the sound advice offered, so I’m throwing out a lifeline in the hopes that you can help. (I usually post under another name but am so embarassed about this situation I wanted to remain anonymous.)
I’m an older bride, and my Fiance has been married before. His relationship with his wife ended about 8 years ago. Fiance and I met in 2003, dated until 2006, took a year-long "break", and reconciled in mid-2007. We got engaged in May 2008. I have never seen a copy of my FI’s divorce papers, but assumed that all was taken care of when he and his wife separated. I have been asking Fiance to get a copy of his divorce decree for 9 months (kind of important, huh?), and he finally decided to look into it about 6 weeks ago. Long story short, he’s not divorced — the papers were never filed. He didn’t bother to attend his divorce hearing years ago, so the papers he signed were deemed invalid. He says he didn’t know this was the case, but I’m just beyond devastated. I have cried about this for a week and a half now. We need nothing short of a miracle for his divorce to clear (including cooperation from his estranged wife) before our wedding date.
My main question for you in what to do about the wedding that’s due to take place in 19 days. (What to do with the man is a whole other issue…) Do we go ahead with some sort of commitment ceremony and just make it legal once his divorce is processed? Do we postpone? Do we cancel entirely? We’re getting married in my hometown (2000 miles from where we live) and are expecting a fair number of Out of Town guests. If we cancel, do we refund them the money they’ve spent? If you were attending a wedding that, seemingly overnight, became a commitment ceremony (whatever that means?), would you be upset? Not attend?
Help. I need your wisdom and guidance. I’ve gone round and round about this with family and friends and need some unbiased viewpoints. Thanks in advance.
Post # 3
Do you still want to marry him? Your comment, "what to do with the man is a whole other issue" makes me wonder what you meant by saying that. Are you saying you basically are just so frustrated you can’t see straight, or that you are reconsidering the marriage in general?
It’s not like he meant to stay married. It sounds like an honest mistake, and guys typically procrastinate. Don’t get me wrong, I’d be seething, too. I’d have the *wedding* anyways (even if it’s not 100% legal) and not tell your guests. They don’t have to know the legal issues behind it, it’s really not that big of a deal for you to quietly and legally tie the knot later. It’s still a special day. Is there anything that can be done to get him legally divorced before the wedding?
I’d still go if i was a guest. I’d already RSVP’ed! But like I said above, I wouldn’t go to the trouble fo telling your guests or downplaying it like it’s a committment ceremony. it’s still your wedding and you’ll sign the paperwork later. I think cancelling it will be the biggest headache ever with all your Out of Town guests. How can you possibly refund thema ll their money…plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc? Oh gosh don’t even go there in my opinion.
Where are you getting married anyways? This might play a factor….at the place i’m getting married we could wing this. But don’t churches require paperwork up front, etc? I bet your FI’s ex wife is ticked, too…isn’t she?! Im so sorry you’re in this predicament. It’s sticky for sure. At least it will all be over in a month! =]
Post # 4
First of all, you need a huge HUG! If you want to go through with the marriage, then i don’t think there’s anything wrong with turning it into a commitment ceremony. You put so much work and money into this, go through with it. Most people don’t even have to know it’s not an officail ceremony (if you have something in your ceremony that shows you signing a paper, sign a blank one, no one will know the difference) otherwise at most weddinga I’ve been to, the license is usually signed in the pastor’s office, in private and you don’t see it anyway. I wouldn’t even mention it to people unless they already know the situation. If they do know, then tell them that although this is a HUGE blow and you’re upset, you still want to commit your life to him and would like to go ahead with what you have planned. They should support you in that decision.
Post # 5
What kind of ceremony will you be having? hopefully not catholic 😛
If really love your fi and this is truly the man you want to be with for the rest of your life, divorce or no divorce, I say go ahead with the commitment ceremony. Go to city hall when this mess is taken care of and be officially married.
If you are having second thougths because he lagged on getting this done, maybe it is good idea to postpone the wedding until you can make a sound decision without the pressure of a wedding hanging over your head.
regardless the case, people will be upset but that happens at any wedding.
Trust your gut
Post # 6
I’m so sorry this happened, and worse, so close to your wedding.
I think the first thing you need to do is make sure about your feelings about your Fiance. Was this an honest mistake and something he’s now trying his best to remedy and you’re ok with it? Or is it something that has been brewing and is making you have second thoughts about your relationship?
Assuming you still WANT to marry him, what I’d do is go ahead with the wedding as planned, since you’ve done so much planning and your guests have as well. It would be hard to reschedule for say, 2 months down the road to make sure stuff has gone through, in my opinion. Then I’d try to push the divorce through as quickly as possible, and if it doesn’t get done by the time of the wedding, I’d go through with it exactly as if it were a wedding. No need to tell your guests that it’s a "commitment ceremony"–you can get married in your heart that day, and by law later at the courthouse when the divorce finalizes. (If you’re being married by a member of the clergy who is not OK with this, maybe have another officiant for this reason?? Not sure of your situation there).
I know not everyone would agree with this, but it’s what I’d do if it were me…Good Luck!!!
Post # 7
I’m sorry you’re dealing with this!! I really hope you can find a way to get past it and have happy memories.
If I were in your position, here’s what I would do:
Work like mad to get that divorce pushed through in time.
If that didn’t happen- I wouldn’t tell ANYONE about the situation except your officiant. Go through with the wedding as planned, only it won’t be legal. You’re still making a committment in front of your families and your friends, it can be valid and real for you- just not for the federal government. Then when the paperwork comes though, just run to the court house and get married.
If people wonder where the marriage license is or something- just tell a white lie, "Due to all the red tape, it was easier for us to have our ceremony here and just run to the courthouse when we got back to our state to make it legal."
You don’t say what type of wedding you are having- church, civil, JoP, clergy, etc. Hopefully your officiant will be understanding and conduct the ceremony as usual, just without the license.
Post # 8
So long as this hasn’t affected your relationship for the worse (i.e. reconsidering getting marriage when it would be valid), then I would have a commitment ceremony, and the party. Then when the divorce is final, have a smaller ceremony, with close family and a few friends, with a dinner afterwards. Ultimately this is about you and your FH and your commitment to one another in front of the people you most care about.
I hope it all works out for you, and you shouldn’t be embarrased. Be happy, you have found someone to love who loves you back. This is a small set-back in the long term.
Post # 9
First off… ((HUGS))… I am soo sorry to hear that you are going through this, what a challenge at what should be a very exciting next 19 days…
I do not have any experienced advice for you but my opinion would be to have your wedding, just without the legal papers you need… enjoy your celebration and after all is said and done move forward with YOUR husband and help him finish the divorce papers and then have your marriage legalized…
I mean, I know it is a difficult situation to be in and I couldn’t imagine the things that would be going through my head if this was me but the point of your wedding is to celebrate the love you have for eachother and the oath the two of you have vowed with eachother… the marriage license is the LEGAL end of things…
I guess the way I am looking at it is you can be married leagally without a wedding, so why can’t you have a wedding without having it be legal??? I hope (and I don’t think) you are having second thoughts as to if this is the man you want to marry, I am sure he did not plan on this happening either, and yes he took his sweet time (9 months) to get you the paperwork but consider this your first obstacle as a married couple… with marriage comes challenges – take it on and come out above…
Good luck and best wishes… and dont be embarrased…. xoxoxoxo
Post # 10
i couldn’t agree more with ejs4y8. it’s an honest mistake. it doesn’t / shouldn’t change how you two feel about each other, it’s all just paper work that needs to be taken care of and that can be done discreetly.
Post # 11
just keep in mind- he’s not still married to you- just the state. as long as the wedding is real to you that’s all that matters.
Post # 12
It seems like a simple mistake and nothing to cancel a wedding over- I think the best thing to do is have the ceremony and make it legal later, that way you wont be disappointing your guests and you still have pretty photos. You can’t get a marriage license if the first marriage is still there but after the divorce you can just apply for the license and get married at the court house. No one but you two will ever need to know.
The divorce may be a lot faster than you think. Even without cooperation from the ex wife, a judge may see that they have nothing in common anymore as in children or property and have been apart for 8 years. There shouldn’t be anything really holding you guys up.
Post # 13
I’m sitting at my desk blinking back tears. You all are so wonderful — I knew I could count on you for honest feedback and advice.
To answer a few questions, the wedding is non-religious, though we’ve hired a pastor to perform the ceremony. I think he’d likely work with us on going through with the ceremony as planned even if we don’t have the official paperwork. If he says he won’t, I’m sure I could ask one of our good friends to step in. She isn’t licensed to perform marriages, but that obviously wouldn’t matter.
Fiance is trying his best to remedy this situation, but that requires the cooperation of his estranged wife who disappeared from his life years ago. The biggest hurdle in all of this is getting her to sign the #*&$ paperwork — everything else is set and ready to roll. (She’s an alcoholic — enough said.) If she signs by this Friday, we’ll likely be okay. If not, the chances of it getting through the courts in time are slim to none.
ejs4y8, your observation about my feelings about Fiance is keen. I’ve gone from wanting to kick him in the head to feeling total compassion for him and back again. I’m angry, frustrated, hurt … logical or not, I feel totally betrayed. I so desperately want to believe the best, but the worst keeps creeping back in. I’m grieving.
Post # 14
I wouldn’t change a thing as far as your guests go. The legal aspect of all of this is not really important to them Have your wedding as you planned and make it legal as soon as you can thereafter. Assuming of course, you still want to marry your FI!
Post # 15
- Wedding: October 2009 - Ceremony: The Kraine Theatre, Reception: Midtown Loft & Terrace
This very same thing happened to my Mom and (now) Stepdad a few years back. And just a couple of weeks before the wedding, too.
It was VERY stressful for all of us, but they were able to get his difficult ex-wife to sign the papers and got the divorce finalized the very day before the wedding.
It’s a very difficult situation to be in, but I’m pretty sure that you don’t want to call off the wedding, from the sounds of it. Yes, you have EVERY right to be pissed off and hurt, but I’m pretty sure it was an honest mistake that he made or else why would he wait so long to bring it up? It would’ve been a lot easier to fix months ago…
Even if you are unable to get it worked out in time, I agree with everyone who has said that you should just treat your ceremony as legitimate (since it will be to you two!) and most guests have no need to even know.
Good luck and *hugs*
Post # 16
I agree with everyone else, and I think your plan is what I would do. Good luck getting in contact with her! *hugs*
To maybe make you feel better, here is a true story about my parents…
I (and my three brothers) are products of my parents second marriage, and they have been married for over 25 years. Recently, my dad was going through his life insurance stuff, and realized that his ex-wife was still listed as the beneficiary if he were to die. He immediately switched it over to my mom, after a good laugh and a *whew* that we saw that before the time was too late 🙂
So! I guess what I’m trying to say is paperwork is not as important as how you feel, and the real committment you give each other. Good luck to you!