There’s a meme established on wedding-magazine message boards, that weddings must take place all on the same day that the legal requirements are executed, because the legal dimension of marriage is the only thing that matters.
And that is nonsense.
If legality were all etiquette and good manners were concerned with, there really would be etiquette police, and manners and etiquette would get all involved with how and where you pay your parking tickets or sign your lease agreements. Etiquette is about how people interact, and how society recognizes the important relationships between people. Marriage has a legal aspect — true; but it also has religious, financial, and social aspects. Back in the sixties when the new sexual morality was being defined and couples first started openly moving in together without the benefit of marriage, my generation proclaimed defensively to our parents “I don’t need a piece of paper from the man to make my marriage real!” It is ironic for me now, to hear girls arguing that a piece of paper from the man is the only thing that does matter!
The reality is, that if one gets one’s nose out of the mutually-reinforcing clique behaviour of pointing at other girls’ weddings and decrying them as “Pretty Princess Days”, and look at the real world, one finds that the sociological definition of marriage is something along the lines of “a socially sanctioned union for purposes of establishing a household, entering into sexual relations, procreating and providing care of the offspring, which in some societies requires legal sanction” (cultural anthropology on the subject of marriage offers some fascinating reading if you are interested in pursuing this further.) It seems completely inexplicable for a bunch of brides to want to reduce marriage to a cold legal formality. But when you look at their perspective, it all becomes clear:
They want to feel entitled and justified to act like a pretty princess for one day. But they have already established their households (witness the number of brides who don’t want wedding presents because they are already running well-stocked homes), they have already claimed social sanction for their relationships (witness the spurious claim that “anyone who considers themselves in a relationship is entitled to a plus-one”), they have already entered into sexual relations, often they have already procreated and are already caring for offspring (witness the number of brides incorporating their own children into their wedding parties) and if they are smart have already written wills and powers of attorney that ensure the mutual care will continue even past illness or death — but they want all their acquaintances to feel obliged to celebrate their “new” marriage that has only one “new thing about it: the marriage certificate.
Back in the days of the sexual revolution, girls who did move in with their lover and had children or just got pregnant, and then decided to join the establishment and get married, were told they were “not entitled” to a big wedding. They got married quietly and privately, and their disappointed mamas told them it served them right. But the mean girls of today’s wedding boards don’t want quiet and private weddings, so they make a big deal of the one change left to them: the legalities. And to build their claim up, they knock everyone else’s wedding as being a “pretty princess day”. All so that they can feel entitled to their own “pretty princess day”.
Whew. I’m glad I got that off my chest!
So. According to real etiquette, (not wedding-magazine website made-up etiquette:
Anything that is offensive or rude is offensive or rude regardless of whether or not you happened to complete your wedding legalities that same day; and anything that you can properly do at a wedding reception you can properly do at any other kind of reception.
And one thing that people should NOT do at social affairs, is flaunt their private legal or financial business.
So, @summer1216: what is really going to happen on June 21? Are you going to be one of those rare brides, who has not yet set up her marital household and is not already claiming the social privileges of a wife, who on her wedding day actually moves in with her husband and begins their marital life together? If so, that is far more your wedding day than is the mere legal proceedings, and you should proceed just as any other bride proceeds. There’s no lying involved, because you don’t need to talk about your private legal matters but even if you do, anyone can see for themselves how “real” your wedding is in terms of the real changes to your life.
Or, are you like 95% of modern brides, already living together as husband and wife and your celebratory party, nor your legal change of state for that matter, is going to make no difference whatsoever in your living arrangements and your social status? In that case, you are in exactly the same position as nearly every other bride far as society and etiquette are concerned, and can proceed in exactly the same manner. With no lying involved, because your legal affairs are nobody else’s business but your own.