Did anyone get legally married before the wedding? Etiquette?

posted 7 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
2288 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

Okay. Here’s my perspective:

My husband and I got legally married a few months before our wedding so that we could buy our home together. We’d gotten some not entirely correct information about our loan, and that was the stipulation. By doing it, we were able to purchase our first home and we just considered it “getting our paperwork done early”. If I had it to do over again, honestly I’d do the same thing.

That being said…I wish that circumstances had been different so that we could have exchanged vows and been introduced as husband and wife for the first time on our wedding day. I think that some of the excitement was taken out because we didn’t do the traditional route BUT, there was a more important purpose in the works and I respect and understand that. In your case, my personal opinion is that your health is more important.

If you feel weird about accepting gifts, then by all means don’t. However, many of your friends and family will want to provide you with a gift, regardless of when the legal bonding occurred.


Post # 5
145 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’ve known a few friends to get legally married before their actual wedding day. I dont see a problem with it and if its something to do with your health, GO FOR IT!

Medical services are expensive with insurance, let alone without it! Your friends and family should understand if its something serious with your health.

Good Luck 🙂

Post # 6
751 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

We got legally married a full year before our big religious ceremony and have zero regrets.  We did it for financial and health insurance reasons. 

We never told anyone.  It’s our little secret because we figure it just doesn’t matter.  Saying our vows and sharing the day with our friends and family meant the world to us and was meaningful to everoyne – who cares that it was “legal” before then?  To us, signing a piece of paper in advance didn’t take awy from the significance or publically declaring ourselves husband and wife. 

We did what we needed to do to take care of each other and successfully build our life together, and to me that’s what marriage is really about.

Post # 7
2288 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

Well we only told a handful of people off the bat since we wanted to leave the event as “untainted” as possible. We told my parents and his sister and brother-in-law. They were all cool with it. Actually, my Dad was very proud of us since he’s a practical man and he saw it as us working together toward a common goal – which of course it was. He still talks about what a smart move it was. My Mom felt disappointed that she wasn’t there, but that’s to be expected. Later on we told a few friends, and there wasn’t a single person that didn’t completely understand why we did it. I think it’s likely you’d have the same reaction if you chose this route. Are you worried that people would think this is a gift grab because you’re already married?

ETA: ladyox <— what she said.

Post # 8
1326 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2011 - Tre Bella, Mesa, AZ

Some of the threads I’ve read on this topic have bees saying you’ll be lying on your invites if you get married beforehand, or that, as a guest, they would not be happy if they found out that you were married before what they considered watching you getting married. That said, I think that’s a load of crap. If you need to get married beforehand for personal reasons, do it. As a nicety to your guests, however, I would mention on your wedding website that you were legally married earlier – have it as part of your story – and also phrase it on your wedding invites/STDs so that it’s not a legal ceremony (you could phrase it “union” or something).

I also agree 100% with @ladyox.

Post # 9
5183 posts
Bee Keeper

I am legally married right now. My wedding is next year. I look at it like this.. we are married in the eyes of the court but not in the eyes of god. So we are doing that in front of family 🙂

Post # 11
3148 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@bellagio: I agree.  You have to do what’s right for YOU.. not your guests. If you want to work it out with your immediate family ahead of time, that may be worth while. But as for the rest of the guests… it really doesn’t concern them. Your health is more important.

Post # 12
2288 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

@tee22: Completely understandable. Really quick I just want to tell you about a real life gift grab so you can compare and contrast (um….really just contrast) with your situation.

An old friend of my family was getting married to his girlfriend of two years. My mother scraped together $300.00 for a gift on their registry and that Mom had been told the bride really wanted. A month later they filed for divorce. We found out from the family friend later that they only married because the bride wanted the presents. And no, none of them were returned to the gift givers.

Waaaaaaaaaaaaay different from your circumstances.

@ Bellagio and RR: Absolutely.

Post # 13
2422 posts
Buzzing bee

We’re having a destination wedding in Mexico but got married at the courthouse three weeks ago. Mexico has different restrictions when you get married there and we wanted to bypass those. 

Our immediate family knows what we did and support us. My mother was a little taken aback at first but once we explained the reasoning she was fully on board. 

I wouldn’t change a thing. Even though I know we’re married it doesn’t feel like it because we haven’t had our wedding yet. Our families weren’t there, I didn’t walk down the aisle or wear a wedding dress, etc. 

Good luck with your decision!

@misshelen – Whaaaaaat? That’s insane. 

Post # 14
192 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

I’m not legally married yet, but we will be going to the courthouse 3-6 months before our ceremony, for immigration purposes. A few of my friends will know and my mom, but no one else. I think of it as just the legal portion and not the spiritual part of the committment. It’s what we have to do so we can satisfy the government (and also so he can get on my insurance as soon as possible, just in case).

A friend of mine married in France and was required to have a legal courthouse ceremony before the church ceremony. She kept it a little hush-hush, but no one thought any less of her church ceremony and reception. I say do what you need to do and just tell a select few. At the end of the day, HOW you get legally married is really not that important.

Post # 15
928 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2011

@tee22: I’m in a similar boat but the situation is reversed, I have pretty good health coverage through my job and Fiance needs to have some dental work. Our wedding is at the end of August and we’ve been toying with the idea of getting legally married now so that he can get on my insurance.

I didn’t think that I would have a problem with it, but now I’m a little sad that my parents won’t be there when get our marriage license. Fiance made me feel a little better about it when he pointed out that going to a courthouse just takes care of the legal paperwork, the real meat of our wedding is when we make our marriage vows in front of our friends and family.

The way I see it exchanging vows in front our our loved ones will still be special whether whether it’s brand new or we’ve been a legally married couple for a few months already. I say go for it, your health is what’s important.

Post # 16
2 posts
  • Wedding: July 2011

My wedding coordinator mentioned that someone who isn’t legally able to marry people can’t perform a wedding ceremony.

My wedding is scheduled for July but my husband and I got married in April (our 6 year anniversary) because we wanted our very good friend to perform our ceremony. She isn’t ordained but a preacher’s daughter who knows us very well and is a great public speaker.

Does anyone know if my coordinator is right? Are there restrictions on who can perform a ceremony? Our friend won’t be “pronouncing” us anything. She has done two friends’ weddings and those (grandparents) they didn’t tell, were none the wiser about the fact it wasn’t legal on the big wedding day.

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