(Closed) Eloping before a planned wedding – what's the etiquette

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
773 posts
Busy bee

LAX03:  You’re going to get a lot of varying replies on this, I think.  Personally, I would tell your closest family and friends, and not make a big deal about announcing it to the rest.  Most people will understand in your situation, especially given your family health history.  Of course, there is always a chance that people will get upset about it, but you can’t really control that, unfortunately.  I think if people find out later that they were lied to, they will be more upset about that.

Post # 3
263 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I’m in the same boat as you. FI and I aren’t getting married until next year but I really need to see a doctor and I don’t have insurance so we’ve come to the conclusion that we will probably just elope and do something small and invite whoever wants to come and celebrate it next year. I think if it’s something serious like health issues, your family should be supportive and understanding. I would definitely tell them though.


Oh and by something small, I mean go out to dinner afterwards at Friday’s or something.

Post # 4
1275 posts
Bumble bee

I totally get why you are doing this. You don’t have to tell guests the whole reason just tell them you need to elope before the wedding for health reasons. You dont even need to do a public annoucement- just tell close family and friends why and everyone else can either hear through the grapevine or not hear at all. No one should get upset and if they do then explain why- if they are still upset then they are being selfish. Keep the wedding itself big and treat it as your wedding for example your anniversary should be your wedding day not the elopement, and dont change your facebook  or anything. If people ask about the elopement, say you just signed to make it legal but that there was no proper ceremony or celebration. 

Post # 5
1683 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

LAX03:  so…we did this. we wanted to be able to file taxes jointly for 2013, and i needed insurance desperately…so we married (literally got a license and had a minister sign off on it) with no ceremony, no vows, no ring exchange – only paperwork so as to keep it from being anything emotional or significant…we did this about 4 months before our wedding. we only told our parents, who completely understood the situation, and we carried on as if nothing had changed. it all worked out for the best, and our wedding day, no matter the date on our marriage license, is the day we stood before our family and friends and exchanged vows and rings. i say do it…and don’t think twice. its not a big deal 🙂

Post # 6
8736 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I would push up the wedding, which by definition is the occasion on which you get married. You have good reason to do that and I certainly wish you well. Then hold a later event in “honor of” the marriage.  It can be as beautiful as you like. But please don’t lie to people or call it a wedding when it’s not. 

ETA: This is also considered the appropriate etiquette in your situation. 

Post # 7
1683 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

LAX03:  and…i don’t consider it a “lie” when it was the wedding day was the first time we exchanged vows and rings. that is the central symbolic point of a wedding – and that occured at our wedding…not at the courthouse where we signed a piece of paper.

Post # 8
5261 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2014

LAX03:  I would tell your close family but keep it a secret otherwise.  My sister just did this for mortgage purposes, and I honestly think it’s totally fine. Two other couples that I know got married for insurance reasons before their big day. 

Post # 9
4522 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

I think you guys should get married legally right away of that’s what you need to do for your health.   It’s just a legality — your wedding ceremony in front of your loved ones will still be 100% as meaningful and important as always. If it were me, I probably wouldn’t tell anybody — well, maybe the people I tell everything to, like my mom & sister & closest friends. But I really don’t see this situation as a “lie,” and I don’t think this is information that anyone needs to have. If it comes up in conversation for some reason, I wouldn’t feel the need to hide it, I just wouldn’t feel the need to go announcing it to everyone, either. 

Post # 10
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

KateA17:  This.

OP, you definitely have a legit reason to want to get legally married first, however I usually err on the side of being open and honest with guests.  You don’t have to go into details, just say that you had to elope for insurance purposes.  And you don’t have to make a huge, public statement, just tell your closest friends and family and let it spread naturally.  If your guests are reasonable people, they’ll understand.

I know people will say you can keep it secret and that it’s no one else’s business, but odds are it won’t stay secret forever and people will be offended you weren’t honest.  And it’s not that they are offended they didn’t get to watch you fill out the paperwork, they are offended because you thought so little of them that you felt you had to keep it secret.  Personally, I’d start questioning why you would not tell me you eloped.  Did you think I’d juge you?  Not come to your wedding? Not want to celebrate? Not bring you a present?  

Post # 11
219 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

My friend had to do this when her fiance got cancer. They told very few people but everyone understood (and seriously there wasn’t a dry eye in the house when they said “in sickness and in health”). Listen, it’s your business, I don’t think anyone else has to know. Plus, any guest who somehow feels slighted because you got legally married for health reasons a few months before the actual wedding is frankly not a friend worth having. The guests aren’t “owed an explanation”. There’s nothing to explain – you need insurance, your fiance has great insurane, and you can lean on him at a time like this. I think this is beautiful and it’s what marriage is all about. 

The wedding is a party, it’s a celebration of your love, it’s a reason to gather everyone else you love. It’s not so much about the signing of the legal document. Go get married, be healthy without having to worry about the financial burden, and then enjoy your wedding! 

Post # 13
324 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2014


I wouldn’t tell anyone at all. Maybe just parents if they want to be witnesses at the ceremony if you need any. Otherwise I would just not tell anyone because it isn’t their buisness.

Post # 14
3266 posts
Sugar bee

You have asked about etiquette so that is what I will address.  The polite thing to do, is to not lie to those nearest and dearest to you, and tell them about your marriage.  Of course they will still come and celebrate your marriage, but it is not a wedding.  It is not the day you will be wed. 

There is no reason to not have a ceremony committing yourselves infront of your guests, to have a lovely reception with bouquets, and a candy bar.  But don’t lie.  Lies are almost always against good manners.  But what you can’t have is it both ways.   You cannot be married when it suits you and not married when it doesn’t.

Life is about choices.  You are making a choice, so own it.  Don’t act like there is anything to be ashamed of, because there isn’t.  You are making the choice that is right for you at this moment. 

Post # 15
209 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

If you are going to get married anyway, it’s not like you’re using him or anything. As long as your both healthy!

As a side note, thank God I live in Australia! I couldn’t imagine having to think about insurance and money just to see a doctor or get surgery!

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