(Closed) Getting legally married before wedding?

posted 5 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 2
2133 posts
Buzzing bee

A lot of people I know do this. Nothing has to be changed. Typically your guests don’t watch you sign your marriage certificate anyways so it’s not a big deal… 

Post # 3
9076 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

You’ll probably get a lot of criticism. This website seems to be very “Married before the wedding” unfriendly, but I’m in the “Do what’s right for you camp.”

As for your ceremony, there’s nothing that will be affected. If you choose to tell people you’re already married, that’s your choice. My husband and I got married six months before our wedding and we only “told” (as in actually said “Hey we got married today wanna come to our wedding in six months?”) a handful of people, but it was posted on facebook. It was really no big deal, literally no one had a problem with it, even when some people found out the day of our wedding. If anyone had a problem with it, they said nothing, which is how it should be. What you do in your life is your business, and I’m of the opinion if someone doesn’t like what I needed to do with my life, they’re not welcome in it and are free to leave my wedding and reception.

There’s nothing that you legally or socially need to do different. If you’ve got a ceremony planned out, stick with it. Nothing is going to change your ceremony or your actual marriage, so relax and enjoy your day.

Post # 4
685 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

DH and I decided to get married in a civil ceremony on a Thursday, two days prior to our planned Saturday ceremony. We spoke to our officiant, and we did the same ceremony on our wedding day as originally planned. We had already exchanged rings at the civil ceremony, but we did that again (with our same wedding bands) in the Saturday ceremony. The only difference was, our officiant didn’t sign the marriage license because we were already married. And at the end of the ceremony I think she said something like “I now present to you, as husband and wife, Jack and Jill” instead of “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”

Post # 5
2697 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

Legally married before. Second ceremony was the same, we didn’t tell extended fam. We just didn’t fill out a new marriage license. 

Post # 6
701 posts
Busy bee

My friend got legally married about 5 days before her wedding- they wanted their close friend to perform the ceremony but it wouldn’t have been legal in the eyes of the state.  Only the bridal party and close family knew they were already married.

Post # 7
47 posts
  • Wedding: December 2016

We were married a few months ago but we will be “weddinged” next year. 

Post # 8
1305 posts
Bumble bee

I’m cool with doing what’s best for you (getting married before, after, whatever), but I’m not OK with people who think it’s ok to lie (have a pretty princess day) to their friends and family.  I honestly will never understand having the ceremony look like an actual ceremony, only to have been secretly married days before.  I think it’s deceptive, and too much like playing dress up.  If you can’t afford to have a ceremony, don’t have one and just have a reception.  

As long as you aren’t lying to all of your guests (acting like your ceremony is the real thing), I see no issue with doing just a reception, or changing up the wording of your ceremony.  I would be very clear on your invitations that the reception is just to celebrate your marriage which occurred on X date.

I get that certain things are nobodies business (your money, your sex life, etc), but why people go into “weddings” with a lie (already married) will always blow my mind.  You are theoretically inviting these people to witness your vows and opening them to this big moment in your life.  

As long as you aren’t inviting people on the pretense that you aren’t married yet, you do you.


FYI, the day you get “legally married” is your wedding day.  

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by  doglover89.
Post # 9
6873 posts
Busy Beekeeper

For me, married before the wedding depends on how soon before the wedding you have the legal marriage and how much importance you put on the legal part of the marriage.  Some people find the legal wedding to be extremely important, generally because it’s an aspect they have been fighting for the right to have for years.  I didn’t have to fight for that and my husband believes the government shouldn’t have that requirement anyway as it’s none of their business.  So to us, the legal wedding didn’t matter.  

We got married two days before our wedding for two reasons: 1) to get it out of the way and 2) so his dad could officiate even though he wasn’t confirmed in any way.  Our personal wedding ceremony was meaningful, had the people who mattered to us witnessing and we were not husband and wife in our own eyes until that ceremony happened.

If you’re thinking of getting legally married, living as husband and wife and then having a wedding a year later or something… yeah I don’t really support that.  At that point it’s already happened. I can see the perspective some have that it just means you’re out for presents, even if that’s not how you feel about it.  You can have a kickass anniversary party but having a wedding just seems silly to me.  

ETA: I respectfully disagree with the poster above me.  My anniversary is the day I got emotionally married before friends and family.  The day I signed my name to a sheet of paper means almost nothing to me and is most certainly not my anniversary.

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 2 months ago by  skunktastic.
Post # 10
1423 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2005 - A Castle

I never knew this to be such a hot topic before this website. I, personally, don’t care when you get married. I’ll enjoy your dinner and open bar just the same. 

My girlfriend and her husband eloped 3 months before their scheduled wedding because she could not live with him on a military base unless she was legally his wife. She didn’t want to live alone for those 3 months so they got married. *shrug*

Post # 11
1305 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
skunktastic:  That is FINE, and my post said I don’t care when you get married.  Where I have the issue is when you take your vows that replicate a legal ceremony in front of family and friends who were invited to a wedding (which, by definition, is exactly that.  A wedding.)  I have been to a reception where a friend actually was openly married already but her parents threw her a day in front of close friends and family.  The difference was we knew they were already married, and it wasn’t pretend.  They weren’t pronounced man and wife.  The day was still special and we still had a good time.

I understand seeing your special day as your “wedding day”.  My point was lying about it.  I just can’t wrap my head around it.  It makes no sense.

Post # 12
16 posts

My Fiance and I are doing exactly this for two reasons. My Fiance is in the military and just got orders to move to the complete opposite side of the country from where we live now. We are getting legally married so I can be added to his orders and go with him in case he gets sent anywhere else. My Fiance has several months of training and various deployments coming up which means that we cannot have our ceremony until June of 2017. I’m not about to wait until 2017 to see him again if, for some reason, he gets stationed in another country. We are also both Catholic and our legal marriage will not be recognized by our church. We will be having a Catholic wedding ceremony followed by a reception to thank our guests, many of whom will be travelling, for sharing in our day.


I think the biggest issue people have with this is that some people feel like they need to lie to their family about their plans for whatever reason. I don’t understand why anyone feels the need to lie about being married to be honest. I am so excited to be married to my Fiance and I will be proud as hell to tell people he is my husband. As long as you are upfront with people I see no reason why you can’t have a ceremony and reception to celebrate your marriage and thank your guests for sharing the day with you while you express your love. Everyone’s lives are different. Do what makes you happy!

Post # 13
13943 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I agree with the PP who said it’s not okay to lie to your family and friends.  If you get married now, then own up to it and tell your loved ones, instead of lying to their faces (lying by omission is still lying).  I have no problem with people having the legal ceremony before their actual celebration, but you need to own it.  Have a vow renewal if you want to have the ceremony later.

FWIW — I had a relative who got married secretly, and then had their for-show day later on.  They didn’t tell anyone, but it got out shortly before.  People at the “wedding” felt lied to, people who sent gifts felt like the party was to get gifts, and honestly, a decade later, it still comes up as a running joke in the family of “remember when XX had his fake wedding?” whenever someone plans a real wedding. 

As for the officiant — most officiants won’t marry you if you’re already married.  It goes against the rules.  You’ll most likely have to have a friend stand up and do the for-show vows, since you’ve already said your actual vows before a real officiant.  

Post # 14
13722 posts
Honey Beekeeper

The invitations should indicate a reception in celebration of the marriage. There is nothing wrong with that, or even with wearing a big white dress. What is a problem is pretending and leading your guests to believe that this is your wedding. 

By definition the day you legally wed was. 

Post # 15
1111 posts
Bumble bee

View original reply
dracarys:  This.

I don’t know why people get so worked up over this topic when it is really none of their business when the couple signed their paperwork or how they wish to represent their “second” wedding day. 


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