(Closed) Getting Legally Married Before Wedding?

posted 10 years ago in Legal
Post # 3
Member
2408 posts
Buzzing bee

i don’t see a problem, but then again, this is our plan, though not for insurance reasons or anything but simply because the boy is convinced that weddings are not about the couple and wanted to make sure ours was. i already floated the idea to some friends and they thought it was a good one, especially the ones who were overwhelmed by their own parents while planning their weddings. so obviously i’m biased but i say go ahead and do it. but if you feel a little unsure, you can always consider the second ceremony as a kind of renewing of vows instead of a second wedding.

Post # 5
Member
106 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

I understand the motivations you have for considering this option, but here’s my feeling:

Getting married for "business" purposes takes the magic out.  By the time your wedding rolls around you’ll be so used to considering eachother husband and wife (even if other people in your life aren’t) that it seems it might be a bit less fantastic as it could be.  

We recently considered getting married in Mexico and had decided to do the "legal" wedding after the "mexican" wedding, so that the first time we said the words "I do" would be in the magical place we had chosen, in front of all our family and friends, and we could properly celebrate after.

We ended up deciding against Mexico for other reasons, but I still believe that sentiment. 

Good luck in whatever decision you make!  

Post # 6
Member
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

I don’t actually see anything wrong with it, although I think you have to consider that people will find out.  Someone in the financial aid office will talk to someone else, someone in benefits will talk to someone else, your doctor or dentist or nurse practitioner will notice the benefits change, and eventually it gets around.  We are not getting married until July, but my home and auto insurance paperwork already comes in my "new name," because somebody at SafeCo decided to be helpful when I sent in the appraisal for my e-ring, which had FI’s name on it as well.  Which led to my mailman coming up to the door to knock and congratulate me…  Or at least after the fact (come September) somebody is talking about having been to your wedding last month, and somebody else says "Oh no, they’ve been married since April!"

I do have a friend who was actually married for almost two months before her wedding, although under rather different circumstances. They had made all their plans and sent out invitations and her mother, who was dying of cancer, got suddenly much worse.  They thought it was important to say their vows before her mom, so they got the pastor to come marry them in the hospice.  Nobody but family actually knew until the wedding – they didn’t even tell the bridal party.  And during the wedding (since it was the same pastor) he made a reference to the prior ceremony.  There was much confusion, but I think that everybody understood.

Post # 7
Member
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 1969

I think there are a number of practical reasons why having a small legal wedding prior to the big celebration/reception is a good idea. However, if it would require lying to or hiding from your family in order to do it, I would feel very sad about it and make sure that my reasons were very compelling rather than just convenience. It doesn’t seem as though it would be a very good start to a marriage to have the original ceremony be somewhat dishonest, or to consider it to be no-big-deal because your big party for everyone else is later. Make sure that you honor each other and the ones you love through your decisions, but if that can be done with the legal part and the celebration part a few months away, I don’t see a problem

Post # 8
Member
228 posts
Helper bee

I wouldn’t worry about it, bettina =)  Go for it, and if you’re discreet, no one will mind.  We are planning to do the same thing about a month before the wedding, just to get around the ‘you must have a licensed officiant marry you’ thing.  I’m pretty sure that a courthouse marriage can be very business-like, and won’t get mixed up with the magic of your ‘real’ wedding.  We plan on just going in jeans and t-shirts!  I also think that getting married beforehand might take some of the pressure off the wedding day, but we’ll see how that pans out =)

Post # 9
Member
388 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

If you’re comfortable with it, go for it.  Every extra dollar saved counts, especially during wedding planning.  If you are not doing any of the "official" married things or officially functioning as husband & wife until after the wedding, I think it would still feel pretty awesome walking down the aisle during the real wedding.

I think it would be more deceiving if you were planning on secretly living as husband and wife, then planning a wedding years from now, but that’s not the case here.

Have you considered how this is going to work operationally?  If you legally get married first, then a marriage certificate would be filed at that time. I think you’d have to inform your officiant for the real wedding about this so that he doesn’task where the marriage license is so he can sign and file it, which might make things a little complicated!

Post # 10
Member
106 posts
Blushing bee

Hmm.  That is tricky.  I second SoCalBeachGirl’s suggestion that you discuss it with your officiant, to get his/her views on performing a wedding ceremony for people who are already married. 

You might also keep in mind that, in many places, the newspaper runs the names of all the people who obtain marriage licenses in a given week.

Post # 11
Member
106 posts
Blushing bee

Oh, and is moving your ceremony date earlier an option?  Maybe that could solve it.

Post # 12
Member
60 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2008

bettina-

I’m actually doing exactly what you’re planning, although my motivations for doing so are slightly different.  We live in San Francisco while the wedding will be in LA and we already had our hands full with driving back and forth looking for cake, photographer, and venues.  So we told our parents that we’d take care of getting our marriage legally "done" a week before the wedding.  They were totally fine with that.  Plus, now I am totally ecstatic that we will have this as "our own thing" as I quickly found out that my mom turned into momzilla with the planning process.  We will have the BMs and GMs who are in NorCal with us attend the civil ceremony and then going out to have a nice dinner afterwards 🙂

So I totally support your idea, no matter what the intentions are.  Do what feels best to you and don’t stress out!

Post # 14
Member
27 posts
Newbee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I’ve had two friends who decided to get married at the courthouse first.  One because it was their most auspicious day for their wedding (they are Chinese) and the other was too busy with dental school at the time that she couldn’t plan it.  Both were upfront and straightforward about their nuptials with friends and families.  Their immediate family was in attendance at their civil ceremonies.  It was a little strange to think about it AT FIRST but we all thought it was their perogative.  At their weddings, they were both so excited that I don’t think it really mattered that legally they were already married.  It was a day of happiness that they shared with their families and friends.  Frankly, they were both beautiful days to the guests as well and I was grateful and appreciative that they would allow me to be a part of it. I would encourage you to just be frank about the situation. 

Post # 15
Member
2 posts
Wannabee
  • Wedding: September 2008

Hi there,

I’m actually doing this exact same thing, though for different reasons. We’re having a church ceremony the Sunday before our big Saturday wedding (so one week before). My fiance’s family is pretty religious and freaked out at the thought of us not getting married in a church. After dealing with very stressful arguments with them, we decided to do two ceremonies. So we’ll be legally married at the small church ceremony the week before our big "real" wedding…Only parents, grandparents, and our siblings will attend, and we’ll go to dinner afterwards. Then the following Saturday we will have our actual wedding. I know it’s confusing, but to make things easier, our marriage license will be for the church wedding.

Our big wedding will be at a winery, with our best friend who introduced us to each other as our officiant. The minister who is conducting our small church ceremony will also be our "co-officiant" at the winery wedding.

The ceremony at our big wedding is really the ceremony that means the most to us, and so we are going to count that day as our anniversary.

I have to say, it definitely makes me feel better that other brides consider this!! 

Post # 16
Member
2 posts
Wannabee

My Fiance and I did this.  We will have been legally married for two years (almost to the day) by the time we have our formal ceremony and reception.  I do not regret my decision to marry him early, but I can say that there have been some serious draw backs.

 Let me first explain our reasoning.  My Fiance had to unexpectedly deploy to Iraq for a year long tour.  We had already survived a very rough deployment to Iraq while we were dating, and recognized the advantages of getting married before he deployed again.  This was the brunt of our decision, though there were financial considerations as well.   Our immediate families know, my Maid/Matron of Honor knows, and, well, the entire military knows.  We have not told anyone else, have not held ourselves out as husband and wife except when we needed to disclose it for insurance and other purposes.  We still do not live together because the military still owns him and I am finishing up grad school in a different state.

 Now, keeping this a secret has been very difficult on both of us.  I have 6 bridesmaids, and four of them do not know.  Each day I feel worse and worse that I haven’t told them I am already married.  I often find myself in situations where I have to act evasive (what? you’re not signing a pre-nup? that’s crazy.  I can’t tell them we didn’t have time to worry about a pre-nup before we got married).  

 My FI’s parents were out of the country when we got legally married, and therefore, we had to tell my own parents that it would not be fair to allow them to come.  My mother holds a grudge about this and a year and a half later it came to a boil and we almost had to completely rearrange our wedding plans (since my parents are paying for the brunt of it). 

We have not yet decided whether we will tell people at the wedding that we are legally married, but we are leaning against it.  If my own mother still does not understand our reasoning, I don’t know how we can expect a room full of 200 people to understand and it will take the focus off of the fact that we finally get to begin our lives together and place it on a legal formality.  However, there are enough people that know we’re already married that will be drinking alcohol that evening, and we recognize that we may have to tell people anyways.

On to some of the advantages.  It really does take some of the pressure and anxiety off of planning a wedding.  While planning the big event is still stressful, neither one of us have to worry about cold feet and we can often take solace in the fact that this is just a big party in many respects.  I am very excited about our wedding, but I don’t entirely feel like a true bride at this point (maybe I will after my first dress fitting).  We won’t feel guilty about using wedding gifts before the wedding since there isn’t a chance of one of us changing our mind before the wedding.  

 On a whole, I feel very dishonest about the whole situation, but we are trapped in it now (it’s been well over a year at this point).  I do not regret my decision, as it was very, very important to me to have the wife recognition from the military, but my advice to you is to consider how many benefits you will really gain from getting married a couple of months early.  Is it really worth the lies you will have to tell to some of your closest friends to have a discount on rent for 4 months and not have to pay your own health insurance?  Consider how well you can handle it, because it’s harder than it seems.   

 That being said, I just attended another (military) wedding where the couple had gotten married in August (they needed to be married for the military to assign them to the same base when they relocate).  They have held themselves out as husband and wife since then, and just had their big church ceremony now.  No one seemed to care, and everyone supported them. 

The topic ‘Getting Legally Married Before Wedding?’ is closed to new replies.

Find Amazing Vendors