(Closed) Help! Fiance wants courthouse wedding before big wedding

posted 6 years ago in Traditions
Post # 3
662 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

Prepare to get flamed! This type of thread always raises ire.


If you want to be married now, you should get married now! If you want to have a wedding celebration when your husband comes home, you should do that, too. IMO, you should not s directly lie to anyone that may ask if you are legally married. As a guest at your wedding celebration, I would be delighted to attend and would not feel the event was any less special because the legal marriage and social celebration were separated in time.


However, some people contend that separating the legal wedding and public ceremony is deceptive regardless of cultural or practical need to do so. These people will tell you that they would judge you and perhaps not give you gifts.

ETA: You can change your name whenever you feel like it. If you’re hoping to be married in a church, they may decline to perform an actual wedding ceremony but offer you a vow renewal or convalidation service. 



Post # 4
9633 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2014 - Chicago, IL

@LoveBugBee:  +1.

I agree with everything she said, OP. A lot of “etiquette snobs” won’t like the idea, but I say screw them. You have a very valid reason for wanting to get married right now and not wait. 

I think, if you want to keep it a secret, it’s a good idea to change your name but retain your maiden name socially. It’s your business if you want to tell people or not.

Honestly, if I was a guest at a wedding, whether it was called a wedding and was really a vow renewel, I would not care. It’s a celebration of the couple’s love for one another – and that’s that, in my eyes. I would also be happy to attend and give gifts, be it a renewel or a “wedding.” 

I say do what makes you two happy and ignore the haters!!

Post # 5
368 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2000


If it feels right for you both, do it.

You have a big leg up on a lot of people who go this route in that you already have family and friends important to you on board! This takes away part of the issue, I think, that some people have with this arrangement – the secrecy (or the perception of it).

Yes, technically any later wedding will be a vow renewal as you are already legally married (and therefore can’t get more married), but I know for many people this does not take away one little bit from the specialness and importance they feel on the day they pledge to one another in front of people they love. 

Don’t get too down about people’s strong feelings on this. It’s about you and your husband-to-be at the end of the day.

Post # 6
10717 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: City, State

I think it’s really sweet that your Fiance wants to marry you NOW.  I put boosting his morale while deployed much higher on the priority list than the opinions of a few negative people.

Please thank him for his service to our country.

IMO, if knowing he’s married to you helps his morale during deployment, that matters most of all.  

There is no law that says you can’t have your big wedding later.

Post # 7
1344 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013 - Vine Street Church

Please, please if you do this, don’t lie about it to people. Don’t say you aren’t married if you actually are. I don’t agree with this kind of wedding double jeopardy at all, but I doubt that hearing other people disagree with your setup is going to change your mind, so you could at least be respectful to the people you’re planning to invite to your PPD and not lie to them about your marital status.

Post # 8
965 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I agree be truthful… My sister got married in vegas and she disclosed it to everyone… but we all still went to mexico for a ceremony and celebration.  People will undertand, and I say go ahead and get married if that is what you want and then have your celeration when he returns. trust me, people will understand…


P.S.  Welcome to the Bee

Post # 9
3755 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

This is such a hot topic, but here’s how I feel about it – just do it. People will understand and will still be excited to celebrate your marriage with you when he comes home. God forbid anything happen to him while he’s deployed, you will regret it for the rest of your life. When the time comes, just do it like you would normally. Have one of your friends or family members get the one day license to marry you and do the ceremony just like you would the first time. On the invitation ask that people join you to celebrate your marriage. I hate when people say it’s a vow renewal, you don’t have to call it that. But do tell people that you are having a courthouse wedding, don’t lie or hide it.

At the end of the day, it’s just that, YOUR day, and you can do it however you want to do it and don’t need other peoples’ approval.

Post # 10
6526 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

@lalalanne:  because of you situation, I agree with getting married now and having a bigger celebration later


Post # 11
2685 posts
Sugar bee

Ultimately, you gotta do what you gotta do.  It probably would be easier if you were married before his deployment if anything were to happen to him.  Even with a courthouse wedding, you are still committing your lives to each other.  That is the whole point of a wedding in the first place, and that committment will not be any less real if you waited for the big wedding.  Your family and friends love you and they want to see you guys happy.  As long as you are honest with them, they will not care if you got legaled first and had a big ceremony later.  I have several friends who married early for citizenship, medical insurance, or other legal reasons.  Guests were just as happy at their weddings as at weddings where the bride and groom weren’t married already.

Of my female friends who married early, most of them kept their maiden name until the bigger ceremony (although one didn’t change her name at all after that).  If changing it now feels right, then do it.  But, it would not be a big setback to wait on that if that’s what you prefer.  Also because you wouldn’t need the legal stuff for the later ceremony, you wouldn’t need to spend as much on an officiant.  You could even have a friend or family member conduct it without needing to do any paperwork or get ordained.   Bonus!

Post # 12
1669 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

We were in a terrible visa situation and almost had to do this. Some people on the bee will give you flack, but as long as you are honest with your guests, go ahead!

I was upset when we were going to do it because I was afraid people wouldn’t want to come celebrate with us, and when I started telling people they were shocked that I would feel that way. Everyone STILL wanted to come celebrate with us. Be frank with your friends and family and they will all be excited for you!


Post # 13
58 posts
Worker bee

@lalalanne: I was in this same situation 10 years ago… and I would NOT recommend it if you really care about having an actual wedding later! My now ex-husband and I both agreed to go to the courthouse and then have a church wedding with family and friends when he returned after a year long deployment. Well by the time he got back, he suddenly thought it was “stupid” and a waste of money to have a ceremony a year later because we were already married. I was pretty sad, and upset because it was something that really mattered to me. This was not the reason we ended up divorced…we divorced after he started cheating, however, I was hurt by his change of opinion on having a wedding. I never doubted it wouldn’t happen on his return, because he seemed to really want to have one as well, but apparently I was wrong!

Post # 14
57 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

I always wonder why it’s such a hot topic for OTHER people. Military brides and wives/grooms/husbands are a whole different ‘breed’ if you will–we legally need rights to our men/women if that makes sense. 

There’s a site that shall not be named that literally said the meanest things ever to a bride in your situation–saying she was selfish, a horrible person and that if she had a ceremony later she would be a playing dress up. I couldn’t believe these words coming from other women. They told her she was a fraud because she was marrying early for benefits etc etc. It was heartbreaking to read. I was so digusted by it all because I couldn’t believe other women could treat another so horribly online.

While yes, there are benefits that are extended to the wife upon marriage, there’s this thing called military orders which would be my #1 concern. If he is assigned to a new base (ie- overseas etc) you want to be sure you’re listed on that or else he could get assigned to a base that does not allow family members to be accompanied.

 I highly recommed going to the courthouse and then planning your wedding while he’s gone so you can have a wedding upon his return. If you wan’t to keep it yourself, keep it to yourself, if you don’t, don’t. Anyone who has a problem celebrating with you upon his return at your wedding, to me, woudln’t be an ideal guest. Anyone who can’t extend that grace to you knowing you’re in a tough enough situation as it is being alone while he is deployed, is, again, not an ideal guest. 


Also, don’t think it can’t be just as special? Look at this and tell me what you think: http://www.stylemepretty.com/little-black-book-blog/2012/07/30/washington-d-c-wedding-from-kurstin-roe-photography-momental-designs/


Best of luck and stay away from Yahoo answers/other bride forums etc. and focus on your happiness. 

Post # 16
1988 posts
Buzzing bee

@lalalanne:  I am on the same boat but for different reasons. The thing is that in your case, your Fiance probably isn’t speaking about it because it is not the most romantic thing to talk about but if sonething were to happen, legally you are his wife and there are some benefits that he might be wanting to make sure you have. Also, as wife and husband, you would probably get a number of extra benefits he wouldn’t get as a single man. I come from a military family and although it’s different for each force, I know as a married couple you’d be better off. Also, you’ll have access to a lot of support groups and help for when he is gone. 


As for the wedding, you could invite explaining something like due to Mr. Lalalanne deployment, we rushed into a civil ceremony before he was deployed. On X date we’ll be having our religious/spiritual wedding ceremony or blessing (if you are religious) and our wedding party. We’d love for you to come and celebrate with us the most special moment in our lives as a couple. 


See, I know you are worried about what people will think and how they’ll take it. The way I see it, YOU are having a wedding. YOU or YOUR parents are paying for it, YOU are INVITING people to come and celebrate with you. They only get to choose if they’ll go or not. If they choose not to go just because of how you chose to handle your wedding business given your particular circumstances, then fine. I’d be happy not having that person in my wedding if judgment comes before sharing my happiness in their book. 


Good luck OP. You already have the people that matter all excited about this. Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind


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