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

posted 6 years ago in Traditions
Post # 32
7371 posts
Busy Beekeeper

@secretbee33:  When I joined here I learned that for most destination couples, because there are lengthy wait periods in certain foreign countries, it makes more sense to just do a courthouse ceremony and have a “symbolic” ceremony in said country. In that case, okay you got married at the courthouse a few days before you left for Mexico, I think that’s grey area, its not huge deal IMO. But waiting months or year + in between, I don’t know it just seems strange to me.

Post # 33
1988 posts
Buzzing bee

@pixiecat:  This. Thanks for explaining. I had trouble understanding why people got so worked up. I understand not lying to people. i wouldn’t do that but why get upset if people had differe t ceremonies I couldn’t understand.

In my case the legal aspect is the formality. But it’s the blessing at the church, whatever they might call it (wedding, blessing) is what is special to me. And the party IS super important. But not because of partying really as I am not a party person. Don’t drink and don’t go out much. And we don’t care about gifts at all. But having my whole family and friends together in one place is one of those very rare moments that sometimes happen once in your life. I LOVE getting together with my family (the 1,000,000 of them lol) . That’s what we want a special day of celebration with all our loved ones together. Be it a big celebration or a bbq with music if that’s what we can do! All that matters is getting that special moment with our loved ones.

In our case we don’t have a traditional relationship and there are many international/legal complications so as much as we’d love to have both things the same day, it is not working out that way. There are visa issues and other things getting in the way. 

Now in Germany, you simply have no choice. By law you hAVE to get married in the courthouse or city hall and THEN on another day you have your church wedding. So at least there we know how we’ll proceed because there is simply no choice.

It is here where we are still trying to figure things out.

Post # 34
2705 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@secretbee33:  Well if you’re inviting me to watch you get married when you are already married it’s deceiving.  I personally think it’s rude and unethical to pretend that you are not married when you are.  I don’t think it’s right to say the government can consider you married so you can receive x and y benefits, but your friends and family cannot consider you married so you can receive z benefits.  Plus, it makes me feel crappy as a friend or family member that you felt you had to hide a huge life event from me.

No don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to getting married then having another ceremony and reception later.  I’m just opposed to hiding it from your guests.  People understand that there are couples dealing with depolyments, immigration issues, health insurance issues, etc.  I personally would be happy to celebrate a couple’s marriage at a later date, I just want them to be honest with me.


OP, I think you should go ahead and have a courthouse wedding now and then a marriage blessing and reception later.  Just don’t hide it!

Post # 35
956 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

I met a girl at my bridal salon getting her “courthouse” dress while I was picking out my dress. Its a small salon so it was just the two of us in the 4 dressing room suite. She is the only person I know that has done this and I couldn’t have been happier for her. Everyone should have the option to celebrate their marriage however they want.

I am on the “be honest” side because some people who wouldn’t judge the courthouse ceremony, will judge the lying.

Post # 36
300 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

I’ve never understood why the legal/cultural aspects became so intimately entwined. Just 100-150 years it was completely typical to get married at a courthouse theN be blessed by the months or even years after. Sometimes even after a child is born. The same day concept is very new i feel like

Post # 37
794 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

@lalalanne:  Many military couples do this, and I don’t see anything wrong with it.  There are many legal reasons why being married during his deployment would benefit both of you (Power of Attorney rights, and God forbid anything happens…you’re taken care of).  Don’t let rude comments get you down.  I know multiple people who have done this exact same thing, and despite a courthouse wedding they consider their “big wedding” the real thing.  Just don’t exchange rings, call eachother “fiance” and just look at it as a security blanket during his deployment.  Then your “big wedding” will still be special!

Post # 38
507 posts
Busy bee

I am actually very for you guys getting married ahead of time. My grandparents got married in secret during the war and we just found out they got married and covered it up . I vote yes and don’t think it is so crazy

Post # 39
257 posts
Helper bee

@lalalanne:  I’m glad that you are going for it. It’s different when you’re a milso and you’re dealing with deployment. Good luck and hope to see pics ! Laughing

Post # 40
57 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Also, to counter, the whole arguement of the “real wedding” debate. It is a real wedding-you’re saying your vows of committment to each other and then having a party. 

I attended a wedding last year, however, come to find out about a month later thier officiant wasn’t really an officiant due to paperwork on his part, and thier license hadn’t been filed nor was their marriage even legal. They had to go down to the courthouse to make what they thought was a legal marriage, legal. 

So did I attend a fake wedding? No. It just wasn’t a legal one, even though we thought it was. 

So, legal or not, you will have your courthouse ceremony and then you will have your big wedding and both will be very real. I know I personally wouldn’t care if the couple were legally married or not, I love weddings and typically if I’m invited to one, I love the person or the couple who the wedding is for and to see them exchange vows and share in their happiness matters a heck of a lot more to me than whether or not they did the courthouse ceremony thing a few months or a year or whenever earlier. 


Also, think of it this way, “it’s like turning 21 on a Wednesday but not having your 21st birthday party until Friday” legally you’re 21, but you haven’t had the party! 🙂


Best of luck again and congrats.


Post # 41
9098 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

My husband and I did exactly this. He wasn’t deploying for Afghanistan, but he was deploying nonetheless. We were married before he deployed.

We got married December 9th, 2012. We had our wedding June 15th, 2013.

I had a big white wedding back home in California with all my friends and family. Our vows did not change. I wanted to do custom vows, husband had no interest, haha.

Your name will be changed when you get legally married if you decide to change it at all. You don’t have to go by it socially until the wedding unless you want to. It doesn’t have to be a vow renewal unless you want it to be. My husband and I had a wedding, not a vow renewal. I had no cares to give as to what other people thought it was or should have been. Change your name as soon as possible if you’re going to, it makes things a whole lot easier.

Post # 42
2942 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Your situation is different than a lot of people who have brought up getting married legally and then having a party.  Being delpoyed is a good reason to get married for the legal benefits, and I give the same benefit to those who are pregnant and want to make sure that parental rights are worked out.

This said, please don’t keep it a secret, or at least don’t lie.  People will understand.  Have a lovely what ever you want to call it later to celbrate with your friends and family. 

Post # 43
616 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

@Hyperventilate:  Thank you.

To all the negative commenters on here:

Here’s the thing – a piece of paper for the state means nothing to me, my future husband or my friends and family.

If you had hardships leading up to your marriage that had to do with immigration or military issues you might feel differently. If you had to be long-distance with your fiance for three years, stress about how to get him to your country to be together and then have to figure out green card papers while simultaneously plan your wedding, you might feel differently about what the “legal” definition of marriage is. If you experienced how difficult it is, firsthand, for two good, hardworking people to be together LEGALLY, you might feel differently about what the “real” marriage is – what happens in town hall or what happens among family and friends. There is no romance in signing a paper and being legally married, in my opinion.

The romance is in saying your vows in front of your loved ones, exchanging rings, spending all of your savings to throw the best party you’ve ever had because you love your husband and family more than anything. It is in having people there who truly care about you and don’t care about some license. Those people will not be thinking about themselves and whether or not they have been “deceived.” If so, shame on them and their selfishness. I can tell you, we have very elderly, very conservative family coming to our wedding, and they couldn’t give two hoots about the legal/social ceremony separation. Not everyone has the luxury of getting legally married and socially married on the same day, and that doesn’t mean we should be punished for it, nor does it mean we have to blare sirens and announce: WARNING. THIS IS NOT A REAL MARRIAGE. If people ask, I will happily tell them. Although I honestly cannot imagine anyone asking. I think it would be quite rude on his/her part.

We are getting “legally” married three days before our wedding. We are spending tens of thousands of dollars on our wedding reception and ceremony those three days later. We are not going to call it a vow renewal, three days after our ceremony. I would hope we would be able to stick to our vows for three days.

If people really want to see us legally get married, I suppose we can send out two invitations:

You’re invited! Come see us sign a paper in town hall. Bad coffee and non-dairy creamer included. This is the REAL marriage people!

You’re invited! Come see us say our vows in a beautiful garden, exchange rings, cry because we have worked so hard to be together, dance with friends and family, eat amazing food and drink delicious drinks. However, this is not “real.”

I think I know what the responses would be.

If people really wanted to see the biggest committment of our life then they would have had to be there when my fiance promised me he would come to my country, leave all of his friends and family behind and come live with me because he loves me more than anything. Honestly, that was a bigger committment than marriage. That, to us, was the big promise.

I have gay friends – some cannot legally be married in the states where they live. So were their wedding celebrations fake just because the state decided they were? I don’t think so. 

In many countries people have to get legally married before the wedding celebration. No one feels duped.

If someone felt “deceived” because we were not getting legally married on our wedding day, I would seriously have to take a look at our relationship. If they did say something to that effect, I would first laugh, then probably be actually appalled. But like I said, no one who is coming to my wedding would ever think to care.

@lalalanne:  Do what makes you happy. My situation is a little different because we are getting married a few days before the wedding, not a year, but my beliefs still stand. This is your marriage and your life – you don’t “have” to tell anyone you are legally married. But I’m sure if you do they won’t care because they love you. Just because society is set up in a way that makes it hard for you to get married legally and socially on the same day doesn’t make your wedding day any less of a wedding.

In all honesty, this was meant to be satirical. But that doesn’t make what I’ve said any less true to me. I am tired of people on this site bullying others and making them feel ashamed. Think about what you are really doing. Try to be happy for others instead of bringing them down.

I think I’ll stick to the fun boards. And with that, off to the dress regret posts…






Post # 44
230 posts
Helper bee

You absolutely, 100%, should get legally married before his deployment. If, god forbid, something happens to him on deployment you want the benefit of being his legal spouse. The military can and will look after you as a spouse, but if you’re not married you get no such consideration.


In addition, you should make sure you have a power-of-attorney for him, a will (for both of you), he has designated you as a beneficiary, and a medical directive. You’ll need that stuff eventually anyway, but do it before he deploys. They can direct you to all those resources. I know it’s a bit macabre and not what you want to be thinking about right now, but this is the reality of marrying into the military. I’ve deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan myself, and I always made sure those things were squared away before I went.


Also, be sure you link up with his unit’s Family Readiness Group – they’re a great source of support and information during the deployment.


Your big party can wait- I would, without a second thought, get legally married before he goes.

People will understand why you did it this way. If they don’t, then don’t lose any sleep over it.  They’re not you, and you need to make the best decision for you.


Best wishes to both of you!


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