Legal Marriage before wedding

posted 3 years ago in Engagement
Post # 2
7099 posts
Busy Beekeeper

This is a heated topic on here!

1. whatever you do, do not lie to people or try to keep it a secret. This will only result in hurt feelings.

2. The officiant should know. Some will refuse to do a pretend ceremony.

Side note – is this ‘rule’ from the court? What an odd and strict contract.

Post # 3
11526 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

Buckle up, you’re going to get some heat for this:-) 

I’m confused re the ex wife’s rule, and if there is any reasoning with her I’d tell her since your wedding is planned for this fall that it’s vital her daughter get to spend time with you two as a family.

I mean, if I were your Fiance, I would demand this. How can he get married without making sure everyone is in board and you will be a good stepmom (sorry but there is no guarantee)

her rule is good to protect her daughter from casual intimacy but you are clearly engaged, not the same. 

Post # 4
80 posts
Worker bee

We told our parents and my bestfriend. We do not regret it. Our parents did not tell anyone so there was no hurt feelings. We told the officiant.

Post # 5
4422 posts
Honey bee

somedaybride :  We will be having one legal ceremony by a judge in the US and a Catholic Church ceremony about a year later in his country. We need to be married legally first before we get married in church. This is just the requirement in many countries outside the US – Asia, LAtin America, Europe (I realized some Americans are not familiar with this set-up). Therefore, our church wedding guests and the priest will obviously know as it is expected to be married by a government personnel before hand.

Post # 6
103 posts
Blushing bee

It is unconventional but I don’t see any problem with it. I’ve always believed that legal marriage and actual marriage are separate things. Your legal marriage is simply the act of being legally recognized and giving you rights as a spouse. The actual wedding is where you commit to each other in front of family and friends. As a bonus, you would probaly not need an officiant at your wedding at all if it is already legally recognized.

Post # 7
625 posts
Busy bee

somedaybride :  Just be honest. It is silly to stage a wedding. I cringe at the thought of adults doing anything this huge as “pretend.” Also, I don’t believe humans are capable of keeping secrets, so it will get out. Will your anniversary be your real wedding or your fake one? Just get married now and celebrate later. That’s perfectly valid. Don’t let it take away anything from the reception. My cousin had a small church ceremony and then 6 months later had the reception. She had a marriage announcement/STD (double sided) with photos from the ceremony. Her wedding website and favors also had photos from the ceremony and had a wedding album on display at the reception. The wording on the invitation was “post nuptial reception.” In my family, we all treated it as her wedding (although she would correct us that it was the “reception”), we dressed up, brought our gifts and danced the night away like any other family wedding. A priest said a blessing before the dinner. She said she briefly toyed with the idea of having a “renewal of vows” or some other ceremony type service like most weddings have, but she decided to keep it simple and focus on just the celebration of the fact that they got married 6 months prior. They were still newlyweds and it was the first time most of us had seen her since they got married so the authenticity and freshness of the spirit was present. It was the celebration of their marital union. They cut the cake, posed for pictures with extended family, had their first dance, etc. It was beautiful. 

Post # 8
1378 posts
Bumble bee

calliekalico2 :  For legal reasons (trying to find jobs outside the country and don’t want to deal with name changes and new passports and visa changes <2 weeks before leaving the country), we will most likely be signing documents in court and getting legally married a few months before our wedding. The day we sign documents won’t be our wedding, at least not to us. We won’t be exchanging vows. You might think our wedding (the one that doesn’t have any legal reprecussions) is ‘fake’, but that doesn’t mean you’re right. Plenty of people deal with government and legal requirements of marriage separately from their religious, spriritual, or in other way meaningful wedding ceremony. And in some countries you can’t legally get married in a church so you do the legal stuff beforehand and have your wedding later.

OP: I wouldn’t lie about it if asked. But I also wouldn’t go offering up that information. As long as you and your fiance view the fall wedding as the day you guys commit your lives together and your real wedding, then there’s nothing fake about filling out paperwork and dealing with legalities when it’s most convenient. In that same vein, if you’re treating your fall wedding as the real one, I wouldn’t wear a wedding ring or socially go by your new name (if you’re changing it) until that date.

I’d also explain in an age appropriate way to your future step daughter that you guys are signing a contract now, but you’re getting married and making your promises to eachother in the fall. I’d also explain this to your fiance’s ex so that she doesn’t contradict you through misinformation to your future step daughter.

As for the officiant, you can lead your own ceremony or you can ask a friend to do it for you. Since there are no legal reprecussions with your ceremony it doesn’t have to be anyone in particular. Though if you’re doing a religious ceremony you will most likely still have to follow the rules of the religion.

Post # 9
1840 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2017

Where I live it’s normal to do a legal wedding a week or so before the church wedding.  I’m thinking of doing mine a couple of months before to facilitate international paperwork.

I don’t plan to advertise this but also won’t hide it from anyone who asks. If that’s what the divorce papers require then I’d go for it.

Post # 10
233 posts
Helper bee

1. We didn’t tell anyone except our best friends and both of our works. We married early for insurance purposes, but both of our families frowned upon the idea of us skipping out on the big traditional wedding, and they felt like we were rushing.

2. A friend is going to officiate for us, he is nondenominationally ordained 🙂

3. I absolutely do not regret it! We got to have our fun elopement just for us, and next year we will have a big wedding for everyone we love. It takes so much stress off of the planning process, I feel far less urgency to have that EVERYTHING MUST BE PERFECT kind of wedding day. I feel like we already had that, so it’s okay if every little thing doesn’t go as planned 🙂 

Post # 11
1779 posts
Buzzing bee

1. You obviously cant hide this because the daughter will be staying in your home, people who know this stipulation will know you’re married. And you can’t trust people to keep their mouths shut do expect gossip to expose you.

And since people will know, expect them to not be as excited for your wedding when you do have it. Friends might not want to attend showers or bachelorette party because it feels “fake” and gift grabby.

Post # 12
63 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2017

I dont see a problem with it at all. Everyone has their reasons. My cousin did this and everyone had a great time and everyone knew thwy were already married and were happy to attend. She got pregnant and since her Darling Husband is Indian his family pretty much forced (maybe thats a bad word to use)  them to have an Indian wedding before she gave birth which none of her family was invited (except for parents) so she wanted to have a wedding with her family and friends and celebrate with them. You do you, the people who really care for you wont give a damn and will understand.

Post # 13
2100 posts
Buzzing bee

somedaybride :  

My questions are…

1. anyone who has done this….did you tell people, or keep it a secret? Yes– we did. My Darling Husband and I encountered the same thing as you with the same divorce decree stipulation from his ex. We worked around it, but after 2 years and my job loss we decided to go ahead and get married.

2. one the “wedding day”, does the officient know that you’re already legally married? Can anyone technically officiate it since you are legally married? Yes– our officient married us by signing the paperwork, we will exchange vows on our wedding day with our officiant, family and a couple friends present. He said it’s very common, actually– and something many people do for reasons such as insurance, the military, illness, job loss, etc.

3. Does anyone regret doing this? Nope, the only thing I regret is not doing it sooner and letting a very stupid rule (IMO) in a divorce decree dictate our relationship. We decided instead of going to court over it to change it, to use that money on our wedding and be done with it. We told a few people and everyone had the same sentiment, which has been, “good for y’all!”. 

Do what you two want to do here, and what is best for your family! Only you know what that is.

Post # 14
324 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

I’ve been to weddings where the couple got married beforehand but everyone treated the one with friends and family as the real thing. I would feel weird inviting people to celebrate our “vow renewal” a few months after.

Everyone has different reasons for getting married legally whether it’s for insurance, visa paperwork, etc. I’d keep it a secret and not announce it but if someone asks you, you can be honest. 

Post # 15
641 posts
Busy bee

somedaybride :  If you live in the US, there isn’t widespread social acceptance of being legally married and calling a  ceremony and reception that take place later a wedding. That said, I think if you’re not transparent about being legally married, it will be very confusing and potentially hurtful for his daughter if she finds otherwise.  I don’t think there is anything that will make it less special for your friends and family if you call your later ceremony and reception a wedding celebration and it would avoid unnecessary drama. 

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