(Closed) Legally married for immigration, but still plan on having a wedding

posted 5 years ago in Engagement
Post # 2
4758 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

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katieandtommy:  I wouldn’t say this is a unique situation at all – three of my cousins had civil ceremonies to marry their now spouses from different countries.  Our family very much considered them married because… they were (are)!  One of my cousins and his wife are planning to have a vow renewal that will likely be much like a wedding reception since it was always her dream to have a big wedding, but they had only a month or two before her visa expired and she would have had to go home.  

I don’t have a problem with vow renewals, but I think you have to be honest with your guests about already being married.  Some people will feel differently about attending a vow renewal vs. a wedding, and more will be hurt/offended if you lie.  It’s odd to me that you consider your husband your boyfriend.  You’re legally married – he’s your spouse.  The time to be fiancees has passed.  I would still have the separate celebration if you’d like, but don’t pretend that you’re not already married.  

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 10 months ago by  missinthecity.
Post # 3
186 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 10, 2016

Eh, I don’t get what the big deal is really about being legally married and still having a wedding later. Sure, you’re married on paper, but to my mind a wedding is a spiritual and social event more than it’s a legal one. I would have no problem going to a wedding where the couple had already signed the paperwork; it wouldn’t make the day any less special for me, and frankly I don’t think it would be any of my business anyway. 🙂

Post # 4
892 posts
Busy bee

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katieandtommy:  we did this, but to avoid static we didn’t tell people about it. we just proceeded with the wedding as if everything was normal. 

you’re going to get some sanctimonious bee responses here. a few were like OMG YOU LIED TO YOUR FAMILY!!!!!!!!! um, ok. it’s not like we killed a box of puppies. we had our reasons to need to get technically married, and we just wanted to avoid complications. 

now, if most people already know that you got married: I do think it will look weird to them if you have a full on wedding. in that case, I’d recommend just throwing a big reception. feel free to wear a white dress, have the cake cutting, toasts, etc too if you want.  if you must do the standing-in-front-of-everybody ceremony thing, then call it a vow renewal. 

Post # 5
1206 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

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katieandtommy:  Decisions come with consequences. You made the adult decision to get married quickly which means you don’t get an engagement. You’re already married, I’m confused why you’re pretending you’re not.

I’d maybe say do a simple vow renewal but if your family isn’t supportive it should probably tell you it’s not a good idea. 

Post # 6
366 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I would go for a vow renewal ceremony, if only because your dad feels hurt. Just  say “well we were legally married for immigration, but we’d really like a chance to exchange vows in front of our loved ones.” and people will of course still be supportive without the hurt feelings.

I think the culture of oooooh fiancé! Engaged! makes it a tough life stage to skip, but I dunno…. I also don’t understand people  planning on getting enagaged when it’s something you’ve talked and agreed on. 

Post # 7
9144 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper

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katieandtommy:  Well…  you’re deceiving people, so that’s deceitful. It’s just what the word means. You can have all the stuff you want while still being honest. How does telling people you’re married stop him from proposing? What do you gain by lying about this?

Post # 8
1744 posts
Bumble bee

You may only consider him your boyfriend, but he’s not.  He’s your husband, and if he wasn’t you couldn’t be taking advantage of that status for immigration.  It’s disingenuous to claim the benefit without the title. 

A lot of bees think it’s no one elses business if you’re married before your fancy wedding.  Unfortunately, not everyone feels that way – as evidenced by your own father.     What is the down side to being honest?


Post # 9
47430 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

You can still have your proposal, your ring, your engagement, (these are all private between the two of you),  the vows and the reception.  Just be honest and call it a vow renewal and reception. You don’t have to change any of the details. 

The people who love you will be there to support you if they possibly can, and they will understand why you would marry to help with your immigration status.

And having that opinion doesn’t make anyone sanctimonious.

Post # 10
3561 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I honestly believe it makes sense for you to do what you’re doing. I get why some PP think it’s wrong, and why your dad is frustrated. But you are doing what feels right for you in your relationship. It would be hard to make a transition from Girlfriend to wife in that situation! 

Enjoy getting engaged. Enjoy planning a wedding. Do what you two need to do.

Personally, I’d plan the “wedding” on your anniversary. Call it a vow renewal. That way it’s not like a weird lie, and you still get to have your wedding. But that’s just me. You do you, girl! 

Post # 11
1296 posts
Bumble bee

I’d listen to your dad on this one. You must know that something’s off or you would have told everyone your situation already. 

PS, this isn’t really a unique situation. A lot of people deal with this. And if you wanted a big wedding, proposal, etc, you could have waited for that. You chose otherwise. Congratulations on your marriage!

Post # 12
428 posts
Helper bee

I’m of the opinion that immigration benefits are for truly married couples. So I’m unsympathetic to claims of unfairness or the complicated nature of international marriages. I feel the same way about military spousal benefits. Because of this, I wouldn’t put myself in that position and would probably decline an invitation to such an affair. My sister’s Brother-In-Law did this, and it angered a lot of ppl. Much of the family thought it was greedy and a money grab.

However, I firmly believe weddings are about knowing your crowd. There are places where cash bars are the norm, and other that view that as the epitome of bad hosting. If getting married before the wedding bothers people in your circles you should consider how you present your plans. It’s not uncommon for it to upset people. That being said, you and your husband can celebrate your marriage how you want, but you shouldnt get sour if some don’t want to celebrate with you. 

Post # 13
221 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2016

Well…I guess I’m also rude and deceitful…this is basically what I have every intention of doing. My finance is from the states and I’m from Canada, so it’s swapped from yours, but because of the complexity of the immigration process, we’re planning to have sign paperwork and start the legal stuff about six months before our actual wedding. We aren’t living together or sleeping together, and don’t intend to until after the wedding…the spiritual part of the ceremony is what is most meaningful to us, so I don’t see anything deceitful about it. We haven’t hidden any of those plans from anyone, and I’ve discussed it with the majority of my family and many of my friends (since people are always asking about our plans) and I’ve had no negative feedback–they’re all on board.

My sister also did a similar thing…her husband is from Austria, where it’s customary for a couple to go to a registrar to file legal paperwork about a week before their church wedding. In their case, they signed the paperwork in Austria, came to Canada, filed for immigration and had their wedding a couple months later. Again, everyone was in complete support.

I agree with PP that you do need to know your crowd. In my case, pretty much my entire guest list is made up of Christian people who would place a higher value on the spiritual ceremony vs the legal one, so the idea has gone over without a ripple. Now, if we were to move in together and get pregnant right away, that would definitely raise some eyebrows if we were still insisting on having a big wedding bash after that.

You don’t necessarily need to broadcast that you’ve already done a legal wedding, but definitely don’t hide it from people. And maybe consider wording your invitation is such a way that you’re inviting people to witness you affirm/reaffirm your vows. Since you know that at least one person is upset by the idea, I think it’s worth making the effort to be thoughtful about it. My two cents. 🙂

Post # 14
2697 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

Got pregnant after a month of dating. Got married to have better health insurance. Had blowout wedding three years later, did not tell extended family we were already married. Our close friends and family knew they didn’t care and we all had an awesome time. Don’t worry about telling everyone idk why the Bee goes crazy about this, it’s become VERY common, last three weddings I went to were like this for different reasons. Enjoy being a fiancee 🙂

Post # 15
41 posts
  • Wedding: October 2013

My husband and I did this as well. However, everyone knew we were legally married. For our civil ceremony it was just us two and our immediate family (in his home country) – no reception, gifts, etc. We then had a church wedding ceremony (this was far more important to us) and reception in my home country 9 months later. I agree with PP, you need to know your crowd/friends and then plan. I would also recommend telling people about the legal wedding you had. In my town, weddings like these are the norm and not a big deal at all. 

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