Marriage Before the Wedding? Pros and Cons of a court-house wedding

posted 8 years ago in Ceremony
  • poll: Should we have a separate legal wedding before our religious wedding?
    Sure! Go for it, it'll be fun! : (25 votes)
    63 %
    No, you really should wait and do it all at once (please elaborate below, thanks!) : (11 votes)
    28 %
    Other? (Please explain below) : (4 votes)
    10 %
  • Post # 3
    Member
    7975 posts
    Bumble Beekeeper

    Are you catholic? I seem to have heard that the Catholic church can be a bit picky about weddings.

    Is there a reason you’d want to get married earlier than your big wedding? Or why you couldn’t move the big one up if you want be married sooner?

    Post # 4
    Member
    2867 posts
    Sugar bee

    Pros:  Avoiding having to change everything over (banking, soc sec, license) within the few weeks surrounding your wedding b/c you’ll already be stressed around the wedding time period; tax purposes you’ll be married within this tax year

    Cons:  Catholic Church would NOT be happy at all–I could see a priest refusing you for that; people might be less interested now that you’re already married and may not attend your Catholic wedding

    Fun story, I have a good friend who was raised Catholic but became protestant, then took a mission trip to Peru.  She met a Catholic guy there and fell in love, he proposed a year later.  They had a long distance relationship and would visit each other every now and then.  When they planned their wedding, apparently Peru required a civil service before the Catholic ceremony.  So they got married in Peru and three months later she had her Catholic ceremony here, in the U.S., with the priest from our hometown.  She’s still Protestant and he’s Catholic..so it worked out that she got married before she had her church wedding.

    What holding you back from changing the date to closer?  Finances?  Church?

    Post # 5
    Member
    114 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: June 2011

    I love this idea. I was actually thinking of doing this and perhaps also using it as our engagement session? 

    I thought it would be something cool that it’s just the two of us (and the photographer…score, instant witness).

    Post # 6
    Member
    1046 posts
    Bumble bee

    I did it… but for different reasons. My hubby and I wanted to combine bills and also make the extra money that comes with being married in the military. We were already living in the same home as husband and wife with our daughter so we figured, eh, why not make it official? So far so good… it was really fun and it felt great to be sneaky but we were under completely different circumstances then you are. If my parents found out I got married before the wedding they are paying for it would be off… they just couldn’t deal with it (or rather my step mom couldn’t)

    You can read more about it here:

    Saying “I do” before the “big day”

    Also on a side note: we had religious reasons to get married too (well sorta). Hubby’s mother is very strict as far as religion goes. She would not accept either our daughter or my existence until we got married. As soon as he called her to tell her we had done the whole Justice of the Peace thing she started going on about seeing her beautiful daughter and granddaughter soon (like we hadn’t been around for the past 3 years?) the lady is whacked. lol

    Post # 7
    Member
    382 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2010

    We got married before our wedding for visa reasons so I’m not going to tell you it’s a bad idea. You said you can’t see any real cons, but I do have to warn you that if you do get married before the wedding, some people (including on these boards-I’ve seen threads) will think your church ceremony is “fake”. You might have to defend yourself against family and friends who will have the attitude that, “Well, you already got married, so your ceremony is like a show, right?” I’ve had people call our wedding a “gathering” and a “party”.

    Also from a girl that has already done it, I can tell you it does diminish the magic of the ceremony a little bit. It’s slightly depressing thinking about how our ceremony is not official. Still, we never said our vows, exchanged rings, we haven’t celebrated with family and friends yet, I haven’t changed my name- and that’s the stuff that’s most important.

    I am not trying to rain on anyone’s parade. I am just letting you know the experiences I’ve had with this, since you asked for cons. I am very happy with my husband and we don’t regret getting married early. Your wedding day can be however you want-and if you picture a courthouse ceremony I say, do it!

    Post # 9
    Member
    2867 posts
    Sugar bee

    Yeah, checking w/ the priests is good and if you tell them you aren’t going to live in the married way, I don’t see an issue….hopefully your priests feel the same way 🙂

    Post # 10
    Member
    1046 posts
    Bumble bee

    When we did the courthouse wedding the judge read from the bible and we did an exchanging of rings… to me it was very much legal not only in the states eyes but in God’s eyes (not to start a religious debate or anything). I don’t think it has taken anything away from my “family” wedding in October.. it is still fun to plan, i am still looking forward to wearing my big poofy dress and seeing family that only comes around every 5-10 years.

    … but thats just me.

    Post # 11
    Member
    295 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: June 2010

    We contemplated this, and would have done it had it not worked out to have our friends officiate. My cousins did it a year in advance (for logistical reasons—one had a fellowship and the other could only come along if they were married) and they just didn’t tell anyone, so most people at the wedding thought it was the real deal.

    However, this didn’t involve a Catholic wedding, which might be a much bigger issue. I’d have that conversation first and see where you are after that. If it’s not an issue there, though, I say go for it….why not!

    Post # 12
    Member
    2208 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: July 2010

    I’ll step forward as one of those people who would not take your church wedding as seriously. First, its in part because I’m an atheist, so I don’t think anything special happens at the church. Second, though, you don’t have a need to get married early. I can understand that a church wedding would be special to you, but you would already be married, so…a party would be fun? Third, time gap you’re discussing. A couple of weeks a two months is one thing, but a year?

    I was a Bridesmaid or Best Man in a ceremony after a legal wedding, and I do think it can be no problem whatsoever and be treated very seriously. My friends got married because of legal necessity (California, same sex marriage was about to be voted down). That worked fine, everyone understood.

    And if this sounds like a good idea to you, cool. But I think you will run into the emotional issue of people looking at the church wedding as a blessing with a party, NOT as a wedding. Most reasonable people in my experience suspend that disbelief and pretend you aren’t legally married at your ceremony if there was some necessity (visa, finances, child guardianship issues, etc.). If you get married a year early because it was fun, well, decent people will keep their mouths shut, but few will take it as seriously.

    If that doesn’t bug you, I don’t see a real down side, other than the issues with the Church that you apparently will research.

    Post # 13
    Member
    1104 posts
    Bumble bee

    It wouldn’t be a wedding if you are already married and as a guest I think I’d be a bit put off if I found out I’d been invited to some kind of re-enactment. I know there are reasons for getting married before the party – and lots of good reasons – but then I think you can’t call the next thing a wedding. It’s a vow renewal, maybe a blessing, followed by a reception. But you already had your actual wedding. Personally unless there was a really pressing reason to have the ceremony now and reception later, I would just do them both at once. Either now, if it was important to me, or later, if I would prefer to save and plan for a big shindig. Good luck with deciding!

    Post # 14
    Member
    1556 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: June 2010

    I did this.  My husband and I were married at city hall a few weeks ago.  We had originally planned to have a Catholic wedding with a full mass.  Unfortunately, I am waiting on an annulment.  My priest says I have a very good case and he is sure it will go through (I guess nothing is a sure thing, but he seems very confident), but it will take a year.

    We just couldn’t wait a year.  Without going into too much detail, there are some other reasons why being legally married sooner was important.  So we did a small city hall wedding.  Just us and our kids.

    So now we are married….but not.  We are legally married but not in the eyes of the Church.  So we are in a bit of a religious no-man’s land.  We are living together but trying to remain as chaste as possible…which is difficult. 

    I have changed my name.  At work, because my name is legally changed, I go by Neva Hislast.  Socially, I go by Neva Mylast.  It’s really an awkward situation.  We plan to have the marriage convalidated later, so we don’t want to advertise that we are legally married, but we don’t lie if people notice we are wearing our rings.  I’d say that outside work and our families, about 1/3 of our friends know.  I’m guessing by the time we have our convalidation, everyone will know.

    The pros:  We had some legal issues that were cleared up by being legally married.  We have combined our finances, changed all our beneficiaries on everything, finished my name change.  We love being able to refer to each other as “husband” and “wife.”  We had a quiet little ceremony with just us and our children. 

    The cons:  I still am careful about referring to us publicly as married, which sometimes makes me feel bad…like it is something to hide.  We cannot be intimate like married people, even though we are legally married.  I know our priest is not pleased that we did things this way — though he understands.  Our ceremony will be a convalidation — not a wedding.  Most churches don’t go for big ceremonies with a large wedding party for a convalidation.  While our ceremony itself will be the same, it will by necessity be much quieter.  Although our immediate family will understand that our convalidation is actually where we truly become married, most of our friends and family will consider it a church blessing on our  marriage..not a marriage…which makes me kind of sad.

    Would I do it again?  Yes.  If I did not have the reasons I did for doing so?  Then no.  I would much preferred to have our church wedding be the one where we become man and wife both legally and as a sacrament. 

    Post # 15
    Member
    27 posts
    Newbee

    Well so I got here because my fiance and I have been thinking about it too. He wants me to come to the U.S to live with him as I am in Jamaica now (he migrated some years ago) and so he was saying for smoother sailing of the papers and all we could get married in the U.S and then have a thing back at home (Jamaica) where out families and friends could be there…..The thing is we don’t really care what they want to think but, I’m prepared for my mom acting some type of way about it.

    Post # 15
    Member
    2189 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: July 2017

    you might need to look into if you can do this… here in england ‘pre-marriages’ are common as you cant ‘legally’ get married outdoors or in most non wedding venues but you often can’t ‘pre marry’ for churches because weddings ceremonies in churches cost money but blessings for pre-married people are free as anyone/anything can be blessed by the church, they have different processes though (no rings, no vows, no pomp and circumstance etc… just a basic blessing/reading) this is so that people dont cheat the church into a ‘free’ wedding ceremony

     

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