Post # 1
For a few reason, my Fiance and I have to have a legal ceremony seperate from our “real” wedding. While this will be the moment that we legally get married, we’re trying to think of it as “signing the paperwork” so that it doesn’t take anything away from our “real” wedding a few weeks later.
But of course, it’s hard to resist dressing up the event a little bit. Why not hold it in a meangful location? And if we’re going to do that, wouldn’t it be a shame not to have a photographer to capture the event (we havent’ had engagement pics, so 2 birds with one stone!)? And at that point, why not get a little gussied up and wear something cute?
This could easily snowball out of control – It’s quickly turning into more of an elopment than simply signing paperwork! So what do you ladies think? If you’re intentionally trying to downplay your legal ceremony to put the emphasis on your big family wedding, where do you draw the line?
Post # 3
I would just dress nicely (not like a full blown wedding dress, but maybe a cute sundress) so at least it’s not like you are running errands and you fit this in between the grocery store and the hardware store.
I wouldn’t necessarily invite the whole town to come but if you like, a few close family and friends would be nice too. Then you can go out for a celebratory dinner afterwards. They can snap a few photos. I wouldn’t hire a pro for this event; that seems like overkill since you have a full-blown wedding coming up.
That’s about all I would do. Otherwise, you definitely will start snowballing into two weddings.
Post # 4
A lot of photogs do “elopement” packages which are pretty affordable. I would dress up and have some pictures taken, then go out for a nice meal.
Post # 5
Doing the paperwork before-hand means that not all venues and/or priests/JOPs will even do a normal ceremony because you are already legally married. That can cause a lot of problems. I know it sucks to sign paperwork the day of but having been to many weddings (as a guest and a photographer), it does not really take away from the ceremony. And, you can even incorporate it in a fun way depending on your theme. While everyone heads out to cocktail hour or even as they leave the church, that is plenty of time for you to quickly sign the papers.
Honestly, I don’t think it’s worth it, especially since it sounds like you know it will snowball into a mini-wedding. If you absolutely MUST, then I would just go with a nice white dress or maybe even your reception dress and then you can go out to a nice dinner after.
Post # 6
@Booknerd: Oh it has nothing to do with the flow of the wedding, we’d much rather have our wedding day be the day we sign the paperwork. But for various legal reasons we have to do it seperately.
Post # 7
We are doing this and it’s hard not to make it meaningful isn’t it? But then you don’t want it to take away from your actual ceremony day. We are planning on dressing up nicely (not bridal wear or anything like that, just like you would on a special occasion) and then going out to a nice restaurant afterwards with our family.
This will not be our anniversary, however each year I presume we would always remember the date and have a little celebratory toast between the two of us. But the ceremony is the main one and will be our wedding anniversary each year.
Post # 8
I have no idea what we’re going to do. Someone told me (or I read it somewhere. Can’t remember) that both of us don’t even need to be physically present to turn in the documents as long as right things are signed and notarized ahead of time. I’d like it to be a little more special than that at least.
Post # 9
How separate do the paperwork and the ceremony have to be? For example, can you do the paperwork the day before? Why do the two events have to be so far apart?
I ask because I have been to weddings where the legal and religious ceremonies were separate. There are several sets of conditions in which having separate ceremonies could be an advantage; for example, if the couple can’t get a license for a religious wedding (it is harder to get a license for a religious wedding than it is for a non-religious wedding within the UK – there are additional legal constraints). However, I have always seen the two separate ceremonies performed on the same day.
If you can explain the circumstances more thoroughly, perhaps we could give you better advice?
Post # 11
@Rachel631: Sure, here are the details of why we need to have the legal ceremony and wedding seperately:
1) We are having a destination wedding in Mexico and the requirements to legally marry there are very restrictive. You have to be in the country for a certain number of business days first (I think it’s 5 in which case we wouldn’t qualify), have blood tests performed, have the ceremony performed in Spanish, and things like that that don’t work for us. In addition our marriage lisence would always be in Spanish which would be a pain because:
2) We are citizens of different countries and need to get legally married to get our very lengthly visa process started.
In both of the cases above it’s very unusual that the “wedding” is actually the legal marriage due to logistical issues.
Reason #1 is the primary reason. Reason #2 is secondary, since the elapsed time will be small. We’d origionally planned to do the legal ceremony the day before we go to mexico/the day after we get home, but to top it all off we’ve very recently been thrust into a long distance relationship which makes the feasibility of that questionable. But even if that does happen, my origional question still stands – how much to dress up the event.
Post # 12
@JMPacker: Sounds like we’re in the same boat! We’re also planning to observe the big wedding day as our anniversary.
Post # 13
@cbgg: I think it depends how important the legal aspect of your marriage is to you. Is marriage a legal thing to you, or do you not particularly care if the state recognises it? I would let your attitude towards legality influence your decision. If legal stuff is not important to you at all, I would just turn up in jeans and sign the papers!
Post # 14
I’m taking the very sane advice of the majority here – going to wear something cute and look nice and we’re going for dinner afterwards. I wont hire a photographer but will have my sister (who’ll be there as a witness) take photos. Not only do I want some photos, but they’re necessary for our visa process.
This maybe our legal wedding day, but I’m not going to let it upstage our spiritual wedding day.
(And for those who mentioned it: the legal aspect of marriage to me is only important so far as I need it for specific legal purposes. For me a “wedding” is about celebrating our committment with the community who’ve support us, which is why I view the wedding I’m planning as my real wedding day and anniversary, and this as just paperwork. I know this would not be the same for a lot of other people.)
Thanks ladies! Very intelligent advice, as usual!