Post # 1
I had a question that I was hoping I could get some feedback about. So the Fiance and I got engaged this past spring and have been planning for our August 2009 wedding. We currently live together in CA and lately we’ve been discussing doing a civil ceremony this August for the following reasons:
1. Taxes — I make much less than he does and this would result in a significant tax return which would be great for our savings for the wedding.
2. His parents — they were very iffy about us living together but since we’re adults, really couldn’t do much about our decision. They have, however, been constantly dropping hints that they would love to see us do this sooner rather than later, if only to give some legitimacy to our living situation so they can save face with their friends.
3. It’d be kind of poetic to do the ceremony a year to the day of our planned wedding day 🙂
Frankly, we could care less about what their friends think about our living situation, and our friends have been supportive (more important to us). For me, I’m thinking of this arrangement in purely practical terms and the wedding date is still THE day for me. We’ve been together for 5 years so it’s not like we’re testing the waters or afraid of making the leap. To him, everything is just symbolic, wedding day and legal paperwork included…he considers me his partner and wife forever already and I feel the same about him. So doing this ceremony isn’t going to change much, but part of me would feel better knowing that his parents’ will finally be at ease.
Now the thing I’m wondering about is if I should tell people about this. We will definitely want to tell our family and bridal party, which is made up of our closest friends. But I don’t necessarily feel like broadcasting to the world that we’ve done this ceremony already. I don’t know if people will feel weird that we’re already technically married and still doing our wedding next year. I don’t want people to think we’re just grubbing for gifts! We only started giving this ceremony serious consideration after getting engaged and booking things for our date. I also know that his parents will definitely tell people they know and the news will inevitably travel and it will move fast through the community grapevine…
So am I just overreacting? I guess I just don’t want people to make a big deal about it. And would I be within my bounds to ask his parents to limit the people they tell and to NOT make it public knowledge? Any advice would be great! Thanks!
Post # 3
That’s a tricky situation. If you have a civil ceremony, your parents will want to share the good news with family and their friends. Inevitably, most people will find out. And then some people, being generous family and friends, will send you the wedding gift. Not that it’s a problem to get the gift early, but it might be awkward to send them an invitation months later. Others may wonder why they weren’t invited to the ceremony.
I would say just go ahead and plan a wedding for next year. But that’s just me. You have to do what’s right for you and your fiance.
Post # 4
I don’t really know the answer to your question — only you and your Fiance know what will be best for you, and that’s exactly what you should do. I can tell you what my sister did. She had her baby in October, and her wedding was scheduled for the following June. It was important to her husband’s family that since the baby was born, they be married sooner rather than later. So, the day of the baby’s christening, after the celebration, they snuck off to the county clerk’s office and had a civil ceremony, which they had videotaped (this was in November). They didn’t tell anyone until Christmas Day, when they called everyone into the living room for a surprise – and popped in the tape. They still had their church wedding and reception in June, seven months later. No one questioned their motives that I know of.
My understanding is that it is quite common overseas to have a civil ceremony followed by a spiritual blessing at a later date. Who’s to say how much sooner or later that date should be? If you are uncertain of your guests reactions to it being a full year out, perhaps you could call it a renewal of your vows on your first anniversary.
Post # 5
That is a really tough decision to make. I think it is important to look at what YOU and your Fiance really want. If you want to wait until your wedding day, then DO THAT. The family might huff and puff at first, but they will get over it. They always do.
Remember that this day is about you two and celebrating your union with your friends and family. It doesn’t matter how and when it happens. Your closest and dearest of friends won’t care if you were already married, they will just be excited to be there with you.
I wish you the best in your decision. I know it is really hard. You want to make everyone happy, but don’t set aside what you have been wanting all along.
Post # 6
One of my friends did this, except they did it kind of backwards. They got married and didn’t tell anyone. We all found out kind of slowly, but that’s a story for another time. Then they decided to have an actual church ceremony and reception. They had their "wedding" a year later, it was a blessing of the marriage and then we had a nice reception. My friend just wanted to celebrate with everyone. She wore her white wedding gown, we all wore bridesmaid dresses. It was like a regular wedding, except they were already married. I’m not sure if anyone sent them gifts before, I know I didn’t, but we all gave them gifts for the "wedding." I don’t think you need to keep it a secret, but I also wouldn’t go and send out wedding announcements, because that’s really asking for presents, and people will be confused if they then get an invitation a year later. I would tell his parents that they can tell their close friends and family if they wish and that it’s not a secret, but you’d rather keep it quiet because you don’t want people thinking you’re just trying to get gifts. Hopefully they’ll understand. However, if you get some gifts, just enjoy them
Post # 7
Is there any reason you don’t just move the ceremony/reception up? I would tell people that you are doing sort of a vow renewal a year after. I would be slightly peeved if i found out after the fact that you had been married for a year.
Post # 8
Oh, actually I should add this which I thought was a great idea, my friend sent out a "newsletter" type thing around Christmas saying they got married, and that it was a very private, special moment for them, but they plan on having a celebration in the coming year for everyone. So it was kind of letting the cat out of the bag, but also side-stepping the whole "should we send them a present" thing.
Post # 9
I will not embarrass myself by telling you how long I searched for this article, but here is what Miss Manners has to say on the subject:
Dear Miss Manners: My boyfriend and I need to get legally married now for immigration purposes in order to stay in the same country after I graduate medical school. We cannot afford a wedding right now, and the timing is bad because of an intense medical school schedule.
For the two of us, this civil marriage feels like our engagement. We would also like our family and friends to think our wedding is meaningful when we do have the “real” ceremony in a year or so.
However, we didn’t want to keep such a serious decision from our parents, who are traditional and upset about this split set-up.
What should we tell friends who kindly inquire about our plans and engagement status? What should we ask our parents to say when faced with the same questions? I dislike lying, but I also feel that this is private information.
Gentle Reader: We can only hope that your reluctance to face the facts and your conviction that you can manipulate reality and suppress inconvenient information will not carry over to your medical career.
Miss Manners is aware that many couples have now separated getting married from what they are pleased to call “having a wedding.” They throw the party at another time, which would be fine in itself, but they include a fake ceremony, as if that made it as important an occasion as the real thing.
That Miss Manners is not the only person who considers this fraudulent is evident from your realization that your guests will not find the rerun as meaningful as actually witnessing your marriage. And you cannot make your legal marriage into an engagement by declaring it so.
Rather than tangle yourself further in this deception, Miss Manners recommends admitting that you are married but that you will be inviting them to a delayed celebration later. If you must, you can add, “and we’ll be re-enacting the ceremony then.”
Post # 10
As a few of the other ladies have already said…only you and your Fiance truly know what is best considering your unique circumstances. But, with that said, I would strongly advise you to either move the wedding up if possible or have the civil ceremony only.
My husband and I were married on our 6 year dating anniversary, we had lived together before the wedding, had joined everything in every aspect of our lives before the wedding and I thought that besides making it "official" nothing else would feel all that different after the wedding. We also thought about getting married about 6 months before the wedding because I needed his health insurance. I had a lot of the same thoughts you did about length of time together, feeling like I was already married, etc. I was very surprised at how wrong I was.
Standing up and saying our vows and actually being married has really changed our relationship in meaningful and significant and wonderful ways. If we are similar at all, you will feel this too when you are married, regardless of the venue. And, if that is in a civil ceremony I am afraid it will be sad not to feel like you can shout you are married from the rooftops because you want to keep it under wraps until the reception.
If you have the civil ceremony before the reception, I just think the reception will feel fake, like a fraud. It certainly won’t have the same meaning it would have if you did not have a civil ceremony ahead of time. There is just something so special about having everyone who means something to you there to witness and support you as you commit your life to the person you love.
Your connection and relationship with your Fiance becomes solidified when you are officially married. It will hopefully be one of the best days of your life and I just would hate for you to feel it wasn’t all you hoped for because of external pressures and circumstances.And, of course, all I can go off of is my personal experience but I am SO glad we did not get married prior to the formal wedding. It just would not have been the same amazing day it was having already been married.
I hope you and your Fiance figure something out that works for you and makes you both happy. In the end, all that matters is that you love each other and you will be husband and wife…that is what is most important.
Any other ladies have similar experiences? Can you share your decisions to get married before the formal reception or not to?
Post # 11
Thank you all so much for the variety of insight and feedback…definitely is food for thought! And Niki, thank you for actually taking the time to research for me :P…I won’t ask how long it took ;).
As for comments about moving up the wedding — it’s a possibility, but not a very practical solution for us. We are planning this wedding long distance and have already put in all the deposits on our venues and outside vendors (all of which preceded serious talk about the civil ceremony) for our date…which was actually a decision made not just by us, but also our closest family and friends. In fact, the main reason we are getting married so late in ’09 is to accommodate those people. We can’t imagine celebrating without them! And as a result, everyone, including us, have already made specific scheduling arrangements to make that day possible.
I have to admit that I still feel very torn. My preference was always to have our planned wedding day be THE day that it’s official, for many of the reasons that have been listed above. What MrsSpitzer posted sounds a lot like what would probably end up being my situation too. And if i’m honest with myself, I would have to say that I probably would not cave in to my FIL’s preferences. Mmm…I’m going to have to keep thinking about it and talk it over more with the Fiance. But if there are any other Bees with similar experiences or opinions, I’d love to hear them!
Post # 12
After reading everyone’s responses I feel a lil’ hesitate to admit this, but I am doing exactly what you are asking. LoL. "FI" and I got legally married March 05, 2008. A few close friends know and that’s it. Our parents don’t even know. We got married for many reasons, a few being that I’m in the military so it benefits us to get married. I get "dependent" pay, he gets free health insurance and cheap life insurance, and he gets to use all my military benefits. We are planning a destination wedding March 05, 2009; a year after our civil ceremony. It doesn’t really feel like we’re married, I still call him my FI/boyfriend since no one knows. Nothing really has changed (we had already been living together for a year before we got legally married). We joke with each other about being hubby and wifey, it’s like our lil’ secret. Our ‘rents will find out eventually (my dad does our taxes! LoL), and I’m not really too worried about that. My parents and grandparents eloped and this is something that they would expect from me. At our civil ceremony we didn’t exchange rings so that is something to look forward to doing at our wedding, along with having my dad walk me down the aisle and celebrating with family and friends.
Post # 13
I think I have a different perspective on this than others, so pardon me if I offend. If you were getting married in a civil ceremony for financial reasons only, I would say go ahead and do it and don’t tell anyone. Think of it as paperwork but not as the real wedding. People do it all the time, and it is your own business, not anyone else’s.
However, I don’t understand why you feel you need to do this for his parents, especially if you have already been living together. Isn’t the fact that you are engaged enough for them? Moreover, you are getting married! Doesn’t that signal that you are adults who are capable of making your own life decisions without having to worry about doing what the parents tell you?
Post # 14
I agree with Miss Manners. If you get married this year and have your reception next year, it would be wrong to pretend like you weren’t already married at your big celebration next year. You don’t want to celebrate what should be one of the best days of your life under false pretenses. Of course you can still have your celebration next year if you get married this year in a civil ceremony! If you have another ceremony, call it a vow renewal. That might mean you have to be more low-key in your ceremony (it might be inappropriate for your father to walk you down the aisle, for example–maybe you and your then-husband could walk down the aisle together?). Otherwise, I would just tough it out and wait for the day you have been planning for to do it all.
Post # 15
I think if you consider the religious ceremony the "real" wedding (as I do), then there is nothing wrong with getting the civil ceremony done beforehand. I live in a country where you practically HAVE to have two ceremonies, as the religious ceremony has no legal meaning. (The priest definitely cannot say "by the power vested in me by the state of ___" — because he has NO legal power. What is important to me is the blessing of God and the promises of friends and family to support our union. Getting married before a judge, to me, is little more significant than getting your marriage certificate. That is why we are getting legally married tomorrow and REALLY married in December. But only a couple of friends and the pastor know.
Post # 16
Well, maybe I am rude but I think Miss Mannes is kind of full of it. True, if people are just "having a wedding" to have a big party, well then that’s what it is, but if someone has to have a civil ceremony for immigration/healthcare/financial reasons when they know they are going to be married eventually anyway, why be angry about it? That wedding is just paperwork, it does not make the personal ceremony before friends and family any less "real". However, I do agree that you should not lie to friends and family about whether you are legally married.