Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Need some advice - tough to get legally married where we want

Hi everyone -

I just read through the responses to 'legal marriage day before the reception' and thought you all might have some good advice. Here's the situation:
FI and I live in the U.S. His family & friends are nearby. My parents & most of my family live in Israel. We're planning on getting married in June of next year, in Israel. My mother is unable to travel (medical reasons). I very much want her (and the rest of my family) to be at the wedding, and since FI's family is able and interested in travelling, we are bringing the wedding overseas. Everyone's excited and the planning is going great.

However - and this is the problem - we cannot legally get married in Israel. We are of different religious backgrounds, and interfaith marriages are not legal there. Neither of us has an interest in converting. The only option we see is to get legally married here in the U.S with a judge or at city hall and then fly over there for the reception. I'm hoping there is a way to do this without anyone's feelings being hurt.

Any suggestions?
- Do you have ideas for other options? Maybe there's something we haven't thought of.
- If we do what I've described, should we let people know about it, or try to keep it quiet? Also, does it matter if we do it as close as possible to the reception date (about a week before, due to travel logistics) or does it not matter? Very unromantic to think this way, but due to work travel, etc. it would actually be ideal to have the judge/city hall ceremony in February.
- We are planning a short but more emotional ceremony immediately before our reception. Very non-traditional, but mostly just so FI and I can share our vows in front of family and friends. Is this a good idea?

As a short post-script - my cousin recently did something similar, except her U.S. city hall wedding occurred because her grandfather was dying and her and FI's family happened to be in town during the same week. They had a lovely, small wedding at city hall that he got to participate in and then a few months later the larger religious wedding in Israel they had planned originally (they are both Jewish). I didn't hear any relatives thinking it at all odd, but I understand that the context is dramatically different. Would people be as understanding of our situation?

Thanks in advance - I'm hoping someone has an idea for what we can do to avoid this situation entirely.
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