Gay Weddings

planning a legal wedding after previously having a small commitment ceremony

My partner of 8 years and I had a very small commitment ceremony 6 years (only her immediate family and a couple of our friends attended).  We have decided that we want to get legally married next year since it has become a real option for us.  We both agree that we want a reception with all of our family and friends, so much bigger than before, but we are undecided (and having a hard time compromising) on whether it would be appropriate to have a wedding ceremony.  On the one hand, we are eager to celebrate that we can now be legally married, but there is also some concern that some people may see it as a "do-over" (and my partner feels a bit this way), and that we no longer feel that our commitment ceremony is good enough, or special enough to have counted for anything.  In my opinion, this will be a completely separate event, and I don't see anything wrong with walking down the aisle, and reading vows (though I'm up in the air about whether it would be appropriate to have a maid of honor).  I definitely don't plan on wearing a white dress.  I feel like without having a ceremony, the reception will seem like more of an anniversary party than a wedding celebration, and I really want people to see how important this is to us.  There is also some concern that we shoudn't even call this ceremony a wedding since we've been presenting ourselves as a "married" couple for 6 years now even though we weren't legally married.  Any thoughts or advice on what would be the proper etiquette for going about this ceremony/reception?  Part of me wants to really go all out, but I don't want to offend anyone, especially my partner, so I know I need to figure out a good compromise for the event.

Re: planning a legal wedding after previously having a small commitment ceremony

  • Hmmmm. this is sticky.   I think if you do a "re-do", it sort of invalidiates all of us who haven't been able to get married legally, but still have a wedding.   On the other hand, being able to do it legally is a BIG deal... so, I see the reason for wanting to do it up big. 

    I don't see any reason not to do a vow renewal, but I would avoid the maid of honor, father walking you down the aisle, first dance, first cake cutting, etc.  Because, since you have been living as a married couple and already had a ceremony, I'm sure you've danced together since then.

    Maybe do a vow renewal, walk in together, and have a reception of sorts, just be careful to call it a "renewal" or something else, so not to offend your partner and make it seem like your original ceremony was meaningless.
  • I think the fact that you can now get legally married IS a big deal and reason for celebration. People renew their vows all the time and sometimes (or maybe most of time?) those ceremonies are bigger than the first time around.

    IMO - you need to sit down with your partner and find out what exactly she is concerned with. This is probably just a different perspectives issue. The two of you need to tailor the wedding the way you want it anyway. If she feels that having a "wedding" will negate the fact that you were married all along, then the wedding need to be structured to be a renewal of vows rather than "first" dance, etc. - A blog of wedding favors
  • I disagree, on the grounds that this is a legal wedding and your commitment ceremony was not a legal wedding.  That is a huge difference, and I don't think it invalidates what other couples have done or says anything negative about your previous ceremony.  Legal marriage is a big deal.  Legal weddings and commitment ceremonies are two different animals as far as I'm concerned.  If they weren't, why would we be fighting for marriage equality?  The emotional part and the commitment may be the same, but being legally married is different.

    And frankly, I don't see why doing vows again would invalidate the previous commitment.  In that sense this is much like a vow renewal. 

    If you'd had a big party with dresses and a reception and showers and all that for your commitment ceremony, I'd agree that this should be a much smaller affair on the grounds that doing all of that twice would certainly seem gift-grabby and attention whorish, but since it sounds like you had a very small commitment ceremony I don't think there is anything at all wrong with having a traditional ceremony and big reception this time around if both of you are comfortable with that.  But it would be best to skip some of the traditions that play up the end of your single status (bachelorette parties, giving the bride away, etc) since that's not really the case.
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  • I also had a VERY small  "event" 1.5 years ago to mark becoming domestic partners and our 5yr anniversary.  About 10 people watched my partner and I say vows to each other (no officiant, etc) and exchange rings.  Our kids were next to us and it was in a restaurant...we had a meal and that was that.  However, I promised her that I would have a "real" wedding when I could have a LEGAL marriage.

    Fast Forward to is FINALLY LEGAL in the state of NY and we are having a big ol' wedding in October.  I am not only celebrating our 7 years together, I am celebrating our LEGAL status.  The fact that we become legal stepparents to each other's child.  The official recognition by the state of our family.  The celebration of a WIN in this LONG FIGHT for Marriage Equality for everyone....I can go on and on.

    So yeah, I want a beautiful ceremony with a bridal party and a huge reception afterwards...complete with a 1st dance, etc. since it is our FIRST EVERYTHING as a LEGALLY MARRIED COUPLE.  We are getting different rings as well....since the ones we got for the DP were about $50 each  LOL

    I dont think it invalidates the event we had in Dec 2010, it adds LEGALITY to it.  It expands on it. 

    I also dont think it invalidates other LGBTQ weddings in states that don't offer legal marriage...nothing I do can invalidate the vows of others.  Rather I think as a gay community we should celebrate legal marriages and continue to fight for the right for everyone!

    That all being said, we were both on the same page about stinks that you and your partner don't see eye to eye.
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