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For those who *have* to elope

I've spent my two-day waiting period at theknot.com trying to find advice and solace in the form of other couples in similar situations as me and my fiance. I've been very surprised how judgmental and uncharitable (and ultimately unhelpful) many posts I've read on this forum have been. Apparently, if you elope and marry in private, you forfeit your right to: --a traditional wedding party --a ceremony --a bridal shower --a bachelor/ette party --love, happiness and general social acceptance The presumption is that if you get married the "right" way, then all of these things flow naturally to you, because you deserve them. If you get married the "wrong" way, you forfeit your "right" to all of the other celebrations, and if you still want them, your intentions (unquestioned if you a "real" bride) must be sullied, you are a spoiled brat who just wants to be a princess for a day, in it for the presents (which is a bizarre concept considering that all the muffin pans and tea services in the world won't make up for the cost of our wedding--if we were in it for gifts, wouldn't it be much easier to just head to Crate & Barrel with our visa card?), or just supremely selfish. My fiance is a European citizen. We've known each other for a few years, but only became serious less than a year ago, and have since spent thousands of dollars crisscrossing the globe to be together. We will now have to spend another $2000 for the legal privilege to get married in the U.S. We are applying for a fiance visa, which can take 4-9 months to process. This means two things 1) we are broke and 2) we have almost no control over when our wedding date will be. We can guess, of course, but it's possible our visa request will be denied, or for some administrative reason, it could drag out to a year. Then what happens to all the deposits made, the plane tickets booked? We could plan it on the fly. Once we're approved, we have 90 days to get hitched, 90 days which may well fall in a time period that, because of my job, might make it impossible to do anything other than a J.O.P. ceremony. In fact, it might fall into a time period such that my own sister wouldn't be able to come without losing *her* job! Not to mention friends who wouldn't have time to get visas, friends and family who couldn't travel from across the country or the other side of the world (from Europe, China, Africa) on such short notice. From our perspective, eloping is the only thing that makes sense. He and I believe getting married is about making promises. You make a promise to each other, as a couple. You make a promise to the state. You make a promise to God (if you are religious). You make a promise to your friends and family. If you can do it all at once, good for you! Sometimes, just sometimes, the call to serve, cancer, or U.S. border control get in the way. We'll have a private ceremony (just us) that will be fun and uniquely us (i.e., not remotely look like a proper wedding at all!) The J.O.P. will ask me, "Do you take X to be your lawful husband?" and I'll say yes. Not "I do," but yes. That's it. We've made our promise to the state. At the wedding in my fiance's country, there will be a ceremony. A loved one will assist and we will say vows we have written ourselves. Vows to each other, vows to our community of family and friends. I wouldn't even call this a "vow renewal" (I don't think this concept even exists in my fiance's culture) because these are completely different vows: the words will be different, the intentions different. Our families can meet, at last, and help us celebrate one of the most important milestones in our lives. I'd like to be in a pretty white dress. I couldn't give a crap about presents. I hate being the center of attention. The only reason why I need and want to do this is because if my family and friends didn't see it, it didn't happen. I need all the people in the world I love and care about to witness our love for each other in order for us to begin our new lives together. Why not just get married in hubby's country, which has far less expensive and arcane rules about marrying foreigners? Well, we want to live in the U.S. I want to get married in hubby's country because it's gorgeous and all of his extended family (out to third cousins) all live in the same town; mine are scattered all over America and would need to get on a plane no matter where it is held. This is why we will have the post-elopement ceremony and reception there. But to get married the "right" way, we'd need maybe 6-18 months to save money and plan, 6-18 months during which hubby and I would be living in different countries. Once we were married, it would take another 12-20 months for him to immigrate (since immigrating takes *much* more time than going the fiance visa route). But then I'd preserve the "right" to a real wedding! Sure that would mean 18-38 months of separation, dotted by stolen weeks here and there, in the far-flung places of the world, but we would have shown how supremely patient we are! Then I'd "deserve" to have the wedding I've always dreamed of! Now, if you've read this and you agree that I don't have to forfeit my little girl dreams of a wedding where I get to share one of the most important moments of my life with friends and family (and not just the friends and family who can be there on a moment's notice) just because the love of my life happens to not be American, then I would love your advice. We'd like the J.O.P. wedding to be as unique and special as possible, but in a much more fun and lighthearted way (we are thinking of doing something themed, in Vegas!) We want it to be a special memory, that's just ours. We want it to be as distinct as possible from the actual wedding, so that the excitement of that day is preserved as much as possible. We won't call each other husband and wife until that day. Any other ideas of how to keep the wedding in my hubby's country as special as possible? In the invitations to the celebration in hubby's country, we were thinking of putting the photograph of us at the J.O.P. ceremony and writing something like, "We said yes to Uncle Sam. Help us celebrate as we make our vows to each other in front of our loved ones." (I know that sounds a little awkward, but something with that sentiment.) I agree that it's stupid to lie to people about your legal status, and so without actually individually calling everyone and telling them we eloped, this would be a way of letting those who are not a part of our immediate family know (and I imagine the photo will be pretty funny--which fits the tone of many wedding invitations in hubby's country). It would also be a way of sort of defining the wedding celebration. As in no, we're not getting legally married because we did that, but we still need your help completing this rite of passage. We want you to witness as we affirm our love and commitment to each other. We also want to have smaller parties in the U.S. and in the third country where we met for friends and families who because of time/money/visa issues can't make it to the wedding in hubby's country. I know of couples who have been able to accommodate people who cannot travel by holding an engagement party, for example, in, say, the husband's hometown and the actually wedding in the bride's. However, we can't call this an engagement party as we'll already be married. Any ideas of how to frame these two parties? The third country is *super* far away and expensive to get to, so it's possible we won't have that party until after the wedding in hubby's country. Regardless, we want to celebrate!! (And please, again, don't tell me we're gift-grubbing; it would cost more than the value of any potential gifts to ship them back to the U.S.; the goal is to get to see people we hardly ever get to see, and to integrate our social and family lives). The U.S. and third country events would be super informal. I have a friend in third country who has a restaurant with a really nice atmosphere who could probably give us a steep discount. In the U.S., I'm thinking of hosting it at a friend or family member's house. So we're having, in essence, 3 events (not including Vegas). It's a lot! Unless my mother or sister are *super* insistent, I'm thinking no bridal shower. Also, my bachelorette party will involve me, my sisters, and my closest friends (who will already be there anyway) going out on the town two days before the wedding, no more, no less. My question is, do I then send invitations to all 3 events in a single envelope? So that our guests have the option of which event to attend (hubby's country, US, or third country)? Would people get confused? What haven't I thought of yet? Thanks!
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Re: For those who *have* to elope

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    Oh yeah, and even doing the 90-day advance notice thing, I realize, isn't really possible, since it would mean hubby would be ineligible to work in the U.S. for another 3 months, which would be a huge financial hardship for us. We want to get married almost the minute he steps off the plane on his fiance visa so we can start the process of making him legal.
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    Lastly, I just want to underscore (if it didn't come out in my post) that I'm sad and disappointed that it has to be done this way. I'm afraid that these events won't be as special, somehow. But when I think of getting to be with the man I love for the rest of my life, all this stuff seems unimportant. Still waiting for him to propose!! He's, like, the most romantic man in the world and he knows it's important to me, so I hope he does it right :-)
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    I hereby grant you the award of the longest post ever made on P&E. I hope that you leave it up here despite the feedback you're no doubt going to get, based on my skimming of the first couple of sentences. I'm off to read your novel and will reply in a little while.
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    pvegas, yuou may or may not be lucky that I am the first one to read and respond.  Why?  becuase I am/was in the same exact postion.  We had to apply for a financee visa in Australia and plan a wedding around an unknown date. Take a look at my married bio.  It is possible.  NONE of my family in the states were able to make it.  NONE.  Are we having 2 more receptions after the fact, no.  My parents have mentioned that if we are in the states next Spetember they may think about throwing us a large 1st anniversary party, but as far as wedding parties went, that ship sailed.The ONLY way you can even remotely pull this off is if you have the JoP here and then the religous ceremony and ONE reception in Europe.  That is only becuse Europe legally has seperate civil and religous ceremonies with the civil happening first. I didnt (and either do you) get pre-wedding celebrations.  You can not invite people to those and then invite them to the wedding.  I don't care the circumstances, it is rude. Sorry to tell you this, but yes, marrying a foriegner does present some unique situations, but etiquette and politemeness doesn't get thrown out the window becuase of it.  It means that we, who have made those choices, do without all the hoopla other brides get.  But that is OK with me becuase I have married the best man in the world and no amount of towels and muffin pand can replace that,
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    *true story, politemeness = new word of the day ;-)
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    Did I read that last post of yours correctly?  HE HASN'T EVEN PROPOSED YET?!  I suggest he gets on that.  All it's going to take is one immigration agent asking "so, how did he propose" with an answer of "he hasn't yet" to possibly red flag that fiance visa file. And yes, they may ask, just becuase people like a good story.  Right after we got engaged that was the number one question we got.
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    At first, I thought you were writing an essay about why it's ok to have more than one 'wedding'... and then I got to the questions you posed, and the beer plus the 23590235 words I'd previously read became mixed up in my head. In any case, I see no problem with having vow renewal ceremonies in each of these locations- if that is what you're proposing. It seems that despite the first part of your post in which you argue that you're entitled to more than one wedding, you're essentially suggesting vow renewals for the other locations outside of eloping, given you are going to be upfront with your guests about it not being a wedding given you'll already be married. Others will probably disagree, but I see no problem with that, if I'm understanding you correctly. My question is, if the placement of your guests necessitates all of these events, why on earth would you consider inviting everyone to all three? They should be exclusively invited to one only, dependent on their location.
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    OH MY GOD. He hasn't proposed? Ok, fess up. Whose troll is this? Why did you just encourage me to spend 20 minutes reading and responding to your post only to discover that it is all completely baseless?!
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    Apparently, if you elope and marry in private, you forfeit your right to: --a traditional wedding party --a ceremony --a bridal shower --a bachelor/ette party --love, happiness and general social acceptance???  There is too much here to even know where to start - but I'm pretty sure no one ever said you don't get to be loved, happy, or socially accepted if you elope. As for the rest, I'll leave it to the people who are good with the words.
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    Sun - I didn't want to immediately cry troll, but I was thinking the same thing.
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    Thesun, he hasn't proposed yet becuase it has ti be "right".  It's important to her don't ya know. Now, I will say that H proposed BEFORE we started the whole wedidng planning/immigration process, but I guess we're just silly like that.
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    Duh, Holly, don't you realise that all of us P&E biatches will ensure that anyone who elopes and later has a renewal ceremony gets no love or happiness in their lives from there on out?
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    Yes Sun...P&E is evil and all-powerful.
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    Well, apparently. I'm glad that people like pvegas recognise our abilities.
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    Head is spinning. Way too much. Help. Going to bed now.
    BabyFruit Ticker
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    Really? This first thing in the morning? I don't have time to critque your dissertation on elopement that more than likely doesn't make any sense.  
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    Ok, fess up. Whose troll is this?Mandy's, obviously.
    The Bee Hive Est. June 30, 2007
    "So I sing a song of love, Julia"
    06.10.10

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    Just FYI...reprimanding us then asking for advice is not the best way to get an answer.
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    If you believe all that stuff, why do you need validation from a bunch of internet strangers? Whether we fawn all over you or not, you're still going to do what you want.I'd like to think that if FI and I had to get married at a JOP right away for some reason, we would make it work, and that wedding would be special, since we'd be getting married and all.Also, it annoys me that you're acting as if no one else has been apart from their FI before. I'm coming up on my fourth dating anniversary, and almost our entire relationship has been long distance, "stolen weekends" and all that. Maybe you should go write romance novels.
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    Cliff's notes? Anyone? Or will you make me read it all b/c I've got nothing else better to do?
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    Im not even reading that.You need to not post anything like this again.
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    I'm wondering, if you spent this two day waiting period, why you did not take note that no one makes posts this long.Also, if you're so up in the air about dates, how can you be sure that your bachelorette party will be "two days before the wedding"? 
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    i would just like to point out op's screenname, and point out that there was a thread the other day called "people that annoy you" in which several people said they were annoyed by people who call their town "fillintheblank_vegas".  coincidence?
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    J & I got engaged. Didn't have an engagement party.J & I eloped. Had a JOP ceremony in our apt - just us.J & I planned a vow renewal. Didn't have a bridal shower, bach parties or the like.J & I had said vow renewal w/friends & family present - almost a year after we got married. We didn't expect or want presents but our family & friends were very kind and gave us stuff anyway.J & I always called each other husband & wife from the moment we were married by the JOP. J & I had family & friends fly in from all over the US to attend the vow renewal - we gave them a lot of notice so they could come.Anything else I'm missing? It can be done. It doesn't have to occur 5374854 times. Once is good (JOP). Twice is ok (Vow Renewal). Three times is pushing it.
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    See as how you've been very surprised by many posts, I won't surprise you and will just be judgmental and uncharitable (and ultimately unhelpful).
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    All you HAVE to do is die and pay taxes.  I hope your boyfriend knows how crazy you are. 
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    I love that you say that you would have to "save money" for a big wedding if you waited for the visa, but you have the money NOW for 4 receptions on different continents and plane tickets to get to all of them. I'm sure the rest will be covered by the others.
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    I'm on the Daffwagon with the P-Vegas.
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    I admit I only read about half of this.  My biggest overriding question is, why in the world do you feel the need to seek approval from or explain yourself to an internet message board full of strangers?  Who cares if people here don't or won't approve of your plan?  We aren't your guests, we won't be at any of your events.  If you are confident that your friends and family are cool with the things you have planned, who cares what we think?  My second question is, how big is your sense of self-importance to write this huge long post to tell us how we're wrong about our thinking and lay out your plans and to tell us that what you're doing is best for you, and then ask for advice at the end.  What the F?  Don't start out judging P&E for their thoughts on eloping and JOP weddings and then turn it into a planning post asking for advice. 
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    ::claps for dani::
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    (Married)meganandshane.weebly.com~
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