It’s time to address another very common question from TK posters. Every week, many new members find the Etiquette or Reception Ideas forums and post something similar to the following:
“Hi everyone! I’m just starting to plan my wedding and I’m looking for ideas on how to make it really special. My FI and I were married at the courthouse a few months ago, but now it’s time to plan our real wedding!”
“Hi, I’m wondering how to plan my formal wedding - where do I start? We signed our marriage license and made it legal last year because my FI lost his job and needed insurance coverage, but we didn’t get to have the wedding we always dreamed of.”
“My FI and I were legally married last year in secret because he was being deployed and we wanted to make sure I was covered by his military benefits and would be notified immediately if anything happened to him - now he’s back and we’re getting married for real! Any cute ideas for how to ask my friend to be my Maid of Honor?”
Hopefully, you get the idea. Couple elopes/has a very small, informal wedding for (insert extenuating circumstance here) and now they want a do-over.
Here at TK, we often refer to this wedding do-over as a PPD, or Pretty Princess Day.
Let’s go over the many reasons why having a wedding do-over, or PPD, is never a good idea - PPD FAQ TIME!
- Is it okay to have a second/better/real wedding if my original wedding was a disappointment/emergency/elopement? No.
- But my original wedding was just me, my FI and a JOP - it was unromantic, none of my friends and family were there, and I regret it! Unfortunately, this is a hazard of choosing to rush and get married without considering how you might feel about it later. The fact is, you are already married - the day that you stood in front of the JOP was the day that you married your husband. In addition, disregarding JOP weddings as "not real" or not good enough is incredibly insulting to both those couples who choose to have courthouse weddings and are happy with that choice, and to same sex couples who just want to have the privilege to have that ceremony and all of the benefits that come with it, but can't in many states. A civil wedding is every bit as real as a religious one. A courthouse wedding is just as good as a country-club wedding.
- But, it didn’t feel like a wedding! It didn’t have the trappings of a Western wedding, true, but it was no less a wedding. Marriage is a legally binding contract - the moment that you enter into the contract, you are married. Whether you had a fancy dress, or a bouquet, or a limousine ride, or a first dance in front of your loved ones is irrelevant - the only thing required on a wedding day is that a legal marriage is performed.
- But, no one got to see it, now they can! No, they can't. They weren't there when you got married. That ship has sailed. Now, all you are offering them is a cheap re-enactment of that moment. It isn't the same and it can't be the same. While you may regret it, it's done, own your choice.
- But, that’s not fair. I deserve to have the wedding I always dreamed of! It may seem unfair, but assuming you married after the age of 18 under your own power and authority, you made this choice. You could have waited, but you chose to get married when and how you did, and you should own that decision and move on. Also, remember that a wedding, complete with all the little details we all love, is not a right or a requirement. It is a luxury.
- But, we were married at the courthouse and I always wanted to be married in my church! Once again, you made the choice to be married in a civil ceremony. No one will judge you for going to your place of worship and asking that your marriage be blessed/considered valid/etc under the tenets of your religion. But do it privately, or with a few close family members, and don't call it a "wedding" or have any of the other trappings of a "wedding." It's not appropriate or necessary. if you are looking for validation from your religion, then get it, but don't use it as an excuse for a do-over.
- BUT, it wasn’t a choice really. I needed insurance/housing/(insert other benefit here)! Marrying for any one of these reasons does not make you any less married. IF you choose to get married quickly in order to gain insurance coverage, housing, or any other federal/legal benefit, the day you do so is your wedding day. You are not entitled to a do-over - even if you regret the decision.
- Well, whatever, my friends and family love me and none of them has a problem with this! Be careful here. Peruse the boards for a few hours and you will find many, many stories of friends and family who were guests or otherwise involved in a wedding do-over who never said a single word to the bride & groom but still resent them/took issue with it/think less of them now for doing it/just generally had a bad time. Your friends and family will usually keep their mouths shut in this situation - not because they condone your actions, but because they love you and they don’t want to hurt you. Give them the same treatment in return, and don’t do this to them.
- No one knows we are married - what they don’t know won’t hurt them. This will be our only wedding for them. This is possibly the worst case PPD scenario. Lying to your friends and family will come back to bite you every time. People will find out, and they will be angry/hurt/resentful. They will hold it against you indefinitely. Do yourself a favor - these are the people you love most in the world - be honest with them. They will feel tricked and insulted if you have a PPD and don’t tell them - even moreso than if you do it without lying.
- Okay, I see your point, but I am still really sad that I didn't get to celebrate my marriage with my friends and family in the style that I would have liked to! Luckily, you still have some options. You can have a party celebrating your marriage - just take care to avoid making it look like a stage re-enactment of your wedding. It would be inappropriate to have a ceremony, big poofy white wedding dress, wedding party, tosses, cake cutting or first dances since you were already married. You can, however, throw a big party for everyone you love with a great meal, music and dancing. Invite your guests to join you at a celebration of your marriage, not a wedding. If it's been awhile (normally at least 5 years, frequently 10 or more) you can host a vow renewal.
- Talking Points:
- The day that you were legally married was your wedding day. You are not entitled to a second one unless your current marriage ends and you remarry.
- The man you legally married is now your husband, stop calling him your FI/fiance.
- No one is entitled to a big, fancy wedding - if that is what you want, plan it and execute it properly. Don’t take a shortcut and try to take it back later.
- Do not lie to your friends and family - they will resent you for it, even if they never tell you.
- Congratulations, you’re already married - we hope you have a wonderful, long, happy marriage!
- As always, remember that this was written by a stranger who has no ill will toward you or reason to lie. It was written by someone who has been invited to a wedding do-over and was not happy about it. It was written by someone who knew many other guests at that wedding do-over and heard first-hand how unhappy they were about it. Remember that your friends and family love you and will lie to your face to keep you happy.
If you don't believe me, just ask Miss Manners!
"State of slight confusion: My wife's best friend got married nearly a year ago. The bride wore beautiful white wedding dress and carried flowers. A small number of friends were in attendance and a meal followed. Pictures were taken and posted online. The problem? This ceremony took place at a courthouse (there were insurance issues that needed to be addressed ASAP). So, this spring, a bit over a year later, they are holding a "real wedding," complete with another ceremony (and large reception). My wife thinks this is perfectly normal, but it seems odd to me. Is this the new normal? Thanks for your reply.
Miss Manners: It's not a "real wedding," because these people are already married. But there are many who regard weddings as a chance to indulge in ego-fests and want as many as possible (without the trouble of divorce), so they stage re-enactments."