Having A Ceremony After A Courthouse Marriage


Can We Have A Wedding Ceremony After A Courthouse Marriage?

Ok, so here is my issue. I have been reading some of the posts and now I’m worried I may not be going about this the right way. My finace is in the service and scheduled to go overseas and so we are getting married at the courthouse may 11th. Originally we had planned to have a big ceremony in may of 2008.

So, we are getting married at the courthouse with family and having a small reception afterwards. However, we have asked our family not to give us gifts or anything. We are planning to have a “formal” wedding next may, even though we will already be married. We were discussing how we would make out those invitations. We were thinking about putting an intro with the date of our “legal” marriage and that now we are having an “official ceremoney” and would like the guests to attend. Do you think this will make people think we just want gifts? That is not the reason we want to; I just want a real wedding. And I know we could wait, but we have our reasons for going ahead with our plans. Also, do you have any suggestions for what the invitations should say and if we should do vows or a type of renewal thing? I just feel that it would be kind of silly to do “renewals” after only a year of marriage. Any advice is appreciated. Thanks

Donna, Wedding Queen

Once you’re married – you’re married. There are no do-overs. [;)]

If you cannot wait until next May to be married, I would suggest having the courthouse wedding and a small dinner afterwards and then have a reception later on. Of course, that reception would need to be tailored to what would seem appropriate for your situation since you would have been married for quite some time. Events such as the garter toss and the first dance as husband and wife wouldn’t make sense. But, you could certainly have a celebratory dance, cake and those sorts of things.

Please thank your groom for his service to our country and wish him a safe trip back home.

Good luck to you and your family –

If the two of you are going to be apart for the year following then a renewal may not seem all that awkward. Just incorporate the events that seem logical to your situation.

Reader Response

Let me start off by apologizing in advance b/c this may sound rude. But why are you telling people this is wrong. A courthouse ceremony is more of a civil union whereas a wedding is a religious ceremony. SInce he will be overseas, we will not have had a frist dance and I will still want a father daughter dance. My grandparents are not able to attend the courthouse wedding, and they are looking forward to the big wedding b/c that will be the first for them. Granted, when my dad “gives me away” we will have the preacher ask “who blesses this union.” And for our vows we will write on own in addition to saying “I will continue to…” I went on another site in which some women have done this and it went fine. I think my family would be disappointed if I didn’t have a second one. And we are letting the guests know that we don’t want gifts this year, and we may even goes as far as to say that gifts are not expected for next year.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that I’m doing what makes me happy and so should everyone else. I want the wedding I have dreamed of, and by getting married beforehand (and his salary and benefits going up) I will be able to do that. My guests will know we are already married and I feel like those who care enough about me will want to see it. So, to all those who read this: who cares what is proper? My relationship has been nothing close to the norm, and I’ll continue to do things out of order. But my family and I both want a “real wedding” and you made me feel like this was totally wrong and people wouldn’t attend. I feel bad for people who have families like this. And honestly, who cares if people don’t come or bring a gift? I’m doing this b/c its what my finacee and I want. I just don’t think its right to comdemn people for wanting a real wedding when the time is right….married or not.

Donna, Wedding Queen

I was simply stating that once you are married you cannot be married again unless you divorce. If you want to have your marriage recognized in the church the ceremony you will choose will be a blessing of your marriage. Speak to your clergy person to ask what your church expects in this type of ceremony.

With regard to “giving away the bride”, once you are legally married you will already have been “given” to your husband. Plus, in these modern times most women choose to be escorted, not given, by their dads.

You may find other sites where women chat about their opinions of what this service will be for them but, on this site, in most cases, we do not provide our opinions but rather provide etiquette answers according to some of the most respected, modern day wedding etiquette experts such as Peggy Post. You can review the link marked rules which will remind you of the premise of the site and the rules you agreed to when you registered.

If you want to do whatever makes you happy, then you should. [;)] I never said your guests would not attend. But, you asked us about etiquette and I have answered you in that regard.

If you don’t care about what is considered proper then this is probably not the place for you since we are simply providing etiquette advice.

Good luck with whatever ceremony and celebration you decide to plan.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I couldn’t agree more. You do have choices. You can choose to do what is considered socially savvy. You can choose to do what is considered appropriate to those in chat rooms who don’t care what others think. There are no etiquette police anyway.

But, believe me. Your guests won’t be honest with you about how they really feel about a vow renewal that appears to be a wedding. You could host one that is wonderful, memorable and proper. Or, the reception, which is the best of all worlds.

All of this is your choice.