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“I Do” Before the Wedding

March 3, 2010

I have some news to share: Mr. Jelly and I will be legally married once our September wedding rolls around. We’re not really keeping it a secret, but we’re not really broadcasting it to the world, either (well…until now. Oops.). I guess for us it’s not a huge deal, but I’ve been around the WeddingBee boards enough to know that this is fairly common (especially amongst military brides and those applying for visas) and that people have differing feelings about it. So, I wanted to be honest about it and tell you why we decided to go this route. I also wanted other marriage-before-wedding brides to know they’re not alone!

So, why did we decide to make it legal before the big wedding? There are three main reasons. The first is Mr. Jelly’s military career. The sooner we get married, the sooner I can become a military dependent and get things like health insurance and other benefits, as well as more peace of mind when he’s deployed. Turns out these are extremely common reasons for going this route. In fact, future SIL and bridesmaid S did the same thing:

Mr. Jelly’s Marine brother and my future SIL before their civil ceremony, back in 2005.

The next reason is timing. We would have loved to have a shorter engagement but due to my schedule as a law student, anything earlier than early August 2010 (after the Bar exam) was less than ideal. We wanted to go on a relaxing honeymoon after the wedding, and that just wasn’t going to happen during the school year or while I was studying for the Bar. So we pushed the wedding back to September, but after being together for the better half of a decade, we both just want to be married already! And lastly: I’ve always been inspired by my parents’ civil wedding. It’s extremely common in Europe to have two weddings – a “civil” wedding done at City Hall, and a “religious” wedding (the big wedding) after. Growing up, the only wedding pictures I saw of my parents were in front of city hall:

How about my mom’s stylish white hat? She looks so classy! My mom never had the poofy white dress because she wore the Romanian national costume to the religious ceremony, so these are the only photos I’ve seen of my parents on their wedding day.

There’s just something about getting married at the city hall/a courthouse but it just feels more selfish and intimate, like you are just doing this for yourself, as adults, making it legal. I think it’s utterly romantic. Though the first two reasons would have been enough on their own, having my parents’ civil wedding as my inspiration convinced me that, for us, this was the way to go.

Did you or do you know anyone who got legally married before their big wedding?

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