Dear Wedding Maven,
For immigration reasons, my fiancé and I had a civil ceremony last year. Because our church has certain requirements before performing a wedding, we couldn’t do our church ceremony at the same time. We do not consider ourselves married. Our actual wedding, a religious wedding ceremony, is in October. My mother is insisting that I not tell anyone about our first wedding. She thinks her family will be hurt that they weren’t invited to the first wedding. I think she's also a little embarrassed about the odd nature of having two weddings.
I sort of see her point, but I also don’t feel like lying to people. She says it isn’t lying to people because this is the meaningful wedding.
What do you think?
Am I a Second-Time Bride?
Dear Am I,
As a general rule, I think each couple is entitled to one wedding (ok if you're Richard Burton and Liz Taylor you get to do it a few times). If you choose to elope, you choose to elope and everyone deserves to know that they’re attending a party, not a wedding.
But you have a little bit of a different situation where your legal needs and religious needs are not compatible. Personally, this is why I think the objection to gay marriage is weird. There is clearly already a difference between a legal union and a religious one, so why would it matter to anyone if two people of the same gender have a legal union?
But I digress.
Basically, I agree with you that it’s best to tell the truth. It’s not that you have to run around announcing that you and Hans had a civil ceremony last year, but if someone asks, or if the subject comes up, you should tell the truth.
Yes, some people may feel hurt that they weren’t invited to the first ceremony, but I think that if you explain the situation to them, they’ll get over it. However, if you lie to them about it, and they wind up feeling tricked into attending your second wedding, that’ll be harder for them to recover from.
When you lie, people assume you have a motivation for lying, and they assume that motivation is negative. In this case, they will probably assume either that your marriage is simply an immigration sham, or that you’re throwing a second wedding for the purpose of gifts.
The issue that you didn't ask about is that of you and your mother. Obviously, our parents have a huge influence on us, and they deserve to be listened to and have their views considered. BUT, if you’re old enough to get married, you’re old enough to have your own sense of right and wrong about these things. It’s ok to tell your mom that you love her and respect her, but this isn’t her decision to make.
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