We've decided to get married. Yay! I am the female half of a straight couple, if that matters. In the near future, we want to go to our local (US) courthouse and have a civil ceremony with just a judge and our immediate families present: his parents, my parents, his sibling+partner, my sibling+partner+child. Later this year, we'll throw an informal party and invite our extended circles to that as a larger celebration/reception. Our immediate families are supportive of this plan and just want us to be happy, but I have already gotten some pushback from friends and it gave me pause. So I guess I have questions about the practicality and etiquette of our plan and... whatever else we haven't thought about. Neither of us has been married before.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
The above is the 'wedding' I've dreamed of and I am thrilled to have found someone that shares my sentiment. The point for us is to get all of the legal benefits and protections that marriage entitles us to in a low-key, fairly private way. As far as we are concerned, our lifelong commitment to one another already exists outside of the public signing of the papers so this really comes down to taxes and insurance, etc.
In my head, our families would come in on a Sunday or Monday, we get married on Monday, we all go out for lunch or an early dinner, and then they all go back home. Everyone lives within 2 hours driving distance of our city and would be amenable to this plan with 1-2 months of notice.
Practicalities: We know the ins-and-outs of our local courthouse requirements. Can you share any tips or advice that FAQs on the website don't cover?
Etiquette for the attending families: Paying for the family lunch or dinner is do-able. I would really love to treat them all to a hotel stay, but we can't also afford lodging for the lot of them, even for 1 night, even if I could get a hotel willing to give us a price cut. (And would a hotel give even a small price cut for 4-5 rooms?) It'd be fine with me to just have everyone drive in for the day, but that I worry it's impractical or somehow rude to suggest. Can we just leave it up to them to decide? Should we try to arrange afforable lodging in our expensive, tourist-y city? We don't want to play host/tour-guide for the whole weekend beforehand and, while our two families are friendly, they all know our city quite well already and I can't imagine they want to take a mini-vacation together anyway.
It's helpful to note that our families can all afford a night here without real financial or practical hardship, but I don't want them to feel obligated or otherwise put out. I may be being overly sensitive to this in general because of the next part.
Etiquette for everyone else: My intended's extended circle is altogether thrilled, but I've already been surprised by a few friends expressing real dismay at our plan, even though this is something I've talked about in the abstract for years. One friend was brought to tears by the idea that she wasn't going to see me "actually get married" and I was taken aback and a little hurt. We've talked about it more since then, and I understand where she is coming from, but we're not going to change our plans. So... can I do more to mitigate that feeling for other people, or do I just need to prepare myself for more blowback?
I had planned to call each of the people in my life who would be invited to a more traditional wedding and share the news with them, like, "Hey, we're going to the courthouse on X day! Since that has to be a small shindig, we're having a party in Y months and I hope you can join us then." The intention behind that was to make sure that the people in my far-flung tribe all know I'm getting married and don't just find out about the courthouse trip via a Facebook name-change or through gossip. For context: When I say far-flung, I mean it. My support circle is powerful, but not very inter-connected and not very large, and all over the country/world. The people I will be calling are basically extended family that I only see at weddings and funerals anymore, and friends from disparate points in my life. Many of them probably won't be able to travel to the later party, though I'd be thrilled if they could. Is there more I could or should do? Or, maybe, less? Is calling weird/weirder than emailing? Are there other, better ways to share our news?
I guess I'm questioning everything now. So if you can share any wisdom you've gained from having, or witnessing, or not having been invited to, a civil wedding ceremony at a courthouse, I would appreciate your insight.