How do you have a wedding when you're already married?
September 15, 2008 2:31 PM   Subscribe

Please help me make our upcoming 8-months-overdue wedding reception memorable and meaningful to those who weren't at our actual wedding.

We had been planning an October 2008 wedding but I got pregnant (Oops and Yay!) and so we got officially married back in February 2008 at City Hall with just our parents present. Extended family and friends knew this was going on and we told them all we were still going ahead with a wedding-ish event for this October. Basically what we're planning now is a wedding reception. However, since so many of our dear friends and family weren't at our actual wedding but are traveling great distances to attend our "reception", we'd like to include some sort of ceremony that not only allows our guests to feel included but also be witness to our union in marriage.

We feel strongly that we already *are* married and don't want a recreation of our actual wedding or feel the need to get married again. We'd be up for some sort of re-telling of our vows but are there other things we can do?

Similarly, we won't be re-exchanging rings since it feels like that's already done and doing it over again somehow makes the original time less significant. Are there other rituals or readings or anything else we can do for our guests? There will be a maid of honor and best man who will hopefully act as officiants even though there's really nothing to officiate over.

I should stress that we're doing this not just so that our guests feel like they got their money's worth but also because my husband and I really do want to have our family and friends be part of experience. So how do you have a wedding without getting married?
posted by otherwordlyglow to Society & Culture (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
How many people will be attending your reception? If it's a small-ish number I love the idea of having each guest share a few words or a story about the two (or now three) of you in some way. Perhaps they can present some small item that you can keep as a reminder. We did something similar with beads for a pregnant friend, presenting each bead and sharing why we selected it for her, then she strung them together into a birthing necklace. Is there something similar you could use that might be meaningful for you?

If it's a largish number, having each person speak may not be as practical, so some other ideas that might work:

- At my wedding, the pastor spoke about the symbolism of the rings as an representative of the marriage then asked all our friends and family to silently bless and infuse the rings with their best hopes and wishes for us, so that we would have them with us always. He said it much more eloquently than that, but it was a surprisingly touching gesture and many people later commented on what a powerful moment it was for them. Even though you've already exchanged rings, you could still so something similar.

- I also like the symbolism of candles for these kinds of things. Perhaps a kind of Unity candle ritual that starts with the two of you lighting candles from one central flame, then transferring the flame to key members of your family, then having them share it out to all the other guests? This shows how each of them share in a part of your marriage, how they each help make your marriage "brighter", there are tons of ways you could frame it.

Congratulations and good luck!
posted by platinum at 3:56 PM on September 15, 2008

My husband and I did something similar, but for different reasons. We wanted an outdoor wedding, but Catholics (in our state) don't marry outdoors. To circumvent that rule, we took our real vows the morning of our wedding day with just our parents present. At the ceremony all of the guests were invited to, we "re-affirmed" our vows - basically repeating what we had said earlier, for the benefit of the guests.

Alternatively, you could write your own letters of affection to read to each other in the manner of vows. I actually think that would add a nice personal touch.

I agree with platinum too, that a unity candle (or something similar) would be a nice symbolic ritual as well.
posted by geeky at 4:05 PM on September 15, 2008

- readings by others
- you could each recite new and personal vows
- slideshow set to music featuring photographs of both of you growing up, your families, your wedding, your little one
- have an officiant of some sort - even a close friend to direct the readings, whatever words you exchange, unity candle, whatever

LOTS of great ideas at the Indie Bride forums. Take a long look through the vows and reading sections for suggestions. Even if some of the ideas were for 'actual' wedding ceremonies, many will apply for your situation.
posted by barnone at 4:36 PM on September 15, 2008

There will be about 100 people there. Reciting new/personal vows is definitely the way we're leaning since the vows we did at City Hall, though surprisingly lovely, were the standard vows they do for everyone.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 5:01 PM on September 15, 2008

Friends of mine recently did this (got pregnant, married at city hall & had a reception a few months later). For the "ceremony" part of their public celebration they showed and narrated a slide show of their lives together, and at the end spoke to each other about what they loved about each other and why they want to spend their lives with each other, and then they kissed and everyone applauded and that was that. Very lovely.
posted by judith at 5:19 PM on September 15, 2008

We got married in Manhattan city hall, just the two of us. Six months later, we had a wedding back home in Chile with a few hundred family and friends. We got a friend of the family who's an astrologer/mystic/etc to officiate and made up our own ceremony. My dad rang the gong. My mom lit the ceremonial fire. Lunch was a barbecue with and ice cream cart for dessert. It was fun.
posted by signal at 7:30 PM on September 15, 2008

We got married by City Hall in front of just a few friends and family. When it came time for the "reception"/graduation party/whatever, my brother who was at the actual ceremony got up and spoke to the guests. He talked about what happened and (as my mom said later) really brought the actual ceremony to the guests. It was really sweet and was just enough to satisfy everyone there.
posted by nursegracer at 9:04 PM on September 15, 2008

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