Please share your experience with marriage ceremonies that aren't bound by legal contracts
October 1, 2004 10:52 AM   Subscribe

Minor riff on the mixed belief marriage question of earlier:

Has anyone ever participated in a marriage ceremony that had no legal basis? That is, a wedding without a marriage license, the public commitment without the contract law behind it. Your experience and opinions are appreciated.
posted by pieoverdone to Society & Culture (12 answers total)
I have, a couple times, a couple different circumstances. However (and this is not meant to sound rude), I am not sure what it is you're asking about. Can you be more specific about what you're trying to learn?
posted by Skot at 11:20 AM on October 1, 2004

My wife and I were married in New York city hall, with just an aunt of hers as a witness.
On returning to Chile, we held a big ass wedding with 400 guests, and had an astrologer/mystical friend of the family hold an Alchemical ceremony in a large park about 1 hour out of Santiago, which had no legal basis, and which we in fact made up to suit our preferences (my Dad got to ring the gong).
It was a lot of fun, and everybody, even the more staid and conservative family members, considers it the 'real' wedding (though her and I feel we have 2 'real' weddings).
We're still not legally married in Chile, but we're planning a third wedding to take care of that.
posted by signal at 11:39 AM on October 1, 2004

Response by poster: I'm looking for how you and your partner came to the decision to 'get married without actually getting married' to put it in the simplest terms, reasons behind it, process, whether you eventually got legally married later, what you called it instead of a 'wedding' and what the actual event was like.
posted by pieoverdone at 11:42 AM on October 1, 2004

does officiating count?
*looks for my ministry in a box-- oh wait, it never did show up after payment--*

i find ceremonies that are not on some level "legal" (recorded, public record, common lw, etc.) somehow (many people are in fact able to marry at least for the record)
end up being celebrations to announce to the community and/or sources of long term consternation as to the nebulus state of the union.

but then i see legal marriage to be for legal reasons (rights, citizenship, contractual, etc)
posted by ethylene at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2004

I thought most countries had "common law marriage" laws, sometimes as simple as two partners declaring that they're married in front of a couple witnesses?

What defines marriage, and in what country (or countries)?
posted by Shane at 11:52 AM on October 1, 2004

I watched a commitment ceremony a few weeks ago--it was difficult to contain how stupid I felt it was, and how awkward I felt...
posted by ParisParamus at 11:54 AM on October 1, 2004

My first marriage (say it with me: WAY TOO YOUNG) was conducted, uh, differently. We actually (legally) got married about a week before the ceremony itself, with a J.P. and a couple witnesses signing documents in a coffee shop. We wanted our ceremony to be done by a friend of ours who had no legal status, and so forth; we always considered the night of our ceremony to be the "wedding day" as opposed to the "night we signed papers in the coffee shop."

It really worked out fine, except for the whole "this marriage is a total catastrophe" aspect, which came later.

I watched a commitment ceremony a few weeks ago--it was difficult to contain how stupid I felt it was, and how awkward I felt...

You're swell.
posted by Skot at 12:40 PM on October 1, 2004

Gay people have been doing this for a very long time.
posted by jpoulos at 12:44 PM on October 1, 2004

It is difficult for me to contain how stupid I feel ParisParamus' comment is, and how awkward it makes me feel...
posted by mr_roboto at 3:19 PM on October 1, 2004 [1 favorite]

I played conga at a rainbow wedding once. In the woods, with a bunch of hippies.

posted by swift at 5:57 PM on October 1, 2004

Yeah, I went to a gay wedding at the San Francisco Metropolitain Community Church in 1991. It was a total fluke that I was there. I was writing about the place for a school paper and showed up to check it out on that day. It was like any standard wedding at a small community church, except both participants were wearing black tuxes. It was rolled into the Sunday mass so it went by pretty quickly. None of the pomp of most weddings I've been to. One of the guys looked pretty sick, actually, now that I think about it. I remember noticing that...
posted by scarabic at 6:48 PM on October 1, 2004

Best friend got 'married' on 9-11-02 when they drove down to the beach in mexico and got each others names tattoed on their ring fingers. They got their paper wedding about a year later.
posted by Espoo2 at 7:54 PM on October 1, 2004

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