Can We Have a Civil Ceremony Now and a Traditional Wedding Later?

There are many reasons why some couples need to have a quick civil ceremony, without the pomp and circumstance. Everything from immigration constraints to military benefits can put a rush order on your "I do." But when you have to hurry the ceremony there's a few people — namely your parents and closest friends — who will likely feel left out. So, what exactly are the rules pertaining to needed legal marriages? Our etiquette experts weigh in to let you know how to handle this logistical necessity.

What should we do if we legally need to have a civil ceremony now, but can't afford a proper wedding? Can we go to city hall but throw a big wedding later on?
You wedding is whatever you want it to be. Because of finances, timing, and life getting in the way, many more couples are holding a civil ceremony, just them two (just look at Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard!), and throwing a larger wedding later on. While a traditional ceremony, after you've already been legal wed may feel like a farce to some, it's of course possible — especially if you'd like to say your vows in front of family and friends, not just in front of the judge at town hall. Just remember, if people begin nagging you about when you're getting married and what your status is, just tell them that you're married but you will be throwing a celebration later on. Some may feel tempted to lie so that the big day feels like the real deal for guests, but you'll inevitably just make them angry. Again, your marriage is whatever you want to make it, having a ceremonial vow-exchange and reception later on is totally acceptable for those with financial or situational constraints.

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