What I am about to say may be shocking and offensive to some. In fairness, you have been warned! Did you know that you don’t have to be “married” to be married? What exactly do I mean by that you may be asking. I mean the legalness of it all. The fancy piece of paper declaring by law that you are now husband and wife (or wife and wife , or husband and husband). Some people just aren’t cool with the government dictating who they can and cannot marry and how it should all take place. I am kinda in agreement with this train of thought. I’ve always been a little different and non-conformist. I’ve never liked anyone telling me what to do or how to do it. In fact, my own wedding next year will not be a wedding at all but a hand fasting with a big ass party afterwards. No white dress, no attendants in sight, no traditional wedding cake. There will however be a piece of paper at the end of everything legally pronouncing us two married humans. I will be taking DF’s last name (which is a huge stretch from my own….mine is German and his is Japanese). We will be married in a “traditional” sense but our wedding and marriage won’t be traditional at all. I’m ok with this actually and I am looking forward to our permanent domestic partnership (love ya honey! Yes he reads my blog. Cute huh? I think he’s really just making sure I stay out of trouble lol). Legit marriage isn’t for everyone and that’s totally cool. No one is forcing you down the aisle with a pen in hand making you sign over half of all the shit you own. Nope. You don’t have to do that at all. You and your beloved define what your partnership means to you. I’ll be honest…after my first marriage I said I would never get married again. Like….ever. I basically lost trust in everyone and was terrified that I would never open myself up to love again. Thankfully it happened for me and all of these years waiting, doing self work was worth it. I am in a loving and safe relationship. I could not imagine my days without DF in a single one of them. I am sure you feel the same about your better half. And probably like me, you also want a way to celebrate your union. So let’s explore some of the options out there.
- Traditional wedding. This is your average, run of the mill, my parents just spent about $100,00 formal type of event. The white dress, the cake, the rings, the whole nine yards. A reception typically follows the ceremony. There is usually a minister of some sorts and a marriage license is signed. This union is legal and binding folks. The real deal. While not for everyone, it is usually the go-to for most weddings. Think Brides magazine.
- Casual Wedding. At this wedding there may or may not be a ceremony. Usually casual weddings are held outdoors, in back yards, at a friends house, at the justice of the peace downtown. I have been to some really awesome casual weddings. The guest count is usually kept to a minimum and only close family and friends are invited. There may be a pastor or an officiant of some sort delegating over the event. Everything about a casual wedding is optional. You don’t have to have attendants, or a wedding invite, or a even a minister if you so choose. These weddings can be legal or not. You can decide to sign a wedding license or forgo it all together and become partners for life. Weddings bands may or may not be worn or tattoos may be used in place of the traditional hardware. Casual weddings are more on the rise, and these are the type of weddings I love helping a couple plan. They are typically more relaxed than a formal wedding and a hell of a lot cheaper.
- Eloping. This is your basic we-want-to-run-off-and-get-married-with-nobody-there wedding. Most elopements are legal with the couple either going to the courthouse to get married or choosing a private location with an officiant (think destination wedding). More couples these days are eloping to avoid the wedding cost and because they want to keep their ceremony private. Usually a celebratory party ensues afterwards.
- Hand fasting. Typically of Celtic or Nordic descent, handfastings are nothing more than old school Pagan wedding rituals. Back in the old days Parrish priests didn’t make their rounds to the local villages as much as they should. Couples intending on getting hitched usually performed a hand fasting ceremony to signify their love and faithfulness to each other until the priest could come by and make it legal. The couple stands before their loved ones while an officiant binds their hands together with cords or ribbons signifying their permanent bond (at our hand fasting we are using colored ribbons with each color representing something key to the success of our union). Hand fastings can be made legal marriages if the couple chooses by signing a marriage license before or after the ceremony.
- Commitment ceremony. A commitment ceremony is for those couples that don’t want a legal and binding relationship. There is no piece of paper sealing your fate and the two of you can choose to end things and go your separate ways if need be. With that being said, I know a lot of couples who have performed commitment ceremonies that are still together 20 years later. These ceremonies are truly about the heart and the love felt between the partners. It may take the shape of a traditional ceremony or it may be as something as simple and casual as saying an “I do” in a friends living room.
- Pop-up wedding. The newest of the wedding styles, the pop-up wedding is all about SURPRISE! Actually more like….”Hey guys, I know you all thought you were coming to celebrate my job promotion but SURPRISE! We’re getting married bitches”. I think this is a cool concept but it can be difficult to pull off it you have your heart set on everyone attending without knowing it is an actual wedding. You rents may get upset because their only baby girl just got married in a bar without any of their close friends and family watching. If tradition is out the window for you (as it is for me ), I say go for it. It’s YOUR day. Do things the way you want. Just make sure that there will be no regrets later. How this wedding works…. you invite friends and fam to an “event” without telling them that you plan to say your vows. Usually these are casual affairs either at someone’s house, a restaurant, or bar. If you love the element of surprise then this just might be right up your alley. Most pop-up weddings are performed by an ordained officiant and are legal, license and all.
- Vegas. Who can say no to Elvis marrying you in a drunken stupor after you lost a virtual F ton of money gambling at the casino??? Hopefully you can. I am not a fan of Vegas weddings personally. For several reasons. They tend to be impulsive which is a recipe for wedding disaster. And guess what?? They are legal. You can’t just change your mind the next morning when you sober up. Do everyone a favor and cross this option off your list. Like right now. DO IT.
Hopefully I have given you a few different options to consider when you decide to publically celebrate your love. A piece of paper doesn’t make you any more married than without one. Discuss things with your partner and then you can BOTH decide mutually which option works best for your relationship and your future. Don’t commit to something just because that’s what everybody else wants you to do. If you don’t want a big wedding, then don’t have one. Period. If you don’t want to make it legal, then don’t. This is your life and your family. Do what works for you!