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Dear ESB: Do I have to plan THREE WEDDINGS?

August 9, 2011

This week East Side Bride offers her very sane advice in a slightly un-sane situation. It’s kind of a long story, but worth the read because surely there are some of you out there in similar, seemingly impossibly positions. She’s so good with the sanity, isn’t she?

Dear ESB,  

I’m a little overwhelmed and need your help. About two weeks ago my boyfriend and I got married. He is American and I am Canadian which has made our dating life for the past five years more difficult than most. For two of the five years he was in Canada but after being accepted to a phd program in the US, he moved back. Since I am a Canadian citizen I am unable to live and work there without a green card. So for three years I would visit him for 6 months of the year. 

Needless to say this was becoming very difficult so while he was visiting me in Canada we decided to go to the courthouse and get married. This seemed to be the best idea as neither of us wanted either governments to tell us when, where and how to get married. Both of us want to have a larger ceremony within a year after my immigration is settled so we decided not to tell anybody that we are married and rather pretend that our ceremony in the future is our ‘real’ wedding.  

That being said, the only person who knows we are married are our witnesses; my mum and a friend. My husband feels incredibly guilty for not having his parents there so he told them our plan to have a courthouse marriage for immigration purposes and have a larger ceremony in the future with friends and family. His parents now think that we are engaged and are suggesting they come to Niagara Falls one weekend and we get married at a courthouse there. Little do they know we are already married. The idea of planning a third fake wedding is ridiculous but I understand how my husband doesn’t want to hurt his mother’s feelings.  

Anyway, it doesn’t stop there. Now on to the fake ceremony in a year… All of his family live in California and all of mine live in Ontario. My husband and I live in Texas. Both of us want our families to join us for the ceremony but we have no idea where to do it! If we have it in California, my family won’t be able to come because it is too far away and vice versa. Right now the best idea seems to be to have a wedding in Texas as it is half way between both places. I fear that many of my friends and family still won’t come as flying is quite expensive in Canada.  

My mum has suggested that we get married there and then have two receptions; one in California and one in Ontario. Doing this would mean that our families probably won’t meet, not to mention the cost of all this will get very expensive. I have a small budget and so far we have a fake courthouse wedding to plan for his parents, a fake ceremony in Texas for whoever can make it, and two receptions in two countries. We are beginning to think an all inclusive wedding somewhere in the Caribbean would be the easiest however I am hesitant to add a third country to the mix. I am at a loss as to what we should do. Any insight or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. 


Overwhelmed immigrating bride


This is terrific pitch for a romantic comedy, but you know you can’t actually pull it off, right?

In the movie, his mom figures it out AT NIAGRA FALLS, while you’re all standing in front of the judge. So eff the fake courthouse thing. Suck it up and tell her the truth.

The guests at your wedding (let’s not call it a “fake ceremony,” mkay? it’s a wedding, your REAL WEDDING) won’t care that you’re already legally married. I’m not saying you have to engrave it on the invitations, but people do the courthouse thing all the time, for all kinds of reasons.

As for the WHERE: I can’t answer that question for you, lady. You have to go with your gut.

Is there no place, space, field, hut, house, chapel in any of the three locales that has special meaning to either of you? It shouldn’t be all about logistics.

Photo: Raquel Zimmermann by Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia August 2011 via Fashion Gone Rogue