Skip to main content

Post content has been hidden

To unblock this content, please click here

Beginner September 2025 Surrey

Secretly married now planning a wedding - help!

Hallie.sullivan, 16 of January of 2024 at 03:33 Posted on Etiquette and Advice 0 5
My partner and I got married a few years ago at a registry office in order for us to get a visa sorted to live and work abroad in New York. We had been together for 7 years already so knew we were going to get married eventually, so we rushed through it and had a no frills ceremony. We didn't tell our families as we knew they’d be upset and also quite liked the spontaneity of it all!
Now it’s coming to planning the wedding and we’re worried!! How do we get away with not having a real ceremony? If we hire someone to do a ‘fake’ ceremony, will our ‘witnesses’ know that it’s not real? Wondering if it’s a possibility to get divorced and then have a real ceremony so we haven’t got anxiety and if there are any implications of that? Long shot but wondered if there’s anyone here that has been in the same situation and what they did? Thank you!!

5 replies

Latest activity by Genevieve, 26 of January of 2024 at 16:36
  • N
    Curious December 2026 Somerset
    Natasha ·
    • Report
    • Hide content
    You could be married by a celebrant who can make the ceremony pretty much anything you choose as it's not the legal bit. We are having a celebrant as we wanted to include our children in the ceremony and lots more personal aspects than you get with a registrar. We will be getting married a few days before just the 2 of us in a registry office but as far as our guests are concerned the ceremony they attend will be real. The vows will include all the traditional elements and they can even provide a document to sign so that it appears as though you're signing the register but really it's just a memento. Basically our celebrant said that unless your guests include someone really clued in they'll be none the wiser and most won't even think to question what they're watching as it will just be a lovely ceremony. If you're really concerned you could consider telling your family that you'd like a celebrant as the type of service appeals more to you and that you'll just be tidying up the legal bit separately yourselves. This is the approach we've taken with both of our mum's, best man and bridesmaid (the only guests to know the full facts) and they are totally fine with it because as far as they're concerned they are attanding our 'real' wedding as that's how we're choosing to treat our big day. The other bit is essentially just paperwork and not the day we're celebrating our marriage.
    • Reply
  • PhotographybyBillHaddon
    Super January 3000 Leicestershire
    PhotographybyBillHaddon ·
    • Report
    • Hide content

    To get divorced and then have a real ceremony is extreme and would make matters worse if and when they found out.

    Having a "fake wedding" by a celebrant will also get found out, there is going to be some one who notices.

    Yes many people opt to have the legal bit done a few days before so that they can then have a celebrant lead ceremony anywhere - such as in a field or your garden.

    I think you should just fess up as this is just going to escalate and possibly thake the edge off your day. They may already have an idea.

    • Reply
  • N
    Beginner August 2025 Kerry
    Niamh ·
    • Report
    • Hide content
    Apperantly this is far more common than you'd think. Celebrants are very used to this and can perform the ceremony as a blessing without the legal part. Only the three of you would know. I'd contact a celebrant and see what they suggest. Divorce sounds way too complex!
    • Reply
  • R
    VIP July 2020 Monmouthshire
    RomanticGreenStationery27135 ·
    • Report
    • Hide content

    Are you sure it's going to cause this much fallout if you just tell people you're already married? Because there is always going to be a risk that someone will find out at some point - for official purposes, your wedding date is the date you got legally married, whichever date you choose to celebrate as your wedding day in your personal lives, plus it is going to mean lying for the rest of your lives when someone asks how long you've been married!

    If you really can't face telling your family the truth, then I would just tell them you are having a celebrant-led wedding so that you can do exactly what you want, and that as you won't be regarding the legal bit as your 'real' wedding, you are keeping it low-key and private so it doesn't detract from what you regard as your 'real' wedding day. Hopefully, they never need to find out just how far ahead of your 'wedding' you did the 'legal' bit! (Just remember not to invite anyone to a silver wedding party five years too early.)

    I certainly wouldn't try to pretend to anyone that your celebrant led ceremony is your legal marriage. Anyone who has got married themselves or who has any basic knowledge of the legal requirements is going to spot a mile off that this isn't a legal ceremony. So if you are going to end up getting questions about it anyway, you might as well have your cover story presented up front. If you bill it as a 'Wedding Celebration' and mention that the legal ceremony will be 'earlier', hopefully no one will question further.

    • Reply
  • G
    Beginner August 2024 Bristol
    Genevieve ·
    • Report
    • Hide content

    Lots of people choose a venue that isn't licenced to hold legal ceremonies (much more choice anyway!) and then either just hold a reception, or hold a meaningful "ceremony" led by a friend/family member or paid celebrant. Eg a humanist celebrant who will design a ceremony that's personal and meaningful to the couple. I've been to weddings like that, where they want to hold the reception at a family home etc. At our local registry the cheapest option is to get married in a room that only holds the couple and 2 witnesses, and is bookable on a monday and tuesday! So it really can be a simple affair.

    So you could do that and just say to your guests on the day/before "we have already been to the registry office to make our marriage legal but this is the bit that's meaningful to us".

    Obviously honesty could be the best policy so it might be wise in the end to tell close family when that legal ceremony actually took place, but the wider guests don't really need to know.

    • Reply

You voted for . Add a comment 👇


Related articles

General groups

Hitched article topics