Another way to put it is that my favorite part of any wedding is watching a couple become husband and wife. If I somehow end up attending a re-do, this would be meaningless to me, and no different than someone re-enacting their graduation ceremony. And if I later learned that they were married and I didn't know it, I'd consider this a lie by omission.
I think this pretty much encapsulates it. For some of us, whatever comes first is what makes "a couple become husband and wife" (or wife and wife or husband and husband). For some of us, it's whatever satisfies the government that they are married. For some of us, it's whatever the couple decides "makes them" a married couple.
Most of us feel pretty much "one to a couple"; the disagreement is what counts as a "wedding" and what doesn't. To some of us, an earlier, private, uncelebrated, legal proceeding counts as "a wedding" (I don't mean an elopement that you change your mind about later, I mean a quick visit to a government office to get the legal requirements covered before the planned wedding for some reason) and to some of us, it is more like getting the license. So for us, "what we are witnessing" isn't changed by that.
And that colors our feelings when we attend the wedding. Some wouldn't want it called a "wedding" and would feel that "I do" is a lie, because they already had satisfied the legal requirements. But to me, if the couple felt they were forced to call it a "blessing" or "reenactment" or "renewal" or "sanctification of their marriage" or something and had to say "I did" instead of "I do," that would feel worse. And it's for exactly the same reason as lead Mikayla to the opposite position!
That is: don't invite me to a meaningless ritual. But where we part company is what makes a ritual meaningful or meaningless.
In my opinion, if this is, to the couple
, their wedding, what makes them a married couple, then the vows they are taking have meaning, and it's an honor to be there, and I really don't care that they took care of the civil legalities another time, and I don't think they should have to devalue what they are doing today by not calling it a wedding and saying "we did" or something. But
I agree that if they feel that the civil legalities were really the important part and they have been a married couple since then, then (I suppose except in the case of a religious ceremony that the couple takes seriously) I feel like this ceremony is the attempt to have things both ways that we all pretty much disapprove of, and they should just have a reception.
Mikayla, I am genuinely curious (you know I respect your opinion!): if The Moment is both (1) whatever establishes the legal status and (2) what you need to see in order to feel that it counts as "the wedding," then how do you (and others in your camp on this) feel about
- people in countries or religions where the civil and religious ceremonies cannot be done at the same time
- same-sex couples who want their wedding in their home town, but live in a state that does not yet have marriage equality, so must go somewhere else another time for legalities?
To me, it seems both mean and unnecessary to insist that these couples should not call their weddings "weddings" or say "I do" and the like.
And I guess for people who have other reasons for treating a separate legal ceremony like no more than getting a license, I feel the same. I don't feel lied to or as if I am witnessing something meaningless in such a case.
[And I also stress that I am not talking about people who really are trying to fool people and have already considered themselves a married couple, and I know that you are not talking about people who had a civil proceeding just a few days before the wedding for some logistical reason.]