The unexpected benefits of “getting legalled” before our wedding

Guest post by ynezg
getting legally married before wedding

My Sweetie, J, and I went to the courthouse and got legalled, but it wasn't originally our plan at all. And even so, we're still going forward with our wedding. The impetus behind our legalling came upon us quite unexpectedly: I became aware of a scholarship available (enough to cover the tuition and fees for the rest of my time in school) to military spouses and, as a student scrimping and saving my way methodically through grad school, there is no question that extra funds would be most helpful. The catch: I wouldn't become a military spouse until after the deadline to apply for the scholarship had passed.

It took approximately five minutes of discussion with J to decide that I MUST apply for the scholarship and that WE WOULD be addressing my legal status straight away. I bought a dress, he bought a suit, I made a hat, and we made an appointment to be married by the judge at our local county courthouse with my mother and his best friend in attendance to witness. And there you have it. I am now officially a military spouse and therefore eligible for this wonderful opportunity!

As expected, having the ability to now apply for this scholarship is a wonderful thing. But something completely unexpected happened through this experience that I did not anticipate.

Before I get into that, however, I should explain that oftentimes I make life-altering decisions based on what I see as purely practical and commonsense reasoning. Need money for grad school? Scholarship available for military spouses? Solution: become a military spouse as fast as possible and apply.

[related-post align=”right”]This is the second marriage for both of us. We both went through fairly nasty divorces and we both were carrying a lot of anxiety along with us as we planned to marry again. Forget the fact that WE ARE A TEAM dammit and we LOVE our team. GO TEAM! And our puppies and kitties, and our house, and our quiet time in the evenings, and absolutely everything about our lives. We still, both, suffered from the lingering sense that we had once upon a time loved those things with our former spouses and things nevertheless went horribly, horribly wrong for us before. Our anxieties became the THE THING THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED.

Enter this scholarship. We both saw it as an eminently practical thing to do and so therefore, off to the courthouse we must go. But in the quiet hours and the dark in bed the night before, we held hands and we shared our anxieties, THE THING THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED…

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, I'm sure. I want to marry you.”

“Me too.”

I didn't sleep very much that night, and I got up quite early. I'd made an appointment to get my hair and makeup done, and while J slept, I snuck out of the house for coffee and a bagel before my appointment at the salon. When I got back to the house later, J was getting dressed. Normally, a retro-game-T-and-jeans-wearing kind of guy, all I can say is He. Looks. Amazing. in a suit.

He smiled hesitantly, and I smiled hesitantly back. I got dressed, and we drove to the courthouse.

In those moments when we raised our right hands and signed the marriage license, he didn't throw up and I didn't pass out or cry hysterically — though there were brief moments for both of us when we thought we might. Instead, we held hands before the judge, and our witnesses, and all the other couples gathered there that day, we grinned stupidly at each other, we spoke the very traditional vows prompted for us by the judge, and we got married. I married my teammate.

Here's the wonderful, unexpected part: In the aftermath of that day, the anxiety, the fear, THE THING THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED, has disappeared. Poof! Gone, for both of us.

There's a very good chance that our anxiety would have made our wedding, already a very stressful event for anyone, less than the amazing day we're planning it to be. Now, we know that we'll spend our wedding weekend having a blast with our family and friends.

Thank goodness for getting legalled.

Be sure to check out our very-much-related posts about Getting Weddinged (which is when you have a wedding-type event after getting legalled)

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Comments on The unexpected benefits of “getting legalled” before our wedding

  1. Hubby and I got legalled with just our two best friends at the court house for witnesses. They kept hush a whole year. And we told “the world” we had gotten ‘engaged’ that day. Then had the ‘wedding’ on our 1 yr anniversary and our fam/friends were really happy. We only invited close people. No need for extras or negative ppl. But it was a wonderful thing. I wore my full rings after the wedding…only downside was that hubby couldn’t wear his ring in public for that year and he really wanted to….. Lesson learned: do what makes ya two happy and thats its!!!
    PS…yes taxes are kudos 🙂

  2. Some of the posts here cement my decision to not elope. I have a huge extended family and all of them live out of town. I was worried that if I did elope, some of them wouldn’t come to the party we had later. It wasn’t that I wanted their gifts – I have just never seen both sides of my family in one place (or most of them) and I really wanted that experience. I do not agree with folks that get upset about eloping but it’s a reality that they will react. You just need to decide what you want and go with it. I don’t regret my choice at all – my big family picture is not only my fav wedding picture, it’s also one of my favorite wedding moments.

  3. I love this post so much! My husband and I got “legalled” as you call it for school/insurance/financial reasons because he was military. Although I enjoy that we got all the legal benefits of being married, and I’m still going to get an awesome wedding that my whole family can attend and celebrate with us, most people treat it as if my wedding will be a sham. :/

    actually my brother did just the opposite. He and his wife had a wedding, but never actually signed a marriage licence so that she could keep on her mothers insurance until she graduated college and got a “grown up girl” job.

  4. My fiance and I actually just talked about this briefly last night! He’s in the military and there’s a chance he’ll get deployed sometime next summer. Our current wedding date is for July 2015, but I asked him, “How would you feel about possibly getting ‘legaled’ before you deploy so you can get separation pay for us to save for actually getting married?” Plus there’s the part about how the military doesn’t really recognize relationships except for established legal ones, so it might make sense for purposes of me having access to information and stuff like that.

    Obviously we have a while to make any decisions (he was fine with it but said it would be silly to decide now when we don’t even know for sure if he’s going), but actually the “double wedding” situation is easy for us because we’re Catholic. So we’d have the legal ceremony first, then the big religious ceremony, and both would be “real”! And since I’m planning on using the phrasing “nuptial Mass” on the invitations instead of “wedding”, it works out well.

  5. My fiance/husband and I did the same thing. We got engaged December 2012, with a wedding date set for March, 2014. We ended up getting legally married this March, exactly one year before the wedding. The main reason we decided to do this was because he had great benefits and I had no health insurance. The only two people that know are our moms. To me I did have a fleeting thought of “why even have a wedding now,” but we already had our venue booked prior to making this decision. I am happy that we are still going to have our super fun wedding with family and friends. We decided to have a friend of my mom’s sign our paperwork instead of doing the courthouse thing which generally still involves vows and ring exchange. We wanted to save all of that for the wedding (although we did do a small weekend getaway). It’s kind of a running joke about how we are going to have the biggest first anniversary party ever!

  6. I love this.

    I was so excited to get accepted last October to my first choice PharmD program, but along with my acceptance letter came a list of unexpected prerequisites I apparently still needed to take. I already got my bachelors in Biology and Chemistry in 2012, so this was a surprise. I had only lived in that state for 4 months, but my husband (who was my fiance at the time, obviously) had lived there for over a year. So, he was a legal resident and I was not. So, basically we got legally married 2 weeks after I got my acceptance letter so I could claim residency through him and get in-state tuition for my extra classes. It ended up not only saving us like $6000 in tuition costs, but we ended up getting a HUUUUGE tax refund this month. lol.

    We only told our parents, wedding party, and siblings that we got legalled.
    We also had an amazing, perfect wedding on March 22nd.

    Everything worked out perfectly.

  7. I’m so worried, I don’t know what to do. We are currently engaged and have a date and venue set for may 2017. We are currently saving up for a down payment on a house and my fiance is thinking we could get a better loan being married than not married and wants to go down to the courthouse once we have our down payment saved. I agree with him about it and he would be able to jump on my health insurance too, but with our wedding so far away would it just be weird? Being legally married for like two years before having your nice wedding ceremony with all of your family and friends? What day would be the anniversary?

    • I know this was a while ago, but in case anyone else is having similar worries about what-ifs, my biggest piece of advice is Ask For Help. Talk to a mortgage broker about buying a house married vs. unmarried! My fiancé and I started the house-buying process last year (before putting a temporary pause on it), and the only people who worried whether us buying a house as unmarrieds would be a problem…were married friends who’d bought houses. Never a peep from our realtor or mortgage broker.

      That said, tax & insurance wins in my first marriage were HUGE. So. Ask people who can answer these questions for real (whether that’s a tax person, a mortgage person, or someone else), and then you don’t have to wonder.

    • My husband and I got legalled for a home loan. It did make a difference for us because we were using a VA Home Loan. Talk to the banks and see what the best rate really would be, because in our case the VA required we be married before they could include my income toward the loan, but other types of home loans don’t have those requirements. We had our legal ceremony a few months ago, applied for the loan the next day, and are closing on our house at the end of the month! Our Wedding is July 3rd and we have only told a few friends and family that we are legally hitched already. We made a fun day of it though, a small ceremony with a humanist officiant in a park with our friends followed by a food truck rodeo! I think we will probably share the story at our rehearsal dinner because I don’t want to keep it secret forever!

  8. This post got me on the verge of some serious waterworks. I held it together. Mostly. My fiance and I plan to “elope” (with quotes because, although it will just be me and him, everyone already knows) to Maui next May. I just don’t know if I want to wait that long! I’ve thought about going down to the courthouse but still having our fancy Maui day in May!

    Anyway, this will be my second marriage and his first. The thing which must not be named is very, very real for me, and I think he struggles to understand… and of course I don’t want to bring it up to him and cause any needless worry for him. 🙁 Thanks for sharing this. It really helped me feel so much less alone.

  9. brilliant! i think this is a great idea for a couple trying to save precious money and resources. some people like niyla styers should smell the coffee, it’s all about efficiency and many couples are doing it now.

  10. Beyond the fact that getting Legalled facilitated and streamlined our home buying process, I strongly believe that its made the whole wedding planning process less stressful. I do worry a little bit about how to break the news to the friends and few family members who don’t already know, but ultimately it doesn’t matter! We are thinking about telling everyone as part of our rehearsal dinner, like announce it and show the pics from the legal ceremony!

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