Carolyn Hax: Weighing in on a pseudo-wedding

Carolyn Hax
Columnist July 16

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Hi, Carolyn;

Carolyn Hax started her advice column in 1997, after five years as a copy editor and news editor in Style and none as a therapist. The column includes cartoons by "relationship cartoonist" Nick Galifianakis -- Carolyn's ex-husband -- and appears in over 200 newspapers. View Archive

My brother and his fiancee have had issues with her parents during their wedding planning. Basically the parents want the wedding they want — not caring about the wedding she wants.

The two of them decided to elope the week before and then put on a second wedding to maintain the relationship with her parents. Honestly I feel a little weird about participating in all the pre-wedding stuff (bridesmaid dress, matching shoes, bridal shower, bachelorette, etc.) knowing they will have already been married. I know they’re trying to do what’s best for them, but a tiny part of me just feels like they are not owning their decision and asking others to help cover for them.

I’m pretty annoyed at this tiny part of myself and really want to see this as a way to support both of them! Verbal slap-down, please?


(Nick Galifianakis/The Washington Post)

Bridesmaid

Not feeling slappy over this, I’m sorry.

While I don’t love that you’re in on the lie, and I too would like this couple’s chances better if they stood up to her parents openly, I have a lot of sympathy for people who get pushed to the brink by outside wedding pressures.

Eloping sounds like an attempt to preserve themselves and their intimacy. Since those are paramount in a marriage, that (to my mind) is enough to hang on to as you smile through the clustercuss of bouquets and, ouf, matching shoes.

Re: Eloping:

Not trying to be snarky, just mystified: how does eloping solve any of the problems?

Anonymous 1 (A1)

It makes the whole thing theirs again, in a way the interlopers can’t touch. I totally get it.

Strong feelings abound. A sampling, without comment:

If the couple don’t want to put up with the parents’ crap, then they should stand up for their rights and be honest.

A2

My wife and I actually were married three days before our wedding. In our state, you can just sign the license in the clerk’s office and give it right back. We figured that was easier than taking the license to our ceremony. It never occurred to me that anyone might have a problem with this.

A3

The elopement is their wedding! The second event can be called a party, but it can’t be a wedding, and to pull it off as a wedding under false pretenses is tacky, not to mention just plain wrong.

A4

Well, could be the second one is religious and the first civil — to many, not redundant.

(Back to not commenting.)

What will they do when the bride’s mom wants to be in the delivery room and they don’t want her there? Have the baby first, and a pretend second delivery?

A5

I’d like to see that, actually.

(Really back to not commenting.)

Sometimes the focus gets moved from the marriage to the wedding — this couple is moving it back to them and their marriage. As for the redundancy, a wedding is simply a public announcement of a private agreement: we are a couple, and we want the world to know it and interact with us on that basis. A couple can say that in public at as many parties as they wish.

A6

Thanks for playing, everyone.

Write to Carolyn Hax, Style, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or tellme@washpost.com. Get her column delivered to your inbox each morning at http://bit.ly/haxpost.

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