Weddings are both deeply personal and highly public events.
The ceremony and reception are often shared with friends and family, but the legal side of things is not often so.
A recent bride is facing extreme backlash from her husband's mother for not telling her that they were legally married before their wedding ceremony. She took to Reddit to seek advice about whether she was wrong to keep that info from the groom's mother.
The bride, who goes by the username Brideandgroom19, gave some pretty significant backstory in her post after asking:
"About two months ago, my husband and I got 'married' in a beautiful ceremony. It was SO MUCH FUN. We went on a honeymoon after. The price tag makes me wheeze, but my parents were insistent on paying for 95% of it, saying it's their only daughter's wedding. As a result, the wedding was way more fancy than something my husband or I could afford! My husband and I paid the rest — his family did not contribute (which is fine!)."
Meaning that the woman complaining about the couple having been legally married already played no part in financing their wedding ceremony.
"The wedding was lovely, but missing one piece - the marriage license. About a year and a half ago, I was going through some serious health issues (the issues are resolved now, thankfully!). I had recently graduated from school and didn't have health insurance."
"My husband and I decided to get married so I could join his health insurance. It was a quick Justice of the Peace ceremony. We were always planning to have a ceremony at some point in the future."
"A few months after that, he 'proposed' (something I didn't see coming!), the wedding occurred, and here we are today, planning for kids."
All's well that ends well, right?
Not so much, when this mother-in-law is involved.
"Very few people knew we got legally married about a year and a half ago. We weren't trying to be deceptive. However, part of it was that I wasn't comfortable revealing my health issues. My husband respected this."
"My parents knew about our legal marriage, but his mother did not. His mom (I'll call her Carol) and I aren't close. She's fine enough in low doses, but..."
"We're currently in the process of moving. This past weekend, his mother came to help us pack up things. As we were packing files (birth certificate, social security cards, etc.), somehow our marriage license must've slipped out. Carol picked it up and kept insisting we need to frame it. And then she noticed the date."
It's easy to see where this is going.
"Carol lost it. She insisted we lied to everyone. She said our wedding ceremony was just a 'gift grab' (our wedding website stated that someone's presence was gift enough— we still got many generous gifts and we are forever grateful)."
It gets worse.
It seems that Carol just had to go and involve her sister.
"Carol went and called her twin sister, my husband's aunt, and the sister called and lashed out at us. She said we were sneaky and deceptive. She is saying she may want her gift back—something we are fine with giving her."
If only Carol had a modicum of self-awareness; she might realize that there is a very good reason she wasn't trusted with the information that the pair were already married.
"For me and my husband, the legal wedding was just so I could get insurance. A means to an end. Our wedding date is what we will celebrate. Are we a**holes for not being more upfront? I've been really upset and confused and waffle back and forth. My husband insists we are not a**holes."
You can read all of Brideandgroom19's post below:
The overwhelming concensus on Reddit was that the bride and groom were not at fault.
"NTA. Also, your husband deserves an extra shout out for backing your decision. There's far, far too many feckless spouses out there who will side with "mommy and daddy" over their partner. And those partners deserve better." -BropolloCreed
"NTA. There is a reason why you only take Carol in small doses." -nextm8
Several people struggled to figure out how a wedding where the bride and groom specifically said gifts were not required, and that the parents of the bride paid for, could be a gift-grab.
"How is it a gift grab if you didn't have one a year and a half ago? like, if you'd done a real wedding back then, there would have been a reception anyway so..."
"NTA. but if you haven't found away to explain things to her, figure out a way to tell her while leaving the unwanted specifics out and have your husband explain the situation. you won't wanna be on your MIL's bad side from the proverbial gate." -SilverScreen2019
"NTA Also keep in mind that gifts are just that. Once somebody gifts you something, sole ownership of that thing goes to you." -hideyyo
Others were sure to make the point that "Carol" is the one being unreasonable.
"NTA. Being legally married unlocks certain powers that can make life better. Y'all did that and that was wise."
"The ceremony / reception is to celebrate the couple, and also a good way to see friends and relatives that aren't close by. The fact that y'all were legally married doesn't diminish the celebration."
"Carol is being an a**hole because she feels entitled to know EVERY detail about you and her son, and her not knowing a socially irrelevant (but legally very relevant) detail wounds her little heart. This is a perfect application for the non-apology 'I'm sorry you feel that way, but we made the right decision'" -ShoelessBoJackson
"NTA. I understand Carol feeling hurt at her son not telling her he was married, but your health and legal relationship status are your business. Nor should you be denied a big family affair just because your circumstances forced you to get a marriage license. She was way out of line." -MightyMary007
"OMG! I am in the wedding industry. Do you know how many people have multiple ceremonies?"
"Let's see ... Sweden and NYC and Tucson....three there. Indian are almost always one in India and one in America. NYC and LA. LA and Montana. Colorado and NYC. And those are just the receptions. They get the legalities out of the way early on so that visas and passports and reservations, etc. are easier."
"Send her gift back. And tell her to google multiple receptions. Very common these days." -ichweisnichts
It's not as though this bride and groom were the first to get married for financial or insurance reasons.
Some others shared their stories in the comments.
"NTA. OP, my boyfriend (I guess legally husband) and I did the exact same thing. I had some health issues and his insurance was excellent. So we got legally married and didn't really tell anyone. My parents are EXTREMELY judgmental and would not be okay with this so I just don't tell them. I keep them on an information diet anyway."
"To us, it's not a marriage, just another legal document. When we have the actual proposal, ring, ceremony, etc., that to us is the real wedding, a public declaration of our love and commitment. We don't even call each other husband and wife because we don't see it like that."
"Don't let people on this thread tell you otherwise. You did what you did and it benefited you in the end, that's all that matters. Btw, the healthcare I received saved my life without breaking my bank. Sometimes a rarity in the US!" -BrutusTeddyTesla
"I am 99% sure my brother and his wife were married a year or so before their wedding. Same deal, his fiance (of 8 years) left her job, and didn't have insurance. He mentioned a few times about how worried they were about affording out of pocket insurance for her.... Then it just never came up again."
"He hasn't mentioned it to anyone, and nobody asks, but we are all pretty sure that they were legally married well before the wedding. It just made too much economic sense to not do so." -JonNelsonPhotography
Consensus was things might, possibly, have gone more smoothly if the groom had told his mother that the couple were legally married, but he had no obligation to do so. He was just respecting his partner's wishes to keep her health concerns private, information that his mother has no right to anyway.
Carol's reaction is way out of line, and hopefully the happy couple find a way to help her see that so they won't have to deal with the fallout from her entitlement for too long.
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