As one writer explains, there are also many nonreligious reasons why couples choose to hold a civil ceremony prior to hosting a wedding day celebration with family and friends: military deployment, pregnancy, financial constraints, and immigration issues, to name a few. Even though this practice is far from rare in America, it can still stir up controversy, inviting accusations of "playing pretend" or "making a gift grab." But as the writer points out:
Those reactions are extremely North American-centric. In most European countries, all couples who wish to get married first have to do so in a civil ceremony. Then, they are free to have a religious wedding if they want. The city hall wedding is often very simple, with only immediate family and witnesses present, and the bride wears a nice but casual short dress, saving the long white dress, veil and big reception for their religious wedding. The most famous example known to us here in America is certainly Eva Longoria’s wedding to French basketball player Tony Parker. She was wearing a short pink Chanel dress to her civil ceremony officiated by the Mayor of Paris, but wore a white and satin silk designer dress with a fifteen foot train for the religious ceremony in a Catholic church the next day. Yet, no one would think of screaming "gift-grab!" or "just playing pretend!" Why? No, it's not just because she's a celebrity. But because it was in the groom's culture to do it that way. In France and almost all of Europe, a bigger wedding after a civil one is not only accepted, but expected.
Offbeat Bride has been a fantastic resource for inspiration, insight and perspective over the last year, and I encourage you to hop on over and check out some of the amazing "Wedding Porn" and crazy-cool themes from couples of all backgrounds, cultures and religions from all over the world. It's helpful to remember that no matter how kooky or weird you're own wedding might be, there's someone out there who did it weirder and wilder than you, with no regrets! Time and again, the story of Offbeat Brides everywhere has been the same: be true to yourself, and your family and friends will support you.
Jeff and I hope that will be true for our wedding. And it also helps take the pressure off to know that if things get too intense, we can always just elope and have a Doctor Who themed wedding in Vegas. (I mean, seriously, how cool is that?!)