Mumsnet Logo
My feed

to access all these features


To only get socially married?

494 replies

Enormousnamechange · 22/04/2021 07:41

Hi all

So here's the thing - DP is ambivalent about getting married (he'd do it for me but equally if we never married he'd be just as happy), and I have come to realise that all the things I want from marriage come from the social side rather than the legal side if that makes sense. I'd keep my own name regardless, and can't have kids so we won't be having any of our own, and financially I'm in a much stronger position and will likely be for the rest of my life for one reason or another. From what I know so far, getting married would if anything being a bad idea for me.

But I'd feel so sad never being someone's wife, and to grow old watching my friends get married. Never getting to do the dress and have the party. Never being able to introduce this lovely man to people as my husband. Having everyone wonder why we never got married and if we were really committed. You get the idea. But these doesn't seem like good enough reasons!

I have wondered about doing everything except the legal bit, and as no one would think they were entitled to know my legal/financial situation in any other circumstance they wouldn't need to know here either. We would live our lives after the non-legally binding ceremony exactly like any other married couple. I suppose it could 'come out' if we were to split but not need to go through a divorce.

The thing is I've never ever heard anyone else even think about doing this? It seems to totally solve my problem but I also don't know how people would feel - would they feel betrayed and lied to? But equally I feel that the particular ways in which DP and I are legally bound to each other are not other people's concern. DP's views on this are that he's bought in whatever I'd like to do and he quite likes the idea of being socially not legally married.

But what do you think? Have I lost the plot? Would you be upset/annoyed/amused if you found out you'd been to a wedding of two people who weren't legally married?

YABU - No sham weddings please
YANBU - Seems harmless enough

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

rosemary35 · 22/04/2021 07:44

My first thought is you can’t do this. It would be lying to your friends and family, who would buy you wedding presents, along with new outfits for themselves/travel/time off work etc.

If you’re up front that it’s not a legal marriage, fine, but fewer people might show up.


rosemary35 · 22/04/2021 07:45

For what it’s worth, I think wanting to be someone’s wife, and wanting to call the man you love your husband, are good enough reasons to get married Smile


Tittybittybangbang · 22/04/2021 07:46

Surely the legal bit is the part you want? That’s the bit that protects you.


Azerothi · 22/04/2021 07:46

You won't be married so he'll still be a boyfriend and you surely wouldn't lie to all your friends and family and introduce him as your husband?

I don't get the point of all this.


Springchickpea · 22/04/2021 07:46

The thing is, in my opinion, the only important reason to actually get married is because of the increased protection it gives in case of a relationship failure, especially if you have children and then have the career break, loss of progression, etc that goes with it.

Otherwise, I consider it to be something of an outdated and patriarchal ritual - traditionally the transfer of ‘ownership’ of a woman from her father to her husband.

It’s fine to get married if you just want to be married, but it’s definitely not necessary. And I’d be wary if it potentially puts you in a worse financial position. I actually thought my sister shouldn’t have got married - she had way more assets, and her children were from a previous relationship.

For disclosure: I am married, with two children. I am not the breadwinner (not even close), and am several years younger. For me marriage got me a much better stake in our shared estate.


HalfShrunkMoreToGo · 22/04/2021 07:46

I suppose I would mainly wonder what the point was, it would be the same service to get the legal bit done as to it for pretend and then you would have all the protections of a legal marriage. You don't have to change your name when you're married that's your choice.


TeenMinusTests · 22/04/2021 07:47

I've been to a wedding like that (one of the people was not divorced from previous spouse). People knew it wasn't legal (at least I did), and didn't seem to mind.


Tittybittybangbang · 22/04/2021 07:47

Sorry, posted too soon, I think just get married! Especially if you plan all the rest.


Isadora2007 · 22/04/2021 07:47

I’m confused why you wouldn’t just get married? You could agree a prenup if you’re concerned you’d be worse off following a divorce, but I would not do a “social marriage” as it really is just a big lie.
Just get married. You’re overthinking it.


CuriousSeal · 22/04/2021 07:48

A celebrant usually says at the beginning of a service that it isn't legally binding, so your guests would know.

It seems like a really weird thing to do OP. Why not celebrate an anniversary with a huge party at a fancy venue instead?


TheMotherlode · 22/04/2021 07:48

I don’t think you can be ‘socially married’, you’re either married or you’re not. Totally fine if you don’t want to be, but don’t pretend.

If it’s about the party then just have a party. Don’t lie to your friends and family that it’s a wedding if it isn’t though.


BertrandRussell · 22/04/2021 07:49

Why not just have a big party? That way you can have a pretty frock and tell everyone you’re in it for life without what seems to me (sorry) to be a bit of a charade. For what it’s worth I’ve been very happily unmarried for nearly 40 years now-and if anyone doubts our commitment to each other it’s their problem, not ours.


Sleepingdogs12 · 22/04/2021 07:50

Why not have a civil partnership?


PollyThePony · 22/04/2021 07:50

I think it's fine! In your position, I'd di exactly the same.

Lots of people ONLY want the legal bit, (to avoid inheritance tax when one of you dies), without the wedding bit. You just want the opposite.

There is some sort of grey area in Scotslaw (I don't think in English law), re commonlaw marriage. I don't think it's a clear or reliable piece of law, but I do think it can be argued about in court there. I studied this a very, very long time ago! Happy to be corrected if I'm misremembering.


MotherOfCrocodiles · 22/04/2021 07:51

There are some legal implications even if no kids. Especially if one of you were injured or ill, your rights to make decisions for your spouse. Inheritance tax. Visas if you move abroad.


PollyThePony · 22/04/2021 07:52

You could have a religious or humanist ceremony without the legal bit as well, I would think? Or would that also throw up grey areas if you split and he wants your assets (god forbid).


LordEmsworth · 22/04/2021 07:53

Marriage IS a legal thing not a social thing.

You are free to introduce him as your husband - it's not a protected term, you won't face arrest.

If you want to buy a dress and have a party then do it. But a wedding isn't the same thing as a marriage!

Holding a fake wedding in order to convince other people you're properly committed would be weird. Also awkward when one of you is rushed to hospital and it turns out the other can't make any medical decisions because you're not next of kin. Or when he dies intestate and his family inherits his share of your joint assets.

Live your life however you want to and stop worrying about what other people might or might not think about your relationship. If you don't want the legal structure of marriage then at least make sure you're both taking legal advice around wills etc.


MotherOfCrocodiles · 22/04/2021 07:53

I think you might need to be honest with guests. We did the legal bit separately for ours (just a couple of days earlier in registry office) and some people- just a few- objected even to that!


emilyfrost · 22/04/2021 07:54

YABVU. You can’t have a fake wedding.

If you did this you wouldn’t be married, he would forever be your boyfriend not your husband, you would not be a wife, and you’d be lying to everyone you love.


Incognitool · 22/04/2021 07:54

I think it’s deeply weird that you’ve clearly thought in detail about putting on a big illusion rather than take your DP at his word — that he’s not keen but would do it if you wanted to.


DropDTuning · 22/04/2021 07:55

This is a really stupid thing to do. Growing old what you need is legal and financial protection, not some wanky dress.

You're rejecting the bit that really matters in favour of the pointless commercial attention-seeking nonsense.

If your 'DP' refuses to commit legally and financially to you, I'd be more concerned about that than about whether or not people would be pissed off if they found out your 'wedding' was a sham.


Enormousnamechange · 22/04/2021 07:56

I should add this is all hypothetical at this stage (if that wasn't obvious), more casting around for ideas!

I suppose my argument is that I wouldn't need the protection, my career is solid and children aren't an option for us. The protection would be for DP, who doesn't want it (I have made it very clear to him that if does want it, then that's something I'm open to!). The sad thing is marriages do end sometimes, sometimes acrimoniously and I don't want to lose my assets to him in that case when he didn't even want them in the first place!

The lying part I do get and understand why people
would be upset. My family would know, I haven't passed the idea any further than my parents but the view there seems to be that DP and I are both get what we want and my financial situation is protected so they're happy. However, would you be more upset by this lie than any other? All lies are shit to be on the receiving end of, but it wouldn't effect anyone except us (unless there's a way it would that I haven't thought of)?

Finally - the "he's just a boyfriend" line is exactly why I'd want to do get socially married. He's not just my boyfriend, he's my life partner, best friend etc. I'd hate to be in my 50s and 60s and have people still consider him "just a boyfriend". Feel quite emotional about that.

OP posts:

FOJN · 22/04/2021 07:56

You wouldn't be a wife if you were not legally married, although there is nothing to stop you referring to each other as husband and wife if that's what you would like to do.

I find it strange you would consider lying to friends and family because you think marriage would give you status. If you are both happy with your commitment to each other then I'm at a loss to understand what difference being called a wife would make.


imalmostthere · 22/04/2021 07:57

No - that's really weird.
You basically want to get married to have a party and to be able to say you're married without doing it.
You cannot get fake married and tell everyone it's real.
1 - it's fraud.
2 - if I was your close friend or relative and went to your wedding, spent money etc, celebrated with you and then found out it was all fake - I'd think you were a massive CF and a lunatic.

If you want a party, have one.
The rest, just no.


RuggeryBuggery · 22/04/2021 07:57

Sorry I think it’s a bit weird
If you don’t want to get married then own it.
If you want him to be your husband... get married.

If you want a big party celebrating your commitment then have that, could be an anniversary party maybe.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Sign up to continue reading

Mumsnet's better when you're logged in. You can customise your experience and access way more features like messaging, watch and hide threads, voting and much more.

Already signed up?