A Gainesville couple recently confided they had been secretly married for months.
They have their reasons for keeping the nuptials under wraps for now. As it turns out, there are many such newlyweds. Some want to escape the drama of bringing family members together — others simply can’t afford a big wedding. There are as many reasons as there are couples.
The thing about the secret wedding is that it’s definitely cheap — basically, the cost of the marriage license and an officiant. The Alachua County Clerk of the Court issues the license and for an extra $30 can perform a civil ceremony, or the couple can marry elsewhere within 60 days.
The Gainesville couple, who plan a “real” wedding when the time is right, knew a notary who married them at no cost, so theirs was as low-budget an event as possible. According to the county clerk’s marriage license Web site, the total cost for a license (including county and state fees) is $93.50 — couples who attend an approved premarital preparation class pay only $61.00.
Secret weddings are not without potential problems. A recent Dear Abby column featured a “secret wedding” dilemma:
DEAR ABBY: My older brother “Mike” was married several months ago. The family was informed after the fact. Mike and his bride, “Sophie,” didn’t elope. They had planned their church wedding for the better part of a year, and decided to include only a small group of friends while completely excluding the family.
Mike and Sophie are now throwing themselves a party in their honor to celebrate their union. My mother not only wants me to attend, but expects me to give them a gift as well.
Mom says he is “family” and therefore I am obligated to give a gift. I say I wasn’t invited to their wedding so I’m under no obligation to give one. I have no desire to reward someone who thinks so little of me. What do you say? — Left Out Sibling in Wisconsin
DEAR LEFT OUT SIBLING: If you haven’t already done so, tell your brother how hurt you feel to have not been invited to his wedding, then listen to what he has to say. Give him a chance to mend fences. If that doesn’t happen, then skip the celebration. But remember that if you don’t attend, the rift that has been created may never be healed.
There are big differences between the Gainesville couple, whose immediate family was informed of the quickie marriage, and the Wisconsin couple who planned a full-out celebration without telling their family.
Either way, however, a secret can only be kept for so long!
(For story suggestions or feedback, contact Carla Hotvedt at SILVER IMAGE® Weddings via firstname.lastname@example.org)