I am typically asked about officiating a wedding ceremony for a couple if they go to the courthouse judge and get married before the actual ceremony that I will preside over- and in most cases knowing that the family and guests present will not know that.
So the real question I’m asked is, will you be OK with that?
Yes, that is no problem for me at all. It’s only a problem if it’s the other way around. I can legally do it this way, because in the eyes of the state it is no different than a vow renewal ceremony. This way is actually very popular especially for military couples, either to get the spouse on the orders, for housing, or for deployment.
I have also had couples do this way for medical insurance reasons and for college students who end up moving in together and want to subside any guilt, but come to the wedding day without anyone knowing except for me and sometimes one or two others. From time to time, I have had couples who have did it this way because of timing and travel issues for the Gulf Coast beach wedding.
I am not one who likes to compare things with they way they do it in Europe, but have had both English and German nationals tell me that this is exactly how they do it in the European countries. A couple first gets married by the magistrate – similar to us going in for the marriage license – then the couple schedules the religious/family wedding ceremony.