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Q: California Wedding Question ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: California Wedding Question
Category: Relationships and Society > Romance
Asked by: sumoneinla-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 09 Jul 2006 23:29 PDT
Expires: 08 Aug 2006 23:29 PDT
Question ID: 744827

  I have a dilemna and need some help figuring it out...I had eloped a
year ago  with my wife because my parents did not approve of
her...however, in the hopes of winning them over I did not tell them
we eloped and instead tried to get them to know her.  Well the good
news is that they have gotten to know her and now approve of us
getting married.  They are arranging the wedding and have already
decided on using their pastor at their churc for the wedding. 
Normally, I don't really care, but I don't want them to find out that
we eloped as that would destroy much of the hard work we did in
building up our relationship to where it is now.  As I understand it,
the pastor needs to sign the marriage certificate, and the fear is
that when the pastor who is expecting to sign the marriage certificate
finds out we are already married, the pastor will tell our parents and
hurt our new found good relations.  We are not familiar with the
pastor as he is the pastor at my parents church, and is close to my 
parents.  We eloped in Vegas, so the question is this: Can we re-get a
marriage certificate in California even though we already have one
(married) in Vegas so that the pastor has something to sign?  If not,
are there any other ideas around this situation?  This answer would
mean a lot to me as I really would like to preserve the good
relationship we have with my parents right now.
Subject: Re: California Wedding Question
Answered By: tutuzdad-ga on 10 Jul 2006 10:23 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Dear sumoneinla-ga;

Thank you for allowing me to answer your interesting question. Since
you are already married you cannot apply for a marriage certificate in
California as if you were never married. The application process
requires you to affirm under oath that you are not legally married at
the time of your application. To falsify this affidavit places you
both in danger of perjury. California law provides that only ?an
unmarried man and an unmarried woman? are eligible to apply for a
marriage license.


I realize you love each other and all that but you must also consider
the ramifications down the road if your marriage does not work out ?
it?s a fact that many marriages don?t. Should that occur there would
be some terribly confusing legal issues about when and where you were
married and whether or not you violated the law. Likewise there will
also be questions down the road about your eligibility for Social
Security, disability, retirement, and death benefits and on and on,
which are already incredibly complicated without adding to it the
issue of a false marriage.

Now that I?ve answered your question about the possibility of ?faking?
a marriage, let me add some unsolicited advice:

Like it to not, your marriage makes your wife a member of your family.
This fact does not require your parents? approval. You have made a
man?s decision and as such you should stand up and defend your
position. By all accounts it sounds as if your parents are determined
to have YOUR life THEIR way and you seem to imply that you are willing
to submit to their demands. The best approach in any aspect of your
life is HONESTY. In the long run you will gain more respect from your
wife if you simply take your parents aside and tell them the truth. To
live the lie is to refuse to defend your decision, which is ultimately
a refusal to defend yourself and your wife. Believe me, it WILL make a
difference to her that you defended her honor.

What happens later if the truth unexpectedly comes out? Oh yes, it can
happen. How embarrassing would this be and how would you explain it to
your parents or to the California authorities? Did you know that all
Clark County Nevada marriage records are online for the public to see?
They are. I know, because you and I and thousands of others like us
who were married in Las Vegas are in it. All it would take would be
one curious person to discover this and let the cat out of the bag.


I recommend you contact the pastor and ask for a private consultation.
Explain your situation and tell him that you married because it was
the right and honorable thing to do in order for two people who love
each other to live the type of intimate life the two of you felt
compelled to live. Tell him you refuse to be dishonest and you want to
be open with your parents in defending your wife's honor as a member
of the family. Ask him to accompany the both of you to a neutral place
(not their home) to explain the situation to your parents. My guess is
that the pastor will help smooth the situation out and that the
wedding will take place as planned. In your private circle it will be
known that this is a ?renewal of vows? but no one else will be wiser
and for all intents and purposes this will be a true "wedding". People
renew vows all the time and there?s nothing unusual or illegal about
it. This way there is no lie, nothing to cover up, no disappointed
relatives and no fooling around with the law. If there is any "secret"
to be held, it should be from your wedding guests, not the parents or
the pastor.

In short ? no, you cannot legally apply for a marriage license in
California if you are already married (even to each other).

The workaround ? have a ceremony without a certificate. The guests
don't see the pastor sign the certificate anyway, so it won't matter
to them one way or the other. You won?t need a certifcate since you
are already married, however, in order to pull this off effectively
you?ll have to face the music with the parents (unless the pastor
agrees to help precipitate the lie ? which isn?t likely).

I hope you find that my answer exceeds your expectations. If you have
any questions about my research please post a clarification request
prior to rating the answer. Otherwise I welcome your rating and your
final comments and I look forward to working with you again in the
near future. Thank you for bringing your question to us.

Best regards;
Tutuzdad-ga ? Google Answers Researcher


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Request for Answer Clarification by sumoneinla-ga on 12 Jul 2006 22:35 PDT
Hi tutuzdad,

  Thank you so much for your answer... I apologize for the late reply,
I thought that answers came striaght into my inbox like craigslist.
Unfortunately, my wife and I feel pretty strongly that telling my
parents is not the optimal solution at this time for a variety of
reasons.  In terms of solution, one idea would be to confess to our
own pastor and have him conduct our ceremony.  Do you think this is a
viable solution, and if we use our parent's church, is it totally
against precedent to use our own pastor?  Are there any other possible
solutions to this without telling my parents?


Clarification of Answer by tutuzdad-ga on 13 Jul 2006 06:54 PDT
Dear sumoneinla-ga

As for the notification feature here, you are right; clarifications,
answers and so forth are normally forwarded however there is an
unfortunate technical problem that currently prevents that feature
from working properly. Otherwise you would have been notified via your

Where the church protocol is concerned this is often determined by
church policy. While some churches do not allow outside clergy to
officiate in their churches ? especially those of other faiths ?
generally speaking most churches do permit outside clergy to officiate
weddings, funerals and other non-worship ceremonies. You?ll simply
have to find out what this particular church allows. I would imagine
that having your own pastor officiate would not be a problem if you
simply explain that you prefer to have a favored pastor conduct the

One thing that you might need to be aware of is that your personal
pastor may need to make a subtle modification to the wording of the
ceremony in order to refrain from becoming part of the ?lie?. Where
the pastor normally says, ??.then, by the power vested in me by the
state of California I now pronounce you husband and wife?, he may need
to say something to the effect of ??then, on your profession of love,
before these witnesses I now pronounce you husband and wife?. This
will absolve him from suggesting that he does indeed have the
authority in the state of California, which he will not have since you
will not have the legal documents necessary to make a California
marriage official. The wording is a simple but important modification
that will probably go unnoticed by those in attendance.

I believe that if you sit down with your pastor and explain the
situation that he will probably go along with the plan. Assuming the
church has no objections to the outside clergyman presiding over the
wedding ceremony the problem may very well be one that has been blown
out of proportion. As a rule when people marry the signing of the
documentation is something that is relatively low-key anyway and
usually done outside the view of others. Whether or not there is any
document to sign will not be common knowledge HOWEVER the official
legal announcement by the county clerk may be noticeably absent from
the newspaper since you won?t be filing for a license. This may
require some additional explanation for which I have no advise. You?ll
have to wing that one as best you can when, or if, a question about
its absence arises.

Best of luck;
sumoneinla-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
Thank you for your thorough answer to a somewhat difficult and open
ended question...I appreciate the advice and help.  Wish us the best
of luck as we proceed further.

Subject: Re: California Wedding Question
From: nelson-ga on 10 Jul 2006 03:34 PDT
Does this church have confession?  If so, go confess to the pastor and
then he can't say anything.
Subject: Re: California Wedding Question
From: keystroke-ga on 10 Jul 2006 09:35 PDT
There are marriage licenses and marriage certificates... certificates
are just for show and licenses are for the pastor to send in to the
state. If you could figure out a way to get the pastor to let you send
in the license (which you would take and then not send in to the
state) or just sign a marriage certificate, you'd be home free.
However, this would probably require telling the pastor.  Maybe you
could have a pastor conduct the service who is not your parents' and
then you could tell him or her?

The confession idea could work, also. 

Good luck! I hope everything works out.
Subject: Re: California Wedding Question
From: myoarin-ga on 13 Jul 2006 07:47 PDT
I have read your clarification and understand your present feelings,
but I still think that this is the time to end the lie.  Even if you
get away with it now  - which is quite uncertain -  I think it will be
a bigger problem to explain sometime in the future.
Also:  do you really have your "own pastor", and one is is willing to
hold the service in your parents' church?  Why won't he expect that
you should marry in his  - in your -  church?  And will your parents'
pastor agree without an explanation of why you want this?
As Tutuzdad has pointed out, either pastor will have to be told the
situation, because he will need an explanation for why you are not
presenting a wedding license - but instead your wedding certificate.

It is all going to be rather sticky.  I would talk to your parent's
pastor and tell him the situation, ask for his help in solving the
legal problem and also with or how to present it to your parents.

Remember, you haven't done anything wrong, on the contrary, you are
legally married.  You two have demonstrated to your parents that you
are serious about staying together  - and maybe they are thinking that
you are "living in sin", now agreeing to your marriage.  They SHOULD
be pleased that you have at least been legally married all along, even
if they don't put any store in a civil ceremony.
With the right approach  - maybe with their pastor's intersession - 
they should be happier about the situation.  Even if they are not, you
are married, solemnizing with a church wedding ceremony is something
that they cannot stop or truly find inappropriate.

I hope so.
Subject: Re: California Wedding Question
From: hotmargo-ga on 09 Aug 2006 10:06 PDT
I think that if you talk to the pastor and inform him of the situation
he could work with you on the issue. I think that being "married in
gods eyes" is diferent than in law. I had friends who were married in
a private ceremony and a year or so latter were married in the church.

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