Should we say “I do” early for health insurance?

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Photo by Megan Finley
Photo by Megan Finley
My fiancé has no insurance (health, car, dental or vision) and I do. I want him to be insured and don't want to wait until our actual wedding for him to be able to be added to my insurance.

Do you think it is a good idea to secretly go to the courthouse and get the legal stuff done ahead of time before we do the ceremony we already have planned? -Sarah

Girl, I feel you. As anyone who's read the book knows, health insurance was a big part of why Andreas and I decided to finally get married after 6+ years of unwedded bliss. It's a sad commentary on health care in the United States, but them's the facts. (Canadians, you have no idea what kinds of fun you're missing. *snork*)

With that personal bias in mind, I think it's perfectly acceptable to be pragmatic: go to the courthouse, do the deed, and quietly enjoy the insurance. No one but your health care providers need to know, and you and your fiancé can rest assured knowing that if he breaks his leg next month, you won't have to use your wedding budget to pay for the cast.

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Comments on Should we say “I do” early for health insurance?

  1. That’s part of the reason why my husband and I moved our date up entirely. That and all the student aid benefits a married couple gets. Not very romantic but too practical for anyone to criticize!

  2. My Fiance and I are doing the exact opposite thing for similar reasons. My oldest son from my prior marriage is disabled, and our backwards state only has the services he needs if we are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. If we get legally married, his income becomes mine, but if we stay domestic partners, his income is not counted for my son’s benefits. We want to get married and have a big damn party for our friends, so we are. We are just not signing any sort of legal paperwork. It is honestly not up to the state to designate our status anyway.

    • Thats kind of the same issue with my mom. My mom is disabled and has been with her boyfriend for 12+years. If they get married my mom would lose her benefits and insurance. And although she doesnt actually get much she relies on it (mainly insurance of course).

  3. You know, I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after doing my taxes this year. I’m tired of living like a “married” couple but not getting the benefits implied therein… When we rent a place, we have to pay two application fees. We have to do our taxes separately, our financial aid separately, our insurance separately. We pay twice as much for everything, despite the fact that for four years we’ve been, for all intents and purposes, married.

    The more I’ve been thinking about it, the more that I’ve come to see the actual legal marriage and our wedding as two completely different things.

    I think that the legal marriage part should be just called a “civil union” and offered up to everyone… And I think that we’re going to do it (on the DL so as not to upset our families because they’re old school) so that we can reap the legal benefits.

    The wedding is, to me, the part that really counts. The ceremony and celebration that celebrates our life together. And I want that, too, but (because of budget and time constraints) that’ll be a little while down the road.

    In the meantime, there’s no reason that the can’t get hitched in the eyes of the law…

    I just wish that ALL couples, of all genders, had the same option available to them.

    This isn’t very eloquent or well written ’cause I’m sick and distracted, but I think you get what I’m sayin’.

  4. I don’t know if you’ve looked into it or not, but some states (California, Oregon do, I know for sure) have “spousal equivilency” insurance, or domestic partnership insurance. if you are living together, or are on the verge of living together, this may work for you also. good luck in whatever decision you make. 🙂

  5. Well I talked to my benefits person at work and found out it would cost us over $400 a month to have both of us insured, as opposed to the $40 I am paying a month just for me. So we can’t afford the insurance even if we do get secretly married before the wedding. Time to move to Canada! And I couldn’t agree more with Samantha about ALL couples having the same options open to them.

  6. My fiance and I did exactly what this girl wants to do. My fiance was about to start a new job and he was getting great benefits, while I had no benefits at all at the job I was working at.

    So we went to the town hall and got married. We are still planning our wedding and are very excited for our big day. Us already being married hasn’t taken away at ALL from this special day we will have.

    My parents know about it but his parents don’t. Only because this is the first wedding out of their three children and we don’t want to spoil their joy and excitement over the occasion.

  7. My fiance and I were soooo close to doing this, until his parents agreed to pay for his health insurance up until we get hitched. If she thinks her family or his family won’t like it, then there’s really no reason they have to know about it.

    By the way, it’s super-easy to put your fiance on your car insurance. I just called up my insurance and told them we were living together and sharing each other’s cars. It was actually much cheaper for us to have joint car insurance for two cars, rather than individual insurance, as he’s had a few accidents in the last 3 years.

  8. I think that it is fine to do it. I also agree wholeheartedly with what Samantha aid. That a wedding is totally different than legal marriage. They don’t have to be the same and the legal part of it is in someways practical. Having been with a woman for 13 years and now marrying a man, I do wish I had had similar rights back then. Everyone should have them, period.

  9. Ahh, I’m so glad this topic came up. We just set a September date but we’re talking about doing the legal stuff in April for insurance purposes. I’m just wondering if we need to tell the families/friends during the interim. Any thoughts??

  10. My first husband and I got married for graduate school housing benefits. A big wedding was in the works, so we thought we would just do it secretly and it wouldn’t be a big deal. (We didn’t want to hurt our parents feelings). First of all, people find out. So, then you’re in the uncomfortable situation of having the second-cousin of the justice of peace know you’re married, and not your own mom. In the end, my parents found out and were hurt and I felt like a jerk. I’m all for getting married for benefits, but I highly recommend not doing it secretly. You are just creating a situation that will have to be dealt with sooner or later.

  11. This has everything to do with being responsible and protecting yourself and your future spouse; about relieving societlly imposed anxiety and worry. It is a legal and ethical way of providing for each other; go ahead if it is comforting and reassuring to the two of you to legally marry sooner rather than later in order to have access to insurance. The secrecy issue from the family – that is a little stickier; if it was me I’d be transparent and tell the familes but you know them better than anyone. Best Wishes.

    Cate

  12. That’s actually one reason my fiance and I decided to get married. Originally we were going to get engaged (which we did in ’05) and than were going to wait until after he was done with school… which would have been like ’09 or so if not later, depending on IF he passed his classes, but we decided he needed insurance because he none at all and I was afraid of the worst so we actually decided to get married, along with some other reasons as well… however after we booked our venue and everything my company and insurance company now offers opposite sex domestic partners on insurance now, so he’s on my insurance now anyway- after all that! However I didn’t they’d ever do that, but I’m glad they did! More companies should offer it! I mean they offer same sex partners but not opposite sex insurance. It’s like they MAKE you get married! It’s crazy! I totally think it’s fine if you get married secretly for insurance and then do the actual shin-dig later on! Insurance is important!

  13. we are planning the celebration for july, but as my fiance is irish and cannot work or get health benefits (we’re in canada) until we’re married and submit the forms, we figure we’ll do the city hall thing first just so we can get everything started. we’re definitely seeing it as a civil union first with just a couple of witnesses, and then we’re having the wedding celebration that we have dreamed about in july. it’s nice to hear others have been in similar situations and it has worked out for them ^.^

  14. I feel ya. I am so excited about being able to add Gerhard to my insurance after we are married. I am also glad that I will become an EU citizen/member. We all win in the end. 🙂

  15. So my fiance and I actually did this. When we moved and he got a new job we went down to the courthouse and signed all the paperwork and everything. We were married in the eyes of the law in less than 30 minutes.
    A note on telling people, however…
    We opted not to tell anyone but my mother, because she had suggested it long before anyhow. (Turns out it was a good decision, we got huge tax return filing jointly and would have owed money filing separately) And that seemed fine, with no one knowing, for a while. But a tiny slip of the tongue occurred… we got used to referring to each other as husband and wife and flubbed in front of his mother. That was the most awkward hour EVER.
    So my advice is to get married if it makes financial sense, but think long and hard about how you handle telling people afterwards.
    We’re still planning a wedding, but are just going to skip a ceremony and do a reception instead.

  16. I’m with the woman staying apart for the kids. This idea makes a LOT of sense for singles, it’s what my brother and his wife did, then they had their wedding a year later. Everybody knew they were already married, and it didn’t matter a hill of beans. My SO and I are staying legally single until I get a job with insurance myself. I’d have to pay for a family plan anyway to include my son, so at that point it won’t matter. Until then, my son and I qualify for medicaid and the insurance through my boyfriend’s work would brutalize us with the cost of a family plan.

  17. My fiancé and I have talked a lot about this. Even my mom suggested it when we announced the wedding will be next summer. Some of it has worked it self out. My car insurance let me add him as a part-time driver ($10 a month!). His new job offers partner benefits.

    Money aside, the one thing no one has mentioned is the ability to legal speak for your partner. If something was to happen to me on the way home tonight and I am in a coma my finance could not speak for me. Yet he is the only family I have in this state. And I am his only family here. It scares me that he would not be able to make medical or finical decisions for me. He really does know me better than anyone else and would make the decisions I would want.

    • I know this is a really old post, but for folks in this situation reading now, if you are worried about not having the legal ability to speak for your partner, but either not wanting to get married right now or not able to, you can sign durable power of attorney for healthcare paperwork to give your partner that right.

      • All kinds of legal protection documents exist so that your relationship can be almost as solid as a marriage. My DH and I went through this because we’ve been together for 17 years and he is disabled so the gov’t provided things to him and his kids, if we got married it would have messed that up. Best bet, find an attorney in your state that serves LGBT clients, because they know the ins and outs of protecting your status and rights to one another, without the benefits of a legally binding marriage.

  18. My partner and I got married in January, but our wedding is this coming September. My health insurance ended and I have a few ongoing health issues, so it saves us a boatload of money to have me have insurance.

    My parents came with us as witnesses and we let his parents know, but pretty much everyone else is in the dark.

    It also gave me an excuse to buy a cute, short vintage wedding dress (as opposed to my more traditional one for the “fake” wedding) since we dressed up a bit.

  19. Ange,

    Oh, you make an excellent point about who has the right to legally speak for you and represent your interests in case something happens. Marrying sooner rather than later establishes your sweetie in that position. Otherwise, depending on the particular state you may have to go through the legal hoopla of establishing a domestic partnership or just be out of luck. I worked in an AIDs hospice and it was very sad when in the final days long established partnerships weren’t honored for lack of the right piece of paper.

    Cate

  20. The fiancee and I considered it pretty strongly. I was able to get a job that offers insurance, though, so it’s a moot point.

  21. We’re doing the same thing. I’m about to graduate and go off the parents’ insurance. I can’t go without insurance due to pre-existing things, and I can’t afford COBRA, so we’re just going to get married before I graduate so that there’s no gaps in my coverage.

    Another reason is that I have one semester left of school–I am not yet 24, so I’ll be paying full price for the semester. If we get married, I will be eligible for Pell Grants due to not having to include parental income, and so school will essentially be free. Bonus!

  22. Well, we’re not doing it for the health insurance but it’s become an issue for my SO (fiance) and I in terms of the country that I live in. I live abroad and he is joining me for the next couple of years before we move back together. After 6 years of dating/cohabitation, marriage is the only way to get him here and for him to be able to work. We are planning to have a small civil ceremony in May (he moves over here August) but we’ll have a larger celebration or reception maybe next summer. The hard part is who to tell — I’m all for keeping it open and telling our families but we don’t know what to do about friends and how to get the word out….

  23. I wanted to do this for insurance purposes…mom suggested it. Because i have a 1000 dollar deductable!!!!!

    I felt bad and talked to my father about it since he’s paying for everything, he told me it would all be off if we did this…plus we wanted my childhood pastor to be able to sign the certificate as it meant something to me..

    Here i am a few months later…still on my health insurance but in 40 days i’ll be married! It was worth the wait for me I suppose, but if you have nothing holding you back!!! DO IT! It will be worth it!

  24. Re: making decisions for your fiance.

    A durable power of attorney doesn’t usually cost that much to create (do some attorney-shopping to find out different fees) and would establish whomever you want to act as your medical and legal voice should you become incapacitated. There are forms you can find online and fill out, but I recommend going through an attorney because a) laws vary from state to state, and b) you want a strong legal document given that you’re not married.

    [Personally-influenced side note: Making a POA is also a great time to discuss your wishes regarding feeding tubes, ventilators, CPR, etc., with your partner if you haven’t already done so. You have no idea how many people go all-out because they aren’t sure what their loved ones would want and feel guilty withdrawing support.]

  25. I had a client recently do exactly this…quietly get married months before the actual ceremony to get on her husband’s insurance. No one knew and it didn’t change a thing about their wedding!

    At the end of the day, the act of marrying (the paperwork portion, that is) is simply a contract. If that contract entitles you to much-needed benefits, I say go ahead and sign it early! It has no bearing on your love, feelings, vows and all those things that make the ceremony special. They’re really two completely different things, if you think about it.

  26. We almost had to do this to…get merried before the actual wedding…if it saves you on stress and money…why not…go for it…but I do understand…I didnt want to because I was afriad I wouldnt feel anything on the “ceremony wedding day” rest assured, if you love him/her, then it should be even more fun to do it twice!! good luck!

  27. I’m from Canada but still want to weigh in on this issue (we still need insurance up here). I would go ahead with the “civil union” before the wedding day if need be, but I would not hide it from my family. I would ask my mom and my fiances parents to be here as we legally tied the knot, so they didnt feel like they missed any of it. The family could know why we did it, and that the wedding day is still on. But that would be on a need to know basis.
    Just an FYI – Canada’s healthcare doesn’t cover everything, we still need to pay for Rx’s, dental, and eyeglasses. So doing the civil union first might help Canadians too!

  28. We did the same thing. Got married in the apartment with just 6 people went out to dinner and watched a movie. Our “real” wedding is coming up in October. Don has insurance and we get to celebrate two anniversaries! Its a win-win.

  29. does it change the wedding ceremony at all?? does the preist have to know? i’m interested in doing this also, but can’t have anyone know… advice??

    • I assume the ceremony would go on like normal. The only difference is you don’t go and sign a piece of paper at the end of the ceremony. A legal marriage is different than a religious one (I assume religious, since you said priest), so I would do the ceremony no differently than if you didn’t get legally married beforehand. However, as i’m not religious, I would talk to your priest beforehand to see what he thinks

  30. We did this, not for insurance reasons…but it pretty much was the same idea. I’m in the military and if you have a dependent (ie. kids or spouse) you get “dependent pay”, which is about an extra $200 a mth in your pay. We “secretly” got married at the courthouse March 5th of this year, but we arn’t having a wedding till March of 2009.

  31. I really want to do this… but how can I keep it from my parents? Won’t they find out somehow?

    • You have to be legally family (marriage certificate, birth certificate, legal domestic partnership–in states that allow). There are also very specific regulations about who can be a dependent for tax purposes. Otherwise it’s essentially counting your roommate as a dependent. Welcome to the USA

      This will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I stuck it out: 3 months before my wedding, I lost my job and health insurance. My fiance, who I had lived with and owned a home together with for 7 years, could not add me to his insurance because I was not his legal spouse. There was no way I could enroll in insurance from the exchange and have coverage within 60 days, so it wasn’t worth it. Although I was under 26 and could go on my parent’s insurance, neither of them were at the time insured.

      We thought about getting legalled, but why pay the $400 judge fee when we had a free officiant (friendor) in a couple months? (And to any judgy mc. judgersons about to talk to me about financial priorities, my wedding was at our house. The venue was therefore free.)

      I went 3 months without insurance (which is the max you can go without tax penalty in the US). Yes, it was stressful. Yes, I could have been ruined. But don’t feel like you have to get married because the establishment is forcing you to–you don’t. It is not necessarily a great way to start a marriage, and it is quite common in the USA for people to get married just for this reason. Divorce is also quite common. If you have the stones to stick it out, then do so. At least unemployed people have the option of getting insurance for free in the USA now, so there’s no shame in being on FREE government healthcare while you can–if it saves your sanity.

  32. I’m a little late joining in the discussion, but I wanted to add my name to the list of secretly wed. We’ve been married for over a year now and NO ONE knows except the two of us and our officiant. And the health insurance people. Not our parents, friends, no one. Of course it helps that we live on the other side of the country from our family, but it IS possible. Our real “wedding” is coming up in a few months and we have no regrets…it’s just between us, something we will always share.

  33. I’m in the same boat, but we got around having a quick legal ceremony by filing for Domestic Partner coverage. The rules probably change by state (we’re in NY), but we just had to produce some evidence showing we’ve been together for at least 6 months, and now he is on my insurance.

  34. do it! but here’s the caveat… don’t change your name or do anything remotely wedding-y until after the big church ceremony or whatever celebration you plan for friends and family. we did some math when we got engaged and realized hubby’s current work visa would run out soon after the wedding and it takes months to get a green card. didn’t want him sitting around the house driving me mad with his boredom, so we went to the courthouse six months early. but silly me, thinking i could impress uscis (immigration) i changed my name right away so i could put it on the uscis paperwork. my coworkers know, because when i sent HR my new ssn card, they changed my email address too. some family and close friends know, but the extended family doesn’t. now im in a quandry how to word the invites to the ceremony. do the deed, but be cautious if you don’t want your cover blown 🙂

  35. P.S – – – if anyone thinks its weird, or has a problem with the two-wedding deal (my mother took some time to get used to the idea), just say “he loves me enough to marry me twice”. that oughta shut em up!

  36. my fh and i were both thinking of this….. we are planing our halloween wedding for 09, but the thought of me going another year without insurance is really freakin me out…. so we were thinking if we said i do on the down low and still had our whole wedding thing in a year would any one know??

  37. I’m glad I live in the UK! We all moan about the NHS over here, but at least we don’t have the health insurance issues.

    I hope you all have lovely days being weddinged! I don’t blame you at all for getting the civil part done early. I’ve always seen it as two seperate things anyway – the church ceremony is most important to me because of marrying within my faith. The civil part is just a signature and a few legal changes

  38. My fiance and I are thinking about getting married now at the courthouse for insurance purposes before our planned wedding in 2009. But if we sign marriage license at courthouse, how do we get around not signing one at the planned ceremony? Or can we sign twice? How does this work?

    • I don’t know about other weddings/venues, but at ours after the ceremony we go upstairs to a little spot thats out of the way and sign. If we were to get married beforehand, we just wouldn’t go over there to sign.

  39. Okay, I feel really good to know I am not the only person in this situation! My boyfriend of 7 years has great health insurance, and it would be free to add me on. We want to get married, but due to financial reasons and time we have to wait. I wanted to know if you sign the documents at the courthouse, what happens at the ceremony? Can this really be done without ANYONE knowing? Would they still read you your vows and everything official?

    • If you have a suspicious snooper in your family you could be discovered as marriages are public records.

      Also, if someone is a genealogist the discrepancy would/could be discovered at some point. Admission to many organizations (DAR, Mayflower Society, etc.) require documentation.

  40. I can understand that you need to get married for financial reasons and that you don’t want to spoil the surprise for certain people (namely your parents). What if something slips? Honesty is always best, so why not compromise? Have the civil ceremony with M&D and then have a reenactment of the wedding (or renew your vows) with the big party you’ve always wanted.

  41. It is precisely that reason that I get to refer to my significant other as my husband when we’re ALONE. We got hitched over Christmas because my Cobra benefits were obscene and he was entering an occupation with exceptional healthcare for dependents. We’re doing the whole “shindig” for the friends and family later this year. It’s kind of neat to have this little secret that only we know. But is it weird that I found it more romantic that he propose we get married so I could have insurance than when he surprised me with flowers?

  42. If your health insurance accepts domestic partners then you can be domestic partners until you are married. It’s not just for gay people 🙂

    • In my state domestic partnerships are only for the elderly, and civil unions are only available for same sex couples, unfortunately. I feel a little bit like a liar when I say I’m getting married, because I’m an atheist. But socially, I’ll feel married. I just …ugh what a twisted word!

  43. my daughter (21) is about to marry her boyfriend of 3.5 years (highschool sweetheart -and friends even longer) secretly with a beautiful quiant beach ceremony – for the purpose to keep him in the country. He is a very bright wonderful youngman who happened to be in a bad situation – no fault of his own (parents made a mistake with papers -he has been in this country for over 15 years). These two kids do love eachother and planned on marrying but after college, maybe at 24. Those that are included with the ceremony the parents and their siblings, they are planning to announce an engaggement to the rest of the world the same weekend and proceed with a long engagment, and have the tradional wedding as palnned.

  44. I am not thrilled about this idea but it is her life, I also married young at 20 (my highschool sweetheart) and have been for over 22 years, so I know that marriages can last – divorce rate in my family is very low -out 6 brothers and sister only one.
    I have no problem with the engagment but the part that is killing me ths is my daughter, and not what I pictured her wedding to be, but the biggest part is we are a very close family – and thought of keeping this all a secret seems wrong.
    Am I wrong? they have said that they do not look at this as their wedding but as a legal matter.

  45. I have been secretly married for over a year, and our wedding is this summer. My parents know, but his do not. He did not have insurance, so we are now covered on mine. Its a sad that only some people have the luxury of having health insurance and we have to do things like this. It is however a fun little secret, and we call each other husband and wife when we're alone. I say go for it!

    • We did this, but now we are planning our wedding and have no idea what to do about the signing of the marriage license aspect. NO ONE knows other than our parents, and we are having a friend marry us, so he will expect to have to sign the certificate and my sister and his brother (maid of honor and best man) expect to sign as witnesses…but we have NOTHING for them to sign because we are already married!! We didn't think of this aspect and we aren't sure what to do about it. Any suggestions?

  46. My husband and I got married in November ’09 when we were planning a wedding for April ’11. I didnt have insurance and really needed it (had surgery in March). Plus we already have two kids together who needed better insurance. There is one problem now though.. we pushed the wedding back to 2012 and still dont know if we can afford the wedding. I am searching online for ways to make it a lot cheaper without messing up what we had planned. If we dont have a wedding I dont know how I could tell my family (some wont understand) and if the Vegas wedding was all that I was going to have I would have made the most of it, had at least close family there, etc. So I kind of regret it now.

  47. I have been considering this.

    On the one hand, I don’t think it’s right to purport that you are being wed when you already have been. I don’t think it’s right to reduce the ‘sanctity’ of marriage (the seriousness of it… I’m an atheist) for legal benefits. I have recently discovered a lot of negative opinions on the ‘getting weddinged’ front.

    But. But. Standing etiquette and tradition is rooted in a time where the cost of family insurance wasn’t higher than some minimum wage salaries. When you could have a moderately elaborate wedding for a few grand. When there was less inclusive of minority beliefs on marriage.

    So basically, I think it’s wrong to try to reap benefits for something prematurely, or doing something just for the money, especially if it involves deceit. But I think it’s a necessary evil in a society where health insurance is rivaling costs of food and shelter, companies are ruthless, and etiquette also dictates at least 8 weeks notice of your wedding (as if that was what was holding you back).

    The system really doesn’t allow a lot of room for doing the right thing for your health, family, and stability while maintaining proper decorum. So who really cares?

  48. I didn’t mean who really cares. I care. A lot.

    See…I really don’t like idea of milking the system. I think if you don’t intend on being married, and haven’t gone through the entire process, no benefits of marriage.

    But then again, the system shouldn’t reward marriage over single life. And if you are already engaged, you have really already made most of the commitment. Sure, some engagements get called off, but some marriages end up in divorce. The legal status OR religious/social ceremony don’t guarantee the commitment, but once you put a ring on it (or however you choose to invest into the promise of marriage)… I think it’s safe to say you aren’t just doing it for the perks.

    And even if you were… there would be no finagling benefits reserved for married couples if marriage wasn’t shoved down our throats for survival (obviously i’m not anti marriage…i just have a beef with the way we value married people more than singles)

  49. Wow, things are WAY simpler in Canada! My fiancé and I just had to sign an “interdependant domestic partnership” form that we found online to declare ourselves common-law before the otherwise necessary year of living together. We didn’t even need to get it notarised, just to have it on us if anyone needed proof. Luckily for us, common-law couples have many of the same rights as married couples do in Alberta.

  50. My husband and I did this for immigration reasons and it’s worked out great. My suggestion is to honest with people otherwise it feels like your doing something wrong and that’s why you’re hiding it. You might get a few weird comments (“how can you get married if you’re already married?”) but they will get over it and show up to your wedding anyway! If you love each other and are planning a life together, I don’t see what the big deal is. And what is more romantic that a man that will marry you twice!

  51. We got married about 6 months early, and told only our parents and close friends so that I could get on my husbands insurance. It is a perfect and sweet reason to do it – in sickness and in health, and you can’t be your partners doctor – so giving them access to health care is one of the best things you can do for your loved one.

  52. <– Canadian, and a pair of eyeglasses is MINIMUM $400 and my last dentist trip since I got off my dad's insurance was $500

    I'm stoked to get on my fiancee's insurance, but when we looked into filing for common law, it was only about a 6 month difference, so we're going to wait it out, but I'm so so so excited to get free inhalers instead of spending $40 each, I can go to a doctor any time, but if I need a prescription or procedure it may not be covered. Crazy life.

  53. I think this depends on how you view the actual legal part of the marriage. If you view that as an important part of marriage, then you shouldn’t do it in advance. But I think most of us here are probably more of the school of thought that the legal part is basically meaningless paperwork (especially since so many states in our country don’t recognize all couples who get married!), with the important part being the celebration with your loved ones (or the private ceremony/elopement with just your spouse), the promises you make to one another, etc… for these people it DEFINITELY makes sense to get hitched early for practical reasons like insurance!

  54. Gah, I wish we had the easiness to get married just for insurance. My Fiancee is only working 20 hours a week, and I’d love to put her on my insurance….but being gay and working for a Christian college and all… I don’t see it happening any time soon. :/

  55. This is EXACTLY what we did, and basically for that reason, and we did it on 1/1/11 specifically for taxes. We figured on actually incurring a loss due to our combined household income if we filed married, so we made sure it fell on the next tax year. THEN we had a small legal ceremony at home with friends and food. It was great fun and really made everything convenient. I was even able to use some carryover vacation hours to take time off and get all the “youre married now” stuff done, go to the social security office, get my license updated, visit the county clerk, etc. Then we had a healthy 160.00 monthly bump in our wedding budget. This way all we had to worry about after the big family shindig wedding we had later that year in October was programming the GPS for the road trip honeymoon. All the legaleze had been done since January.

    We were even able to work some very lovely verbiage into our ceremony as a result. It did help that we were the ones in charge, nobody else was paying for anything, we already lived together for 7 years, and our families were invited to both and supportive of the idea. For the right couple in the right situation, its a fantastic idea.

  56. I realize after reading this article I’m so glad my fiancé and I are both Canadians. I hope someday our friends to the south can also enjoy the benefits of public health care.

  57. My fiance and I are in quandary. We’re planning on getting married next year after we both graduate college. But soon after that I’ll be starting grad school locally and he’ll be shipping out with the Air Force. We’d like to get married before we’re (physically) separated, he gets more money for having a dependent, and I’d get insurance. However, we’re not sure that he can support us financially – my tuition will be paid for but none of my living expenses will be. I’m not comfortable being married but still needing financial support from my family. We’ve considered the middle ground of getting legalled but not telling our families. Then we’d get weddinged after I graduate and can start working (2 ish years). That way, I can still ask get support from my family but the SO and I get benefits and, more importantly, a stronger link. It means a lot to him that we do it and I’m ok since it’s going to happen anyway. Looking for advice from Tribesmaids in similar situations!

    • I’m not in your situation but for any and all situations my advice is to follow your gut instincts.

      I wonder, though, if you could have a frank discussion with your family about this issue. Are you selling them short? I know in many families the answer would be no but sometimes we assume family will be adverse when they might surprise us. I would ask my gut about this as well.

      Then there is the issue of not wanting to be dependent (at all) on your family if you are married. I understand this. I once told my eldest daughter that I would not put a married woman through college–but that was more about not wanting her to marry at 18 than the married/unmarried issue. If your family is supportive of your marriage to this man they many be willing to continue helping. Had I been enthusiastic about my daughters’ fiancee (who is long since gone now), helping her with school would have been viewed (by me) as a way to contribute while her spouse was serving the country–something I appreciate from every man or woman who serves. Is your belief that it is wrong based on something you were taught to believe but which may not really apply in this situation? Beliefs are just thoughts we repeatedly think–whether they are true has no bearing on whether we believe them if we think them often enough. Sometimes it is the premise that needs to change and the circumstances will right themselves. Best of luck to both of you.

  58. Ah I can’t even BEGIN to say how grateful I am to have come across this article. I knew my fiance and I weren’t the only ones who had gotten married early for health insurance and still planning a big ceremony/reception later.

    We’re going to get the civil union done this Sunday. My dad is a legal wedding minister in our state, so he’s going to perform the small ceremony in front of just our immediate family and I was going to keep it private (basically not broadcast it everyone, but not lie if they ask) and my dad was very upset about that idea, telling me how it isn’t going to work and everyone is going to find out and those who weren’t invited were going to be offended, and basically making me feel really down about the whole thing. My fiance calmed me down and after he and I talked I felt much better about it all. We ARE doing it for all the right reasons and when it comes down to it, the only feelings that matter are going to be my fiance’s and mine.

  59. i quietly courthouse married my now ex husband for this exact reason.he had epilepsy and no insurance, his Meds cost us about $1500/ month without insurance and $20/ month with my plan.
    It was a no brainier! And we still had our wedding 6 months later with no one the wiser. We quietly told our officiant and they still performed everything as usual. We wanted a document with their signature- so I made a cute document to fake sign the day of. It was a print out of our vows and had space for the officiant and our bridal party to sign and leave cute notes(that we framed and hung).
    I told my family eventually and we all had a good laugh about it, with no hurt feelings. They completely supported our reasoning.

  60. I’m a government employee and have great health insurance. Got legally married in Janurary, real wedding is later this year. Only a few people know. I was worried it would make the real day seem less special but it hasn’t at all. It’s actually really cool that we have a special secret day together. Best man got ordained as a Dudeist priest to marry us and we drank White Russians.

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