Planning a large, formal wedding can take a huge bite out of a busy life, not to mention a budget. As couples are living together for longer before marriage and postponing marriage until they have more developed careers, many are choosing to marry in simple, private ceremonies or elope on a romantic getaway. Eloping may seem like a romantic notion, though there may be legal reasons to reconsider.
TOP REASONS COUPLES ELOPE
Once a couple has a marriage license, there is no legal barrier to tying the knot. In California a marriage can be performed by anyone who is vested with the power to perform a marriage, including clergy of all denominations and justices of the peace. A marriage must be witnessed and be entered into willingly by both parties. Aside from those requirements, couples can choose to be married in a variety of scenarios. Some couples choose to marry in a private, often spontaneous ceremony for these reasons:
- Finances - some couples choose to spend their money on a home or a vacation rather than an elaborate wedding and expensive dress;
- Incompatible relatives - family members who disapprove of the bride, groom or other family members are not invited;
- Religious issues - rather than dealing with two or more religions, couples have a private, civil ceremony;
- Busy schedules - planning a wedding can be time-consuming; the couple might decide that the end is more important than the means; or
- Intimacy - the exchange of vows between two people can be a private and romantic affair.
Not all spontaneous, secretive marriages are motivated by romance. In some cases one partner might be pushing to elope with a hidden agenda beneath the enthusiasm.
WARNING SIGNS OF A RUSHED MARRIAGE
If your fiancé is pressuring you to elope, you may want to stop and ask why. There are many cases of unsuspecting partners consenting to a quick marriage only to later discover their new spouse to be after their assets, already married or a professional con artist. If a potential marriage partner refuses to sign a prenuptial agreement or is pressuring you to sign a prenuptial agreement followed by a quick and secret wedding - get some legal advice.
It might not seem romantic at the time, but having a matrimonial law attorney prepare or examine a prenuptial agreement before you sign is one way you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud. While it might be disappointing to cancel a wedding, it is always better to prevent a mistake than to undo it all after the fact.