Open Thread

by epi on January 9, 2013

Welcome to the Etiquette Daily

This open thread is your space to use as you like. We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Sherida January 9, 2013 at 12:14 pm

My son recently became engaged to a lovely Korean young woman, and my husband and I are absolutely delighted with the match. She is a conservatory student and has a student visa, which will expire when she graduates (probably at the end of the year). Once she receives her doctorate, she must move back to Korea. For their peace of mind that she can stay here once she graduates, they want to have a civil marriage soon and then apply for what the USCIS calls a “Green Card for Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen.” This type of Green Card has a much simpler application process than a “Green Card Through a Job,” and applicants for this type of Green Card are given priority by the government because the government wants to promote family unity. They would like to have a traditional wedding later, when her parents come to the US for her graduation. My husband and I would like to host it. What is the proper etiquette for this wedding? Is it considered a “blessing” with reception following a civil marriage or a reaffirmation of vows?

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Alicia January 9, 2013 at 12:37 pm

The wedding is the time they get married. A traditional wedding is all about becoming married. So the second ceremony would be a vow renewal. A vow renewal when a couple has barely been married seems hypocritical. A reception or party to celebrate the newlyweds in the months following their marriage would be lovely and wonderful but putting on a theatrical display of a wedding for two married people is not good. They shoudl do the wedding they want when they get married and then have a party later .

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Elizabeth January 9, 2013 at 5:29 pm

This is the case in some places but not others. In the US, the religious ceremony is valid for a state marriage, and a clergy member can sign a marriage certificate. But in other countries, couples are required to be civilly married first, and then they have a religious wedding (which is when they have their celebration – if you are religious, you consider the religious wedding the ‘real’ wedding, and not the civil marriage). I think it would be fine to have a religious/culturally specific ceremony after the civil wedding, but I would be totally open about that fact. The other posters are absolutely right that normally couples apply for the green card through the fiance visa, and then they get married when that visa comes through. The downside is that it can be very uncertain in terms of its arrival, and so the required wedding date may not coincide with the graduation travel plans.

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Winifred Rosenburg January 9, 2013 at 3:12 pm

You can call it a blessing if it is a religious ceremony (indicating that the marriage is being recognized by their religion for the first time). Otherwise, it is a reaffirmation of vows. So you’re aware, she can also apply for an engagement visa for up to 90 days so if it’s a delay of less than 90 days she might want to go that route and then have a wedding without confusion of terminology.

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Scarlett January 9, 2013 at 3:20 pm

I agree with Alicia-there is only one true wedding, and a vow renewal within months would be inappropriate. However, if the wedding is a civil ceremony, then the couple could have a blessing ceremony when the bride’s parents are able to come over. As long as it does not come off as a re-enactment or better version of the wedding they already had, it should be fine. In any event, you and hubby are gracious to want to host. Best wishes to all!

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Alexandra January 9, 2013 at 4:03 pm

My boyfriend is currently working as a legal fellow in a law office where he hopes to secure full-time employment (he’s licensed as an attorney, not a law student). His boss, who is responsible for and likes to get people permanent positions in the office, keeps calling him by the wrong name. Example (I’ll use my name since I have this problem a lot): his name is “Alex” but his boss insists on calling him “Alexander.” He doesn’t want to seem passive aggressive or pushy about the issue, especially since he wants to make a good impression and potentially turn his position into a permanent position as counsel. Is there a delicate or professionally appropriate way for him to do this without stepping on any toes or causing embarrassment? Thank you!

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Country Girl January 11, 2013 at 3:14 am

Ugh, I understand that very well. I have a somewhat short name and people often presume to call my by what they imagine is my full name. While he will be better served nipping this in the bud sooner rather than later, he might like to wait until the boss calls him the wrong name while they are in private, so as not to embarrass the boss in front of others, then a simple “Oh it’s actually just Alex.” before moving on to the next order of business is the best way I’ve found.

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DLD January 9, 2013 at 4:41 pm

Hello. I am a Korean American woman. It is actually quite common for Korean American couples to have two weddings – one in the U.S. and one in Korea. For those that live permanently in the U.S., they often have a conventional American-style ceremony immediately followed by a Korean ceremony along with a costume change in traditional Korean clothing. Koreans do not consider it improper to have two weddings. The Korean wedding is often more theatrical than the American one.
So if the second event is mostly for the Korean side of the family, then I don’t think you should be too concerned.

BTW, the Fiance Visa is only available is the fiance is living outside the U.S. It can take months to process and your son’s fiance would have to return to Korea until it is approved. Once approved, she would be able to return to the U.S. and then have to get legally married within 90 days.

Is there a reason why your future daughter-in-law is planning to return to Korea instead of looking for a job in the U.S.? If she found a position in the U.S., her employer would be able to sponsor a work visa immediately.

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Zakafury January 10, 2013 at 11:15 am

I find the extent to which people get worked up about “two weddings” quite absurd.

I think DLD’s solution of having a traditional Korean ceremony after a normal one is a good way to handle having two ceremonies.

I would simply plan the one wedding the couple wants to have and get the marriage licensing done early. I feel the people who think a wedding ceremony is about the signing of the paperwork and not the celebration with friends and family are the ones being unreasonable in the face of an uncomfortable legal situation.

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Elizabeth January 10, 2013 at 11:19 am

Well said.

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Alicia January 10, 2013 at 11:43 am

I guess I view the actual wedding where two people get married as the important part. The parties are fun but just that parties and not the wedding. I view as many parties as wanted as lovely but the wedding is the action of getting married and that is what actually matters.

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Winifred Rosenburg January 10, 2013 at 2:22 pm

Personally, I’m okay with two ceremonies under circumstances where it’s for the sake of sharing the event with people who couldn’t be at the first ceremony. The important thing to me is that they are honest with their guests and not try to pass the second ceremony off as the original.

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Sherida January 12, 2013 at 12:26 am

This discussion has been very helpful to my husband and me. Our son and his fiancee would so prefer to have a traditional wedding celebration. Their (and increasingly our) view is that the brief civil marriage at the local courthouse will simply fulfill the legal requirement to allow his fiancee to apply expeditiously for a green card to remain here after her student visa expires. To share their happiness with family and friends, their celebration must take place several months after the civil marriage when our families can gather together in the U.S. Our current idea is to combine an announcement shortly after they are married with an invitation to a wedding celebration at a later date.

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