My significant other and I have a rather unique situation. He’s Canadian, and I’m American. We met in California (where I’m from), and we knew within a few days of knowing each other that we had something really special. We dated long distance for over a year, while we both finished school. Once we graduated, we met up to spend our post-grad summer volunteering on the Big Island of Hawaii. Then in September we left Hawaii and moved to his hometown of Toronto, and I began my immigration paperwork to be able to legally reside in Canada.

While we were in Hawaii, we got married. We knew it was going to be tough going through the immigration process, and it could take a while for me to get legal status to work / reside in Canada for more than six months. We knew it might ruffle some feathers, but we decided to go to the courthouse and have a quick civil ceremony there, so as to be legally united when we crossed the border. We knew that being married would GREATLY help our immigration case, because we didn’t even qualify for ‘common law’ since we hadn’t lived together for long enough, and spousal sponsorship for permanent residency was our best bet. The last thing we wanted was to get separated again and have to be long distance, since we so badly wanted to move in together and start building a life together.

The courthouse marriage was quick, simple, and did not feel significant to us. It just felt like signing some papers, and we don’t consider that to be our wedding. We had already decided we wanted to spend our lives together, and we both want a traditional proposal/engagement and a wedding ceremony and reception, with our friends and family there to celebrate with us. We couldn’t have had that dream engagement and wedding in time for my move to Canada, because we didn’t have the time or money.

Now we are settled in Toronto, working, saving money, and my immigration is progressing smoothly. Very few people know that we are already legally married. When I fill out my immigration paperwork I check the ‘married’ box, but I consider him my boyfriend, and in all social contexts I refer to him that way. We do not wear wedding rings. He is planning to formally propose, with an engagement ring, sometime this spring or summer, and it makes me melt to imagine the day I get to walk down the aisle and meet him at the altar.

The problem is: I’ve encountered a lot of negative feedback and resistance to this idea of getting married twice. I’ve read a lot of opinions of people who feel like what we are doing is wrong, selfish, and deceitful to our future wedding guests. In fact, my dad even feels this way! I just don’t see how it could be wrong to do whatever it takes to be with the man I love, while still wanting to plan a wedding down the road. I don’t want to miss out on getting engaged, enjoying being fiancées, enjoying planning a wedding, and having a wonderful celebration, just because we were born in separate countries. What do you think,