Madeline: Our Facebookiversary

Announcing a wedding is a delicate thing, especially when you aren’t doing it by the books. Brandon and I sent round an engagement email without really considering whether we were planning to include the recipients in the wedding. A few months later, we realized we weren’t going to include anyone in the wedding besides a couple of close friends. Sure, we’d solved (or at least delayed) one problem—who to invite. But we’d created a whole new one—who to tell, and how.

I wanted to tell my family in person. Since they live on another continent, that was not an easy feat. We ended up eloping on the morning of our flight to Britain. I carried my bouquet when we boarded, and the first, perhaps most satisfying announcement followed, as we told our tale to the astonished hostess.

“So this is your wedding night? An overnight flight with Aer Lingus?” she asked, repeatedly, in apparent shock. She gave us champagne, but I think it was in consolation rather than congratulation. We sipped, exhausted, from little plastic cups.

We changed planes in Dublin and had time to drop in on Brandon’s friend Mark. I left the bouquet on a bridge across the Liffey. Brandon showed his wedding ring.

“Oh, like an engagement ring, but for dudes?” Mark asked, confused, before we filled him in.

Next we hopped on a plane to England. We’d been married twenty-four hours and hadn’t slept yet. When we made it to my parents’ house, not all the family was home from work, and we sat on our wedding rings and sipped tea until everyone arrived.

“We’re, ah, already married,” was my inspired phrasing. It went down well. Soon we were sitting round listening to stories about other elopements from earlier generations, which were much more standard than I’d realized.  

Brandon was left with the potentially awkward task of telling his relatives by phone, but even that went smoothly. Unlike his sister, we had picked City Hall, not Dollywood, as our secret wedding venue of choice, but aside from that, I don’t think he surprised anyone.

We tried, both during that break and when we got back to the States, to inform as many friends and family as we could manage face to face. It just seemed polite. On the other hand, it wasn’t always feasible. Eventually we resorted to email again, a message somewhere along the lines of, “Hey, you know we said we were planning to get married? Well…” Everyone, without exception, was gracious and delighted.

Facebook, which I use for work as well as play, and where I have several hundred contacts, was the final frontier. Becoming “Married” on my profile was not a high priority—it didn’t concern contacts who aren’t close, and I wanted everyone else to hear it from me, not a status update. Several weeks passed before I eventually took the plunge.

“CONGRATULATIONS!” Facebook told me. “Madeline and Brandon got married in April 2012,” it told everyone we know. This was clearly untrue, as many bemused connections pointed out in the comments. I tried fiddling with the settings, but under the new Timeline, our wedding is forever fixed as occurring in the spring of this year.

Oh well. We already had a December anniversary lined up, and were revving up to our summer receptions. Our New Year’s Eve engagement party had been upgraded to an impromptu wedding celebration. We celebrated the day I got my Green Card. Getting married, it turns out, is really taking a full year. Rather than trying to correct Facebook, perhaps we’ll simply raise an extra glass of bubbly next year to commemorate the day of our social media union: Our Facebookiversary.

Photo credit: Joe Lingeman 

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  • Alicia

    Congratulations! Being married is wonderful and the more celebrations, the better.

    A facebook friend updated her status two weeks ago to engaged, but had actually gotten engaged a year ago. It was funny to see people’s responses when she actually got married a week later. Oh, social media.

  • Madeline: my husband and I got married legally 6 months before our “real” wedding in an effort to win some tax breaks before the year ended. We were married by the SHERIFF, who’s father had also been the wedding sheriff, and afterwards, we had a milkshake, and spent the day changing names, getting me on the insurance and bank accounts, etc.

    When we married for “real” in April, we told our family the day after our big ceremony that we’d already been married in the eyes of the law for sometime. They asked us “which anniversary will you celebrate?” It was obvious to us that the big family event was our anniversary, but we also wanted an extra excuse to celebrate our sheriff-officiated union. So, on that day, we just have milkshakes and simply refer to it as “Milkshake Day”. I think your facebook-iversary is a GREAT excuse for an additional toast of champagne each year. Congratulations!

    • Halle

      We got secretly married 12 days after the proposal last fall, for the legal protections, health insurance (for me) and tax benefits. Also because my husband was adamant that being engaged meant being ready to marry (we’d been together nearly 7 years) so why wait? He wanted me, the unemployed fulltime grad student, to be protected. Our wedding is scheduled for this summer, and we’ve told only our officiant, a close friend of my husband’s. We are planning on always celebrating our secret anniversary, I guess for us it will be Crab Cake Day! It’s getting interesting now as we approach creating our ceremony with our officiant. We would like to communicate that the ceremony in front of family and friends is the day we consider our wedding, but we have felt happily married since that day it became legal. We can’t decide if we will reveal our legal wedding date after the summer wedding, or at all. It’s been a lovely secret so far, maybe we will just hang on to our private Crab Cake Day :)

      • We definitely got a little thrill from being secretly married for 6 months. We referred to one another as secret husband/wife, and enjoyed the hell out of it. I have a rather large mouth, however, so I knew the secret wouldn’t keep long after the wedding, but I can imagine it being quite a pleasant little secret to have. Enjoy your “big” day as well as your newly-married-secretly status!

        • KB

          I actually floated this idea to my fiance while we were drinking at a party after a rough day personally and related to wedding planning. The idea was that, no matter what went wrong with the wedding, it wouldn’t really matter because, you know what, we’re already married!

      • Madeline

        Milkshake day and Crab Cake day I could really get behind

    • meg

      Wedding sheriff.

      • I KNOW, right?! He even used the ceremony text that his dad had composed and used. It was awesome.

    • Jashshea

      I want a milkshake day! Awesome!

    • Oh Meg, thank you so much for sharing that! I asked team practical a question in regards to accepting the fact that we’d have to get legally married long before our wedding and was desperately seeking some validation that I what I was doing wasn’t wrong!

      Well, we did get legally married in July during a trip back to the US. Just walked in to the circuit clerk’s office and it was not unlike a visit to the DMV. Uncomfortable doing something so important with only a stranger, a stranger whom you can’t really understand as they say your ‘vows’. When the woman asked us “Y’all got rings?” and we said no, she asked “Y’all know you gunna be married, right?”, a confused look on her face. I’m hoping to work this line onto our wedding invitations.

      We had to get married legally because he’s English and we live in Dubai and we are buying a house together in the US with intent to move back there in 2 years. It has been a huge relief, now that we’re legally married, knowing that we can handle the long green card process and stuff long before we move back. Plus, no more back-of-the-head worrying about living together in a country that does not allow unmarrieds to live together.

      I like the idea of keeping it secret, but I have been telling everyone we’re already legally married. I thought I would be misleading them if not, and have been very elated by the responses- all positive, all encouraging of a wedding celebration.

      Also, now that I am legally married, I have a greater understanding of what marriage is, and I feel like that will really help me write better vows. This legal marriage feels like a transitional marriage, a “getting used to marriage” marriage. And I now understand that a marriage really does come from the promises you make in front of your loved ones, not the piece of paper you sign that is handed to you by a woman who mispronounces your name.

      I love the idea of Milkshake Day. :)

      Seriously, thank you so much, you made my day.

      • Even tho the post reassured you, I want to come in and say that it is totally fine to get married before your wedding day. We got married 6 months beforehand (tho my dad is a minister, so I had him do the legal stuff just to make everything easy).

        Also, we didn’t do rings either — we saved them for our religious ceremony. We did do bracelets, so we “tied the knot.” Our legal thing was a quickie 5 minutes, and we wrote vows and statements that included our trust in each other and binding ourselves together.

        In conclusion, the way you did it is wonderful and fine. And it is for pretty much everyone (unless the way you want to do a wedding involves torture and death, but I don’t see that happening with any APW folk). You got married in the way that works for you!

        • Thanks for your kind words Leah! I had a friend who got legally married about a year before her non-APW wedding. I would get really frustrated with her and with how she was acting about “her day” and use “She’s *already* married!!” as part of my defense for how ridiculous she was being.

          At one point she had complained to me about one of her friends not being able to save up the money for her very expensive bridesmaid’s dress and how unacceptable that was, even though her friend could not afford to have a wedding of her OWN.

          So I think I thought that’s how people would think of me, like I was being greedy because I was *already* married… But it turns out she was just greedy and it didn’t have anything to do with her being legally married already or not. Maybe I shouldn’t have used “She’s ALREADY married!” as a complaint so many times.

          I love APW so much. I got engaged in Feb and I think I actually googled “practical wedding” because I felt literally nauseous when I looked at the “normal” wedding books/websites/etc. I absolutely love the messages, devoured the book straight away (and cried multiple times while reading it), etc. But I never found anything about getting legally married before the wedding and when my question wasn’t answered, I felt I had betrayed the APW’s code or something!

          Seriously, I cared more about this site’s approval than I did of my family’s or friends. Maybe that’s ridic, but I feel like this site just gets me.

          Thanks again for sharing.

      • Sheryn,

        Glad to oblige. Sorry that you had such a wonky experience of it, but, yes, it’s honestly one of my favorite things about our marriage. Getting all those logistics, legal bits, and name changes out of the way allowed us to really focus on our friends and family and one another when our real marriage came around. That was the best. It didn’t hurt that we saved money on our taxes that year either. :)

  • PA

    I remember the good-natured teasing we got when we finally changed our relationship status on FaceBook: “Oh! Oh, I see. Now it’s official, huh?”

    But, seriously. Now you have two anniversaries. That sounds pretty stellar to me! You can be all “Heyyyyy, it’s our FaceBookiversary!” and laugh about it, but still feel cuddly and extra sweet.

  • XO

    So many of my acquaintances and distant family members have been changing their Facebook relationship status to engaged or married recently. I love to see that little heart show up on my news feed!

    My boyfriend and I are getting engaged in the next few months and I’ve been wondering– how did you announce your engagement to friends? Call everyone? Call only your number-one bestie(s) and send an email to everyone else? Call/email only those you think you’ll be inviting to the wedding? Not “announce” it at all but just explain when people see the ring?

    • KB

      We called our parents and close friends and then just announced it on Facebook rather than doing a mass email. All of our friends find out stuff through Facebook anyway – evil master of information dissemination that it is….

    • We had kind of an unusual situation in that we were surprising our parents and most of our friends knew because we were flying our parents down for the weekend and planning a surprise party for after we told them. So all our close friends found out via the party invite; everyone else via Facebook.

      Most of my friends who’ve had more traditional proposals have texted or called me to tell me before putting it on FB. I’ve always felt like best friends should find out before Facebook, so I appreciated that.

    • You do what works best for you. We told his family via phone. We web-cammed with my parents so he could do the whole asking my dad thing. My mom actually hopped on the web cam and started welcoming my husband to the family and he stopped her and said he had to do something first. My siblings were told via phone. Close friends via phone (one screamed so loud she scared her little boy, you can’t be there for that type of reaction over email). Medium friends via email. And everyone else just found out when they did. I’d set my privacy settings on facebook so that when I changed my relationship status it wouldn’t show up in any feeds. I’m a bit old fashioned like that.

    • meg

      We called and emailed and told people when they saw the ring. Probably only call people directly right away who you’re inviting (unless you’re having a tiny wedding obviously!) but everyone should be told and wants to share your joy.

      We tend to use Facebook for news only at the VERY tail end of everything (aka, Facebook got word of my pregnancy halfway through). But then again, Facebook rolled out the year AFTER I graduated from college (back when it was for college kids) so I’m just old enough to not engage with it much :)

    • ElisabethJoanne

      We called our parents the day-of. My family was just about to leave on vacation to see all of Mom’s extended family, so they spread the word to all my family. For everyone else, we let the information trickle out when people saw the ring (or when meeting my future husband for the first time).

      We changed our Facebook status maybe sooner than perfect – might have been a few more friends I would have liked to tell more personally.

      By the time the newspaper announcement ran, no one was surprised to get the news that way.

    • Jashshea

      I was out of the country, so we called me parents (his parents & close extended fam knew). I waited until we had wifi, took a picture of my ring and sent it around to my close friends (BCC’d so they wouldn’t annoy the shit out of each other w/replies). It was like 6 AM EST when we called my parents and my bro is 3 hours behind them, so I think he just got an email.

      ETA: I’m not FBO (facebook official) on the engagement. I have no idea if we’ll be facebook married. Not really my thing.

    • MDBethann

      We got engaged while on vacation in Greece. My family was traveling with us, so they knew right away (they actually knew before I did – my DH showed them the ring before he proposed and they miraculously kept it a secret for 4 days).

      I sent postcards of the place we got engaged at to my closest girlfriends asking them to be in the wedding, and then we called my future in-laws once we were on our way home from the airport. I also took a phone picture of my ring and texted it to his sister and my girlfriends. Since we had already told the most important people, we changed our Facebook statuses fairly quickly – it was just easier that way AND I really wanted to share pics of the gorgeous place where my DH proposed to me :-)

    • We were away on a trip when he proposed (though we all knew it was coming). I think we waited 48 hours to tell anyone, after we got back from camping and sailing. It was nice to savor that time of just the 2 of us knowing that it was “official”. When we got back to town, we called family and close friends, and I think waited a few weeks before changing the FB status to “engaged”.

      Oh wait, I lied. We were camping out on Virginia’s Eastern Shore the night he proposed, and, turns out, there were about 300 Boy Scouts camping there that night as well, for some sort of Boy-Scout-Shindig. The next morning, the neighbor-lady at the campsite apologized if we were kept up at all, and I think I just blurted out “NO-PROBLEM-I-JUST-GOT-ENGAGED!!”

      Which probably startled her. Anyhow, just don’t tell my mother that some random lady knew before she did.

  • Friends of friends got married in an elopement and all their college friends found out they were married because they changed their status on Facebook. There was a little bit of hurt feelings, it seemed, and a lot of shock, but people got over it!

  • Rosie

    Some of my friends are facebook ‘married’, and refer to each other as wife, just for the fun of it when they’re just friends :) I do worry though that someone I don’t know so well or have lost touch with will change their status to ‘married’ as a joke and I’ll embarrass myself by leaving a congratulatory comment!

  • We didn’t change our status to “engaged” on Facebook until I was fully ready, which meant after we’d not only told the people we care about, but also had time to celebrate with them in private without getting tons of comments/texts/e-mails from well-meaning acquaintances who would all want to know “the story.” Putting it on Facebook was important to me in one way — to me, engagements are a public thing, so making it public felt essential — but I truly felt like we got engaged months before it, the night we went ring shopping and picked out my ring. That was the moment it became real for us and making it official on Facebook was when it became real for other people. I like the idea of having a “Facebookiversary” that is separate from the moment that it became real for you as a couple.

  • This whole facebook thing is revealing just how old I am. Facebook was the last thing on our mind when we got engaged, and married. Actually, that’s a lie. But it was on our mind in the sense of “we will NOT be putting anything on facebook until we’ve told all the people that really matter, and even then we’re going to wait several days after that” kind of way. The people who have to update their status or tweet within a minute of getting engaged or married really confuse me. The idea that “it’s not official till it’s facebook official” just seems all kinds of twisted and wrong to me.

    When we did tell people though, I told a lot more people we were getting married than we ended up inviting to the wedding. Which ended up in an email or two of “hey, when are we getting our invitation?” that I figured was more awkward for them than for me because they were the ones inviting themselves. Could be that a lot of people confuse wedding announcements with wedding invitations these days though.

    • Taylor B

      I want to Exactly! this multiple times. Why do so many people (especially parents’ friends/members of their congregation) assume they are invited?? To the point of telling us their travel plans for the following summer within a week of the proposal, so we wouldn’t pick a date they couldn’t attend! This is kind of unbelievable behavior to me, especially in “grown-ups”.

  • Laura

    Wait…does Facebook really not let you change your wedding date?

    Does this mean Facebook expects that people update their status the same day they actually get married?


    • There are people who do that you know…

      • Laura

        Oh I know–we had some very good friends who couldn’t WAIT to update it that night–but it does seem odd to me that FB wouldn’t anticipate some people being…well, too busy to get to it that day.

        • Just FYI, you can edit your Facebook timeline! Just go to the event (on a desktop computer, not mobile) and hover over the top right corner. A little pencil icon will show up (EDIT) and you can edit the info!

        • When I got the new timeline thing I spent some time cleaning it up and I was able to change the dates of life events (engagement, wedding). I do think it strange that it’s suggesting I add a photo of my birth though. I’m thinking no on that one.

        • margo

          The Facebook timeline does, actually, allow you to set the date you’d like for events. I think Madeline should be able to change it as well, with the “Edit” button that pops up when you hover over the event. (There are two, one is a star and the other is a pencil.) I’m not sure what settings you were checking, Madeline, but it is possible! (Not that I’d suggest changing it. Facebook doesn’t have to be so accurate as to deprive you of an extra champagne worthy holiday!)

          But yes, Laura, Facebook does allow you to change it.

          And Giggles, some people (especially younger generations) live a lot of their lives online. It’s new and different, but I don’t see anything wrong with it and certainly don’t find it “twisted and wrong” to be excited about good life events and taking a few minutes to express that excitement online, even immediately.

          • Margo,

            It’s just me being old and introverted. I’m starting to realize there’s a generation gap and it’s below me now rather than above me. :D

            It’s the idea that things aren’t real until they are on FB that I can’t get on board with. Things should be real before they are on FB and shouldn’t need FB’s approval to be real. I officially ate raisin bran for breakfast without having to make it official with a FB status update.

            Kids these days. What’ll they think of next?

          • AJ

            My Mr. and I really got to know each other via Facebook, way before we were dating. We credit Facebook with introducing us (via mutual friends’ photos), so it was with MUCH fondness that we updated our status the day of. We even considered making it part of the official photo shoot, but ended up forgetting in the flurry.

    • MDBethann

      I was able to plug in my actual wedding date in my profile. Don’t know if that impacted how it shows up on my timeline or not.

  • I enjoy any celebratory nod to meaningful (perhaps untraditional) life events. We’re still going to celebrate our original anniversary of when we started dating. Maybe not to the extent that we’ll celebrate our wedding anniversary, but I think it would be a bit silly not to celebrate it at all. We’d been together for 6 years before the wedding, so I like taking time that day to remember our shared pre-wedding history.

    Besides, I do love a good party. :)

    • We celebrate the day we met, the day we had our first date, and the day I sent an email with a link to the audio Hebrew bible to him. I’d love it if there was some personal holiday associated with every day of the year. Maybe by our 50th anniversary we’ll have filled the year up.

  • Other Katelyn

    When my fiancé proposed, he said he’d picked that particular day in part so that I’d have time to tell the Internet all about it after the fact. He knows me so well!

    • elorrie

      Ha! I think my fiance proposed on a cruise in the middle of the ocean for the exact opposite reason, so that I couldn’t call/text/email/facebook anyone for another 2 days. I’m glad he did, it gave us a little time to enjoy being engaged all to ourselves. Once we got back the questions about the wedding just starte flooding in so I was glad I had a nice vacation free of that. It probably didn’t hurt that we had just heard the story of a friend’s proposal and the guy complaining that he proposed on this romantic camping trip and then she spent the next several hours on the phone calling all her family and friends.

  • Moe

    I got married 3 weeks ago in Las Vegas. It was about as spontaneous as could be. It was just the two of us and once we made the decision to marry we moved so fast that there was no time to figure out the details of how/when to tell people.

    After the ceremony we went to lunch, we were starving! Then we made a plan to tell our parents and immiedate families first by phone. I had to disable my FB account for about 10 days because I didn’t want anyone to leak the news with a well-intentioned congratualtions.

    There were a few people who didn’t believe we had married. Even my mom demanded to see the certificate. But everyone was very happy offereig words of congratulations. Both of our parents had also eloped to Vegas so in some ways it was a family tradition I guess.

    Finally updating my status was exciting though. It did spark dozens of questions though. I had to follow it up with a wedding FAQ.

    • Disabling the account, not a bad idea. Last year (or was it the year before?), I disabled comments on my account a few weeks before my birthday because I didn’t want people telling me happy birthday because facebook told them to. I hadn’t thought about disabling the whole account though.

      • Not Sarah

        I just set it to not display my birthday at all anymore. That seems better to me. Strangely, I am of the “Facebook generation” (it launched in my first year of university or the year before I started) and I don’t like that either.

    • Also, YEA FOR YOUR WEDDING!!!!

    • Why couldn’t this advice have come last week??? It’s brilliant. I’m currently trying to clean up some well intentioned and loving family spreading the news of my elopement all over our facebook pages (to the point of berating us for not having changed the status yet!!) before we’ve had a chance to personally tell some of our more far flung friends and family members. Because I’d much rather people find out from me that I’m married than some facebook post, especially given the sensitive feelings around elopements.

      • Not that it helps anymore, but maybe useful for someone else . . . we did call family members and friends to let them know. And we just told them that we weren’t making a big announcement yet so to please hold off on telling others. We wanted to avoid that relative chain that happens with big news so that we could call all the aunts/uncles/cousins/etc on our own.

        • The relative chain is killer. I had to tell my best friend by text message I didn’t want her to find out by a comment on our facebook walls from the family.

  • Oh, you are so lucky that everyone was so accepting!

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  • This is the reason I hate social media channels. I have a similar situation to yours. My husband is used to publish every single thing he does during the day. When he was going to make that dreamed proposal for every woman, he decided to announce it on his Facebook, which is linked to his Twitter to. I was not expecting something amazing that day, but one of my closest friends come with the, sad new for me to hear it that way, but the most wonderful for her, that I would receive my wedding proposal that day. Since then, I have cancelled all my social accounts and everything related to rumors!