Ask Amy: "Faux" Wedding Is a Real Gamble

By Amy Dickinson | April 9th, 2021

The wedding is just a formality – and that may be for the best


Wedding Image

Dear Amy: My oldest daughter (age 26) is engaged to be “married.” After postponing the “wedding” due to COVID, they have picked a new date.

In a casual conversation with my other daughter (age 24), I learned that the prospective bride and groom do not actually plan on getting legally married. They have found someone who has agreed to officiate, but no marriage license will be obtained.

My husband and I met with our daughter. She was vague about her reasons, and became defensive, leaving us feeling that this is not her idea, but rather his.

He is quite wealthy for someone his age and makes his money through online gambling.

We encouraged her to think about beneficiary issues, Social Security standing, and next of kin issues, among other considerations.

After over a month of no further discussion, she asked me if I would want to help check out caterers.

I asked her if it was a wedding or just a party. She indicated she didn’t understand why that mattered. It didn’t really, but I knew then that their minds had not changed.

Since I don’t support this faux wedding, and have no intention of keeping up the charade, I asked for the return of the money I had given to help with the wedding, until there is a real wedding.

At this point she said she would send me a check, and all conversation stopped. All of this makes us extremely sad, and I don’t know how our relationship will fare. Am I missing something?

– M, in Virginia


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Dear M: You and your husband have pointed out some of what you see as positive aspects of being legally married, but you seem to be missing the entire “downside” of being legally married to a professional gambler.

Depending on where they live, your daughter could be on the hook for some of the debt accrued during a marriage.

And, given that the house usually wins, it is safe to assume that gamblers do occasionally take on debt during down times.

There are also legal issues regarding his taxable income. Does he declare his winnings?

Are you sure it is wisest for your daughter to be legally tied to him?

Regardless of whether they legally marry, you might urge her to plan for the downside and get a prenup, reducing her liability for some of these financial and legal issues.

Otherwise, if you had previously agreed to help pay for a party, in my opinion you should make good on your promise. Make sure she understands that this is the only reception you will help to finance.

Privately, you might be relieved that this marriage isn’t quite legal.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

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