You've got quite a situation here. Your letter is proof that nothing is ever simple.
Do Not Break The Law For A Wedding
However, one thing is fairly simple. You do not break the law to pay for a "dream wedding".
Playing With Dolls And Reading Bridal Magazines
I am planning my own wedding right now so I know all about dream weddings. I am also mature enough to know that dream weddings are just that -- dreams. They are created through years of planning doll weddings and looking at bridal magazines designed to sell an image.
Work Harder On Marriage, Not Getting Married
While the wedding is definitely an important day, it is only one day at the beginning of a lifetime of marriage. You should put no more work or money into the wedding than you are willing or able to put into your marriage.Do not go into debt to pay for a big production. Many, MANY marriages break up over debt and money problems. Very few break up over not having a large enough wedding reception.
Pleasing The Princesss
It is time to sit down with Elsbeth and review priorities. It sounds as if you are running yourself into the ground and into the poorhouse trying to please your princess. While that is sweet and romantic, it is also dangerous.
You've set a bad precedent here. By giving in to Elsbeth desire for a ring "just like the one she dreamed of as a child", you have set her up to believe that marriage will be just as she dreamed and to believe that, if she just whines and begs enough, she can have anything she wants, even if the money is not there.
You are the type of people that creditors love.
Is She More In Love With The Wedding?
Ask Elsbeth if she would want to marry you wearing a t-shirt and jeans, in a small chapel. If her answer is no, she may be more in love with the image of the wedding than she is with the image of being married. They are not the same thing. The wedding lasts one day. The marriage lasts a lifetime.
The Pregnant Bride
To further complicate things, in seven months you will be bringing a child into this mix. Did Elsbeth's dream wedding include a being a pregnant bride? Because that is what you will have. Unless she is significantly overweight now, at four months, she will be obviously pregnant, at least to any women in the audience. I assume that you haven't told her mother because of fear of embarrassment or condemnation or the like.
However, mom will find out. She may be immoral, but I doubt that she is stupid. Even if you were somehow able to hide the pregnancy, it will be very obvious when Elsbeth delivers a child 5 months after the wedding. You may as well tell her now and stop lying.
Wedding Costs v. Child Rearing Costs
Here's a bigger issue. If you can not afford to pay for a big wedding without going into more debt, how do you intend to support a child? Raising a healthy child now costs upward of $30,000. If you don't get good pre-natal care, that cost can skyrocket due to medical bills, ICU charges, and lifetime disabilities. How will you pay for that?
I know that you don't need anything else to worry about right now. You are obviously overwhelmed as it is. However, this is reality. The two of you have created a new life that will be entirely dependent on you for food, shelter, medical care, education, love, nurturing, and a million other things. In order to provide all of that, you will need to bring in family support. If you are not willing to do that then you should seriously consider adoption. Children are not playthings. They are a serious gift and responsibility.
Be Honest To Everyone Involved
Okay, enough preaching-here's my suggestion. Have a serious talk with Elsbeth and all involved parents (you didn't mention whether your mother or her father were around). Admit to the pregnancy. If her mother is pressuring you to break the law, she has no room to condemn you for your sins. Honesty is your best policy here. Lay it all on the table.
Let Elsbeth share her wedding dreams, figure out how much you can afford and see if anybody else can afford the difference. Chances are probably not.
Postpone The Big Shindig
My recommendation? Have a small and intimate (and cheaper) wedding now and save up for your baby. Ten years from now, have the big dream wedding as a reaffirming of your vows. This has several benefits. For one thing, you will hopefully be more financially set in ten years. You can begin saving for this big shindig now and avoid debt all together, definitely a good thing. Also, making a plan such as this will give the two of you something to look forward to. you may well need a long term goal such as this to get you through the next few years.
The first few years of marriage are tough enough. Add a kid and the two of you have some rough years ahead of you. Making a commitment to a big party ten years from now may provide the motivation for the two of you to stick it out.
Let Go Of The Fantasies
You have a tough situation on your hands and some difficult decisions to make. I wish you the best of luck and I pray that you and Elsbeth will be able to let go of the fantasies and make a commitment to creating a strong and happy marriage.