Bale was denied a home debut after injuring a thigh muscle in the pre-match warm-up having initially been named in the starting XI.
After consulting with the medical team, Bale was replaced by Isco and played no part in the game.
Madrid fell behind to a deflected goal by Angel Lafita after five minutes, but Pepe equalised a quarter of an hour later.
Cristiano Ronaldo then put Madrid ahead from the penalty spot before Isco extended Madrid's advantage with a goal in the second half.
Getafe midfielder Michel, who had given away the penalty, was sent off for a second bookable offence with eight minutes remaining and then in the final minute of stoppage time Ronaldo added his second goal of the night, his 208th for
Los Blancos, which meant he unseated former Mexico striker Hugo Sanchez as the club's fifth top goalscorer of all time.
Ronaldo had a shot cleared off the line by Sergio Escudero in the early stages, and then Getafe shocked the Bernabeu by taking the lead.
Ronaldo was dispossessed in the middle of the Madrid half, he thought unfairly, and Lafita ran towards goal and took an early shot, which deflected off Pepe and past Diego Lopez.
The Madrid players were furious, but referee David Fernandez Borbalan allowed the goal to stand.
Madrid drew level from a set piece. Angel Di Maria launched the ball into the box and Ronaldo shot at Miguel Angel Moya from close range, the ball then falling at the feet of Pepe, who bundled it over the line.
Just two minutes later Di Maria sent in another free-kick, which Ronaldo volleyed well wide of goal, but his blushes were saved by the offside flag.
Di Maria tried his luck on goal from 30 yards out and had Moya in a panic but the goalkeeper was able to save the shot and gather at the second attempt.
Madrid were then awarded a penalty, again as the result of a free-kick, this time from Ronaldo, which was blocked by the arm of Michel in the Getafe wall. The Portuguese forward stepped up to take the spot-kick and slammed the ball into the bottom corner to score his sixth goal of the season in all competitions and his 12th against Getafe.
Pepe squandered a chance to extend Madrid's lead, heading over from a corner, while Karim Benzema squandered a simple opportunity to net the third, getting little power on his shot from a few yards out, and allowing Moya to scramble across his line and palm the ball away.
The France striker did not have the best of matches, and later missed two opportunities to score with his head.
He was replaced by Alvaro Morata with 11 minutes remaining and left the pitch to a mixed chorus of whistles and applause from the crowd.
Madrid were in full control in the second half. Ronaldo forced a save from Moya just after the break, and then Isco scored the third goal, cutting inside from the left wing to curl the ball into the far corner with his right foot and record his fifth goal for Madrid.
Michel was then given his marching orders for bringing down Ronaldo.
Despite scoring the penalty, Ronaldo was far from his brilliant best and wasted several opportunities to score again, but finally got his milestone goal with virtually the last kick of the game, converting a low cross with a backheel finish into the bottom corner.
It was the former Manchester United man's fifth goal in a week, coming exactly seven days after he signed a new five-year contract with Madrid.
The result means Carlo Ancelotti's side moved up to third in the Primera Division, behind Barcelona and Atletico Madrid, who have maintained 100 per cent starts to the season.