(Closed) Getting Legally married before the Catholic Church Wedding….thoughts?

posted 6 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
8361 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

Would you be telling people you were already married or hiding that fact?

Post # 4
11343 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

The biggest issue with this idea is that you cannot actually GET married when you already ARE married.  If you are legally married at city hall, your subsequent church ceremony would have to be a vow renewal and not an actual wedding.

Post # 5
831 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

You cannot do this. The Catholic church will not marry you if you are already married. You can look into getting your civil marriage convalidated in the church though, but it will not be a sacramental marriage.

The church takes these things VERY seriously. If getting married in the catholic church is that important to you I can’t imagine why you would want to sneak one by them.


Post # 6
1523 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

This is what we are doing, Fiance is in the military and it just makes it easier to live and move if we are married (many many military couples choose this). Although we are exchanging rings, and I’m chaning my name. People will know we are already married when we have the big wedding a year later.

Post # 10
55 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

We got married way before our church wedding for legal purposes. However we’ve been living engaged, because we wouldn’t really consider ourselves married until we do it in church. We had no problems with the arrangements with the church and our Priest, so everything seems okay. The difference would be that we wouldn’t need to get a license before the church wedding, because we are already married. I was also under the impression that this would make the ceremony a “vow renewal” but our priest told me that no, it isn’t because in the eyes of the Church, we aren’t married. So no legal paperwork but we will get a marriage certificate from the church. 🙂

We did tell our immediate families that we were going to get legally married but asked that they not make a big deal of it, because as far as we’re concerned, it’s just paperwork. We actually didn’t invite anyone to the civil ceremony but at the last minute, my parents insisted on coming with. Lol. Also, we want our “real” wedding to be super special and we don’t want the civil wedding to take anything away from it. 🙂

So perhaps it depends on your own church and priest, and what they say. I’d suggest making sure everything will check out before you jump into anything!  

Post # 12
1068 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

@kimm99:  this.

Post # 13
635 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Sorry, the Catholic church doesn’t do the big do-over type ceremony you want. There’s a chance you could have a convalidation, but even that might be iffy. And it won’t be a wedding. The church might have rules about you trying to treat it as such (big white dress, attendants, lots of guests, etc.). 

Your only option is to call your priest and confirm this with him.

Post # 14
5479 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

I have issues when people LIE to their families, friends, and spiritual leaders.  It’s deceitful & wrong.

I also have a problem when people say that a courthouse wedding isn’t a real wedding.  Basically, let’s say I got married at the courthouse (for any reason, legal, personal, budget, whatever) and decided not to have a big “fake” wedding after… does that make my marriage invalid? 

For military people or those with immigration issues, I see why you do it.  I disagree with the lying part of course, but the “wedding” you have after you’ve already had a wedding, it’s a vow renewal/marriage blessing/recommitment ceremony/etc.

Post # 15
831 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

@Ultrakocie:  Just to be clear, I understand your motivation.  Talk to your priest, but if you want to get married in the Catholic church this scenario will not work out for you.

I’m not sure how far along you are in the processs, but they are going to ask you if either you or your husband has been married before. They do not care if it was a civil or religious marriage, or even if it was to each other.  I’m not sure if it is the case for all parishes, but I even have to get an affadavit notarized where I have 2 witnesses swear that I have not been married before.  So right there you have a roadblock.

If you do this, convalidation will be your option to have your marriage recognized in the church. This link explains it pretty well:


Is there any way you can move up your Catholic ceremony, make it small, and have a celebration at a later date? Of course you will still need to fulfill all the pre-marriage requirement which will take time, but there is no need to have a big church wedding. You can get married in church just you and your fiance, priest/deacon, and witnesses.

Post # 16
1880 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

@DaneLady:  I was under the impression that the ceremony part was just symbolic but that the actual marriage takes place once the papers are signed and filed.  So can you consider yourself married from the day you get your marriage license?  I’m only asking because this is the dilemma Fiance & I am currently faced with and our immediate family has urged us to just get legally married stateside before our actual Destination Wedding and not tell anyone.  They’ve convinced us that with any wedding, all the guests see is the ceremony which is just symbolic not what actually constitutes you as married.  What constitutes you as actually married is after the ceremony (and usually out of public view) when everyone signs the paperwork.

I’m genuinely curious about your’s and other thoughts on this because I’m seriously conflicted about it, but, unfortunately, it’s too late to change the venue and we no longer feel safe getting legally married out of country.  Long story short, our hotel has lost the paperwork of 3 brides in the last month.  So these 3 unfortunate couples now have copies of their birth certificates and passports floating around Jamaica somewhere.  Not good.  Yet too late for us to get everyone to cancel their trips, change venue, etc. so we came up with the next best solution (get legally married the day before we leave w/o exchanging rings or inviting anyone to witness).

Sorry to threadjack….

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