Post # 1
My Fiance is a born and raised Catholic, and I am Lutheran. We’ve decided to raise our family in the church, and because his family is so much more worried about denomination, we are going Catholic.
I am currently attending RCIA classes, and will be accepted into the Catholic church at Easter.
We have chosen to get married in a non denominational ceremony in July 2013, in respect to both sides of our families. Our venue is booked and both sides of the family are excited about it! (Although his folks expect a Catholic convalidation afterwards!)
My question is: how difficult is the convalidation process? I’m getting a lot of questions in my RCIA class by other candidates and our coordinator as to why we are not planning a Catholic wedding.We would like to have our marriage recognized by the Catholic church, but I am unwilling to yield in terms of having a nondenominational wedding. I feel a lot of pressure from the church to do the Catholic wedding, despite our plans and my family’s feelings. I’d rather prefer to do a convalidation afterwards, in a smaller ceremony. Has anybody had a similar siuation? What is your take on this situation?
Post # 3
Congratulations on starting your journey to join the Church!
A convalidation is the church recognizing your marriage, while a Catholic wedding is a sacrament in the Church. The Church doesn’t really approve of people getting married outside of the Church and then convalidating their union, that’s not what a convalidation was designed for.
That being said, if you get married in the non-denominational ceremony neither of you will be able to receive Communion until your marriage is convalidated by the church, because you will most likely be living together and wont be married in the eyes of the church so that would be considered sinful.
Basically there are two options to be “right” with the church.
1. Get married in a small Catholic ceremony first. Have just parents and a few friends present or his whole family- whatever you want! Then go through with the big non-denominational ceremony. This will mean you received the Sacrament in the church.
2. Get married in the non-denominational ceremony and live as “brother and sister” (meaning not living as a married couple) until you convalidate the marriage. This is the solution often offered to comples who need to settle immigration issues, but still want to follow church teaching. This would be hard to do as you will have a lot of people who know you are married, but I guess it might still be possible.
Post # 4
I’m not going to repeat the great info given by the PP but just wanted to add that I’ve also heard of people having small Catholic ceremonies first to receive the sacrament before their outdoor or nondenominational weddings. I would go that route rather than backtracking- assuming you are both serious about Catholicism.
Post # 5
The questions from the RCIA people are understandable, because people going through the RCIA process are generally eager to join the Church and receive the sacraments, and it would seem a little puzzling to be joining the Church but turning down the opportunity to receive one of the (big, exciting) sacraments – a lot of people actually go through RCIA in order to have a church wedding.
I think moose91 made a good suggestion in saying you could think about having a tiny Catholic marriage ceremony before you do the big outdoor wedding, which you would then be free to celebrate however you want. You could even have the marriage solemnized at a regular Sunday Mass. People don’t do this very often, and it might not be the right solution for you, but it’s a perfectly legitimate option.
Post # 6
I would talk to your priest about what steps are needed to get a Convalidation. I’ve heard that priests don’t like doing Convalidations for a couple simply because they didn’t want a church ceremony. My understanding is that it’s supposed to be a way for the church to recoganize marriages for couples who left the church but came back, who joined the church, or who had some sort of limiting situation (immigration, deployment, maybe even insurance). But some priests are more flexible than others.
I would suggest having a Catholic ceremony but without the mass. Or you can just have a private Catholic ceremony before the nondenomiational one.
I am curious as to why you don’t want a Catholic ceremony though.
Post # 7
I think the OP feels like her family would be unequally represented at a Catholic wedding?
Having the wedding without Mass (i.e. without Communion) is a way of getting around that, because in other respects Catholic and Lutheran liturgies are pretty similar, but I can understand the OP wanting it to be done on more visibly “neutral territory.”
Post # 8
@KCKnd2: Oh I totally get the OPs reasoning for having a nondenominational wedding- I don’t think she should necessarily have to sacrifice that, but rather could have a small (just her and her FI) ceremony with a Catholic priest to give each other the sacrament and then have her full wedding as she was previously planning to do.
Post # 9
@kellyha99: I agree with the previous posts and particularly with this “The Church doesn’t really approve of people getting married outside of the Church and then convalidating their union, that’s not what a convalidation was designed for“ I’m having a convalidation ceremony because we had our civil wedding years ago for legal reasons. Neither SO and I considered this our wedding, it was just him and I, we have recently started practicing the Catholic faith and decided we needed to have our marriage validated. Our priest went as far as removing my “legal” last name to my maiden name and told me my marriage wasn’t worth anything in the church. I regret not getting married in the Church years ago but I didn’t have 6 months for marriage prep.
If you’ll be raising your family in the Church, i suggest you marry in the Church first with just you and Fiance and immediate family. You can always have a ceremony without communion or rituals if you find this disrespectful to your family.
Post # 10
@kellyha99: I don’t mean disrespect by this question, but I have to ask you – do you really want to become Catholic? From your post it seems like you are doing it more out of concern for your groom’s family, rather than spiritual reasons, but obviously you are only providing us limited information.
PPs have already outlined the importance of marriage as a sacrament to Catholics, so I won’t go on about that. What is your family’s concerns about getting married in a Catholic church? As PP’s have pointed out, you don’t have to have a mass. So there will be readings from the bible and then the ceremony. That’s it. Is it because of the physical location of it being in a Catholic church?
If your faith is important enough to you that you are going through the conversion process, honestly I can’t figure out why you would not want a Catholic wedding. Although I understand your concern regarding your family’s feelings, the marriage is between you and your groom, and you two alone need to decide what you want to do regarding the ceremony.
Also, if your family has issues with you having a non-mass Catholic wedding I can’t imagine they are pleased about you converting.
And agree on the small Catholic ceremony suggested by PP that could be a way to go. You may very well be able to find a priest willing to convalidate after a secular ceremony but your situation is not really its intended purpose.
Post # 11
In order for the Catholic church to recognize your marriage as valid, you must request a dispensation from “canonical form” from your local bishop. It must be approved before your wedding at the nondenominational church. You can contact your local diocese for more information.
Post # 11
kellyha99: What did you decide to do? I hope it all went well for you. I am currently in the process of discussing convalidation with my RCIA leaders and have been looking on these boards to see what others’ experiences were.