(Closed) Not Eligible for Pre-Cana?

posted 5 years ago in Catholic
Post # 2
7977 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

My understanding is that if you are not married within the Catholic church, they will not recognise your marriage. Therefore, you cannot do a Pre Cana. I wouldn’t worry about that really… they’re sort of over-rated IMO!

You can have your marriage convalidated. This is where you’re already legally married, but you were not married within the Catholic church, so the church does not recognise it. A convalidation can be almost identical to a wedding, or it can be a small blessing service after the fact. You would be hard pressed to have a convalidation on the same day as the wedding, however, because the paperwork requires you to state the “date of attempted marriage” at the top.

I do know people who couldn’t get licenses to be married in church, so they had to have a secular ceremony and then a blessing/convalidation afterwards. This could be an option for you. It was nearly what we did, but on our third attempt we managed to get a church license, so that was OK.

I don’t know about a blessing or not… but it wouldn’t make any difference to the “Catholic validity” of the marriage. As for your other questions:

“Orthodox priests claiming they can perform Catholic weddings and that it’s recognized by the Vatican” There is some crossover in the sacraments of Orthadox and Catholic weddings, so it might be referring to this. However, I think this only applies when one party is Orthadox.

“I also read that Parish priests cannot perform a wedding outside of a church, but that priests assigned as chaplains to Catholic hospitals can perform a wedding on non-church grounds.”Don’t know. Certainly couldn’t happen in my country, I don’t think, because of strict marriage license laws, but you’d have to check.

“And then I read that Franciscan Friars can bless the marriage and the rings, even if you have a non Catholic wedding. Why would this be limited to Franciscans?” Don’t know.

Post # 3
7977 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

Oh, and PS… why not do a secular marriage counselling class instead of a Pre Cana? I’m sure there are some good ones out there which would cover your bases? I actually found that the sessions our local priest did, which weren’t Pre Cana at all, were better than the Pre Cana! They were v-ery 1970s though!

Post # 4
576 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

Although it’s not really relevant to your question, I can clear up the issue of Catholics marrying in the Orthodox church. The Roman Catholic church does accept Orthodox marriages. It requires a dispensation from the Catholic Bishop in order to be considered lawful, but it is done. The Catholic church recognizes the orders and sacraments of the Orthodox church, so marriages in the Orthodox church are recognized as valid. The dispensations are given because this doesn’t work both ways. The Orthodox church doesn’t recognize marriages in the Catholic church, and the Orthodox partner will not be able to receive communion until the couple has been married by an Orthodox priest. For this reason it’s most common for an Orthodox/Catholic couple to ask for a dispensation from their Catholic Bishop so that they can marry in the Orthodox church and avoid any issues.

As far as the rest goes, since you are not going to be married in a Catholic church you don’t need to meet any specific pre-cana requirements. I’ve heard good things about the Engaged Encounters program, and I think that would be a good option for you. You might also consider non-religious premarital counseling. You will be able to go over all of the things that pre-cana would cover, without the religious aspect.

I have no idea about the blessing, as I’m actually Orthodox. Hopefully someone else will have and answer for that for you.

ETA- One partner must be Orthodox in order for a couple to be married in the Orthodox church, and the other must at minimum be a Christian baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 6 months ago by  luckyshot.
Post # 5
126 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2015

skylar84:  I know that every Diocese and church are different, but my church required Engaged Encounter as part of our marriage prep. It was a full weekend so it was actually much more in-depth than pre-cana. I think you would really enjoy the weekend. I don’t know how your Archdiocese works, but I signed up for Engaged Encounter through their website and not through the church. I don’t see any reason that you couldn’t sign up and attend. 

The Engaged Encounter retreat is very focused on learning more about your fiance and communicating. Several topics are discussed and volunteer couples share stories related to their marriage. You and your fiance then use a workbook to indepedently answer questions and express your thoughts. You then meet up with your fiance to discuss your answers. It’s a great weekend to just focus on each other and your relationship. My Engaged Encounter weekend also had some very meaningful prayer services. During one of the prayer services we were able to have a Deacon say a personal  prayer and blessing for us. 

I would really recommend the retreat even if your marriage doesn’t end up being officially recognized by the church. Good luck!

Post # 7
36 posts
  • Wedding: June 2013


I used a Tau Franciscan. I was told that as long as we were not a member at a parrish then we could use them as our officiant. The marriage is suppose to be recognized by the Catholic Church, because the wedding follows the rules in Canon law of 1983. 

I am Catholic and my husband is not. He refused to get married in the church, but agreed to our future  kids being baptized Catholic. So, I had to use a Franciscan. 

Anyway, it is up to each diocese if they want to accept the marriage. 

There is an online Pre Cana. I highly recommend going through some kind of marriage prep. 

Post # 8
5 posts

You can take the online PreCana through http://www.marriageministries.com. People all over the world take it. And there are free optional video segments that anyone can watch on http://www.learnmarriageministries.com that are for couples that are living together, or second marriages, or military marriages and a number of other special circumstances, including one of planning a Catholic ceremony that explains a lot of rules about marriage, including that couples get married in a church because it is a sacrament and that takes place in sacred space.

A convalidation or blessing can happen after a marriage and your marriage would be recognized in the Catholic Church after you have it, but it would not be done right after the secular wedding and you would need marriage prep and a priest or deacon to fill out all the paperwork.  

in our archdiocese, we have couples that are not getting married in the Catholic church come to PreCana because they want good marriage prep. We are happy to have them come. Research shows that marriage prep is helpful especially for the first 5 years of marriage, so it’s great that you want to do it.


Post # 9
553 posts
Busy bee

Isn’t the purpose of pre-cana actually preparation for a Catholic wedding? So how are they un-Catholic by refusing? 

Post # 10
5 posts

The purpose is really to prepare for the whole marriage, not just the wedding and you never know what will happen in the future. I think if the Church is more welcoming to people, people may be more open to listening to what the Church says.

Post # 11
64 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

You might want to check out Catholics without a church. It may be an option for you. Before we found a minister I was comfortable with I was considering that option. We wanted FI’s dad involved in the ceremony, but he’s pretty religious and wouldn’t have been willing to get a license from an online church to perform the ceremony. This was our next best thing. 

I talked to the folks at CWAC and they were really helpful. 

Post # 12
36 posts
  • Wedding: August 2015 - Big Catholic Church

If you aren’t getting married in the church, it’s not a union blessed by the church, ergo not valid in the Catholic Faith. You can be married in the church, my godmother is Catholic, and her husband Hindu and they had precana and were married in the Catholic church at University of San Diego, a catholic university.

Post # 13
7200 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2015

skylar84:  I used to be a Parish Secretary and dealt with all this crap so let me try to untangle it for you:

Pre-Cana is the marriage prep required for a Catholic wedding. If you’re not having a Catholic wedding, you do not need to “meet the requirements of Pre-Cana”. Engaged Encounter is something totally different that is often encouraged by the parish but almost never “required” as it costs more money. Basically- think of Pre-Cana as getting your driver’s permit…. it feels like a “step” everyone takes, but if you’re not planning to drive you don’t need it. 

A priest can only marry you inside a church unless they get special dispensation from the Bishop. The hospital chaplain can marry people at the hospital or even at home if it has something to do with a patient dying. They have this dispensation from the Bishop.

Anyone who isn’t a Roman Catholic priest can not perform a Roman Catholic wedding. There are TONS of people who are former priests or part of other sects who will say they can perform a “catholic ceremony” but that ceremony will not be valid in the Catholic Church. 

What you are looking for is called Convalidation. You said you want to have a non-Catholic non-Hidu wedding and then have your marriage/rings blessed. The marriage blessing after a civil wedding is refered to as a convalidation and, as the name implies, it “validates” your marriage in the Church. You would be considered the same as if you got married legally in the Church and have to get an annulment if you got divorced. Most parishes require pre-Cana for convalidation. Your parish is probably confused because you are telling them you’re not having a catholic wedding but still want pre-cana. Tell them you are looking for convalidation and see what those requirements are. 

Post # 14
763 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: January 2014

skylar84:  You do not have to be married in a Catholic church per se but you do have to be married in a church/chapel by an ordanined minister of a christian faith for it to be recognized by the catholic church. 

I was married by my brother (ordained Baptist pastor) in a chapel to my Catholic husband. We went through all the marriage counseling, NFP classes, and visits with priest. We did everything through the catholic church except the actual marrying part. We are fully and wholely recognized by the church an it is considered a sacrement for my husband. There must be a disposition from the bishop but that is never an issue. 

Now in your case if your betrothed is not a baptized believer then that would fall under the category of interfaith marriage i believe and will not be considered a sacrement, but will be recognized. 

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