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  #1  
Old Aug 23, '08, 8:30 pm
penpal49 penpal49 is offline
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Question civil ceremony before church wedding

My fiance has suggested that we have a civil ceremony now in order to get the financial benefits of marriage (insurance etc.). Our wedding is scheduled for fourteen months from now, and I can't figure out if this is a good idea or not. These financial benefits will be more than sufficient to pay for the wedding/reception/honeymoon as it is thousands of dollars. Otherwise when we get married, and I move in, we may have some financial struggle that seems unnecessary.

Is there a rule about this? How would this affect the sacrament? It sounds like a good idea to me, but I am worried that the church may look down on it, or flatly refuse to let us marry in the church.
  #2  
Old Aug 23, '08, 9:11 pm
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Trishie Trishie is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

I wonder if you wish to ask an Apologist in the Forums? I have heard of marriage occurring under both forms but don't know the facts regarding it..

Congratulations! I pray that your marriage will be truly blessed by God with faithful love and goodness. Trishie
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  #3  
Old Aug 23, '08, 9:20 pm
Jenny Z Jenny Z is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

If you were married civilly, you would be unable to consummate the marriage until it was blessed by a Catholic priest. Getting married outside of the church is a mortal sin, and you'd have to go to confession.

You really, really should wait and have it done properly in the church.
  #4  
Old Aug 23, '08, 11:17 pm
quiet52 quiet52 is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by penpal49 View Post
My fiance has suggested that we have a civil ceremony now in order to get the financial benefits of marriage...Is there a rule about this? How would this affect the sacrament? It sounds like a good idea to me, but I am worried that the church may look down on it, or flatly refuse to let us marry in the church.
Have you yet approached your pastor about preparing for the sacrament? I'm not talking about wedding and financial preparation -- but about learning what it means to be a married Catholic?

How important is the faith to you? If it were truly important, you would want to live as Christ and His Church has planned for married couples. We're called to holiness -- not to compromise, when it's convenient.

No, as a Catholic you may not marry outside the Church, merely because it's convenient. It would not be a valid marriage, and every sexual act would be a mortal sin. Is this what you want?

Something else for you to consider -- what other matters of faith will your future husband want to compromise on, for the sake of comfort, convenience, etc.?
  #5  
Old Aug 24, '08, 12:33 am
Tsuwano Tsuwano is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Here in Japan the government does not recognize religious marriage ceremonies as legally binding. For a marriage to be legal it must be registered at the local ward office and the date of the marriage, officially, is from the date of registration. The government does not hinder religious marriage ceremonies, but it doesn't recognize them either. For various reasons, with the knowledge of our priest, my Japanese wife and I registered our marriage at the ward office in October, but were not sacramentally married until the next April. During the intervening months we refrained from living as a married couple because the only marriage we actually recognize is the sacramental marriage and the vows we took in the Church before God. My personal opinion is that if you wish to register your marriage civally, that is fine, but do not confuse it with the sacrament of matrimony in the Church and remember that sexual relations are licit only within the context of the sacrament. Someone else offered good advice when they suggested you check your question with the moderators of the forum. They could give you the official teaching of the Church on the matter and that may help you clarify your decision.
  #6  
Old Aug 24, '08, 1:23 am
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Gearoidin Gearoidin is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tsuwano View Post
Here in Japan the government does not recognize religious marriage ceremonies as legally binding. For a marriage to be legal it must be registered at the local ward office and the date of the marriage, officially, is from the date of registration. The government does not hinder religious marriage ceremonies, but it doesn't recognize them either. For various reasons, with the knowledge of our priest, my Japanese wife and I registered our marriage at the ward office in October, but were not sacramentally married until the next April. During the intervening months we refrained from living as a married couple because the only marriage we actually recognize is the sacramental marriage and the vows we took in the Church before God. My personal opinion is that if you wish to register your marriage civally, that is fine, but do not confuse it with the sacrament of matrimony in the Church and remember that sexual relations are licit only within the context of the sacrament. Someone else offered good advice when they suggested you check your question with the moderators of the forum. They could give you the official teaching of the Church on the matter and that may help you clarify your decision.
We had exactly the same situation but again with the knowledge and permission of our priest. We were also legally married in October but not sacramentally married till the following year, February. We lived apart until after our sacramental marriage in February. Talk to your priest about this. Because a church marriage is not recognised as legal here, this situation is pretty common.
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  #7  
Old Aug 24, '08, 4:26 am
Seatuck Seatuck is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by penpal49 View Post
My fiance has suggested that we have a civil ceremony now in order to get the financial benefits of marriage (insurance etc.). Our wedding is scheduled for fourteen months from now, and I can't figure out if this is a good idea or not. These financial benefits will be more than sufficient to pay for the wedding/reception/honeymoon as it is thousands of dollars. Otherwise when we get married, and I move in, we may have some financial struggle that seems unnecessary.

Is there a rule about this? How would this affect the sacrament? It sounds like a good idea to me, but I am worried that the church may look down on it, or flatly refuse to let us marry in the church.
You need to go speak to your priest about this. In the US it probably would not be permitted. Not sure about elsewhere. I see our friends in Japan have made the best of the circumstances. The main idea behind this is that yes the legal state is not equal to the sacramental/ church recognized state. Under normal circumstances in the US if a couple did this especially if they moved in together to further save finances they would be in a sinful situation . An expensive wedding/reception and honeymoon is not what is required for a holy marriage so it isn't a good idea to risk being in a state of sin in order to have them. It seems to me to focus on those material things instead of the spiritual things is a bit disordered thinking.
Go and speak with your priest who will witness the sacrament. You have to get started on marriage preparation anyway..
  #8  
Old Aug 24, '08, 5:23 am
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by penpal49 View Post
My fiance has suggested that we have a civil ceremony now in order to get the financial benefits of marriage (insurance etc.). Our wedding is scheduled for fourteen months from now, and I can't figure out if this is a good idea or not. These financial benefits will be more than sufficient to pay for the wedding/reception/honeymoon as it is thousands of dollars. Otherwise when we get married, and I move in, we may have some financial struggle that seems unnecessary.

Is there a rule about this? How would this affect the sacrament? It sounds like a good idea to me, but I am worried that the church may look down on it, or flatly refuse to let us marry in the church.
yes there is a rule
for Catholics the rule is canon law
if you marry outside the Church you have voluntarily excommunicated yourself, and divorced yourself from the sacraments, including marriage. you do not just decide to convalidate months later at your convenience. you will have to go through whatever it takes to reconcile with the church first.

that the sacraments mean so little to you, which means you are prepared to reject the centrality Catholic life which is Jesus' presence in the sacraments, indicates you are sorely lacking in basic knowledge of your faith, and your first priority should be to seek that knowledge, in prayer.

It is insanity to attempt marriage, with all its demands and sacrifices, without the presence of Jesus Christ. To try and carry out the promises of marriage on only your own strength is to court failure. Marry in the strength, protection and grace of Jesus Christ, and give love a chance.

if money is an issue, forget the big lavish reception and expensive accoutrements, buy attractive clothes you can wear again, and marry in before, after or during a regular weekend or daily Mass, you won't even have to pay for use of the church and hall. or cough up the minimal donation for use of the church, marry and invite as many people as the church will hold, and have relatives serve cake, punch and finger foods in the parish hall.

if you care more about the outward non-essentials--the band, the hall, the glamor, the dress, the party--than about the convenant of marriage, you are not ready for marriage in any case.

if you are in a country like Mexico or Japan that does not recognize a religious ceremony, the rule is different, you marry civilly and then marry in the religious ceremony immediately afterward, without living together as man and wife in between, so as to avoid the sin of so doing. but you do not allow months to elapse. In cases of true need--immigration situations, military deployment--the bishop is directed to do everything possible to expedite the marriage, so make sure the priest understands the situation. Tsuwano describes the correct procedure when there must be a delay between the legal marriage and the religious sacrament.
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  #9  
Old Aug 24, '08, 10:21 am
penpal49 penpal49 is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Why is everyone assuming that I want to marry him in order to have sex??? We have already discussed it and we would not comsumate the marriage until after the sacrament. My belief IS important to me. This arrangement would be ONLY financial. We would not live together (actually he lives 6 hours away).

I thank Gearoidin and Tsuwano for their examples.

Also, my priest told me this morning after mass that as long as we don't live together as a married couple we will be okay.
  #10  
Old Aug 24, '08, 10:57 am
February February is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Penpal,

Consider the fact that some people live without "financial benefits" (insurance, etc.), even though they work hard, have advanced degrees, and work full time at a nonprofit...like myself. I have a job that I love that doesn't offer benefits. I do what I can to support myself and budget. I often think that my financial "struggles" are unnecessary, but I do it because I love my job. You love your fiance. Do you love him enough to wait to have your marriage as a sacrament in the church?
  #11  
Old Aug 24, '08, 11:20 am
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Brendan Brendan is online now
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seatuck View Post
You need to go speak to your priest about this. In the US it probably would not be permitted...
It requires a canonical dispensation, but it is certainly possible.

In the case of my wife and I, she's Canadian and I am American. It was easier from an Immigration standpoint to have civil ceremony and get that paperwork done. We certainly didn't consider ourselves married. She remained in her apartment in Ontario, and I was staying at my parents place ( I had moved out of the apartment I was sharing with friends a few months prior to our wedding).

We had our Wedding at her parish Church ( the only one we consider to be our wedding, the civil thing was simply 'paperwork' necessary for immigration.) And THAT was when me moved in together.

It was not difficult to get the bishops permission, the main concern was that we take extra precautions to avoid scandal, which we did ( heck we continued living in separate countries )
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  #12  
Old Aug 24, '08, 1:03 pm
Jenny Z Jenny Z is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

I think the consensus is to talk to your priest... he can really help you out better than any of us can
  #13  
Old Aug 24, '08, 1:27 pm
IrishAm IrishAm is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Without knowing you or your fiance at all, it is hard to make a determination of motives, but I think I would worry a great deal about someone being willing to "scam the system" for a few dollars, even if it meant creating a certain level of scandal.
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  #14  
Old Aug 24, '08, 1:35 pm
Phemie Phemie is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

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Originally Posted by IrishAm View Post
Without knowing you or your fiance at all, it is hard to make a determination of motives, but I think I would worry a great deal about someone being willing to "scam the system" for a few dollars, even if it meant creating a certain level of scandal.
They are not 'scamming the system' by being legally married, unless the 'legal' marriage is a sham -- not the case here since they have every intention of being married for life but recognize that they also need the Church's blessing for a marriage the Church recognizes as valid.
  #15  
Old Aug 24, '08, 2:34 pm
puzzleannie puzzleannie is offline
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Default Re: civil ceremony before church wedding

Quote:
Originally Posted by penpal49 View Post
Why is everyone assuming that I want to marry him in order to have sex??? .
because you did not specify so most readers probably thought you meant the commonly accepted definition of marriage--we do not read minds, we only read what you post. dont' get defensive, and don't ask a question if you do not want an honest answer.
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