Can I "elope" and have a Catholic ceremony?


#1

My fiance and I decided that having a traditional wedding was not working for us. We got lost in so much of the planning, budget, and details that it took us a while to realize that our wedding should be about us. We're planning on getting married in another city (but same state). I guess we're "eloping" in the sense that it we're forgoing a traditional wedding day and just going to the courthouse (we are planning on only including our parents and our siblings).

Of course, we also do want to have a Catholic ceremony. My fiance is not Catholic but is totally supportive of us getting married in the Church, raising our kids Catholic, etc. That being said, the city we're eloping to is not even within the diocese. We're willing to go through the marriage prep, but will be allowed to have a ceremony? Even if it's just the priest doing our vows. Any further information is greatly appreciated!

Thanks <3


#2

Instead of getting married in a courthouse, with just your parents and siblings. Why don't you invite just your parents and siblings to your wedding in the church. The church does not require you to have a BIG Catholic wedding, if you want to have a small wedding, you can even get married in slacks if you want. You can have a small experience in the church. Just you, your fiance, your parents, and siblings. And in the end you'll have a valid marriage.


#3

Well, if you want a sacramental marriage, you must do it the way the Church has done it forever. That does not require a big budget, no more than the civil one anyways. I’d speak to your priest asap to know what are the appropriate steps to be taken. He’s there to help you, so don’t hesitate :smiley: And remember that in the Sacrament of Matrimony the priest does not “marry” you, rather, he acts in Persona Christi as a witness of your sacramental marriage, that is, Christ Himself witnesses your reciprocal marriage and blesses it forever.

Congratulations, you are a very blessed man in my eyes. I will pray, if you allow me, that Our Lady may bring your intentions before the Beloved.


#4

@Millie123 - Yes, sorry, I meant to mention that our Church ceremony would include our parents and siblings as well. We would like to have both the civil and Catholic ceremonies done the same day but I'm unsure if we could have a Catholic ceremony done outside our diocese.


#5

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:1, topic:304632"]
My fiance and I decided that having a traditional wedding was not working for us. We got lost in so much of the planning, budget, and details that it took us a while to realize that our wedding should be about us. We're planning on getting married in another city (but same state). I guess we're "eloping" in the sense that it we're forgoing a traditional wedding day and just going to the courthouse (we are planning on only including our parents and our siblings).

Of course, we also do want to have a Catholic ceremony. My fiance is not Catholic but is totally supportive of us getting married in the Church, raising our kids Catholic, etc. That being said, the city we're eloping to is not even within the diocese. We're willing to go through the marriage prep, but will be allowed to have a ceremony? Even if it's just the priest doing our vows. Any further information is greatly appreciated!

Thanks <3

[/quote]

The civil marriage is called an invalid attempt for a Catholic and you will, after it, not have a Catholic marriage (see Canon 1108), and cannot have conjugal activities without sin. Also your one and only marriage certificate will be signed by a judge instead of a priest and your Catholic marriage will then be a convalidation (see Canon 1160). You can get approval to have the Catholic marriage celebrated in another Catholic parish. Permission for mixed marriage is required, or if the fiance has not been baptised (validly or at all), then a dispensation is required. Also, all impediments must be cleared, and in some cases a couple cannot be married to each other due to them, or improper consent.Can. 1108
§1 Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who, in the presence of two witnesses, assists, in accordance however with the rules set out in the following canons, and without prejudice to the exceptions mentioned in cann. 144, 1112 §1, 1116 and 1127 §§2 - 3.
§2 Only that person who, being present, asks the contracting parties to manifest their consent and in the name of the Church receives it, is understood to assist at a marriage.

Can. 1160 For a marriage which is invalid because of defect of form to become valid, it must be contracted anew in the canonical form, without prejudice to the provisions of Can. 1127 §3.

CHAPTER VI : MIXED MARRIAGES

Can. 1127
§1 The provisions of can. 1108 are to be observed in regard to the form to be used in a mixed marriage. If, however, the catholic party contracts marriage with a non-catholic party of oriental rite, the canonical form of celebration is to be observed for lawfulness only; for validity, however, the intervention of a sacred minister is required, while observing the other requirements of law.
§2 If there are grave difficulties in the way of observing the canonical form, the local Ordinary of the catholic party has the right to dispense from it in individual cases, having however consulted the Ordinary of the place of the celebration of the marriage; for validity, however, some public form of celebration is required. It is for the Episcopal Conference to establish norms whereby this dispensation may be granted in a uniform manner.

§3 It is forbidden to have, either before or after the canonical celebration in accordance with §1, another religious celebration of the same marriage for the purpose of giving or renewing matrimonial consent. Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the catholic assistant and a non-catholic minister, each performing his own rite, ask for the consent of the parties.

Can. 1112
§1 Where there are no priests and deacons, the diocesan Bishop can delegate lay persons to assist at marriages, if the Episcopal Conference has given its prior approval and the permission of the Holy See has been obtained.

Can. 1116
§1 If one who, in accordance with the law, is competent to assist, cannot be present or be approached without grave inconvenience, those who intend to enter a true marriage can validly and lawfully contract in the presence of witnesses only: 1° in danger of death; 2° apart from danger of death, provided it is prudently foreseen that this state of affairs will continue for a month.
§2 In either case, if another priest or deacon is at hand who can be present, he must be called upon and, together with the witnesses, be present at the celebration of the marriage, without prejudice to the validity of the marriage in the presence of only the witnesses.

Can. 144
§1 In common error, whether of fact or of law, and in positive and probable doubt, whether of law or of fact, the Church supplies executive power of governance for both the external and the internal forum.
§2 The same norm applies to the faculties mentioned in cann. 883, 966, and 1111 §1.


#6

My Aunt and Uncle eloped during WWII. They hopped across the state line and knocked at the door of the nearest Catholic church. The priest there refused to marry them until he had called the pastor at their home Catholic church and received permission.
I don’t know if you could get away with that nowadays, but you might want to get to work on your Pre-Cana instruction while you consider your options. (WWII was a long time ago…):smiley:
May God bless you and your fiancee and your future family. Amen.


#7

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:1, topic:304632"]
My fiance and I decided that having a traditional wedding was not working for us. We got lost in so much of the planning, budget, and details that it took us a while to realize that our wedding should be about us. We're planning on getting married in another city (but same state). I guess we're "eloping" in the sense that it we're forgoing a traditional wedding day and just going to the courthouse (we are planning on only including our parents and our siblings).

Of course, we also do want to have a Catholic ceremony. My fiance is not Catholic but is totally supportive of us getting married in the Church, raising our kids Catholic, etc. That being said, the city we're eloping to is not even within the diocese. We're willing to go through the marriage prep, but will be allowed to have a ceremony? Even if it's just the priest doing our vows. Any further information is greatly appreciated!

Thanks <3

[/quote]

I noticed that you asked for information rather than advice, but I can't help myself. Please speak with your parish priest before doing this. You shouldn't deprive yourself of a valid sacramental marriage. The fact that you are also wanting to "have a Catholic ceremony" after the fact suggests to me that there may be something more that is impeding the two of you from having JUST a Catholic wedding. Please, reconsider trying to go around the Church. You CAN have a simple basic wedding within the Church without all the pomp and circumstance and keep expenses low. God bless and I'll say a prayer for you both.


#8

Catholics should not attempt marriage with two ceremonies as was explained by Vico. Why bother with the courthouse anyway since your fiancé is willing to have a Church ceremony? You should speak to your pastor, and to the pastor of the parish in the city in which you would like to be married. They can coordinate the necessary formalities, such as establishing that you are both free to marry. You should be able to arrange a ten minute ceremony after a regularly scheduled morning Mass in the church in your chosen city. I have seen a marriage ceremony take place like that in my own parish at home in Virginia. If you complete the marriage prep as you said you were going to, and go through your priest, you should be good to go. That is how Catholics elope! Prayers and best wishes for a long and happy marriage.


#9

why not have the wedding in the church. There is no rule that the Catholic wedding has to be a big affair. You can limit the number of invitees. the only requirement is that in addition to the bride,the groom, and the priest, there has to be two witnesses.
:):):slight_smile:


#10

It is entirely possible to have a very quiet and small wedding at a Catholic Church - if you want, it doesn't have to be any more than you and your witnesses. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever to have a civil ceremony. I'm not sure what the point of that even is, if you are getting married in the Church, then you are married. Why go through something that is not necessary, especially if you are trying to make things easier and less complicated for you?? :shrug:

~Liza


#11

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:4, topic:304632"]
We would like to have both the civil and Catholic ceremonies done the same day but I'm unsure if we could have a Catholic ceremony done outside our diocese.

[/quote]

A Catholic should never have a civil wedding by a justice of the peace. Catholics are to have a marriage blessed by the Church, after appropriate sacramental preparation. There is no reason to have separate Catholic and civil ceremonies as a Catholic marriage is recognized by civil authorities.

Talk with your pastor about marriage preparation. The Church does not require any expensive wedding reception, dresses, tuxedos, etc.. Yes, you can arrange a wedding in a different city/diocese.


#12

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:1, topic:304632"]
My fiance and I decided that having a traditional wedding was not working for us. We got lost in so much of the planning, budget, and details that it took us a while to realize that our wedding should be about us. We're planning on getting married in another city (but same state). I guess we're "eloping" in the sense that it we're forgoing a traditional wedding day and just going to the courthouse (we are planning on only including our parents and our siblings).

Of course, we also do want to have a Catholic ceremony. My fiance is not Catholic but is totally supportive of us getting married in the Church, raising our kids Catholic, etc. That being said, the city we're eloping to is not even within the diocese. We're willing to go through the marriage prep, but will be allowed to have a ceremony? Even if it's just the priest doing our vows. Any further information is greatly appreciated!

Thanks <3

[/quote]

Skip the civil ceremony - or are you trying to get around the marriage prep? I don't know why you would want to go to another city to get married civilly unless his parents or your parents are giving you problems. All you have to do is talk to your priest and tell him your circumstances, especially about marrying a non-Catholic. Then, tell him you only want a small ceremony and not a big traditional wedding. That should be no problem at all. And you don't have to leave your city to do it.


#13

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:1, topic:304632"]
Of course, we also do want to have a Catholic ceremony. My fiance is not Catholic but is totally supportive of us getting married in the Church, raising our kids Catholic, etc. That being said, the city we're eloping to is not even within the diocese. We're willing to go through the marriage prep, but will be allowed to have a ceremony? Even if it's just the priest doing our vows. Any further information is greatly appreciated!

Thanks <3

[/quote]

A Catholic must marry in Catholic form. It is possible for a Catholic to get the proper dispensation to get married in a civil setting, but from what I've read it involves situations where the non-Catholic spouse either refuses to marry in a Church or there are very sensitive issues associated with, say, the family of the non-Catholic spouse. I see no obvious reason in your post why such a dispensation is necessary.

Simply get married in a Church. Keep is small if you wish. It's your day, and you should not worry about anything else. It's a whole lot better than getting married civilly and not having your marriage recognized by the Church. Been there...done that.


#14

You seem a little confused on the sacrament of marriage. Talk to your priest.

What you propose is NOT appropriate.

What you can do instead (and I assume you are going through all the proper premarital preparation including permission to marry a non-Catholic):

1) Get married in your own church with the priest and a couple of witnesses. This is simple and requires the least amount of paperwork and planning.

2) Get married in this other town by a priest with your witnesses. This will require some permissions from your own priest and some planning on the other end as well finding a priest or deacon in the other town who will witness your marriage.

3) You mention a non-Catholic fiance. Your other choice, besides the two above, would be to apply for a dispensation from form to be married civilly to your non-Catholic fiance. If granted, the civil ceremony is your only ceremony and it is a valid marriage.

These are your three choices to be married validly.

Doing it any other way results in an invalid marriage and problems that you will have to face afterwards.


#15

I don't know whether the OP is from Mexico, but under Mexican law (and in many other countries as well), one must get married in a civil ceremony. The church wedding has no legal status. In the United States, a Catholic priest or deacon has the legal authority to witness a civil marriage, so two ceremonies are not necessary. Many of our Hispanic parishioners are not aware of American law on this subject, so they get married by the local judge and begin living together (in mortal sin) while saving for a lavish church wedding which often never happens. Putting one's soul in danger of damnation is never a good idea.


#16

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:4, topic:304632"]
@Millie123 - Yes, sorry, I meant to mention that our Church ceremony would include our parents and siblings as well. We would like to have both the civil and Catholic ceremonies done the same day but I'm unsure if we could have a Catholic ceremony done outside our diocese.

[/quote]

I don't get it.
If you are going to do both, and on the same day...why do you need to do both?


#17

[quote="Uknowhoo, post:4, topic:304632"]
@Millie123 - Yes, sorry, I meant to mention that our Church ceremony would include our parents and siblings as well. We would like to have both the civil and Catholic ceremonies done the same day but I'm unsure if we could have a Catholic ceremony done outside our diocese.

[/quote]

I guess I'm confused. If you want a Catholic ceremony on the same day as the civil marriage, why not just skip the justice of the peace? Having a marriage outside the diocese is not preferable. One should be married in the parish where one of the persons are living (i.e. his or her parish). it doesn't always happen that way, but that is the way it should happen.

Long and short, Catholics are not married until consent is exchanged in front of a member of the clergy. I would also think it is disrespectful to the sacramental nature of marriage to consider the civil marriage as somehow equivalent to a religious marriage.


#18

Please talk to your priest about this.


#19

My husband and I eloped and had a valid catholic wedding. While on vacation we approached a priest at a local church and explained our situation. He was thrilled to perform the ceremony. We had not gone through the normal premarital prep so he counseled us the day before and then performed the ceremony during morning mass. All we needed was our baptismal records which our churches faxed to him. It was really quite easy.


#20

Hi. Not sure if there are other considerations, as other posters have suggested, but I don't see the purpose of the two ceremonies either.

Since the Catholic marriage "counts" as far as the state is concerned, but not the other way around, why bother with a civil ceremony?

When I got married, my wife and I got our marriage license and gave it to our priest, who filled it out following the wedding and mailed it back to the state. Done and done. Everyone happy. As far as I know, that's how it works in most, if not all, states.

And also, you'll save yourself the additional fees of the unneccessary civil ceremony. $100 in my city at the moment. Just sayin'

:twocents:


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.