Church wedding if already legally married?


I have a question and I would very much appreciate your advice.

I am from Germany where church weddings aren’t legally binding and people have to have a civil wedding before the church wedding. I am getting married next year and we are going to have celebrations in the US and in Germany so that all our family members can attend.

Is it possible to have a civil wedding at the courthouse in Germany and then have a church wedding here in the U.S.?

Thank you!

My friend’s daughter was married by her husband’s uncle, a priest, in the US and then repeated the same in England.

You could have a civil ceremony in Germany but you couldn’t consummate your marriage. You would have to wait until after the religious ceremony in the US.

What about doing both in Germany and then repeating the religious ceremony in the US?

I lived in Germany when I got married so I know whereof you speak. It is certainly possible to do what you said (my wife and I were married in Switzerland two days before the church wedding. We then renewed our vows in the United States for family who couldn’t come to Germany.

The suggestion to have a church wedding in Germany following the civil ceremony is spot on. You see, until you are married in the Church you are not married – regardless of what the civil ceremony says.

Deacon Ed

Marriages (the sacrament) normally cannot be repeated, can they?

Mine was. I was married in a civil ceremony and once we swam the Tiber, the priest was REAL anxious to get us into the church. It was fairly simple to arrange.

But the first was a civil ceremony, not a sacrament. :confused:

Hmmm. Don’t know. Maybe it depends on the circumstances or the priest involved. I know both ceremonies I attended were performed by priests.

If what you say happens, maybe the OP could do a renewal of vows? They allow that in Catholic Churches for those celebrating anniversaries.

I would think a convalidation would be in order since that is the way of things in the US. Bring all the legal documents.Of course a priest really should be consulted.
As an earlier poster said the couple would need to live separately until the convalidation.

WHAAAT??!! We didn’t. :eek:

You don’t need to live separately. The important thing is to remember that you’re not married, and to not act like a married couple. This means that any relations prior to the convalidation is a sin. Some will also claim that it’s scandal to accept communion in such a living circumstance, but that would depend on the situation and the person you ask.

WHAAAAAAAAAAAAT!!! :eek: :eek: :eek:

The priest didn’t say ANY of those things! I know we took Communion, we have done so each week since swimming the Tiber (except when I couldn’t go to Mass due to illness).

You seriously mean to tell us that after we’d been married twenty-plus years we were NOT married and not to act like it?

Why didn’t the priest warn us?

It is my understanding that if you both were not Catholic at the time of your civil marriage, then your marriage is seen as valid by the Church. You stated that this was before you “swam the Tiber”. So you were not bound by the Catholic marriage laws, and no need to worry.

You said above that your marriage was convalidated in the Catholic Church, and that the priest was real anxious to get it done. :confused:

Sure, as follows:

  1. Germany - Legal marriage

  2. U.S. - Canonical Marriage in the Catholic Form

  3. Honneymoon!

In that order, NOT 1,3,2

We you married, then converted, or were you Catholics that married outside of the Church? Those are different.

Thank you so much everyone for your advice! This really helped me a lot! :slight_smile:

We will do things in the above order.


One of them had to be Catholic otherwise why a convalidation? If they were both non-Catholic their marriage would have been considered valid and there would have been no need for a convalidation.

Since the priest never mentioned anything, just let it rest. A sin is only a sin if it’s done deliberately and with full knowledge.

I was going to give a response, but I think I’m overstepping my pay grade, so I’m going to let someone else chime in.

Neither of us was Catholic; why would you assume otherwise when I stated ‘after WE swam the Tiber’?

Anyway best of luck to the OP!

I’m sorry, but another poster mentioned ‘becoming Catholic’ when he’d in fact been baptized Catholic as an infant so I don’t assume anything anymore.

That said, the marriage of two non-Catholics is considered valid and doesn’t need to be convalidated when they are received into full Communion or are Baptized into the Catholic Church – unless there was a divorce and remarriage.

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