Civil marriage then Religious marriage

Has anyone here been married outside the church then opted to have a religious ceremony?

My husband and I got married at the courthouse now we want to get married in the Catholic Church, other than calling for a priest for direction and more than likely doing Pre-Cana courses I’m just looking to see what the procedure was like for others.


This is a resource from the US Bishops:

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I did, but we had been civilly married for many years before our Catholic ceremony. We had to go through the usual pre-nuptial questioning about eligibility to marry but given how many years we were married, we were exempted from marriage prep courses.

You will need your baptismal record. Mine arrived 2 days after requesting it, my wife’s took a month (she’s Anglican). Otherwise it was a pretty straightforward process.

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It depends on where you live.

That’s what the law prescribes where I live (France and Switzerland). Marriage prep is required for religious weddings, not for civil ones.

Our two ceremonies took place on the same day, although here in Switzerland most couples will space them a few months apart.

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Our process was really good. We were married in Las Vegas before we were Catholics. Two years later, we were married in the church. We had to go to a preCana seminar prior to the wedding. It was really good.

Interesting. Can I ask why your marriage was not deemed valid in the first place, if neither of you were Catholic at the time?


It is important for us to distinguish here whether or not either of you were Catholic at the time of your civil wedding. If you were, then your marriage is invalid due to lack of form. If you have converted since the wedding, then you may well have a valid marriage already.

Yes. Got married in Las Vegas and then had a church ceremony and everything worked out fine. The priest was more than happy to preside over the church nuptials. And no, there was no counseling or anything like that involved, except for the annulment my wife had to get which was duly granted. She was not Catholic when we got married the first time, but converted before our Catholic wedding. I tell everyone I love her so much I married her twice!

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Getting married in the Catholic Church doesn’t depend on where you live. It is the same canon for all. The couple must be free to marry, have no impediments, and freely give consent. If the OP is in fact free to marry, having no impediments, and will freely give consent.

Various countries may have different civil laws pertaining to civil marriage but that has nothing to do with the canon law of the Church.

I became a Catholic first. While I was in RCIA, they told me to have my marriage convalidated in the Church. So we did. Several years later, my hubby converted. I’m not sure if that answers your question.

No. If they were both baptised, their marriage is illicit (illegal), not invalid (ineffective).

I did this. We had been married for 13 years, so we didn’t have to take any classes. My experience was very damaging, however. Please make sure to find a good priest. The process is at its heart a simple one, but it isn’t always administered that way. If you unluckily find yourself undergoing the process with a priest who is unmerciful or abusive, please don’t submit to it, just walk away and find another one. There are plenty of priests who will be genuinely glad to help. And whether you’re led down a road that’s harsher than your psyche can manage or one that’s easy-peasy-pudding-pie, the result is the same: a validated marriage.

Unless one of them was Catholic. If a Catholic marries outside the Church without dispensation, it is invalid.

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No, you are mistaken. Two baptized Christians of any denomination equals a valid (effective) marriage bond, barring impediments such as previous marriages etc. If a baptized Catholic marries a baptized Christian outside the Church without dispensation, the marriage is illicit (illegal), not invalid (ineffective). My own concern with this question was a few years ago, and I’m too busy planning Christmas music to go look up citations; however, if this is important enough to you to post your own citations, please do so.

No, that is not correct, and I wouldn’t want someone coming across this thread to think it is.
If one of the parties is a baptized Catholic, and the marriage occurs outside the Church without dispensation, the marriage is invalid.

See canon 1108.
And here’s one helpful link:


This is incorrect. Lack of form in this case= invalid marriage.

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That doesn’t explain anything. Did “they” say why your marriage was invalid? Was a declaration of nullity necessary first, or clearing some other impediment?

I’m sorry, you’re wrong.

A marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic in the Catholic church without the Bishop’s permission is illicit.

The marriage of a Catholic outside the Church without a dispensation is invalid regardless of the baptismal status of the spouse.

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JulianN is not mistaken. A Catholic married outside the Church without a dispensation is in an invalid marriage.

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They didn’t tell me why I had to get married again in the church.

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