Is Civil Marriage One Month Before Sacrament Okay?


My fiance and I are practicing, chaste Catholics who are joyfully marrying in June. We are getting married out of state (a HUGE headache as far as getting licenses, I’m just now realizing–if anyone has advise about this, let me know), and in May, he needs to re-enroll in his AMAZING and CHEAP company health insurance. Here’s the catch–my health insurance through my employer is super expensive, and he can only choose a new plan once a year, in May. We cannot choose the family plan unless we are already married.

Is it morally permissible to be civilly married just one month before our wedding-- living “as brother and sister” for that month of course-- and then to have the sacramental marriage? This is just an idea we’ve had, not something we’ve really pursued yet. We would not consider that wedding a marriage at all, just a formality so that we can get on the same health insurance. We both have enormous financial obligations and every little bit will help. It would save us literally thousands of dollars, not to mention if I get pregnant this year/early next year, which is my joyful hope.



If you’re in the United States, he should also be able to change plans at the time of certain life events. Marriage is one of those.



Oh okay, I didn’t realize that! Phew lol.



He should check with his employer’s Human Resources department just to be sure, but I think it’s required to allow a change for those certain life events. He needs to talk to them anyway, to find out what paperwork he’ll need, what the deadline is, etc.



Exactly. Marriage is a “qualifying event” under US Law.



This isn’t entirely accurate. While it is true he can only enroll during open enrollment, a life event can trigger a change any time and is allowable under group policies.

When you get married, he can add you to his insurance at that time.

He should talk to his benefits coordinator.

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You should talk to your pastor, because this can trigger some issues with your planned celebration.

But you shouldn’t need to do this.



Yep! more characters



Life events such as marriage or the birth of a child let you re-enroll when they happen, at least in US. I just went through this myself when my son was born.

That said, a civil marriage is just a piece of paper. It’s a legal contract between two people that satisfy the local law. I don’t see anything at all wrong with doing that so long as you realize you aren’t actually married until you receive the sacrament in a church. Civil marriages are just a piece of paper, but the sacrament of Marriage is…wow. :slight_smile:

Were it not for the Bible stating to follow the laws of the land, my husband and I joked about getting a civil divorce but staying married as a Catholic couple just to stick it to the local governments that “we don’t give a rip about what you say, marriage always has been and will always be something so much more than what the state says it is and NOTHING you can say, or any law you pass, will change it!”



I know literally nothing about US healthcare law but as for as the moral aspects go, the Church sees the civil and sacramental aspects of marriage as being distinct. In many countries one ceremony covers both, however there are some places in Europe where a separate civil ceremony is mandatory. I’ve also heard of couples who get married civilly because it’s easier, quicker and cheaper and then have the sacramental ceremony some months later.

In your case, you need to talk with the priest who you’ll be getting to celebrate your wedding since you’re civil wedding is invalid in the eye of the Church and will need to be convalidated which isn’t in itself that much of a problem but does require more paperwork especially because you’ll be working across multiple dioceses.

Tldr - it’s messy but do-able. Keep calm and call a priest!



Good point! In some US Dioceses they require a waiting period between a civil marriage and the convalidation, I’ve seen everything from 6 months to a year!



If you are a Catholic you are bound by canonical form unless you have a dispensation from it. However, the Catholic Church recognises civil marriage. It is not just a piece of paper. If an Anglican/Episcopalian couple married in a civil ceremony the Catholic Church would recognise their marriage as valid and as a sacrament.



Marriage is a Qualifying Life Event. If he elects his plan at open enrollment as enployee only, and then you get married two months later, that event allows him to change his plan effective the date of your marriage, meaning he can add you to the plan, then.

I’d doublecheck with his human resources department, but that’s the general gist of commercial enployer health insurance.

Marriage is also an event that lets you drop insurance.

Edit: Everyone and their mother beat me to it. :slight_smile:

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Do you intend to live together immediately after the civil wedding?



Read the OP.


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