Marriage Question

I’m Catholic and my fiancee is Protestant. She goes to Mass with me and is seemingly interested in converting to Catholicism. If we get married and have a Catholic wedding, will the church acknowledge the wedding as a sacrament for her after she converts, or not so because she wasn’t Catholic at the time?

have you spoken with your pastor? that is your next step
she does not necessarily have to become Catholic should you decide to marry her
you as the Catholic party need to seek a dispensation to marry a non-Catholic, and you as the Catholic party have to agree to raise your children Catholic, and you both must be open to life and to all that God intends for marriage.
If she has been validly baptized your marriage, if contracted according to the laws of the Catholic church, will be both valid and sacramental.

This is a general answer, there is no way you will get an answer here that speaks to your own individual situation. speak to your priest.

No I know that she doesn’t have to convert for me to marry her. She’s just expressed interests in doing so. She’s been baptized in her church. I haven’t spoken with my priest yet because after Mass last Sunday is the first time she’s mentioned an interest in converting to Catholicism. We’ve talked about our future Marriage obviously and she’s fully willing to raise our kids Catholic.

Actually I believe the Church recognizes as sacramental marriages between baptized non-catholics. So as long as you obtain the dispensation to marry a non-catholic Christian, your marriage would be sacramental. (There is a a different dispensation to marry an unbaptised person, also obtainable and permitting a sacramental marriage to be created.)

I guess my question is if she converts after our marriage takes place, does the church have any kind of formal ceremony outside of the Confirmation and First Communion after RCIA classes to officially recognize the marriage or do they already do so since she’s already Christian?


nothing would be necessary since, as already stated, you marriage would already be both valid and sacramental.

Thank you.

Thank you all. I was wondering if there were a benefit of waiting to see if she wants to convert first before we got married or not. But seeing as she’s baptized, the church will accept the marriage as sacrament.

A marriage is valid or it isn’t at the time it is contracted.

If you marry according to the laws of the Church-- proper permissions, form, etc-- then the Church recognizes the marriage as valid and a sacrament.

If she later becomes a Catholic, no there isn’t anything more to be done.

A marriage to an unbaptized person would be a natural marriage. A sacramental marriage can take place only if both parties are baptized.

If there is a previous marriage in her life, she would need an annulment before she could receive first communion and confirmation.

What happens in RCIA is people go to class for several months, hear the deacons ask a couple of times about previous marriages, finally go to the deacon and start the process of annulment and find out that it is not guaranteed and can take some time. Then the two people who were married outside the church generally both are in RCIA class and the spouse who is catholic does not take Eucharist until the annulment is received. Then the other spouse can be baptised (if unbaptised) receive first communion, receive confirmation and then the couple will have their marriage blessed.

This is moot if it is your first marriage and your fiancee’s first marriage or if the first marriage(s) were ended with the death of the spouse.

God Bless

You could ask to renew your vows, either at a regular Mass or at a special service with your family and friends. People often do this at a special anniversary but there would be nothing to prevent your doing so after your wife’s reception into the Church.

Thank you so much for this info. I know she got married right after college but divorced a year later because of abuse. She got her maiden name back so I assumed it was annuled, but that isn’t actually the case. She told me she asked for an anullment but her lawyer said the state doesn’t do annulments anymore, only churches. She wasn’t married in a Catholic church so how does this work?

Aha, more information. This is a horse of a different color.

A prior marriage without a decree of nullity means you cannot marry this person until and unless hse is declared free to marry. She will have to have the marriage examined for nullity by the Tribunal **before **you can be married.

There are some other options when one or both persons were unbaptized. In the case of the unbaptized ther are also options for dissolution of the bond. This chart is a good summary:

But, now that you’ve included this information the advice is to make an appointment with your priest as soon as possible. Whether she becomes Catholic or remains protestant, you cannot marry her unless she is declared free to marry by the Church. She has a prior bond right now. There will need to be a thorough investigation including baptismal status, any prior marriages of her ex, etc.

Go see the priest together and take it one step at a time.

Thank you.

Agreed. Talk to your priest right away and apply for a decree of nullity. There may be fee because there is work that has to be done, mail, court documents etc. Even if you don’t have $$ for it, do not delay talking to the priest and tell him ALL of your concerns and issues.

Good Luck.

We spoke with my priest last night. He gave us an application for an annulment. There is a $400 fee.
She is concerned that her ex won’t cooperate. He’s very manipulative and will relish the fact he has some sort of control over her life again. She also mentioned that his family, and church in general, despises Catholic’s and will be another reason she’s afraid he won’t cooperate.
I’m very nervous now. If she can’t get the annulment, then that’s pretty much it right? I can’t marry this girl I fell in love with all because of this can I?

The fee is sliding scale, so talk to the tribunal if this fee is an inability to pay.

The tribunal proceedings do **not **depend upon his cooperation. A nullity petition can go forward without him participating.

I would suggest that you take things one day at a time. Ultimately, she must be declared free to marry via a decree of nullity or a dissolution of the bond in order to be married to you.

Yes, it is possible for the church to declare her marriage invalid even if her spouse does not cooperate.

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