Revert Wanting To Get Married In Catholic Church

I am hoping someone can help me with a general question.

A friend of mine has been non-practicing along with her husband. They got married through a civil ceremony and now that they are considering going back to the church (revert), her husband is awaiting an annulment decision through the Archdiocese. Once he receives a decree and they go through pre-cana, etc., what forms are needed in order to be seen as married in the catholic church? Anotherwords, civally they are married and have a license and certificate. Would they need to get another certificate and have the priest sign off on it? Has anyone gone through this and can give advice?

Sounds like they’re taking the right steps to have their marriage blessed in the Church. Once the declaration of nullity (aka "annulment’) has been reached, then they are free to received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Their priest should be guiding them through the process.

After the annulment is finalized (assuming it is) they will still have to do the same pre-marriage preparation and paperwork as any other couple. In addition, they will need permission from the bishop to convalidate the civil marriage. This is a routine matter and if everything is in order, most bishops will likely grant this permission rather generously. They do not need a new marriage license, because in the eyes of the state, nothing will change (although I’ve heard that one state does require it, but the priest will know). They will receive a church marriage certificate.

The convalidation ceremony is for all practical purposes nearly identical to the marriage rite, however the ceremony should be more sober and subdued given the circumstances.

I would guess that once they get the annulment decree, they will discuss this matter of needing pemission from the bishop with their parish priest and what all red tape has to be gone through. Also, when you say that the ceremony should be more subdued, do you mean the ceremony that the priest performs or do you mean the formality of the bride/groom/guests?

There isn’t usually a lot of red tape here. That’s what I was trying to imply in my first post. IF everything else is in order, and IF there is no hesitation that the marriage should go forward (such as minor children from the first marriage which was annulled, or some other reason), bishops are usually inclined toward granting this permission rather quickly and with a minimum of paperwork.

Also, when you say that the ceremony should be more subdued, do you mean the ceremony that the priest performs or do you mean the formality of the bride/groom/guests?

Both. The preference is to do convalidations outside of Mass (but that’s not a strict rule, although it might be that way in your own diocese). But remember that the ceremony itself, the vows, blessings, rings, etc are all done in a convalidation just as they are in a “regular” wedding.

There should be less done in terms of decorations and flowers and the like. It should simply be a little more subdued, but by no means must it look non-celebratory. In other words, it shouldn’t look like a picture book wedding (although in reality, neither should any wedding but that’s for a different day).

There is no less ritual but less “pomp and circumstance,” less of the fluff we usually see at contemporary weddings.

One of the local priests won’t do convalidations outside of Mass. He insists on the Eucharist being the first meal the couple share with each other. Kinda nice, IMHO…

Usually, he ‘saves’ them (the convalidations) up and celebrates them during the Easter Vigil. Makes for a longer Mass, but…:shrug:…at least you don’t have to worry about people not showing up to the church for the wedding…

To the OP: Best wishes to your friends!!:smiley:

Is the bishop aware that he does this?


But that’s IF there’s a convalidation… About two or three years ago there were 3 at the Vigil Mass. I know last year there weren’t any.

Oh my goodness! So your telling me that if the couple wants to receive the Sacrament of Martrimony, it is up to the priest ‘when’ it happens? In the case above, he ‘postpones’ the ceremony and only does this once a year during Easter? I better tell my friends to ask their priest ahead of time just in case they want to change parishes. That just seems inappropriate (and a sin) to postpone a couples opportunity to receive communion. If they are done all their pre-cana, etc. lets say by July, they cannot become part of the Eucharist and receive communion until Easter because the priest ‘says so’?

Also, what if the couple want this experience to be private? Exchanging vows and receiving the Sacrament, to me, is very intimate and I would be very hesitant if I had no other choice but to do this in front of a congregation.

That’s bizarre and without any canon law to back it up. What does he do if there is a non catholic fiance? They cannot receive communion. They do not have to exchange vows at a Mass. Does he make them wait too?

This is an anonymous internet forum. You will find all sorts of opinions, personal experiences, and stories on here. Do not get spun up about what one person experienced. Don’t get your friends upset over nothing.

The first thing they should do is talk to their priest about convalidation, ask him the process in their diocese, and what options they have regarding time, place, size, etc.

So true.
In my case, I spoke to the priest about a convalidation in January, got all the paperwork done and had the ceremony in April. Keep in mind there were no previous marriages, so no annulments.

I am sure I am the exception.

Like 1ke said, they need to talk to their priest about their options and what they need.

Actually, exchanging vows is NOT a private function. The ideal place for a marriage is at Sunday Mass, with the congregation present.

And by the way, you don’t have to wait until your marriage is convalidated. you can choose to live as brother as sister and receive communion. THis must be discussed with your priest.

I have a similar question. The couple I know was married in a civil ceremony (he was a widow) and now they are coming back to church. He was telling me this because they are not going up for communion and I got the feeling that they would like to.

They are an older couple and I don’t think they would like a big ceremony to convalidate their marriage. Does anyone know what the bare minimum would be? Could it just be done at a Sunday Mass?

I am going to talk to them and our pastor also. He knows the man and I think is glad to see them attending Mass.

The bare minimum is a priest (or deacon) and two witnesses, following the ritual for a marriage outside of Mass. It does not have to be done during Sunday Mass, nor any Mass for that matter. I can be done on a Wednesday evening when no one else is in the church (just for example). In fact, the entire ceremony would take between 5 and 10 minutes.

Ours was on a Sunday evening. We had our parents, our son, our witnesses, my sister and her children. I guess all in all we had 14 people, including everyone, Priest, us, everyone.

It was held in our Chapel, not the main Church. The guys wore suits, the ladies wore dresses or nice pants and I wore my wedding dress from 11 1/2 years before. We had silk flowers for my husband, our readers ( our son and my sister), our witnesses (maid of honor and best man from civil service) and me. We all went back to our house after and had sandwiches and the like. Another friend stopped by with a small wedding cake.

My Mom cried, because after all those years I was finally right with the Church. And my MIL didn’t understand what all the fuss was about.

What Fr. David described in his last post is exactly what happened when I had my marriage convalidated.

We brought two witnesses and met the priest in the church on a weekeday morning. The ceremony lasted about ten minutes.

WOW! What diversity. We go from a couple in full wedding garb having a ceremony in the church chapel to a couple meeting the priest in the church on a weekday morning and it taking 10 minutes. I had no idea that if a marriage was going to be convalidated that the couple had a ‘choice’ or ‘say’ in the matter as far as the ceremony.

Well, yes and no. The Church defines the ceremony, not the couple. How many people get invited is up to the couple themselves. They can invite only a handful of people, or they could invite several hundred. Of course, the couple also decides what to wear, and how many, if any, flowers to bring, etc etc. (all within reason).

My wife and I had our convalidation right after our children’s baptism. We held it in the grotto.

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