Secret Marriage - We need help!

My husband is Catholic, but I have been in the Episcopal faith for years. However, my husband has not been practicing his faith since before I met him. I’m 100% supportive of his faith, and I have considered converting to Catholicism myself. In February of this year, after being engaged for some time, we chose to elope at the courthouse, secretly. We chose to keep it a secret because of many family issues going on at the time. I’m not saying it was right - but it’s what we did and we cannot change what has already been done.

I’m madly in love with him, and since then, we have slowly let the secret out to a select few of our family and friends. But we haven’t told everyone. I know this is going to come back to bite us. What we have decided to do is have a Catholic wedding in 2 years - when we can afford a wedding. We want our marriage to be recognized through the church, and we want our families to be a part of it (as I believe marriage isn’t just about two people, it’s also about the joining together of two families as well). As I did my research, since I do not know much about the Catholic faith, I found a blessing of a civil marriage. I have no idea what that entails, and I’m pretty much clueless about everything else revolving around a wedding.

Since I am not Catholic (yet), I know we won’t be having communion at our ceremony. But then again, I do not exactly know the set up of a blessing of a civil marriage. What exactly should we expect? I’m concerned because I want to make up for what we lost. I want to follow through the way it was supposed to be done. I am embarrassed by how we eloped, but I wouldn’t take back marrying him. I am ashamed of keeping it secret just to keep the peace in our family drama. We would do anything to make it right. If anyone can help me, I’d be so thankful!

This is a convalidation-- the making valid of an invalid marriage.

You should sit down with your husband’s priest as soon as possible. There will be premarital counseling regarding the Sacrament of Marriage and paperwork.

I encourage you not to wait 2 years, but to convalidate your marriage as soon as possible. Your husband has placed himself in a position that bars him from receiving the sacraments until he rectifies this.

Make an appointment with the priest and lay it all out for him. He will guide you from there.

And even if you want to wait two years for a big family celebration, you can have the marriage blessed now and then celebrate a renewing of vows in two years.

this is the part I don’t get
what is to afford?
your Catholic husband is in an invalid marriage which means he is separated from the Eucharist and the other sacraments, the worst thing that can happen to a Catholic in this life. the priority is to have your marriage convalidated by the Catholic church, now as soon as it can be arranged with his priest. If you mean having a party, you can do that at a later date if your plans call for something extravagant, or you can invite your family for hot dogs in the back yard. Cost of a celebration should not be a reason to delay a sacrament.

No, you do not have to become CAtholic, or wait until you are received into the Church if you have decided to do this. You both need to see the priest, today, and follow his advice on how to handle your living situation in the meantime for the care of your souls. It will be great if your families are on board with this, but they are not the ones you should talk to first.

Please, please please:

Talk to your local Catholic priest as soon as possible.

It is a wonderful thing that you want to make this situation right. I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say that we all want to do what we can to help and support you as much as possible here on this forum. But simply put, this isn’t the place to be asking those questions because they can get complicated, and even rather personal. The good folks here can provide some very generic answers to your questions, but the only one who can truly walk you through this process is the local Catholic priest (or someone in the parish who has been properly trained in matrimonial concerns).

It will also be not nearly as simple as I fear you might think. There are many issues here, but the most obvious one is that you cannot have a civil marriage blessed and made into a Sacramental marriage without first meeting many other pre-requisites which only the local Catholic priest can discuss with you in-person.

You’ve made the right decision (now, at least), and you’re headed in the right direction. Please, by all means, continue this way. But at the same time, keep in mind that the right thing to do is to meet with the local Catholic priest and let him guide you through this process.

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