Seeking clarification of something I saw


#1

I was the best man at a wedding recently. At the rehearsal, the Bride and Groom signed documentation which I (Best Man) and the Maid of Honor then signed as witnesses. Is this the "civil" or legal portion of the union?


#2

[quote="Nick003, post:1, topic:305735"]
I was the best man at a wedding recently. At the rehearsal, the Bride and Groom signed documentation which I (Best Man) and the Maid of Honor then signed as witnesses. Is this the "civil" or legal portion of the union?

[/quote]

Some states require it, but many churches do, too. Canon law requires two witnesses:

Only those marriages are valid which are contracted in the presence of the local Ordinary or parish priest or of the priest or deacon delegated by either of them, who, in the presence of two witnesses, assists, in accordance however with the rules set out in the following canons . . . .

CIC 1108.1.

Traditionally (but not mandatorily), the best man and maid of honor are the two witnesses; and traditionally they sign as witnesses to the fact of the wedding taking place.


#3

That's strange. I've never seen a marriage license signed before the wedding took place.


#4

[quote="Nick003, post:1, topic:305735"]
I was the best man at a wedding recently. At the rehearsal, the Bride and Groom signed documentation which I (Best Man) and the Maid of Honor then signed as witnesses. Is this the "civil" or legal portion of the union?

[/quote]

Hmm, no.

There are no separate civil/legal & religious portions in a Church wedding. The couple speaks their vows once and it takes care of both the civil and the religious requirements in countries like the US and Canada. In countries where there is a requirement to marry civilly first, the civil part would not be celebrated by the priest/deacon but by a civic official (judge, justice of the peace, mayor, etc.).


#5

[quote="maltmom, post:3, topic:305735"]
That's strange. I've never seen a marriage license signed before the wedding took place.

[/quote]

That was my thought, too!

In answer to the OP - it could be either. If it was a marriage license, it was the civil document. Was there a state seal on the paper somewhere?


#6

Assuming it wasn't just a very organized priest who got everyone's signature in advance and added his own at the end, It may well have been the souvenir certificate that many people have as a keepsake (and informal "proof") of their wedding. It isn't really an official document in terms of either church or state . . . but a nice momento.


#7

I guess what I'm leading up to is this:

If a man and woman go to city hall, they can get a marriage license and be married on the spot. This is a civil wedding, but in the eyes of the Catholic Church, they are not married.

Can the opposite happen? Can I marry in the Catholic Church and not have it be a civil union?

Frankly, I don't care if the state recognizes me as married. I'm only concerned with being married in the eyes of God and the catholic Church.


#8

[quote="Nick003, post:7, topic:305735"]
I guess what I'm leading up to is this:

If a man and woman go to city hall, they can get a marriage license and be married on the spot. This is a civil wedding, but in the eyes of the Catholic Church, they are not married.

Can the opposite happen? Can I marry in the Catholic Church and not have it be a civil union?

Frankly, I don't care if the state recognizes me as married. I'm only concerned with being married in the eyes of God and the catholic Church.

[/quote]

The certificate of marriage is presented to the priest to sign, where the state does not require this to be signed by a justice of the peace. If a state did not require marriage license, then it is conceivable: common-law-marriage was once more common. In Pennsylvania USA the Quakers use a self-signed marriage license. I think others can utilized this also.

law.cornell.edu/wex/table_marriage


#9

[quote="Nick003, post:7, topic:305735"]
I guess what I'm leading up to is this:

If a man and woman go to city hall, they can get a marriage license and be married on the spot. This is a civil wedding, but in the eyes of the Catholic Church, they are not married.

Can the opposite happen? Can I marry in the Catholic Church and not have it be a civil union?

Frankly, I don't care if the state recognizes me as married. I'm only concerned with being married in the eyes of God and the catholic Church.

[/quote]

In those places where a civil ceremony is required separate to the religious ceremony, of course it is possible.

In theory I suppose it could occur in other jurisdictions too - if the priest or deacon celebrant does not submit the required paperwork to the relevant authority which is responsible for civilly registering marriages.


#10

[quote="Nick003, post:7, topic:305735"]
I guess what I'm leading up to is this:

If a man and woman go to city hall, they can get a marriage license and be married on the spot. This is a civil wedding, but in the eyes of the Catholic Church, they are not married.

Can the opposite happen? Can I marry in the Catholic Church and not have it be a civil union?

Frankly, I don't care if the state recognizes me as married. I'm only concerned with being married in the eyes of God and the catholic Church.

[/quote]

Remember that marriage exited before the Church, it is a social construct that is beneficial for society. So, even in countries where the civil marriage must come before the Church marriage (Germany & France, for example), the Church follows the law and doesn't celebrate a marriage without a civil marriage certificate. That's because the law is not unjust.

On the other hand, if there is an unjust law that prevents two people from being married, the Church can allow a secret marriage. The couple would be married in the eyes of God and the Church but their marriage would be unknown to anyone but the priest and the two witnesses and probably the Bishop. Obviously they would not be living as man and wife.

Almost every time this question about a Church-only marriage has arisen on these boards it was for the sole purpose of defrauding the State and avoiding the loss of benefits that often comes with the marriage of those who are retired.


#11

When my daughter got married last month they signed the license at the rehearsal. That is common in our diocese, This way the parish has it to send to the town after the wedding. So often the wedding day itself is a bit crazy to say the least and if you have a visiting priest or the parish office happens to be closed there is a chance that the license is not signed.

At our daughter's wedding the visiting priest did not come to the rehearsal so the pastor came over before the wedding to have the priest sign it. I some countries you have to get civilly married before the church wedding, usually the day before.


#12

[quote="Nick003, post:1, topic:305735"]
I was the best man at a wedding recently. At the rehearsal, the Bride and Groom signed documentation which I (Best Man) and the Maid of Honor then signed as witnesses. Is this the "civil" or legal portion of the union?

[/quote]

Why did you sign something without knowing what you were signing???:confused:


#13

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:12, topic:305735"]
Why did you sign something without knowing what you were signing???:confused:

[/quote]

If he was signing as a witness it doesn't matter what it was. He's just stated that he saw the bride and groom sign whatever it was.


#14

[quote="Nick003, post:1, topic:305735"]
I was the best man at a wedding recently. At the rehearsal, the Bride and Groom signed documentation which I (Best Man) and the Maid of Honor then signed as witnesses. Is this the "civil" or legal portion of the union?

[/quote]

If vows were not exchanged it could be that the priest was just doing the necessary paperwork prior to the actual ceremony instead of afterwards when things get busy. If I'm not mistaken, even in a civil ceremony, vows are exchanged. Signing the certificate of marriage at the altar during the ceremony can be awkward and attempting to get all parties together afterwards can be difficult. I don't think a signed licence without an official ceremony by the priest means anything. I could be wrong, mine was 40 some years ago and I can't remember when we signed.:hmmm:


#15

[quote="maltmom, post:13, topic:305735"]
If he was signing as a witness it doesn't matter what it was. He's just stated that he saw the bride and groom sign whatever it was.

[/quote]

One should still know what one is witnessing to as signing.


#16

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:15, topic:305735"]
One should still know what one is witnessing to as signing.

[/quote]

Forty some odd years ago as a groom, I didn't know what I signed, but it all worked out beautifully :D


#17

[quote="Nick003, post:7, topic:305735"]
Can I marry in the Catholic Church and not have it be a civil union?

[/quote]

It would be valid but illicit if done in a place with civil marriage. There are a couple countries that have no civil marriages but recognize a religious marriage within any recognized sect.

Canon law requires for licity that a civil marriage also be done.

Remember: "What God has joined, let no man tear asunder."


#18

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