Weddings Question. are 2 allowed?


I need some advice/guidance/suggestions. Engaged to a wonderful man (he is a practising catholic, im a non-catholic christian (christened but not practising ). His faith is very important to him and it is clearly very important for him (and therefore for me) to get married in the Catholic church preferably his own parish church. Here comes the problem. We are from different countries - main members of my family (parents and more so definately main members) for health reasons are unable to travel as are many members of his family and friends.Is it allowable for us to have a civil ceremony in my country so I could have my family members unable to attend at least be there for something then very soon afterwards have a catholic church wedding in his church where his family/friends and my family/friends who can travel will be? We are not co-habiting and are waiting until we are married in a church.


I don't know about what's "allowed"... but my only suggestion is to have multiple receptions *rather than wedding *ceremonies. I know many, many couples who have done this for their long-distance family.

Have ONE big Catholic Church wedding and then have multiple little receptions... party it up in style and celebrate!

Sounds like the best answer to me! :)


Since marriage is a sacrament that binds two people permanently together, it is not possible to be married twice.

What you could do is have a special wedding celebration (a supper with dancing, speeches, wedding cake and wedding games) with those who are unable to attend your wedding; ideally, this would take place after the actual wedding.

This would allow members of your family to participate in your joy and celebration, even though they are unable to attend the wedding itself in the Church. :slight_smile:


it depends on the laws of your respective countries, yes in some countries a civil marriage is required and is later witnessed by the Church. It is also the case that in cases involving immigration, travel to another country, spouses from different countries and those laws, military deployment, a civil marriage can be done first and convalidated in the Church at a later date. As you rightly say, the couple does not live together as man and wife until that happens but there may be reasons of civil law that make it necessary. In those cases dioceses are supposed to expedite the church wedding. The person to ask is the priest where you are living now so he can marshal the resources of the diocese to advise and help you, as you will also need documentation, with which he can help you, to marry in the Church in another country. in neither of the situations described above are there 2 weddings. There is one wedding, with the civil law portion and the Church sacrament merely separated in time and space. It would be inappropriate to have lavish celebrations after both events if it gave the impression of expecting double dipping on wedding presents. The celebration should properly occur after the Church ceremony since there is no completed marriage before that time.


I actually have some experience in this, but first - what Country is your Fiance’s church/parish, and what county is your families (can’t answer without this info!)?

True, you can only get married once in the church(universal/worldwide), but certain situations arise regarding the civil portion of the marriage, depending on which country each occurs in, and the citizenship of each of the individuals to be married.

Wife and I actually had separate church and civil ‘weddings’ (church was wedding, civil was ‘recognition’), but it was warranted because of the circumstances (two different countries, each with it’s own requirements), not out of desire. There was no ‘reception’ at our civil proceedings, which occurred some time after the church wedding.

jmcrae, with all due respect, your answer is perhaps a bit premature, and possibly incorrect, without considering all the necessary specifics that have not yet been presented. Hopefully, the OP will reply with the additional necessary info.


You are right - I was assuming that the Church ceremony was taking place in North America, but if not, and if it’s taking place in Europe or China, then yes, they do need to have two ceremonies; one for the civil aspect, and one for the Church, and as Annie points out, as close together as possible.


Thankyou all for your responses and advice so far.
My fiance is portuguese and I am english. We have been considering having the church wedding in one country and a celebration afterwards in the other and if it was not so close family on both sides unable to travel we would.

Should it be possible to have a civil ceremony followed immediately (within a couple of days/week) by the Church wedding, the civil ceremony would be a small affair attended by parents/family unable to travel with no lavish celebrations which would be reserved for the church wedding.


Oh, forgot to ask what country do you plan on residing (as married couple); just have to make sure that civil union is recognized in the final country of residence.

FWIW, my wife and I are both US citizens, got married in the church in Mexico City (at the Guadalupe Shrine, but had civil proceeding (US/TX marriage license signed by court JP) at courthouse because Texas law requires marriage license to be performed and signed in county in which the marriage license is issued. Texas would not recognize a ‘Mexican’ civil marriage license between us two as US citizens, nor allow it to be signed while over there.

Be sure to consult the civil authorities in the location you with to reside; It is easier when you two are from different countries (well, maybe not easier, but there will already be set rules for that type of circumstance).

You will also have to have permission from the pastor/priest in your home parish (for the church wedding).


I am not too keen on this. As others have pointed out, there may be situations where a Church wedding (the valid wedding for a Catholic) must be followed by some other ceremony to meet civil law requirements. That is probably not the case here.

If you had this civil ceremony first, you would appear married to your non-Catholic family. To your husband’s Catholic family you be in an invalid marriage at best. This may then be more of a situation for convalidation.

If you reversed the order and married in his Catholic church first, then this civil ceremony (assuming there was not a legal reason for it) would make no sense unless some in your family would not recognize the Catholic wedding. That is both unlikely and something I wouldn’t humor even if true.

Why insist on two attempts at wedding? This is a sacrament, a 1 time event and very serious. I suggest that you get married in a Catholic church, follow that with a local reception, travel immediately to the other area for a second reception. 1 wedding, 2 celebrations.


I am not insisting on 2 weddings, I am trying to find some guidance and solutions. If there was a catholic church wedding it would be in another country and my immediate family would be unable to attend. Vice versa for his family. If it is not allowable within the Catholic Church to have a civil proceedings first followed by the catholic church wedding then civil ceremony and convalidation in the church afterwards may have to be the answer.
Thank you for the advice.


Looking for similar situations to my own being the need for a civil ceremony prior to a Catholic Church wedding and whether it is permissable within the catholic church I have found this post and response in the ask an apologist section.

"Can I get a civil marriage before a church wedding?"

Please could someone with a greater knowledge of the Catholic Church than me share some thoughts on whether this advice is applicable in my situation?


First, what is the law in the country where the Church wedding will be taking place? Is the priest authorized to record the marriage in the civil registry, or does there have to be a separate civil wedding for that, in the country where the wedding will be taking place?

If both the civil and the Church wedding are taking place at the same time, then what you would do is have two wedding receptions - one for your family, and one for his, both of which would take place at some point after the wedding.

If the law requires that the civil wedding take place before the Church wedding, then you also want to make sure that you know whether the authorities in the country where the Church wedding is taking place, will accept the documentation for the civil wedding in your native country - if so, then you can go ahead and have a civil wedding at your place, and then have the Church wedding at your fiance’s Church.

Obviously, these need to be as close together in time as possible, so that you can set up housekeeping with a clear conscience.


In my country, you’re not legally married until you’ve had a civil wedding. So we got married in the church and then signed the silly registry an hour later. I don’t see a problem - these are two separate realms - laws of God and laws of men, etc. :shrug:

Even in the US, although there’s one ceremony, what happens is marriage on these *two *planes. A marriage made in a Catholic church can be civilly divorced, in its legal, secular aspect, with all the legal, secular consequences that follow, while still remaining a true marriage in God’s eyes.

I’d just always choose to have the church wedding first, because then you know you’re married where it counts. :wink:


[quote="brightmind, post:11, topic:197607"]
Looking for similar situations to my own being the need for a civil ceremony prior to a Catholic Church wedding and whether it is permissable within the catholic church I have found this post and response in the ask an apologist section.

"Can I get a civil marriage before a church wedding?"

Please could someone with a greater knowledge of the Catholic Church than me share some thoughts on whether this advice is applicable in my situation?



Yes, the advice in the above answer seems to apply to you quite well. Considering your previous statement that you wouldn't live as a married couple until after the "Church wedding" suggests to me that there is nothing wrong with the scenario you propose. Other posts have suggested having a reception without any "marriage." That is also a fine idea.

For myself, I had to go through a "civil marriage" before actually being married in the Church. If nothing else, it gave me a couple days to call my betrothed "my unlawfully wedded wife."



YES, it is possible. My dh and I were married first in a civil ceremony, then in the Church a week later. This was due to members of his family who would not come to the wedding…

However, you must be legally married before the Church wedding, or have a valid marriage license due to laws. The Church must follow all applicable civil laws in performing marriages. If you have a legal civil marriage, there is no problem with the sacramental marriage being performed. However, because (at least in the US) the Church marriage is also a civil marriage, they have to make sure that there are no false pretenses.


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