OK so there I am at the Grand Piano on Haight St. in San Francisco drinking an expresso. My buddy, his fiancee and I are talking about their engagement. We have our new Catholic Answer Bible’s from Our Sunday Visitor. We can’t figure out the distinction between between a natural marriage and a sacramental marriage. You are sitting at a table with the head of the CDF. Make it good. Three other tables turn to listen; one is recording your answer. She is a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. Get to it.
A natural marriage is when only one or nether party is baptized.
A marriage is a marriage contracted between two parties that are bath baptized.
Both are intrinsically binding and are valid marriages, the marriage carries with it sacramental graces, the natural marriage does not.
Baptism, sacramental grace, and indissolubility.
A sacramental marriage takes place when both parties are baptized.
If one or both of the parties are unbaptized, then provided there are no impediments, then they enter a natural marriage. It’s a real marriage bond and the couple are entitled to all the benefits and responsibilities of the married life.
A key difference is that—consummation being presumed—a valid natural marriage can be dissolved, while a sacramental marriage is indissoluble. Also, if both spouses in a valid natural marriage then get baptized, the marriage automatically becomes sacramental.