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Lexy wrote:

Hi, guys —

My fiancé and I are both Catholic and we were planning on getting married next July, however we were thinking it would be romantic to just elope and then have a ceremony with our families next year when we were planning on getting married.

  • If we do elope and get married civilly, how would we go about getting the marriage made sacramental?
  • Would we still have to take the marriage preparation classes if we are already married?

Lexy

  { If we elope and get married civilly, how do we then get our marriage made sacramental? }

Paul replied:

Dear Lexy,

Here's what you need to know:

  1. If a Catholic gets "married" in a civil ceremony outside the Church it is invalid.
  2. Two baptized people cannot have a valid non-sacramental marriage.
  3. It is serious sin for a Catholic to enter a civil marriage that it is not valid according to Christ and His Church.

You could marry in the Church with a priest or deacon present and two witnesses — without other family and friends — but there would still be preparation involved that often takes six months.

Marriage is a very serious lifelong commitment that cannot be revoked. A person needs both grace and preparation to understand and commit to this serious responsibility.

Because of your very question you might want to ask yourself if you are truly ready for this life-long covenant of fidelity and fecundity.

Paul

Fr. Jonathan replied:

Dear Lexy,

Congratulations on your engagement; I hope your marriage is a happy one.

You are writing to this web site with a different attitude than maybe what you thought.

This web site tries to speak the truth and lead Catholics to a full experience of the Grace in the Sacraments. We don't want to show you how to cut corners but how to experience your faith.

The consequence of you eloping as you envision means that you and your husband will be unable to receive Holy Communion until you get married in the Church.

To accomplish the marriage in the Church after a civil marriage you need to do the same as if you didn't (get married), — so yes you would still be required to do preparation classes.

If it is the fuss that you want to avoid, your best plan is to get married in the Church quietly.
All you need is a priest and two witnesses and you can be “eloped” and in good standing with the Church. (Yes — you still need to do marriage preparation classes but it doesn't have to be in your neighborhood so it can be done quietly as well.) Then when you are ready to reveal —

have a party!

I hope this is helpful,

Fr. Jonathan

Lexy replied:

That was very helpful. Thank you.

We are not looking for a way out. We are just in an odd situation. We are both military brats so our families are in different states. I am in school and he is in the Navy; we are in different states as well. We have been dating for four years, and because of the situation, we can't get married for another year when we are done with our schooling.

I am out visiting him and we were contemplating just getting married while I am out. Neither of us realized how grave of a decision that would be but we are super sure we want to get married in the Catholic Church and we can wait another year, classes included. Though it would be difficult, we would like to have a sacramental marriage.

Once again, thank you.

Lexy

Paul replied:

Dear Lexy,

I didn't want to come across as stern in my answer, but I realize that many people don't understand their Catholic faith, especially in the area of marriage. Clear straight answers are what is especially needed today.

I too know the difficulty of being engaged to someone long-distance, living in a different state. We've seen each other an average of once a month for the past two years, but as believing Catholics we realize these trials in life can be seen as tests from God as to whether we will choose Him or self.

Peace,

Paul

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