There are many reasons why a Catholic may have married outside the Church in a civil ceremony: illness, pressing family concerns, or a divorce in the couple's history. Seeking validation by the Roman Catholic Church of a marriage that was not performed by a Catholic priest or deacon is known as convalidation. This process is supervised by the parish priest with whom the couple must be in good standing. With careful preparation and dedication, a marriage performed outside the Church can be validated.
- Skill level:
Gather the documentation for your wedding, a new copy of your baptismal certificate and any information about your confirmation. This will help your priest begin the process of convalidation.
Talk with your priest about why a Catholic wedding was not an option for you at the time.
Seek a declaration of nullity if a divorce is involved with your decision not to marry within the Church. A tribunal is the first step in the Church's process to annul the marriage that ended in divorce. It will establish what was missing in the marriage for it to succeed.
Complete the necessary form during an interview with your priest if both of you are baptised Catholics who married outside of the Church. The priest will ask specific questions about your reasons for not marrying before the Church.
Celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which should occur some time before the convalidation ceremony.
Celebrate the convalidation ceremony and say your vows in a church setting. The ceremony can be held during Mass or in a short ceremony following a Mass.
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