Should Marriage Be in the Church first or in a Civil Ceremony?

Dear Catholic Exchange:

Hi, my name is Carlos and I am getting married with my fiancée Elizabeth. I have a couple of questions on this decision which is so important for the both of us.

First: I want to know if it is necessary to invite family member and friends if we are just getting married by the Mayor of the town. I really would like a small gathering with my friends and family for this special occasion, but I am not getting married by the Church until 1-1/2 years later (My church requirements).

Second: I believe Church is what I should be doing, but I don't have enough money and the priest told us that it will take a year before we can get married. There are some marriage preparation classes that we need to attend. (Elizabeth and I were not done with the first three Sacraments when we were kids).

Three: I am not sure if is a bad idea to get married by the civil court or get married in Church first? Please write me and give me your best advice on this very important decision that we are making.

Thank you so much,

Carlos Miranda

Dear Carlos,

Peace in Christ!

It is great that you are concerned about getting married in the Church. From what you said in your message you have taken the initiative to find out what this will entail. Further, you seem to be currently planning a civil ceremony outside of the Church, even though you believe you should be married in the Church.

Based on what you have told us, we would definitely recommend that you get married in the Church. Though the year wait may be a difficult sacrifice to make, the grace of a marriage in the Church as well as the time of discernment is worth the wait. Our Lord at the Wedding of Cana raised marriage to the level of a sacrament of the Church (John 2:1-11). Because marriage in the Church is a sacrament and such a great grace, the Church is where it should be celebrated. All of the preparation that you have to undergo should be looked at as a time of grace to prepare you for so great a sacrament.

If you have any questions that arise in your preparation or about what the Church requires in marriage preparation, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you.

United in the Faith,

Joshua Bitting

Information Specialist

Catholics United for the Faith

827 North Fourth Street

Steubenville, OH 43952

800-MY-FAITH (800-693-2484)

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