September 27, 2011
No need for two weddings
By Father Rocky Hoffman *

By Father Rocky Hoffman *

My fiancé and I would like to have two Catholic weddings. You see, we are college students applying for graduate school, and we will be more eligible for the loans we need if we're married by February 2010. Since we're getting married anyway, it seems that we should be married by a point which will secure our future financially. We'll have completed pre-cana by the time we are married, but the date of the wedding is rather time sensitive and would need to be done by Feb. 1.

Here is the problem: we are currently in a small college town. My family and friends would not be able to attend this January wedding due to travel concerns, and we would not be able to travel because of classes and other obligations. Would it violate Catholic doctrine to be married once in January in our college town in a Catholic church (a simple celebration), and once more in June in our hometown with our friends and family (a large celebration)? Since we are college students, even though we would be marrying in January, we would still be living in separate residences with roommates. For this reason, we have decided that we would put off "marital duties" until our second wedding in June. This won't be a problem since we both do not believe in premarital sexual relations.
Here's the question: Will the Catholic Church marry us twice? And would I be able to wear a white dress to symbolize the fact that we both waited until marriage to consummate those duties? I have researched this issue, and come across convalidation ceremonies, but I don't think they apply. Thank you very much for your help and consideration.

You can only marry the same guy once!  I suggest you marry in January at your local Catholic Church, then consummate your marriage and live together as husband and wife.  Later, in the summer, you can celebrate with a party that your friends and relatives can attend.  You are ready for marriage when you are ready to have children, and you should not let “loan eligibility” considerations determine the date of your wedding or reception.
Certainly the Church provides the possibility of a “convalidation” ceremony, but that’s for couples who did not know any better at the time of their attempted marriage; so you are correct, in your case it would not apply. If you and your fiancé get married in a Catholic church in the presence of the pastor of the parish and two witnesses, then your marriage is valid and a convalidation ceremony is entirely unnecessary.

Finally,  it could be possible – theoretically – to have a small wedding ceremony now, and then have a special Mass with renewal of your wedding vows later in the company of friends and relatives followed by the reception.  I hope it works out for you!
And by the way, you can wear the white dress on both occasions!

Rev. Francis J. Hoffman, JCD (Fr. Rocky) is Executive Director of Relevant Radio.  Ordained as a priest for Opus Dei in 1992 by Blessed John Paul II, he holds a doctorate in Canon Law from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, an MBA from the University of Notre Dame, and a BA in History from Northwestern University.  His Question and Answer column appears in several Catholic newspapers and magazines across the country.

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