“Ask a Priest: Can We Marry Civilly for Now, to Get Our Dream House?”

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Q: My fiancé and I are planning to get married. As of right now our main priority is to buy a home so we have somewhere to live. We both still live at home with parents, and I know that both of our families would like for us to get married through the Church, before we move in together. Unexpectedly, the home process has been happening very quickly, and it’s only a matter of time before we make a closing on our dream home. Our concern is what we are going to do about getting married before moving in together. We thought about getting married through court, but in both our hearts we would like for a priest to marry us. I know many churches ask to schedule at least six months in advance, and with the time limit we have, six months is too long for us to wait. Also, with the new home we are on a tight budget, and we are not looking to have a big traditional wedding ceremony. Would it be OK for us to get married through court and then get married through the Church once we have enough money? Or can there be a way in which a priest can marry us without the big ceremony and waiting for six months? I just want to come together with my husband to be in front of God and be blessed so we can peacefully live our lives together. We want to do the right thing the right way. We need advice. Thank you! -B.T.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: It is good to hear that you want God to bless your lives together. That shows your heart is in the right place.

Yet, it seems as if your priorities at the moment are backward. Real love is about sacrifice and helping the other spouse get to heaven. You are putting a house before the state of your souls.

Marriage is an institution entered into before God. You know that you should be married in the Church. And there is a reason for the six-month limit: The Church wants you to prepare well for marriage.

This might be a good moment for you and your fiancé to do some soul searching and ask yourselves where your real values are.

Houses come and go. A house is not going to bring stability to your marriage as much as your union with Christ will. If you don’t understand that, then that might be a sign that you need to prepare better for marriage.

This is a moment to exercise your faith. God can easily bless you with another house. What he wants now is your fidelity to his will, that is, to what he has revealed about marriage and what he teaches through the Church.

You might consider forgetting about the house for now and concentrate more on preparation for marriage in the Church.

I don’t intend for this response to sound harsh. The thing is, too many couples have fallen into the trap of putting material things first, only to see their marriages collapse within a few short years.

If you love your fiancé, you will want to do everything you can to make sure the both of you stay in a state of grace and prepare well spiritually for marriage. For further reading, see Fulton Sheen’s Three to Get Married. There are also pre-Cana type programs and resources by the same name that you could find on Internet.

I hope you choose well.

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