Vow Renewal/Convalidation

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AL312 Posts : 2 Registered: 6/20/11
Vow Renewal/Convalidation
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 9:54 PM

Hi all!

I have seen that vow renewals are a pretty hot topic on here and other forums. I was hoping to get some opinions anyway (& I am not afraid of honesty!). A little background about our relationship may help you better understand our situation though.

My husband and I were civilly married four years ago. At the time, Joe was in the military and getting ready to deploy to Iraq on his first deployment. We had been together for five years and felt the need to be officially married "just in case". It's a scary thought, but it meant a lot to us and helped make the separation a little easier. Plus, both of our fathers were out of jobs, we were young, and a wedding just seemed financially impossible. We were married in March of 2007 with two friends as our witnesses. We received blessings from both of our families but no one was there to join in the celebration.

Fast forward to now, five years in Marine Corps, and two deployments later... Joe is back to being a civilian and we are looking at doing a vow renewal. We are Roman Catholic and since we were not married by a priest, our marriage is not official in the eyes of the church. We would like to do a convalidation ceremony to get the church's blessing. Here's where I need some help. I have been getting conflicting opinions from people who are very important in our lives. Some think this is an incredible event and that we need to "go all out" and really have the wedding we never had. However, my own father seems to think its a little silly because we'll have been married for five years by then. I will admit that I am torn because I do want to have a big celebration but am afraid people will agree with my father and not think this is a very important thing.

And I know, I know its up to us and what we want is most important :) Maybe I'm just looking for some words of encouragement (or even someone to say hey, it is a little silly)

So let me have it! What would you do if you were in my situation? Go for the big wedding we never had (following the rules for vow renewals of course) or just have an anniversary party with close family there for the convalidation ceremony?

Thanks!
Amy

Edited by: AL312 on Jun 20, 2011 9:54 PM

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Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Vow Renewal/Convalidation
Posted: Jun 21, 2011 10:15 AM Go to message in response to: AL312

Dear Amy,

"However, my own father seems to think its a little silly because we'll have been married for five years by then. I will admit that I am torn because I do want to have a big celebration but am afraid people will agree with my father and not think this is a very important thing. "

I agree with your father, in that a wedding-like ceremony is silly for people who have been married for five years.

Convalidation in the Roman Catholic Church, however, is a genuine ceremony. It's real.

Most "vow renewals" are, essentially, a fake wedding for those who feel the need for a do-over. I find that distasteful, especially when combined with bachelorette parties, ceremonial bridal gowns, etc.

Convalidation, however, is not a fake anything. It's real. Remember, this is not "getting married in the eyes of the church". In the eyes of the church, you have been married for five years. What they are doing is, literally, validation the existing civil marriage with a religious ceremony and vows. Protestant churches have similar ceremonies. "Blessing of a Civil Marriage", etc.

"or just have an anniversary party with close family there for the convalidation ceremony? "

This is, in my opinion, the best and most tasteful course of action. But, why limit the convalidation ceremony to just close family? Church services are officially open to everyone, so why not invite the whole gang to witness the convalidation ceremony, then host a post-ceremony party.

You are already married, so you conduct the convalidation ceremony as a married couple. You wear nice but modest party clothes (nothing all-white, no veil), you enter together (no "bridal escort"), if you have children, they enter with you and the ceremony is performed. Any decor, flowers, etc., are colored, not white.

Skip the gift registry, showers, bachelorette party and anything else that sounds like you are gift-grabbing or trying for a turn back the clock do-over. Convalidation is a solumn religious ceremony.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Vow Renewal/Convalidation
Posted: Jun 21, 2011 10:45 AM Go to message in response to: AL312

Ultimately, I agree with Aunt as to what you should do, although I don't think it would be that big of a deal if you wanted to wear white, although I'd skip an actual wedding dress.

With Vow Renewals, the key is to not pretend to be something you aren't. You're married, so avoid the wedding traditions that are about not being married (like the "giving away", for example).

One other note -- when people don't have the big wedding, they often feel like they have missed out on something. It's true, weddings are nice. But there are so many other opportunities to hold big events for your milestones as a couple -- like anniveraries, christenings, children's birthday parties. Don't feel like because you didn't have the all-white, big wedding that you've been screwed somehow -- celebrate where you are now, and remember everything you have to look forward to.

__________________________________________

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Vow Renewal/Convalidation
Posted: Jun 21, 2011 11:55 AM Go to message in response to: AL312

Amy - I also agree with the advice of the previous three posters. I don't have much to add.

But I wish you good luck in the planning!

 

 

 

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AL312 Posts : 2 Registered: 6/20/11
Re: Vow Renewal/Convalidation
Posted: Jun 21, 2011 12:42 PM Go to message in response to: AL312

Thank you all so much for your advice/opinions! What you all have said is exactly what I had in mind, but could not visualize or even explain. I do not want it to come off as a wedding but also feel that it is important and worth celebrating!

Aunt, the reason I said "getting married in the eyes of the church" is because the first priest we talked to used those words. I thought it was a little harsh! lol Anyway, we've decided on another church/priest.

The ceremony will be traditional and I plan on wearing a nice dress. I have not decided on color or style, but definitely not a wedding gown. I love the idea of saying convalidation in the invitations that way our guests can decide if they want to come to the church or just the party. Thanks! We already discussed having the party at our local VFW. It is a very nice hall, but nothing too fancy like a reception hall or anything like that. Everyone who will be invited knows our situation and has been waiting to celebrate with us so I'm sure it will be a nice time!

Thanks again for your help and I'll check back in once I get more of the details together!

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Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Vow Renewal/Convalidation
Posted: Jun 21, 2011 1:24 PM Go to message in response to: AL312

Dear Amy,

"Aunt, the reason I said "getting married in the eyes of the church" is because the first priest we talked to used those words"

That priest was in error. I can easily disprove what he said.

Let's say Joe and Mary get married at a courthouse. Later, they separate but do not divorce. Joe becomes involved with Sue who is Roman Catholic. Let's say Joe and Sue go to an RC priest and ask for a religious wedding, under the theory that Joe's existing civil marriage to Mary does not exist "in the eyes of the church" and that Joe is officially single "in the eyes of the church".

Any Catholic priest (or any clergy of any denomination) would tell Joe to go and get a civil divorce from Mary before proceeding with any kind of wedding plans with Sue. A civil divorce between Joe and Mary is OK "in the eyes of the church" because their original marriage was not a sacramental, indissolvable, marriage.

Thus: You are married in the eyes of the church. You are not eligible to marry other people. However, the existing marriage is not yet a sacramental marriage, indissolvable. It will be, following the convalidation.

Getting back to your situation. You want to have a nice, meaningful ceremony and a lovely party, but don't want to go over the top. I suggest you do several things:

1. Limit your guest list to family and close friends. In other words, don't invite the extended family and acquaintances you might invite to a wedding. (Don't invite Dad's boss and his wife. Don't invite cousins you haven't seen in 10 years.)

2. As I said before, skip any hint of expectation of gifts. No registry, no showers. If anyone asks about a gift, you can respond with, "What ever you might give for a typical anniversary party might be appropriate." In other words, bottles of wine, a modest gift card, a box of gourmet chocolate is appropriate. Place settings of china? No.

3. Advertise the event as a convalidation, WHICH IT IS.

Joe and Mary Smith
request the honor of your presence (see note below)
at the Convalidation of Their Wedding Vows
St Homer's Catholic Church
date, time, place, etc.

Reception to follow (time, place)

Note: Because the convalidation ceremony will be in a church, you do not invite people. Only God can invite people to God's house. Instead, you request the honor of their presence. Also note: No mention of parents' names. You have been independent of parents for the past five years. You've been already "given away".

4. Find a pretty dress to wear that is modestly appropriate for a church ceremony and for an already-married woman. A corsage would add a nice, festive, touch, without being over-the-top. Your husband would wear a nice suit and necktie, perhaps with a modest, masculine boutonniere if he prefers civilian clothes. If he prefers military dress, he would follow military protocol for a dress uniform.

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