When Cathy and I decided to marry, we had to deal with three different entities....namely. the United States government,the Philippine government and the Catholic Church.
Taking everything we knew at the time into consideration, the fastest way for us to get together was to bring her to the U.S. on a fiancee visa and marry here,rather than in Philippines.Our plan was to have a small Catholic wedding here.When we first approached my parish priest we encountered a problem.According to Church requirements for marriage, Cathy and I had to attend a Pre-Cana counseling seminar before the priest could marry us.
Because of the scheduling of the Pre-Cana seminars in Atlanta, we would have to wait until that July before we could attend. Cathy's visa said that she would have to marry in 90 days from her arrival in the U.S to remain legal and the time limit would expire before then.The priest would not make an exception in our case. Our only option was to have a civil ceremony and have the marriage blessed afterwards.Of course, according to canon law,we were barred from receiving Communion in the months between the civil and Church ceremonies.
We were married in the courthouse in June of 2004 and again in the Catholic church October the same year. Our plan was to have a renewal ceremony when Cathy received her "green card" and we could return to Dumaguete.We'll be able to go home soon and we already started making plans with mama to arrange the renewal at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic church in Sibulan.
We knew that we could not be married again but we were planning it as a renewal of vows....with gowns, maid of honor and flower girls......the whole nine yards, as we say in the U.S.
We've just learned that that is not permitted by the Church.In Philippines,we can not have a renewal until we've been married 25 years.No walking down the aisle.No wedding dress.Very upsetting to say the least.We'll still have a party at the parent's house but it won't be the same.It won't have the same significance.
I've been trying to understand the reasoning of the Church's rule in this situation.Of course, there can only be one one wedding and the fact that we didn't have the fancy accoutrement doesn't make the original Catholic wedding less valid. If we were allowed to have a renewal of vows after only three years it would have,perhaps,lessened the meaning of a lifetime renewal.
Maybe that's it. I'm not 100% sure.