“What Difference Does it Make?”
There are many people attending Catholic parishes or in Catholic families whose marriage is somehow not fully recognized by the Church. Catholic Church law ordinarily requires baptized Roman Catholics to marry before a priest or deacon. Unless they requested and received a “dispensation from canonical form,” Catholics who exchange marriage vows in the presence of ministers from other religious traditions or authorized civic officials are not considered having a valid, sacramental marriage.
Those couples may seek to have their union officially recognized by the Church. (In technical terms, this is known as “convalidation” of a marriage.) After a convalidation, they are able to fully participate in the sacramental life of the Catholic Church.
Preparing for a convalidation is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on and deepen your relationship. It can make a difference!