attending wedding

Is it morally permissible for catholic parents of the bride to attend a catholic wedding (bride and groom are catholic) even if bride and groom have lived together for 10 months prior to the wedding? Are we participating in evil?

Hmmmm. Will the priest or deacon be there? Presiding over and witnessing the marriage? Of course they will! So why do you think the marriage morally problematic when the Church herself is conducting it?

Please don’t be scrupulous.

Rejoice that the couple has decided to end cohabitation and enter sacramental marriage.

In charity, we assume the pastor has properly instructed the couple, heard their confession and prepared them for marriage.

You are not participating in evil, you are witnessing a holy sacrament! I honestly don’t undertrained where you are comin from. Perhaps you can elaborate as to why you see things this way.

Apparently you’re unhappy that the couple is getting married. Would you prefer that they continue living together without marriage? It seems like this is the solution to the problem, not a problem in itself.

Please correct me if I am wrong but didn’t the Pope recently marry couples who were living together? Enjoy the wedding and the day!


The fact that people worry about attending the wedding of a cohabiting couple always kind of boggles my mind. Yes, the couple were sinning, but they are trying to fix the situation by getting married. Of course you should come and celebrate with them the end of their sinful lifestyle and the beginning of their life together as a valid and sacramentally married couple. The reason people suggest avoiding certain marriages is because the marriages will be invalid, and so a public proclamation and celebration of a sinful lifestyle to come. This is the exact opposite of what happens with a couple who was sinning with cohabitation but is now fixing that and ending their sinful lifestyle and celebrating their being united in the sacrament of matrimony and their journey together on this new holy vocation of theirs. Boycotting a valid marriage which fixes the sinful situation of the couple sends out all the wrong messages, it implies that you want them to continue living in a state of sin. It doesn’t make sense to avoid such a wedding at all.

A Catholic wedding usually occurs during a Nuptial Mass. The Catholic bride and groom usually receive Holy Communion. Thus it is presume, lacking evidence to the contrary, that they both made a sincere Confession and are the State of Grace when they marry. As Christ explain there is more joy about the one who has been found than the 99 who did not stray.

But the larger question: What marriages should a Catholic NOT attend? Does the go - no go decision change if one of the spouses is a business acquaintance, a close friend, a relative, a son or daughter, a parent? Does the desire to maintain a good relationship require or allow us to attend certain marriages that clearly are not Catholic or even Christian? IF it is OK - not sinful to attend - it is also OK to be in the Wedding Party?

A marriage can be completely valid even if it is not Catholic or even Christian.

Two Jews marry validly (assuming things like no prior marriage or other bars to marriage) even though they’re not Christian. Two Protestants marry validly (again assuming no impediments) even if the marriage is on a beach or in a courthouse. Why would it not be OK to celebrate these marriages and be part of the wedding party if invited?

A situation like a non-practicing Catholic marrying a twice-divorced Protestant at a resort is a different case. But that’s definitely not what the OP was talking about.

The only marriages which it is questionable to attend as a Catholic are those considered to be invalid (ie, not really marriages) by the Catholic Church. What that amounts to is either the marriage of someone who has previously contracted a valid marriage and whose spouse is alive or a person who was baptized as a Catholic but does not follow the Church’s rules for marriage.

Oh, without doing damage to any synapses, I can come up with others - nay where there is a known impediment.

My initial reaction was to say “We don’t have enough information to answer this question”, and to a certain extent, it still is the same response.

While I agree that this should be seen as a very positive end of a sinful relationship, I would go back to one of my senior year high school teachers - “It depends”.

Assume for the moment that the parents of the bride have heard repeatedly and of recent, from either their daughter or their future son-in-law statements which pretty well proclaim an attitude of lack of permanence - “If it doesn’t work out, we’ll just get divorced”; or, “We have decided we will never have children. We’ll get a dog - they are no trouble!” or any of a number of other statements which would indicate that the wedding is bordering on a sham, or has all the markings of not fulfilling the requirements for a valid wedding.

In such circumstances, the parents have some really tough issues to deal with.

Would we give a bad example to the siblings of the bride and others by going to the wedding as in saying : it is perfectly o.k. to live together before getting married and then we support you anyway when you do get married?
Also…are we participating in a grave evil by continuing to support our daughter (financially for example or otherwise) knowing she is cohabiting with her fiancee?

I am not a moral theologian (so as they say, my advice and $2.00 will get you somewhere on the local transit).

However, if someone said to me “Going to your daughter’s wedding after she had been living with her boyfriend is wrong”, I would ask them which moral treatise they were using as a reference.

I would also ask them if they thought that living together was an unforgiveable sin, and if it is not, are they presuming, since she is now doing what she should have in the first place, that she is not trying to do the right thing? Are they presuming she has not been forgiven?

And if they are not, then why should I not go?

There is a difference between supporting one’s children, and supporting the choices they make. There are plenty of people around who would say that you cut them off - financially, or emotionally, I have meet all too many of those people. And on a rare occasion, the child has amended their ways; in the vast majority of circumstances, there is a rift that is becoming permanent.

There is a difference between hating the sin and hating the sinner. I would hazard a guess that your daughter is bright enough to know that you do not approve in any way her living with her boyfriend.

You can tell a child what you approve of and what you don’t, but you cannot make them change. Cutting them off is an act of condemnation. I don’t recall anywhere in the Gospels that Christ cut anyone off. He excoriated the Pharisees repeatedly - but He did not cut off contact with them.

As to anyone else and what they have to say about your choice, my short answer is this is not their daughter. She is yours. You get to live with the choice that you make - not the other people.

Keep in mind also that there were plenty of people who were scandalized by Christ. There is a difference between scandalizing someone because you do evil, and scandalizing someone because you choose to do the right thing - the right thing here being forgiving your daughter and putting that behind you.

Too many people are scandalized by forgiveness; they want rather to extract, like Shylock, a pound of flesh. They want vengeance, they want to beat the other person down with “I am right and you are wrong!” So Christ-like, yes? No.

As to any grave evil in financial support - a) would you be giving her financial support if she was not living with her boyfriend? If so, then the support is not because she is doing so.

B) Do you really think that cutting off funds will cause her to change her heart (as well as her actions)? And if it won’t, then what will be accomplished, other than driving her farther away from you? And the purpose of that is - what? Not being in contact with a sinner?

If you don’t really know the answer to those two questions, then I would ask a priest, outside of confession for advice.

As to others and their opinions: your daughter is an adult, and it is not your job to condemn her and punish her - nor is it theirs, no matter how self righteous they may be. That is between her and God. Loving her is not the same as approving of her lifestyle, and you should make that clear to her - once should be enough. Hounding her every time you see her is not treating her as an adult, but rather is an attempt to manipulate her. She needs to make the right moral choice, and that needs to come from her will, not from a concession to coercion.

And if she continues to make bad choices, it is still your duty as a parent and a Christian to love her. Not to approve of her sin, but to love her.

I know that I’m agnostic, but a marriage is to be celebrated. Surely you should be happy that your daughter is not going to ‘live in sin’ anymore, and is instead marrying the person that she loves?
You aren’t saying ‘it’s okay to live together before getting married’, you’re saying that you will support your daughter on her wedding day because in your eyes, that is the right thing to do. From the tone of your posts, I assume that you haven’t been supportive of her living with her fiancee before marriage, and your other children should be able to pick up on this and know that you disagree with her choices.

And “grave evil”? I think you need to calm down a bit. If you don’t support your daughter’s choices then I am not sure why you would want to support her financially but remember this - you can support your daughter without supporting her choices. Tell her you love her, tell her you will always be there to talk to, but tell her you disagree with the choices she is making. It isn’t as bad as you seem to think.


Your post comes across very scrupulous. If you do suffer scrupulosity, you need to talk to your pastor or regular spiritual director.

As has already been stated: no scandal, no sin.

Yes, there are other circumstances that I left out, but so long as you bring up said concerns to the priest, and he still determines that the couple will actually be able to contract a valid marriage it is not the place of anybody else to judge. And, even if it is not a Catholic marriage where you can rely on the judgement of a priest as to whether or not they are validly marrying, since the Catholic Church presumes validity for non-catholic marriages and so we, as Catholic, should follow suit. We should presume validity of the marriage.

Rather than scrupulosity, it seems to me you are having trouble with swallowing your pride. Been there done that.
After taking the correct position on living together, you now see the cohabitating couple on their way to a wedding feast, and after breaking the rules. You are right about that. But you have to put it in the past and celebrate the wedding. It can be hard to swallow. They didn’t do it the perfect way. But the marriage is the right thing to do and something to celebrate.

Let it go. Do it for the grandkids. A lifetime of alienation can result if you hold on to this issue. You stood up for the faith, that’s all you can do.

I don’t disagree with you about judging.

On the other hand, the parents may be witnesses in the tribunal hearing down the road. If either my child or their spouse-to-be made clear statements indicating a clear impediment to validity, I would not say that one should not go to the wedding; the entire circumstances need to be considered.

There certainly is informal information about (that is, not an official survey, but anecdotal information) that a number of priests are having a significant problem actually determining the real intention of the couple - see, for example, articles in Our Sunday Visitor recently. The difficulty stems from lack of solid information (in other words, a statement) coupled with observable attitudes which don’t seem to match statements. The short of it, as I understand it, is that a priest has to have pretty clear evidence (as in, statements) before he can refuse to marry the couple; but from comments from priests, including not a little bit of history of couples they have married, there are more than occasional serious concerns about the couple’s intentions.

There are also statistics out showing that couples who have lived together before a wedding have a significantly higher divorce rate than those who have not.

If I was in the situation of having one of the parties say clearly, for example, that they believed that divorce was a real option “if things didn’t work out”, I don’t know if I would stay away from the wedding or not - or counsel someone else to do so. But that is a much more difficult question. There are plenty of weddings that started out very rocky and have become grace-filled.

There are also plenty which have gone the direction that was first indicated. There is no simple answer. And some of the answers can bring a long, long period of heartache.

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