Can a priest perform a wedding ceremony outdoors?

My fiance and I are discussing ideas for our wedding, we both are thinking of an outdoor summer wedding, but being raised Catholic I also want to have a Catholic ceremony. My fiance’s family is not Catholic and hates the idea of a Catholic wedding, I feel that many of his immediate family members (who are also part of the wedding party) will not attend our ceremony if it is in a Catholic church. I want to compromise and have the ceremony somehwere that they will attend, but also have a Catholic ceremony and be married by a Priest as a Catholic. My fiance has also agreed that we can be married by a priest.

Catholic marriages are to be celebrated in Catholic parishes, however there are exceptions:

Can. 1118 §2. The local ordinary can permit a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.

I am unaware of any bishop in the western world who has considered an outdoor setting to be a “suitable place.” Usually the permission is granted to have the wedding in the non-Catholic place of worship or an appropriate indoor setting.

You could have the wedding in your fiance’s place of worship and have his minister receive the wedding vows and it would be accepted by the Catholic Church as valid (as long as you fulfill the process for permission from the Bishop). Remember, it is not the priest or the minister who marries you, your exchange of vows is what confects the sacrament. The priest or minister is merely the official witness of the exchange.

I would recommend that, through your local parish, you ask the Bishop to approve the wedding to take place in your fiance’s place of worship and recognize his minister as the official witness of the vows.

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