Can I attend the wedding of a Russian Orthodox and Baptist?

I was invited to attend the wedding of a Baptist (groom) and a Russian Orthodox (bride). They are being married in a Lutheran church. They have not contacted a clergyman of the Russian Orthodox faith about their wedding plans. I don’t know much about the Russian Orthodox faith. Should I consider the bride a “Catholic” and not attend the wedding as there will not be a priest present and no dispensation given? The wedding is taking place in the northern Midwest and I do not know if the Russian Orthodox church has a presence here. The bride is from Russia and has been attending the church of her husband-to-be, however, she has not renounced her faith.

Also, if I must decline the wedding invitation, what acknowledgement can I make of this wedding? Can I attend the reception, or send a gift or a card?

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, so long as there are no obvious impediments to the marriage (e.g., previous marriage, close blood relationship) and so long as both are baptized, this would be a wedding between two non-Catholic Christians and would be presumed sacramental. Non-Catholic Christians are not bound by Catholic marital law.

It is true that the bride may be bound by the marital law of the Russian Orthodox church. If you want to look into that, I recommend contacting your local diocese and asking for the contact information for the nearest Russian Orthodox eparchy. However, as researching such a situation could well be difficult; and as the Catholic Church does not explicitly forbid attending the irregular marriages of Catholics, much less those of non-Catholics, you are not obligated to research the situation. If, in light of your prudential judgment, it would not cause scandal for you to attend, you are free to attend the wedding.

If you do not believe you should attend because you believe it would cause scandal to do so, I cannot recommend acknowledging the wedding with a gift, card, or attendance at a reception celebrating the wedding. You could, however, write the couple a letter telling them that you care for them and will keep them in your prayers.

Recommended reading:

Should I Attend?

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