Can I attend this outdoor wedding?

I’ve been invited to attend a previous co-worker’s wedding in November. She isn’t a really devout Catholic, but she does understand her obligation to attend Mass and to get her marriage blessed by the Church. Her fiancé was baptized, but I don’t think he has ever practiced Catholicism.

A couple of years ago, the subject of weddings came up. I was talking about what I wanted, and she said she wanted a garden wedding (without a priest if necessary) and then she’d go ahead and get her marriage blessed after the honeymoon. I don’t know if this is still her way of thinking—but I do know that the venue for the event is a garden.

My question, then, is this: am I, as a Catholic, allowed to attend this wedding? Should I ask pertinent questions about if she is getting her marriage blessed—we are no longer in daily contact, so this would be hard to ask casually. Or should I just assume that she is going to act according to the Church? Perhaps give her a particularly Catholic wedding gift?

I would really like to attend—I just don’t want to do the wrong thing.

Thanks in advance!


I would ask her if she recieved a dispensation for this marriage. If not, I’d send my regrets and not attend.

The idea of “I’ll just commit have an invalid wedding then go get it blessed” is the same as “I’ll just commit a mortal sin and then go to confession” - it compounds the sin with the sin of presumption.

I don’t do invalid weddings.

Pray for your friend and for her family, they must be so sad.

I know this question came up for my husband when his best friend got married. Though he was raised Catholic, and we knew both he and his fiancee from the Catholic high school we all attended, they chose to be married outdoors by a non-denominational Christian minister. I don’t know the religious background of the fiancee…that may have played a role.

For my DH, a serious Catholic who made it very clear to me early in our relationship that if we did not marry in the Church, we would not marry at all, I know it was a real struggle when he was asked to be best man. He did end up accepting the role, but I know he had several strong reasons to do so. First, he himself would not have survived adolescence without the love, help, and support of his best friend. My DH was one of those outcast, unpopular kids, and he had very few friends. This guy was the only one to whom he was really close, and with whom he could and did share everything. There was a very dark time in my DH’s life around the age of 15 when he made a huge mistake with some very bad choices. I have seen the notebooks of his writings from that time, and I am convinced that without this friend, he may very well have ended his life. Another reason was that my DH knows all the reasons why his best friend had rejected the Catholic Church, and while he does not agree that that is the right strategy for dealing with the issues, he understands. He lives in hope that this friend will see past that stuff and eventually see that none of it is the Church’s fault. It has a lot to do with parents who profess to be and look to the world like devout Catholics, but in their private lives are very hypocritical.

I am sure that there are many who would say that not only should DH not have been his best man, but we should not have attended the wedding at all. And I can’t say that they don’t have a point. However, as this wedding was conducted by a Christian minister, the Catholic Church itself would view the marriage as valid unless proven otherwise. As far as I know, it is not disallowed for Catholics to attend the weddings of those who profess and practice in other Christian denominations. But when you’re talking about a lapsed Catholic basically defying their own Church, I am sure it gets more dicey. If she wants to be married in the Church, she should follow the rules since she knows what they are. It seems this person wants it both ways. To be Catholic without following the rules. That is not uncommon nowadays, but that doesn’t make it right. I suppose, though, that if she has no intent to cause scandal, that she may only be damaging herself with her behavior, and not the Church itself. So it might be okay to go, in the interests of friendship. And then you would still be in a position to maybe gently guide her toward being a more obedient Catholic. Some people have to go on their faith journey in baby steps…

If this is your friend, I think you should go to the wedding.
Every person has the right to choose their way of doing things. I am sure that they know it’s wrong to do it this way, but if they still choose to do a sin, it’s their choice.
You have to respect the differences in opinion.

If you don’t go now, she will get angry and probably you won’t be friends anymore. But if you go, and give a nice catholic gift, it will give you an opportunity to be present in their lives and witness your faith to them. They obviously need it.

No, you should not attend. It gives scandal. Ask your priest/confessor/spiritual director if in doubt.

Whether she subsequently gets her marriage blessed or not is beside the point. Going to the wedding, you would be party to an attempt at an invalid marriage. You could attend the reception.

Again, talk to your priest.

Personally do not attend the wedding ceremony. If you want to attend the reception that’s your decision. My own niece and godchild is having a wedding in a vineyard and when I asked her if she got a dispensation for and why this is not sacramental…she asked me not to come to her wedding.

More reasons to pray.

I don’t understand why you are comfortable assuming the worst of your friend’s intentions based on a conversation you had with her YEARS ago but are uncomfortable asking her a direct question about the ceremony. If the wedding is not being held in a Catholic Church, you can probably assume it is not a Catholic ceremony. Would you hestitate to attend a wedding in a Methodist, Episcopal or Lutheran church? If not, I see no reason to avoid this one because you assume your former co-worker might be plotting to skirt rules pertinent to the Catholic Church without any current or relevant information that it is, in fact, her intent to do so.

Thanks for putting it so clearly, Island Oak. I have no problem assuming that she is following church teaching, I just wanted to make sure that assuming so would not be considered naive.

I would go out of personal support. All your arguments sound like splitting hairs and get away from the real reason she wants you there (in a support role).

Catholics are bound to the Catholic laws on marriage. There are two ways that a Catholic can be married outside of a Catholic service and have a valid marriage

Get a dispensation from the Bishop

Formally Defect from the Catholic Church (this also required a letter to the Bishop and the Bishop accepting this).

If either of those things were not done, it does not matter if the bride-to-be does not FEEL Catholic or FEEL that the rules apply to her - she is entering an invalid marriage and will be living on a state of mortal sin, repeated every time she has relations with her non-husband. I for one would not go celebrate somebody thumbing their nose at the Sacrament of Marriage.

The OP can choose to simply send regrets, “I will be unable to attend. You will be in my thoughts and prayers, let’s have coffee sometime” would be a perfectly fine note to send.

I am sorry but you are giving VERY bad advice here. No that is the point every person does not have the right to choice “their way” of doing things. Thus is the authority of the church. If a person is Catholic, they need to be married in the Catholic church, period. Unless proper dispensation has been given. No if they are making a choice to sin it is our obligation as a Catholic to bring a sin to their attention, or you would be sinning yourself. No we do not have to respect other’s differences of opinion, esp. when them opinions are not the truth. Respect them as a person, but with tactic and respect inform them of the truth.

If you don’t go now, she will get angry and probably you won’t be friends anymore. But if you go, and give a nice catholic gift, it will give you an opportunity to be present in their lives and witness your faith to them. They obviously need it.

I am sorry again, but who are we pleasing here, a friend or God? You are right they obviously do need the faith.

Even getting the blessing afterwards is “just to have it blessed” is for the wrong reasons as well. That in itself could still be considered an invalid marriage, that the blessing was done with false intentions.

I would go if it were my friend… Pray for them during the ceremony… Say a rosary for them… For all you know she has already talked things over with a priest or bishop…

If there is no dispensation obtained, I would not attend, and here’s why:

Sorry to bombard you with links :o , but I thought that there might be valuable information for you in each of them.

Take care and God bless ~

I would ASSUME that she had received whatver dispensations were necessary, go to the wedding and enjoy myself.

It’s called CHARITY people.

Knowing and having the TRUTH is alot better than an assumption. :shrug:

My God Son got married in a garden somewhere by a who know whom. I did not attend. When you attend you are a witness. To what? The answer should be clear.

No it actually isn’t. It impedes charity and it leads many into the sin of pride and self-righteousness. It is also fundamentally disrespectful of the person who you are demanding answers of.

If you start questionning people where do you stop?

Did you get a dispensation?

Can I see it?

Should I call the bishop and see if its really his signature?

Should I call Rome and make sure the Bishop made the correct decision?

There is nothing respectful or loving in that sort of behavior.

I completely understand where you are coming from, but if you have doubt, what is the problem with asking. If they say, yes we have dispensation then you should live with that. Be charitable then and take their word as truth. It would then lead to sin to double guess them, unless you had something credible that they lied to you.

If you know the couple or one is Catholic and they are not getting married in the church, then yes to ask if they have dispensation should be more than enough, that is not rude in my book, taking it furthur and not believing them, then would not be charitable, however to just go to what could be an invalid wedding is wrong.

So a wedding that has a Catholic is not within guidelines of the church you would just go and not question weather you are witnessing an invalid marriage? I understand charity and if I was to attend an possible invalid wedding I would politely ask the couple and explain why, if they say yes, then I would take their word at it and go, if they say no, then I would make the proper choice and decline to go.

You are saying just go out of charity? Again who are we putting 1st here, ourselves or God and his church?

I have been Catholic all my life, but first I am a Christian.
If you say otherwise ( and I know many Catholics that would) , you have the cart before the horse.

I believe that Christ would attend this ceremony out of Love for His friend and so would I.

God bless you

Thanks so much for the suggestion, but this is a very old thread. The wedding was in November. :stuck_out_tongue:

But thanks again! :slight_smile:


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