Can't get married outside?

My sister is getting married later this year. She and her fiance want an outdoor wedding. My mom was told by 2 priests separately that The Church does not allow that; they are only allowed to preform marriages inside the church. One of them also told my mom that this is due to a large number of changes that were instituted in the late 80s. Anybody know about this?

No, it was NOT ‘changes in the 80s’. The Church has always advocated marriage (a sacrament) to be performed in a sacred space --a consecrated building like a church or chapel. Sure, there were some exceptions to the rule --kind of hard to be married in a church if your church had just burnt down, for example, and the next nearest was 300 miles away, as in the prairie days in the U.S. – but those are EXCEPTIONS.

And ‘outdoor weddings’ themselves are fairly ‘new’ to the ‘mainstream’ modern bride.

Blame TV (among other things) with its ‘sanitized’ view of the always perfect outdoor wedding. . .

Ignore the fact that in most places in the U.S. any given day will be cloudy, windy, rainy . . .at least at some point. . .some places you’ll be battling triple digit heat. . .others freezing cold even if it’s MAY (ask me about the year we saw snow in central Vermont on May 24. . .it was less than 10 years ago!). . .

Not to mention things like dirt, mud, ‘stain catchers’ like running animals, children. . .

People tripping over ground obstacles.
Tents blowing over.
Bugs on the food.

And that’s just for the ‘backyard weddings.’
Think about the oh-so-popular ‘beach’ wedding. . .and add in impromptu ‘dips’ in the water, sand-covered clothes, people cutting their feet on shells (or worse, the things like ‘medical debris’ that sweep up on shore in many places. . .
worrying that kids will run into the water. . .
Nobody realizing that the sun reflecting off the water causes nasty burns. . .
Seagull poo., . .
Seagulls attacking the buffet lunch. . .

If you MUST be in the ‘great outdoors’ hold the reception there. . .

Marriage is more than a great ‘photo’ for your album and a ‘feeling’ of being super trendy mega cool for ‘loving mother earth’. . .

Marriage is a sacrament. . .it’s between you, your spouse AND GOD. Not 'God as a feeling of ‘nature’ only!

Sacraments need sacred space, not ‘feelings’ alone.

Very few people have actually experienced an outdoor wedding where some ‘natural disaster’ didn’t take place.

So, the world and the nature that God, Himself, made and gave to us isn’t sacred enough? And who are any of us to judge the intent of anybody who desires an outdoor wedding by saying it’s for a photo op?

As for the rest of the reasons you wrote about in your reply… Are you saying the Catholic Church doesn’t allow outdoor weddings to protect us from the elements and potential man-made hazards?

Forgive my ignorance, but doesn’t the church sometimes grant special dispensations to allow for outdoor weddings?

What you are questioning is the right for the Church to establish regulations connected to the carrying out of its religious rites.

I have a question for you. If you decide to prepare and serve a very special meal for a special group/family, do you have the right to determine where the meal should be eaten?
Or wouldn’t you have a problem if some wanted to take their plates, fill them from the main table and then go down in front of the basement TV to eat.
Or, they all decided they’d rather eat in the basement and you should bring everything down there and and serve them there.
Or perhaps they would prefer to just take the food and return to their home where they were more comfortable.

Are the bride and groom both practicing Catholics? From what I understand, a dispensation can be granted if one of the parties is not Catholic. However, for the Form to be correct, and for their marriage to be the covenant God meant for it to be, the exchange of vows must take place in sacred space. These things should have already been made clear in their marriage prep if they are planning on a sacramental marriage. And in most parishes, marriage prep is 6 months or more.

Sounds like you don’t like the answer that you and your family has been given by two different priests and at least one veteran member here at CAF. If you research the archives at CAF for similar threads, or even search other Catholic sites, you’ll find the same answer over and over again and the many reasons why the Catholic Church does not allow outdoor weddings. Dispensations are usually granted when one of the couple is non-Catholic and wants to get married in their faith, not because someone wants a “garden party” or something similar.

They are extremely rare (If they exist at all). Perhaps, maybe… at a Catholic cemetary… it’s sacred ground after all but I know of few brides who would do this. :smiley:

Perhaps the couple would consider a Church wedding (Catholic) and an outside reception?

A dispensation from canonical form may be granted if one of the couple isn’t Catholic. Once the dispensation is granted, the location for the wedding is up to the couple and the officiant and it could be anywhere from an Anglican Church to a judge’s chambers to a beach.

The Church has certain rules about how the marriage takes place (Code of Canon Law #1108-1123). These rules are meant to ensure certainty that a valid marriage actually took place. Basically, a valid marriage must be witnessed by an authorized representative of the Church (usually a priest or deacon) and two other witnesses. It also must follow the Rite of Marriage, the book containing the words and actions that make up the wedding liturgy. Under special circumstances, your pastor can ask your bishop to dispense with the requirement to celebrate the wedding according to the Rite of Marriage. This is most commonly the case when Catholics marry someone who is not Catholic and choose a wedding ceremony from the religious practice of the person who is not Catholic.

Code of Canon Law #1108-1123

We’re talking about a wedding here…one of the seven Sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ! Every other Sacrament is normally done in the Church, and nobody finds this odd or restrictive. I don’t see why Holy Matrimony should be any different.

Obviously this is my opinion, and I express it meaning the greatest respect to your sister and family, but I can’t imagine why any Catholic wouldn’t want to be married in the Church!

My wife and I were both Protestants when we were married. We were married in our church at the time (Methodist), but now that I know about the presence of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, I can’t imagine why anybody wouldn’t want to be married in the presence of His real presence.

I agree with other posters who have recommended an outdoor reception, following a sacred marriage before God in His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church!

God bless you!

That’s a good idea. :slight_smile:

Although I love the first bit of your post. Makes me think of the Office:

“The Schrutes have their own traditions. We usually marry standing in our own graves. Makes the funerals very romantic. But the weddings are a bleak affair.”


Can. 1115 Marriages are to be celebrated in a parish where either of the contracting parties has a domicile, quasidomicile, or month long residence or, if it concerns transients, in the parish where they actually reside. With the permission of the proper ordinary or proper pastor, marriages can be celebrated elsewhere.

In order for a wedding to take place somewhere other than the parish church where either the bride or groom has residence requires** permission from the Bishop**. Typically a bishop does not grant permission except in cases where there is some serious reason to do so.

In most parishes in the US, the Bishops do not grant permission for outdoor weddings. The priests your mother talked to have already supplied the answer relevant in your diocese.

This is not the same thing as a *dispensation *from canonical form, which applies when a Catholic marries a non-Catholic. In such a case, the bishop grants a dispensation so that the Catholic can marry in another form. The priest does not preside at all, it is not a *Catholic *ceremony although it is a *valid *ceremony:

§2. If grave diffculties hinder the observance of canonical form, the local ordinary of the Catholic party has the right of dispensing from the form in individual cases, after having consulted the ordinary of the place in which the marriage is celebrated and with some public form of celebration for validity. It is for the conference of bishops to establish norms by which the aforementioned dispensation is to be granted in a uniform manner.

Your mother has already consulted two priets. Why do you doubt their answer?

And it doesn’t have anything to do with the 80s, although a new code of canon law did come out in 1983.

I don’t doubt that what they are saying is true. I’m mostly inquiring as to the why. But as is the case with all of the things I’m just finding out about the religion that I was born into nearly 33 years ago, it’s another “because The Church says so” things.

HolyCow21, a tip from a veteran photographer–If you’re selecting between multiple churches, ask the officiant if they will allow the pro photographer to move around and use flash during (a) the kiss and (b) the processional. The vast majority of Catholic churches allow this, but a few do not, and some ironically only allows guests to! While a pro will do what they can to deliver, these are key moments, and such restrictions certainly have an impact on quality. :wink:

That’s not directly related to your question, but I hope it helps. Have a wonderful wedding wherever you end up! :thumbsup:

Yep. It can be frustrating.

If Jesus wanted to get married at Gethsemane, the church would say no.

You mean like a large, spacious structure with a roof to lessen the effects of the elements, and small, human-sized openings to keep the seagulls and other birds out, and well-defined seating areas far from the lake/ocean to keep kids from jumping into it?

Well, no. Baptisms are generally done in Church but baptisms in other places are still valid. Reconciliation is typically not celebrated within the nave and certainly doesn’t need to be “in church.” Sacrament of the Sick is almost never given in Church. Eucharist is celebrated in all kinds of non-Church settings, from parks to stadiums to battlefields. Confirmation is usually celebrated in the Church building but I know of no prohibition on it being done elsewhere if the bishop so chose. So that leaves Marriage and Holy Orders being formally tethered to the building. . . .

Just an observation on the tone of this discussion. An awful lot of people are jumping on the OP for what really seemed like a plain-enough question: is it true that Church law prohibits outdoor weddings? And it’s entirely possible that the OP has attended a Catholic wedding out of doors, or knows of one, and so was confused by being told that “it can’t be done.” Let’s not assume that the OP (who, since he/she is a sibling of the bride is probably a young person) is being rebellious or obstinate (OP is not even the person getting married. . . .)

The fact is that permission to marry outside of a Church building may be given at the discretion of the bishop (Canon 1118.2 says “another suitable place,”) and some dioceses NEVER give permission, and others sometimes do, and yes, there are places in the US where bishops have become more reluctant to give permission than their predecessors were. It’s entirely possible that the OP’s parents were married in a Catholic ceremony out of doors and are confused about why their daughter cannot.

Two of my daughters married non-catholics (one non-baptised) with extremely anti-catholic parents, both requested permission (through their parish priests) for out of door weddings, one in Vermont and one in NH, both were told that “other dioceses may give permission but we NEVER do.” In one case they were able to have their sacramental wedding in a tiny chapel immediately before their civil (outdoor) ceremony, in the other they arranged beforehand to have their vows convalidated very soon after the civil wedding (as soon as their marriage license came from the state). Unfortunately, the Church’s “legalism” in these situations fed the anti-catholic attitudes of their husbands’ families. I, of course, understand and respect the Church’s reasons for requiring marriages to take place in churches (and incidentally, the normal place is the bride’s parish church, so even if you want to be married in your campus chapel or the cathedral you still need permission from the bishop . . . ). I do think there may be times and places where it is pastorally prudent to grant permission for “another suitable place” - but it is certainly simpler and less likely to cause dissention for an individual bishop to say, as he is authorized to do, “no, never.”

it is not a matter of being judgemental it is a matter of a sacrament, and the Church has custody over the sacraments given to her by Christ. Catholics marry according to Catholic law on marriage. PPs note about unreliability of the weather is a prudential thought.

When couples prepare for their marriage as a sacrament, rather than for their wedding as an event. the reasons become clear and they will desire to be in God’s sanctuary.

If you want more, there are extensive discussions of this topic on the liturgy and sacraments forum, and it has been answered on AAA

No, it is not “because the Church says so.” It is because the appropriate place to celebrate **all **of the sacraments is at the altar-- consecrated by the bishop as the solemn, dedicated place of worship for Catholics. In order to celebrate elsewhere, there must be a compelling reason-- for example, when the Pope celebrates a Mass sometimes it is outside to accomodate the large of the number of people attending.

What compelling reason does your sister have for wanting to be married outside instead of at the altar?

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