Catholic and unbaptised marriage

My fiance and i are planning our wedding for 2012 and may have come up against a slight hitch! Im catholic but he is not baptised nor does he follow another faith. from reading other catholic websites on line, i think we need special permission from the bishop before we can be married in a catholic ceremony. also, it seems to be that the ceremony would take place outwith mass, and so would be valid but would not be considered as the sacrament of marriage. Im unsure about this and was hoping someone would be able to give me any advice or answers! my mum told me if we marry outwith mass it would be more of a blessing rather than a full marriage, which i dont want. I’m from scotland so dont know if there’s any difference or if it’s the same across the board as it was an american site i saw the information on.
any help or advice would be !!


Yes, you would need a dispensation but the priest who prepares you will take care of that for you.

Yes, you would be married outside of Mass but it is no less a marriage than one celebrated within Mass. It would be a ‘natural’ marriage, not a sacramental marriage. That has nothing to do with being celebrated outside of Mass; it’s because only the baptized can receive sacraments and the ‘sacrament’ of marriage can not be received by only half of the couple. However, should your husband ever convert and be baptized your marriage would become a sacrament at that time.

thanks very much! thats very reassuring, i was getting quite worried! but yeah i totally understand and its quite obvious with regards to the sacraments and how it cant just be half the couple entering the sacrament of marriage. got you now!!

thanks again :slight_smile:

You’re welcome. Happy I could reassure you.

Even when you marry a baptized non-Catholic, like I did, it’s recommended that the marriage be celebrated within a Liturgy of the Word, because that emphasizes what you have in common rather than emphasizing the differences as happens during Mass when only one can receive Communion.

My husband isn’t baptized so I am familiar with this situation. The priest will have you fill out a form to apply for permission from the bishop to marry and the priest will take care of sending the forms to the correct office.

We were married in the church in front of the altar, but not during a Mass. It was still a very nice ceremony, shorter than a Mass.

Note that in preparation for marriage a recent copy of ones baptismal certificate is required. If one party is not Catholic they obviously cannot provided this; so the priest is aware of the situation. He then files the proper paperwork with the diocese to get permission [in the case of one baptized in another Christian Community] or dispensation [in the case of one who is not baptized].

With all the paperwork flying around the couple often doesn’t realize that this was done and worry about the legitimacy of their marriage.

Remember that you will have to give an undertaking to do your best to ensure any children are brought up in the Catholic faith.

yes i knew that :slight_smile: there is a possibility that in the future he may join the catholic faith, but i would never put pressure on him to do so. he knows how important my faith is to me and will happily support me in raising any children as catholics. thanks again!!

yes you need a dispensation to marry an unbaptized person,

also, it seems to be that the ceremony would take place outwith mass, and so would be valid but would not be considered as the sacrament of marriage.

half true
it is usually considered more pastoral for the vows to be exchanged outside Mass when the Catholic is marrying a non-Catholic, because it means not only one spouse but half the guests will not be participating in Mass, or receiving communion. A wedding is not the best time and place to emphasize the lack of unity.

your marriage will be valid, if you follow Catholic form for marriage, but not sacramental, not because it does not take place during Mass, but because one party is not baptized. Only the baptized can receive other sacraments. If sometime in the future your spouse is baptized (into any Christian faith) your marriage automatically becomes sacramental, that is, Jesus Christ is present sacramentally. The wedding ceremony will be the complete rite not “just a blessing” whether it is in the context of Mass or not.

any help or advice would be !!


see your pastor today to begin marriage preparation, and all these questions will be answered in due course.

It is important that one enter the Catholic Faith only because he is convinced that it is the true faith. One should never be pressured to convert for the sake of marriage. Conversion under pressure often blocks one from growing into the faith naturally.

I understand your situation. When my wife and I were married, she was a Catholic and I was an unbaptised “heathen”. However, I was open to the Catholic church.

I agreed to take about 30 days instruction in Catholicism and to raise the children as Catholics. We, also, had to get special permission from the archbishop to have a Nuptial Mass.

All of this took place back in 1966 at St. Cecilia’s in Tustin, California. I wasn’t Baptised until 1970. We now have 7 kids and 18 grand children. So I think it is a very good marriage.

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