Catholic friend getting married outside of church?

My Catholic friend who is baptized and confirmed might not get married at a Catholic Church since her partner is not Catholic and she has fallen away from the faith. The thing is, we are good friends and I will probably be a bridesmaid, but don’t bridesmaids need to sign a document as a witness to a wedding? And if so since she’s marrying outside of the church would it be sinful for me to sign?
I just don’t want to offend her but I don’t want to sin even more.

Gemma asks some important questions :
1) "don’t bridesmaids need to sign a document as a witness to a wedding? And if so
2) since she’s marrying outside of the church would it be sinful for me to sign?"

Each wedding is required (by most states in the USA) to be witnessed by 2 other people, and have those 2 people sign the Marriage License as having witnessed that wedding.

But, it does NOT require that anyone in the wedding party be one of those witnesses.

Then, to the second question, it would NOT a Sin for you to be one of those 2 witnesses.
After all, you are not signing that you fully approve of the manner the wedding, or the sinfulness of any actions taken by others.

The law may be different “Down Under” … but I doubt it.
Maybe you should talk to your local Vital Statistics bureau, to make sure you don’t need to sign the license

The witness is usually the maid of honor and the best man. The rest of the wedding party is just there as support. Since your friend isn’t practicing her faith, it isn’t suprising that maybe she isn’t getting married to a Catholic and in the Church. If so concerned, I would probably discuss this with your priest for guidence in case you are asked to be a bridesmaid.

Mention this to your Parish Priest for authoritative guidance, then be humble enough to follow it.

Some guidelines from the ask an apologist forum:

You would know better than us, but it may be worth asking your friend if she has talked to a priest to see what she would need to do to get the Catholic Church to consider her marriage valid. Depending on how non-practicing she is and how much she knows, it could be that she is unaware that Catholics can marry non-Catholics validly in the eyes of the Church without having a Catholic ceremony.

But in any case:


It would be inappropriate to be a bridesmaid at an invalid wedding. That would be supporting and participating in an invalid attempt at marriage.

Encourage her to return to the Church. Encourage her to apply for a dispensation from form. Encourage her to reconsider.

But do not support invalid marriages with your participation. You are culpable for what **you **do, not for what she does.


This. :thumbsup:

I agree it would be wrong to attend an invalid marriage, but she hasn’t given enough information to determine that this is an invalid marriage other than a vague “fallen away from the Church”, which is why she ought to talk to her priest.

If she had formally defected when that was still allowed, she would be able to marry validly.

Clarification: If she had formally defect AND married between 1983 and 2009, then she would be validly married. However, if she formally defected between 1983 and 2009 and married NOW, it would not be valid.

Since we are talking about a marriage taking place in 2014, the “formal defection” comment is really a tangent and not germane to the discussion.

Thank you for the clarification, ke, I wasn’t aware of that. Can you point me toward a reference, please?

Sure. The Motu Proprio, Omnium en Mentum.

Therefore I decree that in the same Code the following words are to be eliminated: “and has not left it by a formal act” (can. 1117); “and has not left it by means of a formal act” (can. 1086 § 1); “and has not left it by a formal act” (can. 1124).

This has been in force since Oct 26, 2009.

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