Getting married in a non-Catholic church



I have a question regarding marriage in the Catholic church. I grew up in a delightful, small (ca 25 members), conservative, rural Lutheran church. It’s been my lifelong dream to get married in my home church. My brother-in-law is a pastor and it’s always been assumed that he would perform the wedding.

My boyfriend (we’re not engaged yet!!) was baptized Catholic, and he knows it is important to me that we go to church together. Long-story-short, I have become dissatisfied (to say the least) with the decisions of the larger ELCA body as of late (which does not reflect the beliefs of my church or many Lutheran churches that I know of), and have been seriously considering (seriously!) becoming Catholic. My boyfriend and I have enrolled in RCIA classes to start in October.

My question is, if I turn Catholic at Easter, could I still get married in my home church if a priest is present to bless the marriage/takes part in the ceremony? It would mean a lot to me and my family, and I recognize the importance of having a priest there or at least bless the ceremony afterwards, but I just didn’t know if that is done.



No, this would not be possible. Once you become Catholic, your only realistic option is to get married inside an actual Catholic church building by a Catholic priest.

If you were to marry before you become Catholic, your boyfriend could likely obtain a dispensation from his bishop in order for the wedding to be legally conducted in your home church by your brother-in-law.


Once you are Catholic, you follow canon law on marriage which states

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.


Can. 1118 §1. A marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party is to be celebrated in a parish church. It can be celebrated in another church or oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor.

So, yes, it is possible to be married in a non-Catholic Church, even after you become Catholic. You would need permission, probably from the Bishop, and it might be a little more difficult than if you were still Lutheran. However, it can be done.


What you suggest is only possible if one of the couple is not Catholic. A priest can be present to bless the marriage in another denominations church. But if you both are Catholic, you can’t be married in your hometown church.


This scenario would require that the Catholic priest perform a Catholic ceremony in the Lutheran church building. The technical term is “dispensation from place” and it is extremely unlikely that it would be granted by the Catholic bishop.


These life-long dreams are hard to release. I would pray about it, complete the RCIA program, and leave this decision till later.

If you did not have the wedding in the hometown church but instead had a reception in the area, it might cause many in attendance at the event to think. This could be a good turn of events. It may help some deepen their faith.

Have courage and continue in the RCIA program.

God bless you!


It’s actually a Dispensation from the Canonical Form of Marriage. I have heard of two Catholics receiving the dispensation and being married outside of a church, specifically in the case you mentioned (recent convert with a family member in pastor). It entirely depends on the judgment of your bishop, so don’t get your hopes up, but it can’t hurt to request the dispensation.


Exactly. I never said it was easy or even likely, but it isn’t totally prohibited either. The request is usually made by the pastor rather than the couple themselves. A joint request by the Catholic priest and the Lutheran pastor with all humble assurances of working together in meeting the requirements for a Catholic form might go a long way too.


These life-long dreams are hard to release. I would pray about it, complete the RCIA program, and leave this decision till later.

It’s nice to have understanding from people instead of just “well, why in the world would you want to get married in your home church?” :stuck_out_tongue: Although I feel drawn to the Catholic Church, this church was where my dad, my sister, and I were baptized and confirmed. And although I’m getting the sense that the Catholic Church was indeed founded by Christ and the Apostles and is being guided by the Holy Spirit, I still appreciate that this church is where I got started as a Christian, and is the church of my (immediate) ancestors.

I’ll do what rskemph said; keep praying, go through RCIA, and cross that bridge if I should actually get engaged.:slight_smile:


A dispensation of canon 1118, which specifies the location where a Catholic wedding ceremony should take place, is called a dispensation of place, and can be granted by the diocesan bishop, but it is quite rare, and does not remove the requirement for a Catholic priest and liturgy.

A dispensation from canonical form is a dispensation of canon 1108. If this dispensation is granted, then there is no longer any requirement for a Catholic priest or liturgy, in addition to the location question. However, in the case of two Catholics, only the Pope himself can grant this dispensation.


Again, I have to disagree. The Form of marriage that would be dispensed is collectively Canon 1108 - 1123. Then again, I don’t believe there’s necessarily standardization of the requests, so the title of the request could differ.

Canon 1118 is not concerned with the marriage of two Catholics. I would appreciate a reference to your statement that one the Bishop of Rome can dispense Canon 1118 for two Catholics, especially considering that Canon 1118 does not apply to two Catholics.


Canon 1118 starts out, “A marriage between Catholics …”. Of course it applies to a marriage between two Catholics.

As for the other, see [here](“ 1108”):

Dispensation from canonical form in the marriage of two Catholics (c. 1108)

The doubt: Whether outside the case of urgent danger of death the diocesan bishop can dispense according to c. 87.1 from the canonical form for the marriage of two Catholics.
The response: Negative.

July 5, 1985
AAS 77 (1985) 771.
Periodica 74 (1985) 624-628.

Here is a link to a PDF file for requesting dispensations in Texas.


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