How do I tell my father that I can't attend his wedding?


This is a convoluted situation, so bear with me.

I was born to Lutheran parents and raised Lutheran. My husband and I converted to Catholicism in 2003.

My parents had a messy divorce when I was 14. The main (but not only) reason for the divorce was an affair on the part of my mother. She married the guy she had the affair with shortly after the divorce was final. They’ve now been married for 12 years.

My father called me up a few weeks ago and told me he was getting married. This was a surprise given that ever since the divorce he has changed girlfriends every 4-6 months. It had gotten to the point where my siblings and I referred to each new girlfriend as “the flavor of the month.”

The situation gets stickier. He met this woman on July 21st. They plan to get married on November 3 (which, to add insult to injury, is my birthday). I have met his fiancee once, and then only for about five minutes.

My father told me she is a divorcee who was raised Catholic but is now Lutheran. I have no idea if her former marriage was in the Catholic Church, or how long she’s been attending a Lutheran Church. They are getting married in a Lutheran chapel by a Lutheran minister. Even worse, he is moving in with her at the end of the month and they intend to live together until their marriage.

I haven’t had a chance to talk in-depth with him about the marriage, but so far he’s said he’s marrying her so soon because he “doesn’t want to be alone at Christmas” and because she reminds him of a former girlfriend whom he wishes he’d have married. :eek: Yes, he said that.

I also suspect part of his reasoning is financial. He has a criminal record (long story) and has difficulty getting a decent job. I think he’s to the point where he’s about to be evicted from his apartment – a mutual friend told me he hasn’t paid his rent since July.

At any rate, I have bad, bad feelings about this marriage. I talked to our parish priest at length about the situation. He didn’t say anything concrete one way or the other about whether or not I should attend the wedding, but he did encourage me to talk to my dad about my reservations, which I plan to do, but I’ve come to the conclusion, after much research and prayer, that I can’t go.

It’s an invalid marriage to begin with given that both are divorced. Moreover, the fiancee is a Catholic and is still obligated to observe the Catholic form of marriage even if she doesn’t recognize the Church’s authority.

Anyway, to get to the crux of the issue – how do I explain this to my father? I know it will break his heart, and make him very angry, hurt, and bitter. He already is somewhat anti-Catholic, having once told me that “Catholics weren’t really Christian.” (This was before I was Catholic, and at the time I told him he was nuts – who did he think that guy up on the Crucifix was??) I’m afraid that our refusal to attend will give him even more justification (in his mind) to be prejudiced against the Church.

He’s going to claim that this means I don’t love him, given that I attended my mother’s wedding when SHE remarried. At the time of my mother’s wedding, I was 14 and still Lutheran, and I simply didn’t know any better.

What’s worse is that he has his heart set on my daughter (age 2.5) being his flowergirl (along with my 2-year-old nephew as ringbearer), and it will break his heart not to have his only granddaughter there.

I know it’s going to cause a ton of family drama as well. I’ll probably have my siblings and grandparents calling me and telling me what an awful person I am. My brother is Lutheran; my sister is Lutheran as well but is married to a Catholic. I’m sure her husband plans on attending the wedding too.

Basically, I want to speak the truth with love and kindness, but I don’t know how to tell him in a way he will understand, or how to explain that this isn’t a reflection on how much I love him, but that I need to follow my conscience and not create scandal.

Anyone BTDT? Any advice? If you’ve made it this far, thanks for bearing with me.


Maybe this is not what you wanted to hear…but I would encourage you to reconsider attending the wedding. Perhaps you do not want to be involved to the degree that your daughter is in the wedding party, or maybe you do not want to help with showers or parties but I do not beleive (check again with your priest for sure) that the church would forbid you to attend.

I would advise that you do a search on this website in the “Ask an Apologist” forum. Many people have asked questions about wedding attendance and I beleive their advice there is very sound.

You also cannot be certain that it is an invalid marriage. It is my understanding that Catholics can marry in a non-catholic ceremony if they get permission from the Bishop. I suppose given the circumstances that you are suspicious that this has not been done…however the fact remains that you do not really know for sure. In addition having met her for only five minutes you can not be certain either whether or not she has even been Baptised in the Catholic Church and really is a member.

I am only offering this advice because I would hate to see you cut all of these family ties and create strife when you could in fact attend this event as a Catholic and be in good standing with your faith. If the church forbids you to attend that is another story but please check into it further.

The fact that it is on your birthday should not be an issue. I think you are just tired of all of this and do not want to show your father support. Try and remember that your father is a desperate soul searching for happiness. Unfortunately he has not been blessed by God’s beautiful grace to the degree that you have. Tell him you love him and that you will pray for him. I hope you can find your answer. I will pray for you. Hope this helps.


I feel for you. What a difficult situation. Are you positive you cannot attend the ceremony? What does your priest say? If he is noncommittal, perhaps it would not be a sin to attend.
But you obviously feel in your heart that you can’t attend. So you should tell your father gently that in all conscience you cannot attend his wedding and why.
You will probably be villified by him and the rest of your family. Just remember that as Christians we will be villified by the rest of the world for doing the right thing. And offer up your sufferings to God.
Just my two cents…I’ll pray for you.


Monica, one of the problems is that both of them were married before, and at least one of the marriages (my father’s) is presumed valid because he and my mom were both baptized Christians at the time. Neither of them have or would seek an annulment, and I’m not even sure one would be granted if through some miracle they did.

As for the fiancee – I do need to find more about her circumstances, but my dad mentioned she had 10 siblings. I asked, “Is her family Catholic?” and my dad said, “Yes, but she became Lutheran a long time ago.” I’ll try to find out for sure, but it sounds like she was at the very least baptized Catholic. And since she’s now getting married outside the Church (and for all I know, perhaps her first marriage was also within the Church), that also makes the marriage invalid.

So I really don’t see how I, in good conscience, could attend, especially after reading this entry and this entry on Jimmy Akin’s blog.


I’m sorry that I don’t have any real wisdom to share. :o

Maybe the Holy Spirit is waiting to give you the right words when you speak with your dad about your reservations. It’s possible that the conversation you have with him will also give you more time to consider what you want to say.

I pray the Spirit speaks through you, and that your dad’s heart is open to receiving your words. Take care.


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Though some here do not recognise your moral backbone. I applaud you on your decision. Can you go? probably, but some here appeared to have misread the thread. the question isn’t can you go but how do you decline. Which you have every right to do.
How about " Dad, I love you and I wish you well, unfortunately I have a trip planned for my birthday." Then take that trip! Be cordial, not preachy or judgemental. Be Catholic and most importantly keep standing with your principles, I wish more had the kind of fiber you had.
Geese people are we so quick to always make people (who may not be making great decisions) feel accepted by all no matter what that we forsake the rights of those who wish to abstain due to matters of thier concience!:shrug:


Unfortunately, that won’t work. When he called to tell me about his engagement, he asked if I had any plans for my birthday and I said no. He’s already asked me to design the invitations for him, and I said yes because I didn’t know what else to say.

I wish I could attend the wedding. I wish I could have my daughter participate. But I can’t do either and still remain faithful to the Church’s teachings, and I have to follow Jesus above even my family.


I know you feel bad but you are standing up for God. He comes first and so do your childern. They see that you stand up for God at all cost. Good for you for being a teacher of the faith.

Sorry i wasn’t trying to say she should go to the wedding i was just answering the other posters comment. My bad. sorry!!


Well, her Catholic baptism might not matter if she “became a Lutheran.” If she formally defected from the Church and joined the Lutherans, then she’s not really Catholic anymore.

The rest of the situation, however, still seems like a big giant mess. Listen to your heart and (as always) pray, pray, pray.

Sam, the Neon Orange Knight


Ok my point was that you don’t fight but decline cordially. You don’t have to tell him you have other plans just tell him you are sorry but you can’t attend, keep it “ann landers style” Maybe DH could provide an excuse, run blocker or interference. :smiley: I do this all the time. "dad, I can’t attend, to attend means I am affirming something that I haven’t even had the chance to know yet. “
Dad, I jut don’t feel comfortable with this. Can you understand that and respect my decision” rational always trups emotion. Again, I don’t have the answers, just sugestions, I don’t envy you but I do respect you. You are in my prayers!:slight_smile:


:thumbsup: No prob, my comment wasn’t directed at you but at the tone that you and I know will come into this thread from the " non-judgemental" crowd. Funny how they are non- judgemental at everything exept prudent judgements.:rolleyes:


my only question is: What does it mean to attend a wedding? Does that mean you support it?? If you talk to your father and tell him of your disapproval then its not like he will take your attending the wedding as a sign of approval…I dont know what i would do but it would be hard not to be there for my father, even when i didnt agree with what he was doing. Either way pray really hard for him every day and especially on THE DAY of his wedding.

I dont think its a sin to attend though.


Unless I wear a sign at the wedding saying, “I in no way approve or condone this marriage,” then my presence there can and probably will be construed as approval from all the other guests who are there. And I don’t want people to get the impression that Catholics are A-OK with going to marriages like that, because then if this situation happens in their own families, they can say, “But I went to ThisGuy’s wedding and his Catholic daughter was there, so it must be okay!” That’d be creating scandal, and that is a sin.


My advice to you is go to the wedding.


So you think it’s a good thing to condone sin and create scandal?


No…but I do some of my best evangelizing when I accompany my BF to his church ( I also go to Mass) . He is SDA and I love seeing the looks on people’s faces when I get out my rosary during the sermon.

Bottom line…you do what you want. I get the sense you would like to attend but feel you “can’t” because you are Catholic.



Depending on how long ago he told you, you could combine these suggestions. DH could call, “Sorry FIL, I planned a surprise trip for wanner47. I am afraid we won’t be able to make it.”


I dont think attendng your Fathers wedding will do anything other than publicly acknowledge your love and respect for your father. Your priest didnt tell you you shouldnt go and the church has no prohibition against attending a wedding like this.

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