May a lay person witness the renewal of wedding vows?


My brother and sister-in-law are wanting to renew their wedding vows and asked me to officiate (I am a Lay Dominican). They were not married in a Catholic Church and the renewal will not be held in a church.

Are there any rules as to how a renewal of vows should be done by a lay person?

Thank you.


Hi Mary,

You don’t mention if your brother and sister-in-law are Catholics. If they are not, then yes, you could help them. It’s not even a legal ceremony; merely a symbolic one. As non-Catholics the Church would recognize such a marriage as valid.

However, if at least one of them IS a Catholic, then he or she is living in an invalid marriage and therefore, unless they are living celibately, is living in mortal sin. For a Catholic, let alone a Dominican who is dedicated to upholding the Truth, to co-operate in upholding such an invalid marriage would be sinful as well.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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