Moral Dilemma re. a wedding


My oldest daughter’s confirmation sponsor, call her “Jane”, will be marrying “John” in September, and has invited our family to the wedding. Jane and John consider themselves to be serious Catholics, and Jane talked at length with my daughter about the importance of purity, etc. etc.

Turns out that Jane will be having a baby at the end of this month.

John is a minimally-employed graduate student. Jane is unemployed and living on food stamps. In spite of their financial situation and the baby on the way, they’ve managed to come up with the money for a big white wedding. Jane is estranged from her family, so she and John are paying for the wedding themselves.

Since they had intended to marry before they found out that Jane was pregnant, I believe that they should have married before the baby was born. Absent that, I think that it would be far more prudent to have a small, inexpensive wedding with a cake-and-punch reception, so that they’d conserve their resources for their child.

Shortly after she told me she was pregnant, I talked all this over with Jane in a gentle but forthright way. She’s not a terribly mature person, and her response was basically “I want what I want and I’m gonna have what I want”.

I’m certainly glad that she’s chosen to give her child life, and that she’s marrying John rather than denying her daughter a father. However, regarding my own four kids, who range in age from 7 through 15, I’m not comfortable with the message that this sends. “Do the wrong thing (fornication), but have a big fancy wedding anyway.” Is she not giving scandal?

So my options are to

  1. not attend at all, which will probably end the friendship

  2. attend with just my oldest daughter, with whom I’ve already discussed the situation at length

  3. attend the wedding, but decline the reception

  4. plan a family vacation that weekend and skirt the issue entirely. (OK, so that’s not really an option, but it sure sounds tempting!)

I’d just like to hear some opinions.


I’d lean toward #2 if this is a friendship you want to maintain. If it isn’t, select #1 and send a card.



Maybe number 3?
As I assume they are getting married in the church, you would be there to pray for and with the couple and witness it before God. And what new couple couldn’t use more prayers on their wedding day. If you are concerned about the scandle of the big wedding, don’t go to the reception. You could plan some family thing for the late afternoon evening so that you would be unable to attend or just not give a reason, and leave a card or a gift.

Some combination of your options would work for your family. (I personally dislike wedding receptions if it is not a family wedding and you don’t know anyone there besides the bride and groom. Can we say uncomfortable) Maybe just stop into the reception to say hi congratulations and then leave, leave a present or card grab some cake or appetizers then leave. :shrug:


Not all priests will perform marriages that are “moved up” due to pregnancy. The couple still must complete all the premarital preparation and counseling, and often the priest wants to ensure there is no element of coersion and will therefore counsel not moving the wedding up.

Sounds like that may not be the case with your friend, she may just want the big wedding and all that entails… I just thought I’d point out the Church doesn’t want shotgun weddings taking place, that calls validity into question.

I tend to agree with you.

If you want to remain friends, go with #2.


I also think it would have been wise to marry before the baby was born but if they had not already starting their marriage preparation with the Church they may not have been allowed to push up that wedding. And I’m not sure if a wedding when one is seven months along is all that different from one where the baby is a month or two old. But even so, I think a simple wedding might have been better.

As has been said, you need to figure out where you want this relationship to go. I’ve known couples who were otherwise good Catholics who slipped up in this area. If you want to maintain the relationship to some degree then either number 2 or number 3. Unless you are expected to do something at the reception it probably won’t REALLY matter that much to the bride and groom whether you attend the reception. But if you won’t attend be polite and let them know so they don’t have to pay for your uneaten food.


You can tell your daughter that you won’t pay for any big weddings if grandchildren are already in attendance.

If they married for love and are doing the right thing for the right reasons, they need prayers.

The new mom might need support. Because if she is to be a good mother her “I want what I want when I want it” days are coming to a quick end.
If it was your daughter how would you want people to treat her?


There is actually one potential “plus” to marrying after the baby is born… since grounds for annulment may include being forced or threatened into marriage (which a “shotgun wedding” before the baby is born could certainly be perceived as), waiting to marry will at least help ensure that both parties are entering the marriage by fully free choice.

That said, I too think that a small inexpensive wedding (especially in today’s economy) would be more prudent, but that’s obviously not my call. Maybe there’s someone else you can talk to – whom Jane also trusts – who might not get the same “I want what I want and I’m gonna have what I want” response you got? Beyond that, as other posters have said, what you do depends in part on if this is a friendship you want to maintain.


If you want to keep the friendship, go with number 2, if you don’t want to keep the friendship, go with number 1…You should think of long term and make sure you want to keep in touch with this person…I know that sounds a little mean, but I know someone like this and she has caused me a lot of hurt and I finally just had to put a lot of distance between us…


Attend the wedding as a family. All your children know she has a baby and all will know there’s a wedding. I am very, very sure the parents of both children have had the exact same sentiments and were given the exact same response she gave you. Moving up the wedding may not have been an option because of the pre-marital counseling.

If I had a say, which, like you, I don’t, I would have been too embarrassed to have a big wedding. Small family wedding with a small dinner after and the couple using the money to have a small honeymoon and start their lives, would seem a very reasonalbe alternative.


Please don’t take this the wrong way, but whatever happend to hating the sin and loving the sinner?

2 sounds fine to me. Tell your 15 year old that you don’t approve of it, but let’s try to love them! They’re trying to make things right!


They sinned. The charitable thing to do is to assume they confess the sin and God forgave them.

Sad thing is, every one gets to know about their sin, while the rest of us get to keep our sins hush hush.

Go to the wedding and forgive this young couple. Let your daughter see you do not cast people out of your life for sinning.


Number 5: Get over it and take everyone who was invited.

A priest would not be marrying them if they were not faithful Catholics, including the obvious admission of fornication and the need for confession. They paid for it themselves, so no one has any business telling her that she has to save her money for the baby. Chances are she has what she needs already.

They are doing the right thing now. That is what matters more. Tell your daughter she’s on her own too if she pulls the same stunt. Simple solution.

Enjoy the day.


I cant see how this is any of your business really.

I expect this means that you want them to grieve because of their HUGE mistake, or what?
Why are they not allowed to celebrate and have the big wedding that they always wanted, because they fell into sin prior to their marriage???

Does this mean that everyone of us on these boards who have lost our virginity and are not married we should have a small wedding later on because we somehow don’t deserve to celebrate love because we made a mistake in the past?

Why don’t you leave the sins of others alone and focus on your own?

Maybe Jane had something to say about purity precisely because she learned the hard way that its worth waiting. There are not many purity ministries left if only the ones who “made it” have a right to speak to our young people… then also Chrystalina and Jason Evert and Christ West should be silent. They all sinned in the past.

Is this woman somehow an easy target for your indignation?
I suppose you and your wife did it the right way and your own sins in the sexual area were never shown to the whole world. Not because they are non-existent but because of grace of God.
When will you realise that its the sinner that needs compassion, not the righteous ones?
If some one told you to have a small wedding because of a past mistake that has been forgiven by God and the Church, would you not think they were pharisees?

Here is a pregnant woman who is going to marry her beloved and they will start their new life together. What is there not to celebrate at this point???

I don’t get it… :confused:


I would go. They are marrying in the church, so there aren’t any impediments for them to be marrying.

Everyone sins…some sins unfortunately become more public than others.


If my dad said:“If you blow it, you are on your own”, that would damage my view of him as a Christlike man. God loves unconditionally… When the prodical son (who spent all his Fathers money, partying drinking and running with women) came home, the father held a party for him.

It sometimes seems as though the Christian community have pity on everyone but the people who sinned in sexual stuff.


I agree with everyone who says you should all go, I actually don’t understand the delimma. If the church thinks they are worthy of a Church wedding, I don’t understand why you don’t think that marriage is worth celebrating.


Ok, I didn’t read all the responses, but here is my take.

I was married in the Church one month after our first son was born. I mostly remember a homily my priest gave at mass about 2 months before the wedding.

He said (basically, I can’t remember the exact words) that he has couples who come in all the time where the woman is pregnant, or he can see they live together. He also said that what happened before is not what is important, what is important is that they have made a conscious choice to make it right before God. He did not condemn them, nor did he excuse them, but he encouraged us as Christians to embrace these couples and celebrate the happy day that they chose to make right with God. He cautioned us about making judgement, and about refusing to support them in their quest. Remember the prodigal son, and the lesson Jesus wanted us to learn with that.

Just my 2 cents. I would personally go, take the whole family, and rejoice that in the end they came to God.


Just a question: Have you ever heard the Church deny a couple? I heard of it once when the man was discovered to have a wife. But if you are going through Canan, has anyone ever heard of a priest refusing to marry a couple?


I think I need to clarify here. I do not want them to “grieve because of their HUGE mistake” nor am I trying to make Jane a “target for my indignation”. Nor do I think the marriage isn’t worth celebrating.

As I said originally, "I’m certainly glad that she’s chosen to give her child life, and that she’s marrying John rather than denying her daughter a father." I’m glad they’re marrying in the church. I’m assuming that they’ve made the situation right with God. I will pray for many blessings on their marriage and on their child.

To further clarify: had they chosen to marry before their baby was born, it wouldn’t have been a shotgun wedding, because they were already engaged. As I understand it, our parish priest encouraged them to move the wedding date up. They chose to ignore him.

My issue isn’t the “what”, but the “how”.

If they were having a small, simple wedding and reception – even after the birth of the baby – there would be no dilemma; we’d definitely go. But to have an elaborate “do” when they’re flat broke and have a new baby seems to me to be both inappropriate and imprudent. My interest isn’t in punishment, but in maintaining standards.


I don’t know about a priest refusing to marry a couple unless there’s an obvious impediment (e.g. prior marriage that wasn’t annulled). However, if a couple is cohabiting at the time they’re marrying, our parish priest will only allow them a small chapel wedding. He doesn’t want it to appear that the church is approving of their choice to cohabitate.

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