My atheist brother is civilly marrying a divorced Catholic woman


Most people who are able to marry also have basic communication skills. I wouldn’t worry so much about what something “looks” like as opposed to spending some quality time with the person who is the focus of the concern. Sister can say, “I don’t approve of your fiance marrying you because she doesn’t have an annulment”. Brother can say “We don’t practice Catholicism so it isn’t an issue for us”. Sister can say, “Well I just wanted you to know how I felt about it. I will still come to your wedding because I love you.”

This is all assuming, of course, that sister knows what the situation is. I still say it really isn’t any of her business. She should assume the best of people and respect privacy and boundaries. Especially if she wants a good relationship with her brother and his wife in the future.


I frequently see this advice on CAF, but I just don’t get the logic. It seems that you would be saying, “I’m not going to attend the ceremony because I don’t approve of your sinful attempt at marriage, but yeah, I’ll come and eat your food, drink your booze, and party into the night with you - at your expense.”

If you’re going to skip the ceremony (which, by the way, I think would be a terrible idea), at least own it and don’t make the hypocritical decision to attend the fun part of the celebration.


Agreed. I get the logic in a few cases but it doesn’t make sense at all in this one (talking about siblings). I couldn’t imagine a sibling saying they were going to skip the wedding but show up for the party.

I would imagine that it would cause enough strife that they’d say just skip the reception then too and maybe we’ll see you at Thanksgiving, we haven’t’ decided yet.


I had this happen often in our life only in “reverse.”
We had family that wouldn’t step foot in a Catholic Church for Baptisms, Weddings, etc. but were happy to attend the party after. They had moral objections to the church, yet we’re still happy for the individual. It’s not an exact opposite, yet I still get it.


I still think that’s weird, at least for weddings…especially in this case where it’s siblings.

I guess I’ve kind of seen that once with a baptism and a 1st communion.


Well, let me ask you this: if they get married, and a week later, they ask you “hey – wanna go out to dinner?”… would you go out to dinner with them?

And if you would, at that time… then why not on their wedding day? Same action; same effect… no? To my mind, it’s not hypocritical – it’s an accurate reflection of what you’d do with them on any other day.


The difference being is:

The reception after the wedding is the celebration of the marriage, it’s not “just going out to dinner”. I’m with @ChuckB on this one. I’d find it tacky (at best) if my sibling told me that they cannot/will not come support me at my wedding ceremony (and when we’re talking siblings, probably turning down being in the wedding party) but will catch up with me afterwords at the celebration of said marriage to eat, drink and party on my dime.

At that point, I’d probably just let them know they can go ahead and skip the whole thing.


So, if you eat dinner at the reception, you’re “endorsing the marriage”, but if you go out with them in public the following evening, you’re not? Hmm… sounds like we’re splitting hairs here…

I don’t think it’s necessary to get into that level of detail, nor does it seem that the OP is asking “should I tell him I disapprove?”. Rather, it’s just “can I go?”

So, a simple “we’re not available at 2pm for the service; do you mind if we showed up at 4pm for the reception?” would seem to suffice…


No, that’s not what I’m saying. It’s tacky to say that you disapprove of the wedding and won’t attend the ceremony, but I’ll come to the party celebrating it…eat free food…drink free booze…and enjoy the party, on your dime.

Don’t you think that’s weird…to tell your sibling that you aren’t available for their wedding, but can make the reception later??? Maybe that’s just me, but my sibling or sibling in-laws’ weddings was something that kind of took precedence over everything else.


I was the thinking the same thing. What is going on at 2:00 that is so important that you can’t come to my wedding ceremony, but when the open bar become available two hours later you’ll be there with bells on?

Moi aussi.


‘Tacky’, or ‘a reasonable compromise’? To-may-to, to-mah-to… :wink:

p.s., I don’t know about you, but I always gift above the level of the value of the dinner. You might attend wedding receptions on someone else’s dime, but… :wink: :+1:


Moi aussi.

Ahh… and at that point, we’re in “problem solved” territory – I’ve made an offer, it was declined, and I don’t have to walk away being the one who unilaterally said “no”. :wink:


You can’t have our cake and eat it too. A reception is kind of like an extended celebration of the wedding and it doesn’t seem right to go.


It looks more like you are using them to go to the fun part without going to the wedding which is kind of boring.


Ask yourself: don’t most receptions have 2x or 3x more attendees than do the wedding ceremonies? :wink:

In any case, it comes down to the OP: he wants to support his brother without ‘endorsing’ his marriage. If this is a compromise that he can get behind, then so be it. If not, then that’s fine, too.


It just looks selfish and it doesn’t really look good and it is going to be reflected on Catholicism.


Gee, if people I didn’t know very well were butting in to my past this way, I think I might be a little distant, too. As said above, charity demands we presume the best; even if you know without doubt that there’s something amiss, it’s not your place to address it with the in-law-to-be. Discretely bring it up with your brother if you absolutely must, but if you find an answer you don’t like, then what? His obligation will be to his new wife (whether validly married within the laws of the Church or not) before the rest of his family. This is definitely not a simple situation, but then again it is. It’s a “catch more flies with honey” case — pray for and love them first, last, and everywhere in between, because that’s the only way you’ll ever have any influence that results in something good.


Except it isn’t any other day. It is their wedding day.


well, unless you want to bring it up and actually ask her, which, I don’t think you are required to do, then just give her the benefit of the doubt. like others have said, if they are having a civil ceremony, then the marriage is already invalid anywyas, regardless of whether or not she has a decree of nullity. I get your worries, believe me. you could talk to a priest about it, if you want to be sure, you are going to get a whole spectrum of opinions on CAF


If you think something as “tacky” as telling your brother “I know we have the same parents, did the whole growing up together thing but I disapprove and won’t be attending the wedding, but will be there as soon as the party starts” is a “reasonable compromise” we may have different understandings of To-may-to, to-mah-to…

That’s cool that you do, but I know that not everybody does…but when it comes down to telling a person (sibling in this case) that I disapprove of your wedding but am ready to party after…I think the Mighty Mighty Bosstones said it best in the 90’s…something about the impression that I get…:wink:

At that point, I’d be cool with it. If you don’t approve of the wedding then commit and don’t attend the party celebrating it :wink:

And don’t most people invite more people to the reception than the ceremony itself? I know we had to. I would wonder…how many of the people that 2x-3x in attendance that “skipped the ceremony” were in the immediate family (in this case a sibling) of the bride or groom…? Most of the time those individuals are in the wedding…

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