My cousin had 2 weddings in one day

Hi CAF members. I present to you another wedding conundrum/rant and I ask for your thoughts:

My cousin, who has openly been struggling with her faith over the past few years was recently married. Her husband is unbaptized so they had a Nuptial liturgy (Holy Mass was not offered) in order to please the family who is staunchly Catholic and insisted on a Church ceremony. Later that same afternoon, the couple had another “wedding ceremony” outdoors at a golf course complete with the wedding party and all the trappings of a “real wedding”. Our uncle, who is a priest, was the officiant at the morning liturgy was also “presided” over this afternoon ceremony where the couple exchanged vows they wrote and listened to a reading from Dr. Seuss followed by St. Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians!:confused:

Our uncle, the priest, made it explicitly clear before the afternoon outdoor ceremony that the couple had been married earlier in the morning and that this was simply another “repeat” of what had in actuality occurred earlier in the day.

So as you might be able to see, there are family politics involved here. My cousin, concerned about appeasing her family went ahead and engaged in the nuptial liturgy but at the same time still had her “dream wedding” later that afternoon. I wish my priest-uncle had not participated in the afternoon debacle because it was not a liturgical/sacramental function and his presence as a minister of the Church at something like that has the propensity to cause scandal because it appears as though the Church approved of it, despite his disclaimer that they had already been married. If they had already been married what reason is there to do it again 4 hours later?? Having said that I empathize with his desire to not cause “hurt feelings” to my cousin, but I am tired of hearing how so many priests and Catholics are soooo concerned about hurt feelings than about the state of the souls entrusted to their care! I believe that Canon 1127-3 speaks about the prohibition of having 2 weddings but I don’t know if this applies since the canon refers to 2 “religious ceremonies”. In this case i don’t know if the latter ceremony qualifies as religious.

I definitely agree that your priest uncle should not have agreed to “preside” at the second of the two “ceremonies” for the very reasons you stated. At the second ceremony, religious and secular elements probably should not have been mixed so confusingly, either. Neither having attended the second ceremony nor having witnessed it for myself, I really cannot comment much more on its legitimacy, but we know for certain a few things:

  1. Your cousin was only married once, at the former of the two ceremonies, assuming a valid marriage.

  2. The second ceremony, from what I gather, was not a religious ceremony nor was it a wedding.

  3. The legitimacy of the second ceremony is dubious.

Since what’s done is done, I wouldn’t harp on the situation or worry about it much more. In the interest of staying out of family politics and keeping drama at the minimum (since you mentioned that family politics were involved in the decision to do this anyway), I’d leave it alone, basically.

There’s nothing wrong with couples renewing their wedding vows. Priests can and do regularly preside over such celebrations, say, on anniversaries.

Being the case that renewal of vows is legitimate, the first question is, is there any particular reason why they can’t ‘renew’ their vows on the same day as their wedding?

I don’t see any particular reason why not, and note that the priest made it clear that the second ceremony was NOT the marriage, but merely a renewal of vows, so it would seem that everyone was clear on what was happening.

Secondly - being that the second ceremony wasn’t sacramental or liturgical in nature, not even taking place in a church, what’s wrong with mixing and matching styles a little if that’s what the couple wants? Are the same rules meant to govern liturgical, sacramental church services and non-sacramental, non-liturgical services held elsewhere? :confused:

I’m saying this to play devils’ advocate a little - I haven’t formed a firm opinion one way or the other.

The canon prohibiting 2 ‘religious ceremonies’ actually prohibits having one ceremony in one religion and one in the other religion in the case of a mixed/disparity of cult marriage. If I remember the commentaries I’ve read that is to prevent the implication that one or the other of the churches doesn’t have a valid ceremony.

In this case the second wedding was neither religious nor civil, since all the paperwork would have been related to the first wedding. It might not have been wise for the priest to participate in this second ‘ceremony’ but he probably did it for pastoral reasons and did explain that the real ‘marriage’ had been celebrated earlier in the day. That should have made it clear to everyone that this was a reenactment. I wonder which one the bride considered the ‘real’ wedding. Personally, I can’t imagine putting myself through the stress of 2 ceremonies unless it was absolutely required (ie Mexico, France, Germany, etc).

ß3 It is forbidden to have, either before or after the canonical celebration in accordance with ß1, another religious celebration of the same marriage for the purpose of giving or renewing matrimonial consent. Likewise, there is not to be a religious celebration in which the catholic assistant and a non-Catholic minister, each performing his own rite, ask for the consent of the parties.

Canon law specifically mentions a second religious celebration not a secular outside repeat type of one. So I tend to not see any violation here since the priest did make it clear about the purpose of the second event. It’s irregular but not sure it’s any violation. Although on the other hand a Priest presiding at the second event lends to making it look religious.

In ye olde days, the church/sacramental wedding and the civil/secular wedding were two separate events. In many (perhaps most) countries today, the civil ceremony which makes a couple married in the eyes of the law takes place at the registry office (in the UK I believe you can pay the registrar to come to the church and do the paperwork).

I actually think that in the US the Church would do well to get out of the “by the power vested in me by the State” business and stick to witnessing the sacrament - it would clarify the difference between the sacrament and the contract (which in turn would help to clarify the difference between voiding the contract and declaring the sacrament null). As the State appears determined to extend the definition of marriage beyond the bounds of eligibility for the sacrament, this distinction needs to be maintained and protected.

Having said that, it sounds from your description of the events that your cousin may have gone through the liturgical rite just to satisfy family pressure, and possibly the priest caved to that pressure as well - but we certainly can’t determine that from the events themselves.

Disclaimer - my eldest was married in a “two-part” wedding, receiving the sacrament at a tiny chapel which accomodated “immediate family only” and then exchanging additional vows (with different readings, and a different witness) and completing the civil contract with the extended family and friends at a park up the street. It was clear to everyone involved, however, that this was all one wedding . . .

This would not be a Sacramental Marriage anyway, so why not since a Dispensation from her Bishop was required for the Marriage to even be valid, Why didn’t they just request his permission to celebrate the exchange of vows at the afternoon event, no priest would have even been necessary.

The OP didn’t say that the second ceremony was just a renewal of vows. Perhaps if it were made out to be a renewal of vows, things would have been better, but even then it doesn’t really make a lot of sense to renew vows that were just taken.

He did?

Because it’s confusing.

I gotcha.

It sounds like it was due to family pressure, i.e., her family wanted a “church” ceremony?

In Christ,


In places like Mexico where the Church is not officially recognized, the Church can not perform marriages that are recognized by the State. So when Catholics marry in these places they have a religious service done by the Church but then to have that marriage recognized by the State they have a secular marriage service done by the State.

I see nothing wrong with this, especially since it was stated at the beginning of the second “wedding” that they were already married earlier.

Seems like a little nit-picking is going on.

Actually, I see no reference in the OP that the wedding occurred outside of the United States. Nonetheless, the Canon would still hold true.

We had an incident similar down here at the Cathedral. The groom had asked a state district judge to have the “civil” wedding performed after the Nuptial Mass. The groom, evidently, did not know that the prelate officiating at the wedding was recognized as a legitimate officiant by both the State of Texas and the Church. When the prelate found out, he dispatched me to the reception hall, across the street from the Cathedral, to secure the wedding license from the judge. As the judge is a friend of mine, he had no qualms about giving it to me. He, too, was perplexed as to why the groom had done it.

I don’t know about Mexico but the other countries I’m familiar with forbid the religious marriage of those who are not civilly married. The priest will only marry a couple who presents a marriage certificate proving they are already legally married.

Given that the outdoor ceremony was presided-over by a priest, that makes it a “religious celebration” Whether or not it actually followed the Rite of Marriage would not change this fact. It doesn’t just “look religious” The fact that the priest presided makes it religious.

And yes, canon law does mention an “outside repeat” Because the canon says “giving or renewing matrimonial consent” The priest can’t hide behind an announcement that the couple was “already married earlier.” The original post said that the couple “exchanged vows” the second time, so we know that happened.

So what we see happening here is precisely what the canon forbids: a second religious ceremony in which the couple either gave or renewed matrimonial consent.

I once did 4 weddings and a funeral.

It seems to me that although this might not have been an ideal situation, it likely wasn’t a terrible abuse.

But I wish families would leave off pressuring their kids to have religious ceremonies when they aren’t interested. I think it is really wrong, and puts the kids in the position of having to lie or at least fudge in a religious service.

Which is why after saying that her choice saddened me, I shut up and attended my daughter’s marriage outside the Church. I’ve b**ched & moaned and complained enough through the years about the brides who use our Church because it makes for better pictures and who have no respect for the liturgy or the sacrament that I had to be grateful that my daughter would not be another one.
I still hope that one day she’ll return to her roots.

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