Outdoor wedding

Not sure if this belongs here or elsewhere. Why is it that the catholic church doesn’t allow(maybe that isn’t the right word) outdoor weddings, at least not without a dispensation from a bishop? Blessings and take care-Thank you for any insight you may be able to share.

It’s my understanding that sacraments are supposed to be done on consecrated ground. So, I guess you could have one in a cemetary if you want?

Probably should be posted in Liturgy and Sacraments, but I’ll let someone smarter than me handle that :smiley:

The short answer is that the Church generally only allows the sacrament of marriage to be entered into a church. A wedding is the place wherein the sacrament is entered, that is why it takes place in a Church.

The church, in the presence of Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, is where sacraments are conferred, with some exceptions (when one is hospitalized, for example, and receiving Holy Communion or Anointing of the Sick).

God bless you!


A Wedding, to a Catholic, is not strictly between two people, but between the husband, the wife and God. As such, she has always (to my knowledge) taught that a Catholic wedding should be done in the presence of our Lord. I believe the major stumbling block is the physical presence and witness of Christ in the Eucharist, which is, with few exceptions, kept in the sanctuary.

I’m not 100% on that, but there are my thoughts on the matter.

There was just an Ask an Apologist thread on this, with excellent links to several tracts about outdoor weddings.

Did there not used to be, as common practice, Catholic weddings (without Holy Communion) in the rectory?

In the late 1940’s my aunt married a non-Catholic, and because of that the wedding had to take place in the rectory.

I remember her commenting years later that, at that point such a marriage could take place in the church, but the couple could not go past the altar rail (which existed at that point), and she was envious of couples who could be married IN the church.

You can still get married in the rectory today. The rectory is considered part of the Church. The priests can say private mass in the rectory, as most have small chapels inside them, so in reality, each rectory is like it’s own mini-Church or part of the main Church.

A priest can also perform marriage at a hospital or battle field under extreme situations. But wanting to get married on the beach, in front of a setting sun doesn’t count as an extreme situation. Frankly, it puts earthly desires over God; hence makes one doubt if the couple view their marriage as a sacrament.

If couple views marriage a true sacrament & believes in the Real Presence, why would one not want to be married with the real presence of Christ? Why would someone not invite Christ to their wedding? :shrug:

NOTE: I say the above as someone who is married to a Jewish woman, and was married outside the Church while away from the Church. I know later having my marriage recognized via Radical Sanation because my wife would not agree to a Convalidation.

God Bless.

From what I know, a Catholic marriage is between man, woman and God. And what better way to celebrate this sacrament than in His house.
I just think that destinations weddings are pretty but it takes away the essence…because you do not have a tabernacle, no Eucharist.
When we got married, we barely faced each other, we always faced the altar. the only time we faced each other is during the marriage rite. God instituted this sacrament, and I think its is only fitting that we give Him a part in this big event of binding man and woman in Him.

Thank you for your replies.
In my view all ground is holy ground though most people don’t treat it that way. Mostly it’s treated like a trash heap.

 What better place than nature (weather permitting) is there for a man and woman to be in the presence of the supreme being to begin their new lives together? The eucharist seems portable enough to bring along for the ritual to be held anywhere. Nature is so much more beautiful than any building created by man. Having such a ritual outdoors may remind some people that the earth and all creation don't belong to us but we belong to it..

 On the ask and apologist thread that I read the links listed didn't seem to be helpful as to why a wedding couldn't be held out of doors only that the catholic church doesn't do it that way and also seemed to be more geared to whether or not someone could get married in a protestant church or other place or not.

 I will continue to enjoy nature as much as possible, whenever possible, knowing that the creator made all of it and would probably enjoy if we had more rituals of all types to honor that offering given to us. Thank you again for all the insight. Blessings to all of you and yours.

I can understand your feelings, as I am a tree hugger by nature :smiley: I literally cried driving down a local street when they cut down dozens of old trees to do a street renovation – they later planted dozens of new trees, but still, all those beautiful old trees just gone!! Still hurts a little… Is it possible to be a bleeding heart conservative? :shrug:

And I can understand how hard it would be for someone outside the faith to grasp our beliefs. The Eucharist is the real presence of God Himself, Jesus Christ – body, blood, soul, and divinity – under the guise of bread. We do not just bring Him along to our rituals, like bringing a table, a chair, the flowers, etc.

You are creating this as an all-or-nothing situation:
*]You either get married in a church and ignore nature and its beauty in all areas of your life.
[LIST]You love nature and avoid all church activities.

But no such dichotomy need exist. I LOVE to spend time in my parish’s adoration chapel. I LOVE to spend time at mass in my parish church. And I LOVE to be outdoors, watching the clouds, hiking the trails nearby, planting trees, lying in the grass watching for shooting stars, sitting in the glow of the sunset over the lake, and on and on and on…

Being a Catholic doesn’t mean being out of touch with the beauty of creation – it just means putting the Creator above His creation. That is, I love creation because I love the Creator of creation. And I find His hand in everything I see, and my heart opens with love at the beauty that surrounds me :smiley:

Thanks so much for your posts! Can’t wait to go for my daily hike this afternoon – summer rocks!!!

God bless you!


My intent was neither to create an either or situation nor to belittle the eucharist by writing “bring along”. I understand that the eucharist is sacred to catholics. I also believe the creator is everywhere seen and unseen. As far as having a wedding ceremony out of doors I simply believe that the option should be available and don’t understand why the catholic church doesn’t allow this. Thank you for your input-you’ve offered me a way to look at things differently. I’m a firm believer that beliefs can change-even mine. Blessings and be well.

Thanks for your clarifications!

Because I also love nature, I have wondered why we can’t get married outside the church. But even before I understood the Church’s teachings, I thought it through…

IF the Church allowed weddings outside of church buildings, where would they draw the line? It’s all well and good for someone to want to be married on the beach, or in the forest, or in a park. But what if they wanted to be married during the 7th inning stretch, or underwater, or while skydiving? Who decides what settings are beautiful enough and dignified enough to honor the dignity and sanctity of entering into a sacrament?

My little thought experiment helped me to see the complexity of trying to define what would or wouldn’t be acceptable in non-church settings!

And while weddings are important – the conferring of a sacrament! – the rite itself is very short, usually far shorter than the reception, for example. The couple could have their photos and their reception surrounded by all the beauty and nature they can handle!

Well, it’s been a long day – I got lost on a new branch of an old hiking trail and ended up hiking twice as long as I planned – uphill both ways I think :smiley:

God bless you!


Well Gertabelle,
You certainly have given some extremes that I hadn’t thought of. If the marriage/wedding is to be Christ centered those scenarios would present problems and I can see a problem for the church or whomever in drawing the line.
I still believe if someone wishes to be married outdoors they should be able to. So I guess if I were a Christian I’d have to be a protestant of some sort. I have a rather large problem with letting my egotism get the better of me and try as I might I have made only a little progress in that area of my life. Thank you for your skillful responses-Blessings to you and yours.

Another way to look at it like this. Yes, God created all of nature and it is very beautiful.

However, the Trees are not God, nature is not God, the Ocean is not God. However, the Eucharist is Christ. And Christ is God.

Can’t you get married in a church and then have a ceremony out of doors as a celebration of the marriage?

I have always found this to be confusing. May father attended many masses outdoors during the WWII and they were viewed as perfectly valid. We used to have an annual festival in my home parish and mass was celebrated on the festival grounds. It can be done, and it is apparently really not difficult.
Guess I just for people having as many choices as possible on what will likely be the most critical day of their lives.
Just my opinion

However Christ being GOD is not ONLY present in the Eucharist.

GOD is Omnipresent, Omniscient and Omnipotent. All present, All knowing and All powerful.

Yes, God is present everywhere via the Holy Spirit. This is true. But Christ is PHYSICALLY present via the Eucharist.

A terrible analogy would be attending a meeting via video conferencing vs physically being there.

God Bless.

While I would not want see people making this the norm, in theory the following could happen.

  1. Couple gets married the night before or the morning of in the Rectory or Chapel with the Priest or Deacon. Just Bride & Groom and a few witnesses. Perhaps the parents or the Best Man & Maid of Honor?

  2. Then later that day or the next day, they have a secular ceremony with all their guests lead by whoever is willing to lead it. They could have a friend or family member, wouldn’t matter because the legal & Church wedding would have already taken place.

  3. Finally, they have the reception.

I can see this being frowned upon because it makes people wonder if they take the Sacrament of Matrimony seriously. But it would be a way for someone who is HELL BENT on getting married outside to get married outside.

God Bless.

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