Sacrament of Marriage With One Not Being Catholic


My daughter is getting married in the Catholic Church and her fiance is not Catholic. He is baptized.

She just informed me they are having the Mass at their wedding. Everything I have read where either the bride or groom is not Catholic suggests having the Mass would draw too much attention to the one who is non-Catholic, especially during Communion.

My daughter said she has been to several weddings where they have the Mass and one is not Catholic. I have NEVER witnessed a Mass in this case, and for the reason I stated above…it draws attention to the non-Catholic.

She’s getting married in her parish and lives out-of-state. The bishop of her diocese is “liberal” so my hunch is I may see things contrary to the teachings of the One True Faith.

The thought of my daughter receiving Communion and then the groom getting a blessing seems wrong.

Has anyone witness a wedding like the one my daughter plans on having? Is it as inappropriate as I am imagining?

Blessings to everyone who can give me spiritual guidance.



I can’t give any spiritual guidance but can say that you are correct, as follows. The general rule is that a wedding between a Catholic and baptized non-Catholic is to take place outside of Mass: however, the local ordinary (bishop, vicar general, episcopal vicar) can allow the wedding to take place during Mass “if the case warrants it” (see the 1991 Rite of Marriage, n. 36).

I have witnessed such a wedding during Mass. It might be inappropriate and cause some awkwardness but, at the same time, if both Parties are in favor of having Mass and are aware of the consequences, then it can be ok.



They may, indeed, legitimately have a Mass. So it certainly does not mean that you will “see things contrary to the teachings of the One True Faith.”


In the 1970s and early 1980s it was not uncommon for couples to have a nuptial Mass even if one was not Catholic. By the late 1980s it was being suggested to couples that they not have a Mass if both were not Catholic.

I have been to several weddings with a Nuptial Mass where one party to the wedding was not Catholic.

There is no actual “rule” which governs what should happen in this case, (other than what particular bishops might have put in place.) It’s not a matter of “liberal” versus “conservative”. It’s more a matter of prudence and courtesy. The suggestion that mixed marriages take place outside of the context of the Mass is a concession to the fact that in many places the number of mixed marriages outnumber those between Catholics. And Nuptial Masses when there is a mixed marriage are still common in certain cultures.



Well, there *is * such a rule in the Rite of Marriage itself–n. 36 of the 1991 revised edition, which corresponds (on this issue) with the 1969 edition of the Rite, in n. 8.

The 1969 edition of the Rite said: “In a marriage between a Catholic and (a baptized non-Catholic), the rite of marriage outside Mass shall be used. If the situation warrants and if the local ordinary gives permission, the rite for celebrating marriage within Mass may be used…”

In the unofficial translation of the 1991 version which I have, the only substantial difference is that “shall be used” is now “must be used.” I don’t know what the original Latin said in either version.



How does she respond when you say that she can receive communion and he cannot?
Is he ok with that? Would he find it awkward? I’d be interested in how she is ok with this and her reply. Maybe he wouldn’t find it awkward at all, like ‘whatever’. When is the wedding?


Thank you everyone for the replies so far.

The wedding is May 2015. They’re going to live together in August, so one receiving the Eucharist wouldn’t bother either of them. I’ll be honest…my husband and I are the ones who feel awkward about this as well as any practicing Catholic will at their wedding.


I see a lot of value in a mixed marriage during Mass. It exposes non-Catholics to the Mass and creates a lasting impression in the non-Catholic spouse that their marriage is Catholic, opening the door to more participation like baptizing the children in the Church and hopefully even conversion. A Catholic friend of mine is marrying a Protestant who went to Mass for the first time recently in preparation for the wedding. That can only be a good thing.


Do not let your heart be troubled.

Celebrating a nuptual mass at a wedding between a Catholic and a non-Catholic is not rare.

For pastoral reasons, it is not encouraged, because as you point out, at a sacrament that is intended to emphasize a “union”, it draws attention to a “separation”. However, if the couple desires to have a Mass celebrated and understands that the non-Catholics attending will not be able to recieve the Eucharist, permission is routinely given.

Frankly, its a bit awkward for the priest who usually feels compelled immediately before communion to tell the congregation that we are unable to welcome them all to share.


Priests should say that at weddings, funerals, baptisms, because there are always non-Catholics that attend these events. I don’t think it bothers them.


I came across one priest who obviously was not bothered by it; his attitude when he said it was about as rude as could be. I will grant that he is from another country, one that has a greater percentage of practicing Catholics.

Being Catholic, and having a number of friends who are non-Catholic who were at the funeral, I can say with all honesty that he set ecumenism back a step or two.

I agree that some priests are uncomfortable; not with the truth, but with the fact that people can and do take it as an insult, which it is not meant to be (with the possible exception of the funeral…). I am not in the least against the statement; but it does need to be handled in charity, and it is hard to say without being taken as abrupt, rude, and insulting. And I know any number of priests who have no problem with the truth, but don’t like having to give such a short comment.


I have to say that in all my years I have only ever heard such an announcement once. And I’ve seen our pastors give Communion to those they knew full well we’re not Catholic – Ministers of the various denominations around town, for example.


Our parish receives Communion on the tongue while kneeling at every Mass. For weddings, funerals, baptisms, Easter and Christmas, our priests make an announcement BEFORE the Mass how Communion is received, adding that non-Catholics and Catholics not in good standing may come up and receive a blessing by crossing their hands while on their knees.

It is rare for me to witness the same announcement in other parishes.


My daughter got married to a non-Catholic and had a full nuptial Mass and it was lovely, and no, attention was not unduly drawn to the groom or non-Catholics. Those who were Catholic received Communion, those who were not, did not, including members of the wedding party.

Today mixed marriages are very common, people are more used to experiencing other’s religious ceremonies. It is not looked at with as much suspicion or hesitation as it was in the past.

The Church permits either a Mass or a wedding liturgy outside of Mass, although many priests prefer it be done outside of Mass in a mixed marriage, the choice is up to the bride and groom, and since the Church permits this, it should not be seen as “inappropriate”.


Don’t worry so much. It will be a beautiful wedding and no one will find it awkward. It’s not like the priest is going to say “OK, now we’re doing communion, but remember the groom can’t have any!” :stuck_out_tongue:

I went to church with my fiance for more than a year before I decided to join / we got engaged. I had to sit out every single communion. It never struck me as particularly awkward.

Now that we’re getting married, I’m aware that my entire half of the church will have to sit out communion. That, to me, is actually the more awkward part of the whole thing. We solved it (hopefully) by choosing a song that’s in both the Methodist and Catholic hymnals as our communion song so that my relatives can keep busy singing something they know while his relatives go up. I’ve also seen churches do the blessing thing for non-Catholics so they can get up if they want to.

But really, relax. It won’t be weird. Mixed marriages are common now – people get it. :slight_smile:


I guess it’s up to them…I wouldn’t do it. But I would have my wedding outside of mass regardless. I agree with the visual of separation, but who knows, maybe he’s contemplating becoming Catholic or, isn’t really offended by not receiving communion. There are lots of reasons. Did they consider getting a dispensation and having it at his church? They could do that too. There are lots of options but I wouldn’t have Mass.


I know my story is a bit different/flipped around. My wife is (and soon will be “was”) Lutheran, she had a larger connection to her Pastor, so we ended up marrying in her church.

We both ended up going through both marriage preps, one through her church and one through the Catholic church. I was able to receive a dispensation so it would be legitimate within the Catholic church. We actually quite enjoyed the extra prep, as it really was helpful for us.

Interestingly enough, she is converting to Catholicism in the next year… I guess my taking her with me has shown her really how sacred and special Catholic Masses are.


That sounds great. I have a huge family and I"m the only Catholic, it would be a miracle for them to agree to step foot in a Catholic Church. I would have a wedding outside of Mass. Heck I’d be glad they showed up. So sad there are so many divisions.


Personally I think the couple should not do this if the non-Catholic’s family and friends are also predominantly non-Catholic. It is awkward for the fiance, sure, but there is value in it as the person above mentioned. However, if half of the congregation cannot fully participate in the mass, I would think that they may also feel excluded from the full wedding ceremony. Why do that? Why not just have the rite outside of mass, and then attend mass on Sunday with your family?

We have a Catholic friend who married a non-Catholic, they did not have a full mass, but they went to mass the following day and the couple brought the gifts, in their wedding clothes. I thought that was a very nice, very meaningful thing.


Thank you again for all of the replies.

They’re having the Mass. The decision has been made and we have been told the subject is not to be discussed again.

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