Wedding Advice (Catholic and Non-Catholic)


I recently became Catholic (RCIA class of 2017-Woot!). I also recently got engaged to my awesome fiancé, who is non-catholic. My fiancé is very supporting in my desire to go through marriage prep through the Catholic Church. He was raised as a Christian but struggles with his faith. Originally, we wanted to get married at my parish. I am the only Catholic in my family and in his family. I have had very interesting conversations with members of his family. Many family members have expressed concerns about us getting married in a Catholic Church. It’s weird because they support our upcoming marriage and relationship, but are very nervous/ concerned/ won’t attend our wedding because it would be held in a Catholic Church.

As a way to help members of our family be more comfortable. We are considering having our wedding in a library on the campus where my fiance and I attended college. The library is not a tradation library it’s a research library with a chapel. The day of the ceremony it will be closed to the public and the library wedding coordinator informed us that they only hold weddings once a month.

I contacted my priest about recieving more information about marriage prep and more information about a dispensation form. I keep reminding my fiancé not to get too excited if the dispensation is not granted and that we need to have a plan B in place. In a very recent conversation with my mom, who is non-catholic, she is very excited about our wedding and having it held in the library. She is sold on the idea. She brought her check book when we went to look at the venue to write out a check for the deposit. She ended up not being able since our wedding is a year and a half away.

I am feeling stressed, because I don’t know what to do. Both my parents don’t really like the Catholic Church. I hosted them last year for Easter and they attended Mass with me. They complained afterwards of the priest homily. They refused to come to my confirmation the following week on Divine Mercy Sunday. I tried to give them the contact information for my priest just to have in case they had questions. My mom refused to take the card.

She told me it was unfair that the Catholic Church would not let me take communion for six months if we went the civil ceremony option. I know if we chose this option I would feel really hurt, but I understand the reason why.

I just really hurt and stressed, because when I come and visit them I attend their church and I don’t say anything. When they say negative things about the Catholic Church I usually don’t say anything because I don’t want to offend. My parents are so loving and supportive but I feel like I can’t fully express my faith when I am around them. Any advice? I have a meeting set up with my priest in a couple of weeks.

What if you and your fiancée married privately with 2 witnesses in the Church, and then had the library wedding afterward for the benefit of family? Personally I wouldn’t marry civally if you can’t get the dispensation, I’d marry privately in Church. It’s your wedding and the family are being selfish in my opinion.


What in the world does this mean???

In general: Could you consult with the college’s Catholic chaplain (presuming there is one)? Is there a history of dispensations granted to Catholics marrying in the chapel? (Or, perhaps an unfortunate policy against such dispensations?)


My bride and I were married by the Catholic chaplain in our university’s non-denominational chapel, which was a common occurrence at the time, though I am not sure it still is, there being other suitable and sacred alternative spaces available today?

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It is unfortunate that you have all of these malignant people in your family and your fiance’s family. I would think that your bishop will grant you a dispensation from form, if you are marrying a non-Catholic. You should certainly be guided by your pastor and bishop’s advice on this. Do not even consider marrying outside the Church without permission. I hope that you have considered how to raise Catholic Christian children with these anti-Catholic persons in their family.

“When they say negative things about the Catholic Church I usually don’t say anything because I don’t want to offend.”

Ask yourself why they aren’t worried about offending you?


If relatives say negative things about the Catholic church, that will certainly affect your children once you have them.
Have you had a conversation with your fiance about raising children in the Catholic faith, and asked him to step up and require his family to treat you and your faith with respect?


If your fiance is on your side on this one, you have nothing to fear. You are marrying him and starting up your own family with him. This is what weddings are for - so the two become one.
I for one would never give up religious ceremony for any other party. If the families dislike it I know there is little they can do it about it because God is on the side of those who believe and are in love.
I say concentrate on you two and pray for your families and dedicate them into the care of the Almighty.
God bless your future union and I hope you will be very happy together! :sparkler:

Sooner or later you have to stop pleasing your parents and start pleasing yourself.

Your dispensation from form is likely to be granted. But you and your fiancé need to step outside the crazy and talk about what YOU want. The two of you. If youn want to be married in a Catholic Church (marriage outside the mass would be most appropriate) and you and he decide to do that— then do it and live with the consequences. You can’t go around worrying about what your parents think or say the rest of your life and you will need to tell them that they may not agree with your choices but they do have to respect you and your husband and your choices.

If you and your husband really want to get married in the library chapel then do that— but only because that is what the two of you want, not what your parents want.

As for the checkbook— parents may try to control you with money. A small ceremony of your own choosing is better than a large expensive wedding you are railroaded into.

I say start the way you intend to continue— because next it will be children’s baptisms and first communions and confirmations and if your parents are going to act like spoiled children and refuse to come to your family events you should prepare for that now.


What you are suggesting is not allowed by the Church.

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I wonder why not? The library ceremony would only be a celebration for family as they would already be legally married? There is no church rule that you have to have a large catholic wedding, it can be minimal.

There can be only one marriage ceremony— either Catholic or non-Catholic.

Canon 1127 §3. It is forbidden to have another religious celebration of the same marriage to give or renew matrimonial consent before or after the canonical celebration according to the norm of §1.

Correct, the priest or deacon and two witnesses suffice. I wasn’t implying otherwise.

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Amen to this.

Although I might not use the words “pleasing yourself”, the point is the same: you have to be true to yourselves. That means at times making it clear that you love your (parents, siblings, relatives, friends) and that what you are doing is not done to separate you from them, but to be true to what you really believe.

And by the way, when I married, my spouse was not Catholic, and we with permission were married in the chapel of the college where I had attended grad school.

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This jumped out at me.

Where did she get this idea?

If a Catholic attempts marriage out of form or without dispensation, they would be unable to receive the Sacraments until the marriage is regularized. There is no chart that says “Civil marriage = 6 months suspension”.

My advice, pay for everything yourselves. Then, make the arrangements for your wedding, have a valid wedding and let your mom know the plans.

You are Catholic, one of the responsibilities of being Catholic is to follow the rules WRT marriage.


When you marry you will be part of your spouse´s family. Two families unite and will be equally important to your future children. A saying goes that you “marry your mother-in-law”. Everyone will have opinions in how you are going to organise the wedding, what you and your spouse are going to do regarding your relationship and 1000% guaranteed how you are going to raise your children. If you don’t have a good relationship with your mother/father-in-law then there will be problems. Your parents and your future parents-in-law also have to get along and enjoy each others company.

Seeing you truly happy will make it easier for your parents and other relatives to accept you being Catholic. That will take a while as you have to settle down being Catholic in the parish and outside after being received into the Catholic church.

Guide your hostile relatives to Journey Home, Called to Communion and Open Forum on EWTN and Catholic Answers on Scott Hahn’s books and talks on Youtube are also good. As a Catholic you have to know your faith very well and be able to reply with a couple of sentences as well as being able to explain with a very thorough answer why the Church believes this or that.

Marriage is a Sacrament, and as such, needs to take place within a Catholic Church. It’s where you affirm your beliefs.
It’s not always easy to be Catholic, stay faithful to Church teaching. A civil ceremony is offensive to Our Lord. Pray, and be strong!

But it sounds like there could be the same issue regardless of who she marries as her own parents also sound somewhat anti-Catholic.

I wonder… couldn’t they have a small private Catholic wedding with two witnesses… then plan a secular reception with a public renewal of vows at a later date? Family would only be invited to the reception / vow renewal.

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It’s not quite fair to say that a “civil ceremony” itself is offensive to the Lord. In some countries, France and Mexico come to mind, Catholics are REQUIRED to have a civil ceremony followed by a Church wedding as the state does not recognize religious ceremonies as legally binding. Outside of this, it is also possible to marry in a civil ceremony with a dispensation from form.

Reception, yes, certainly. But that wasn’t what was suggested. Also, as to renewal of consent at the reception, no.

Canon 1127 §3. It is forbidden to have another religious celebration of the same marriage to give or renew matrimonial consent before or after the canonical celebration according to the norm of §1.

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Isn’t there some provision for “renewing” vows? Couples do it on anniversaries sometimes. I’m sure it the Church wouldn’t word it that way though.

This is not accurate. The Church gives a dispensation from form in the situation of a mixed marriage and such a marriage between the baptized is 100% valid and a sacrament. Also, there is no “affirming your beliefs” in the marriage ceremony.

Not all marriages in the Catholic Church are a sacrament. If a Catholic marries an unbaptized person, the marriage is not a sacrament, it is a natural marriage.

This is also completely false.

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