I have been invited to a wedding in November. It will not be taking place in a church but rather in a banquet hall where the reception is. My question can I attend the wedding or just go to the reception? My daughters have both made there first holy communion and have also been invited. If we where to attend the wedding will we still be in the state of grace? The couple will be married by the justice of the peace and not a priest or minister.
If either the bride or groom are Catholic then should not attend the service (although doing so as a perceived act of kindness is unlikely to be mortally sinful and thus it would not remove you from a state of grace).
If neither are Catholic then it does not matter.
These types of questions about wedding attendence have been address a number of times by the staff of Catholic Answers. Do a search on the Catholic answer forums and a some of the apologists have already answered questions and even given guidelines about attendance at weddings like this.
It’s possible, if only one is Catholic, that they have received a dispensation from form and that the wedding is OK. You have no way of knowing. Of course, as you say, if neither is Catholic there is no problem at all.
The question is whether either of the couple is Catholic. Catholics must be married according to Church law for the marriage to be valid. This is not binding on non-Catholics. If one or both is Catholic, the marriage would be presumptively invalid. Catholics should generally not attend invalid weddings to avoid expressing approval of grave sin. There may possibly be extenuating reasons for attending, such as to maintain contact with family members.
That would be OK if the couple had received a dispensation as to the location of the ceremony, but there is no such thing as a lawful and valid Catholic marriage that is not attended by a Catholic minister. The OP stated that
The couple will be married by the justice of the peace and not a priest or minister.
There is no dispensation that recognizes such a marriage if either the bride or groom is Catholic. A Catholic minister must at least assist at the ceremony, and pronounce the blessing of the Church.
The ceremony that the OP described is solely presided over by a secular judicial authority. A Catholic cannot be lawfully married under any such circumstance, and no Catholic should attend such a ceremony.
Again, I say that if neither is Catholic, it does not matter.
General rules from an answer given by Michelle Arnold (one of our Apologists).
Catholics may attend all presumptively-valid marriages of Catholics, non-Catholics, and non-Christians.
For Catholics marrying other Catholics or marrying a non-Catholic Christian or non-Christian, a wedding is presumptively valid if it is done in accordance with Catholic marital law. Catholics marrying non-Catholic Christians or non-Christians need a dispensation from cult to marry the non-Catholic party and a dispensation from form if they are marrying in a non-Catholic ritual.
For non-Catholics and non-Christians who are marrying other non-Catholics or non-Christians, a wedding can be considered presumptively valid if there are no known impediments to the marriage. The most common impediments that outsiders are likely to know about would be previous marriage, close blood relationship, or same-sex partners. If none of these impediments are known to exist, a prospective guest may presume that the wedding will be valid.
The Church does not explicitly forbid Catholics from attending presumptively-invalid marriages. Catholics must use their own prudential judgment in making the decision, keeping in mind the need to uphold the Catholic understanding of the sanctity of marriage. One rule of thumb that may be helpful in making such decisions might be to ask yourself if you believe the couple is doing the best that they can to act honorably and according to the truth that they have. So, for example, you might decide to attend the presumptively-invalid wedding of a couple who is expecting a child; but decline to attend the presumptively-invalid wedding of a couple who have engaged in adultery and destroyed previous marriages and families.
While there may be just reason to attend a particular wedding that will be presumptively-invalid, I cannot recommend participating as a member of the wedding party in such weddings. There is a difference between attending as a non-participating observer and actively involving yourself in the wedding as an honor attendant.
If you are not attending the wedding as a matter of principle, then I cannot recommend attending a reception or giving a gift to honor an occasion that you believe in conscience that you cannot celebrate. I do recommend though writing the couple a letter in which you express your love and that you will pray for them. (If prudence suggests it, it is fine to withhold from them what you will be praying to God that they obtain, such as the grace of repentance and conversion.)
In the case of same-sex partners, the Church has spoken so strongly against “same-sex marriage” that I cannot recommend attending or celebrating “same-sex weddings” under any circumstances.
I’m sorry, that’s wrong.
When you get a dispensation from form no Catholic minister has to be present. Sometimes the couple will invite the priest, particularly if one is close to him, but the presence of a priest or deacon IS NOT required for a valid marriage. In fact one of the apologists made that perfectly clear just a few days ago.
I humbly–and timidly–disagree with some of the posts below (I don’t want to cause a fight on the thread another words). I believe that you can safely go to this wedding without sinning, regardless of the religion of either bride or groom. I attended my own son’s wedding and he was baptized Catholic but frankly, doesn’t practice the Catholic faith at this time–which needless to say, saddens me greatly. I want to be sure that I state right up front though, that just because I did something , doesn’t mean that i’m preaching that it’s always correct or the way someone else might approach the matter. I’d skip the online search as well if it were me and simply call my priest or ask in confession if I were actually concerned.
The bottom line is that any Catholic who chooses to be married outside the church is not a practicing Catholic–agreed? Most likely, if a person who was Baptized Catholic chooses to be married in a civil ceremony, he isn’t going to confession or Mass either. A Catholic deciding to be married by a JP doesn’t happen in a vacuum. They may have been Catholic before–they may become one again–but they aren’t one right now. In my son’s case, he isn’t practicing the faith and I’m well aware, though not pleased, of the fact. My daughter-in-law chose to have an outdoor wedding at her aunt’s home A mutual friend of both my son and his wife performed the ceremony. This gentleman is a protestant minister.
My reasoning was thus–and again, I don’t make any claim of validity in my thinking. To skip a family member or even a dear friend’s wedding-- even if you know that one party is or was Catholic–is a little self-righteous in my mind and is sure to cause the couple to feel snubbed and offended. This is particularly the case if they ask why you didn’t attend and you have to tell them why–that it’s because one of them is Catholic and sinning by marrying outside the church! It is certain to be taken as a slap in the face and casting judgment on their marriage. If the marriage were a gay couple, I would feel differently however. Why, since both are sins you may ask?
My rationale is that in a gay “marriage”, since Catholics believe that such a marriage is spiritually not even a true marriage—thus null and void— to attend implies
that you support a sexually based union outside of true marriage. A wedding between one man and one woman is accepted by the church–whether entered into with a protestant minister, a JP or other person authorized by the state The couple are entering a valid covenant between themselves and God—though to be in communion with the church and be able to receive the sacraments such as the Eucharist, confession would be required as well as having their civil wedding blessed by the church . Whether the couple ever does this is between them, their consciences and God.
If it were me, I would find time prior to the wedding and discuss the situation with your kids if you plan on taking them to the wedding. Explain to them that as Catholics, they should always plan to be married in the church. This would make a great dinner conversation in my opinion and would allow your children an opportunity to ask questions which then you could answer, illustrating Catholic teaching. You might even use the conversation as a chance to discuss the true meaning of Christian charity–that while you hate the sin, you love the sinner and thus choose charity over condemning them. Judgment will come from God. (just my thoughts–g:tiphat:ood luck)
This is false.
Canon 1127.2 If there are grave difficulties in the way of observing the canonical form, the local Ordinary of the catholic party has the right to dispense from it in individual cases, having however consulted the Ordinary of the place of the celebration of the marriage; for validity, however, some public form of celebration is required. It is for the Episcopal Conference to establish norms whereby this dispensation may be granted in a uniform manner.
[quote=Starrsmother]Most likely, if a person who was Baptized Catholic chooses to be married in a civil ceremony, he isn’t going to confession or Mass either. A Catholic deciding to be married by a JP doesn’t happen in a vacuum. They may have been Catholic before–they may become one again–but they aren’t one right now.
Starrsmother, once a person is Catholic, they are always Catholic. You can’t cease being Catholic, even if you stop practicing, because baptism leaves an indelible mark on one’s soul. Just as I can never stop being my father’s daughter, so too can a Catholic never stop being a part of the Catholic Church.
[quote=Starrsmother]My rationale is that in a gay “marriage”, since Catholics believe that such a marriage is spiritually not even a true marriage—thus null and void— to attend implies that you support a sexually based union outside of true marriage. A wedding between one man and one woman is accepted by the church–whether entered into with a protestant minister, a JP or other person authorized by the state The couple are entering a valid covenant between themselves and God.
A marriage between two Catholics that does not follow canonical form is invalid. It’s not just that a couple sins by disregarding Church law but that they aren’t actually married at all. If they were to divorce, they would be free to remarry in the Church once they’ve demonstrated “lack of form.” This is the reason why Catholics are advised not to attend wedding ceremonies that are contracted outside of the Church when there has likely been no dispensation. To do so shows support for what is, essentially, a mockery of the sacrament of marriage.
My children are still little so I can only imagine the difficulty a parent would have in refusing to attend a wedding ceremony, even an invalid one, for their child. I think parents make the best decisions they can in these situations. I hope I’m never put in that situation.
I also hope you never are. I’ve been in that situation twice. It’s not pleasant. One could have had a dispensation but she didn’t care, or rather she said she didn’t want to lie and pretend she’d be practicing her Catholic faith to get the dispensation. That’s the same reason she hasn’t had her son baptized.
It is the worst feeling, I can tell you. Knowing that to refuse to go the wedding would simply guarantee that they would never ever set foot in the church again, you go and put on a good front for those who have no idea of what the Church teaches.
I respect what you are saying, though I don’t totally agree. I fear that there will always be fallen away Catholics. I have a responsibility in my son’s case as the only sacrament that he ever received was baptism and he never went to CCE or other Catholic instruction. The reasons are complex and not one of my proudest moments, but the fact is that my son does not consider himself Catholic now or ever. He has attended protestant churches far more in his life than Catholic ones. That is a fact. At this time in his life, my son is protestant–this is his own belief and I feel it is probably a valid one. Protestants get married too and I do NOT buy that God only considers Catholic marriages as binding ones. I find no sin in attending a protestant wedding. I’d have much more problem with 2 unmarried people of any faith living together without the seal of marriage because of my judgment–or for any other reason. I’m happy that my son chose to marry his wife instead of just cohabitate—as one of my other sons did and as is, sadly, the current “in” trend in society.
The Church considers the marriage of two Protestants valid and binding, where did you get the idea that she didn’t? There is no problem with attending a Protestant wedding.
But a baptized Catholic is not a Protestant, no matter what he/she believes. There would be less culpability for someone who is not properly catechized, but it doesn’t make the marriage more valid.
I would have preferred that my son marry in the church. He did not do so. At this point, I mainly hope that some day he will convert and re-enter the faith that he was baptized in–and he may not, but I do pray. He really knows zero about the Catholic faith. I celebrate the fact that he chose marriage as a goal–even with a protestant minister. I believe the church would be a little kinder in evaluating the validity of the marriage of someone whose only real contact with the Catholic church occurred over an hour or so and when he was less than 10 days old. He never really knew what being a Catholic meant. He grew up protestant and he married according to his faith. Sadly.
Why would it be wrong for you to go to this wedding? Is either the bridegroom or bride catholic and thus obliged to observe canonical form? If one of them is a catholic how do you know they haven’t been dispensed from canonical form? You obviously think something is wrong but you don’t make it clear what that is. If neither the bridegroom nor the bride are catholics then there is no reason why you shouldn’t go to this wedding. The Church recognises marriages between two non-catholics in a civil ceremony as a valid marriage.
It all depends on your choice.
I would advice you attend both. Wedding receptions are fun and gives you a chance to meet your friends and loved one’s.
I had arranged a wedding for one of my very close friend and it look a lot of my hardwork and time to make it a success and I am sure by you attending will help payoff the hardwork and time the organizers put in.