Is it ok to have a Catholic outdoor wedding? My daughter would like to get married in our apple orchard.

Normally, Catholics do not marry outside of a church, as marriage is a sacrament. It is possible, however, to receive a dispensation from a bishop to marry outside of a Catholic church. I don’t believe those are very commonly given, though.

Why not have the wedding in the church and the reception at the orchard?

To be married in a venue such as you describe requires permission of your bishop. Most bishops in the US do not give such permission, but a few do on a case by case basis.

The best advice I can give is not to get attached to this idea, and have your daughter discuss it with her priest. It will be up to the priest first of all, if he is even willing to do the marriage in an orchard, and then he would have to secure permission from the bishop.

In short no. I hardly think your apple orchard is considered a suitable place. That is simply a gimmick. It should take place in Church.

Can. 1118 §1 A marriage between Catholics, or between a Catholic party and a baptised non-catholic, is to be celebrated in the parish church. By permission of the local Ordinary or of the parish priest, it may be celebrated in another church or oratory.

§2 The local Ordinary can allow a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.

Respectfully, it is your opinion that the proposed location is not a suitable place. The bishop may have a different opinion.

The answer is not “no”, it is “with permission of the bishop”.

You are correct but without asking you to respond I would think you would agree an apple orchard is not normally what would be considered a suitable place for a Catholic wedding.
In my opinion, such a location means those involved do not really understand what the wedding is about.

I know in our diocese no one can get married outside. If you are marrying a non-Christian you may be able to be married in a venue other than a church but it must be indoors. If you are marrying another Christian it must be in a church, either a Catholic church or their protestant church.

In our diocese the dispensation is usually for a non-Catholic celebrant who can celebrate the wedding whereever the couple wishes. More than one parishioner has been married outdoors because they married non-Catholics and dispensation from canonical form was granted. Such a dispensation is usually not granted to two Catholics.

This question came up in my grade 12 Christian ethics class, which turned into a 3 classes debate about outdoor weddings. Someone finally got frustrated and went and asked the bishop about the exception. It came down to this: if it is possible to have the wedding in a church, it must be in a church because that is where the tabernacle is. Exceptions are for exceptional circumstances that make it not possible or feasible to have the wedding in a church. Outdoor weddings are not permitted exceptions unless there is no other option. It is possible to have a wedding at an outside chapel/shrine with special permission.

That is interesting. Did he mention what happens when a priest performs an outside wedding without the permission of the bishop? Is the marriage still considered valid? I ask because I know personally that this has occurred in which a legit priest did this without any permission.

it is valid but illicit.

This is the opinion and interpretation of your bishop.

Just cautioning you that other bishops have taken a different approach. Some bishops do not hold the opinion that outdoor wedding can only be held when there are no other options.

Bottom line, it is solely within the discretion of the bishop.

Why not get married at your parish church and have the reception in the orchard (if you MUST have an outdoor reception. In my experience they are a lot of trouble.)

Father can come to the reception in the orchard and everybody can take pictures of him blessing the couple as they cut the cake, etc. Videos can capture all the ‘special beauty of nature’ (wind, rain, dust, mud, cake toppling, bees swarming, apples dropping on peoples’ heads etc.) Prayers can be said before the meal. In short, everything about being ‘one with nature as I stand with my spouse to be and pledge’ can be done AT THE RECEPTION.

Problem solved.

Just an interesting thing to go along with this discussion. In the Middle Ages (at least in England), the marriage rite was done just outside the church. The priest, couple, and witnesses then went inside the church for the Mass.

Since you seem to be the go-to gal for marriage questions…

Does this have any practical effect on the couple who have been married under these circumstances?

Well, theoretically yes. Historically, people were censured for illicit actions-- for example, a Bishop could order the couple to separate and do penance for transgressing the law or place some other censure upon then.

Could a couple be censured under canon law today? Yes.
Practically speaking, would that happen in modern times? Unlikely.

The priest is another matter entirely. He certainly could, and likely would, be censured in some way for his flagrant disregard for the law and the authority of the Bishop were he caught or reported.

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