Witness in Civil Ceremony


My best friend is getting married (she is twenty). She has no religious background, and came from a broken home. Her mother is happy to get her out of the house, and both parents have said that they won’t pay for a wedding. So in order to save money, she and her boyfriend are going to a civil ceremony. Is it wrong of me to stand by them as a witness?

What if she was to get married in a protestant church… it’s not wrong of me to be a bridesmaid, is it?

Just a few things I was pondering… thanks =]


As far as I know, as long as neither the bride or groom is Catholic, then you’re okay, no matter where they get married. :thumbsup:


I believe that is generally correct. The Catholic Church requires Cathoilics to marry according to the Church’s laws but does not attempt to regulate where/how people who are not Catholic get married. So unless there is some other impediment (such as a prior marriage) this marriage seems to be valid in the eyes of the Church. Even if there were a reason to belive the marriage would be invalid, the Church does not specifically prohibit one from attending.


Thanks guys!


If she and her fiance were never baptized at all, they are entering a valid, natural marriage. No problem with you witnessing that.

If they were baptized Protestant, most Protestant churches have no problem with a civil marriage and regard it as valid. The Catholic Church would view it as valid also, though not sacramental.

It’s only if either of them is a baptized Catholic that you run into any problems with this.

What an excuse to go buy a cute dress and some new shoes! Get something good! :smiley:


Just to clarify, I believe the Catholic Church does consider marriages between two baptized non-Catholics to be both valid AND a sacrament. It is only if one of the parties is not baptized that it would be a valid natural (but not sacramental) marriage.

Of course, most Protestant denominations do not count marriage as a sacrament (reserving that term only for Baptism and the Lord’s Supper) so the terminology can get rather confusing.


Thomas is correct. If both parties are non-Catholic, validly baptized, and otherwise free to marry, the marriage would be both valid and sacramental. But if this friend has no religious background then there’s a good chance she was never baptized so at best her marriage would be valid, even if her finance is baptized.

There is no problem attending a non-Catholic wedding as either a guest or as an attendant if the couple is free to marry (and you have a reasonable expectation that they plan to uphold the obligations that come with marriage).


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