Catholic Weddings

Catholic Church gives no breaks..Any Ideas?

I moved to New Jersey 7 years ago and never realized the hassle I would run into when I went to plan my wedding.  I would love to be married in a Catholic church, but because I do not live or belong where I plan to get married the Catholic church denied me.

I live in North Jersey, but am getting married in South Jersey and because I will not live there full time or belong to a church down south they will not allow me to be married there.  I have called a handful of churches in the Bayville, Tom River area and all have turned me away. 

Does anyone know if there is a way for the rules to be "broken" to allow an "outsider" which one of the churches called me, to be married in a church?

I currently don't belong to one in New Jersey becasue I am originally from MA, and belonged to the ones my parents go to.

Re: Catholic Church gives no breaks..Any Ideas?

  • Theresa626Theresa626
    1000 Comments
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    edited December 2011
    This is totally ridiculous but I totally relate to what you're going through.  Ask if you can join their parish and donate to them regularly for three months to get a wedding date.  Some churches allow non parishioners to book only six months in advance while parishioners can book a year in advance.  Also, sometimes if they have a parishioner requirement, you can get your own church to vouch that you have been a parishioner donating on the envelope system for so many months and that will count.  See what exactly their rules are.  You might have to join  your church and donate on a regular basis (you can mail in the envelopes) and join that church and donate on a regular basis.  Ask them specifically what the reason is for not allowing you to be married there.  Is it that you won't continue to be Catholic? Assure them that you attend church now and you will continue to raise kids Catholic blah blah. 
  • Riss91Riss91
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
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    edited December 2011
    I was married in a church that neither of us were parishoners of. We had to pay a higher fee, but other than that we had no problem. I think you should continue to call other churches in the area, call your venue and see if they have any ideas for you and if nothing else works, call your local priest and ask him what you should do. Good luck!
  • edited December 2011
    I agree with talking to your own priest. He may have friends at the churches that you're looking at, and if you're a regular parishioner at your own church, he can probably vouch for you.
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  • meltoinemeltoine
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Comments First Answer
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    edited December 2011
    One reason they might be stonewalling you is that technically, you must be married in the bride's home parish. Being married in any other church requires a dispensation. 

    That said, I know a lot of other people who have been married in churches that neither of them belongs to. Just keep trying.

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  • Theresa626Theresa626
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    edited December 2011
    meltoine... this is seriously a rule?  getting married in the bride's home parish?  Why do they care where people get married as long as they are practicing Catholics? What is the purpose of this rule?   I mean,,,, perhaps the rest of the family can't come to the place the bride lives and they're trying to be accomodating to the family.  I mean, this isn't the fifties where families just all stay in the same town forever. 
  • meltoinemeltoine
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Comments First Answer
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    edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Catholic Church gives no breaks..Any Ideas?:
    meltoine... this is seriously a rule?  getting married in the bride's home parish?  Why do they care where people get married as long as they are practicing Catholics? What is the purpose of this rule?   I mean,,,, perhaps the rest of the family can't come to the place the bride lives and they're trying to be accomodating to the family.  I mean, this isn't the fifties where families just all stay in the same town forever. 
    Posted by Theresa626

    It is technically the rule. The purpose of the rule is trying to create a cohesive environment in the parish. It's also technically the rule that you have to be a parishoner of the church closest to your home. If you don't like the priest or whatever you are supposed to get involved and help change things. 

    The idea is that it's supposed to be a community. Since traditionally the bride's family hosts the wedding, it should take place at their parish. 

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  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Catholic Church gives no breaks..Any Ideas?:
    meltoine... this is seriously a rule?  getting married in the bride's home parish?  Why do they care where people get married as long as they are practicing Catholics? What is the purpose of this rule?
    Posted by Theresa626
    The thing is, they'd never know for sure that you're "practicing" if you don't attend that church. Anyone could walk in and say that they're "practicing". That's why meltoine mentioned that you could get a dispensation. This would require the bride's pastor to vouch for her, I think.

    It's also not a hard-and-fast rule at every parish. I would think less busy parishes (i.e. those that DON'T have hundreds of brides in their OWN parish lining up to be married) are more inclined to be more lenient about this.
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  • ootmother2ootmother2
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
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    edited December 2011
    read your private messages, one idea
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
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    edited December 2011

    i think getting married in the bride's parish dates back to when the brides family always hosted and paid.  in this day and age, i think its fine to get married in the groom's parish, and i dont see why this would require a dispensation.  also, what if the bride isnt catholic but the groom is?  in that case, the bride wouldnt have a parish, and it would make total sense to use the grooms.


    we also do not belong to the parish that is closest to our home, we attend one that is about 1/2 hour away for a variety of reasons (priest, they offer the Latin mass, and i attended there for several years before meeting my husband and moving away from that church).  we didnt have to have a dispensation to be members there or get married there.  however, that is the only latin mass community in the area, so perhaps that is why they don't enforce a residency rule.

  • meltoinemeltoine
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Comments First Answer
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    edited December 2011
    There are a few things, particularly about weddings, that are in the Canon Law but aren't regularly enforced by most priests. Sort of similar to the fact that it's technically illegal to have sex in any position but missionary in Washington, DC. It's on the books, but not enforced.
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  • edited December 2011
    Plus, the bride's parish thing also dates back to pre-computer record keeping. All weddings were recorded based on the bride and her family, so if she got married in a different parish, the records would be screwed up. That's also why Banns are posted and the "if anyone has reason that this couple should not be married..." phrase is omitted at Catholic churches. The Banns were notice to anyone that goes to any church in the area to give notice that either the bride or groom was unable to marry in the Church before the wedding took place.

    And to the OP: definitely talk to you own priest and continue to call other churches in the area. You may have to get a few different dispensations, but it'll be worth it.
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  • edited December 2011
    The church we're marrying at required a much higher deposit, you had to provide your own priest (whether from your home parish or no, we're using one from where I went to mass during school) and a letter from my "home parish" stating that I'm an active and regular attending member. Once they received all of those letters and the check we were put on the books, and then the priest of the church where we're marrying sent all of the dispensation paperwork to the priest who is marrying us to file, and our priest had to file another for our diocese because we're an interfaith marriage.

    It's complicated and varies from parish to parish, but for us will be very much worth it in the end.
  • edited December 2011

    Can I ask why you don't currently belong to any parish in NJ at all?  You've lived there for 7 years -- and I suspect that some of the parishes in South Jersey may be wondering whether you're even a practicing Catholic, since you're not a member anywhere.  (You might go to Mass every Sunday, but if you're not a member anywhere, they have no way of really knowing that beyond your word... and I am sure plenty of people try to get married at the NJ Shore.) 

    If you had another priest "going to bat" for you so to speak -- e.g. the priest of a parish you were a member at -- things might go more smoothly.  Can you become a member of a parish near your home in North Jersey, and then see whether that parish can help you out?  Is your fiance Catholic, and is he a registered member of a parish?  If so, can his parish priest talk to the parish in which you'd like to be married?

    As PPs said, many of these rules are centuries old and were enacted to simplify the record-keeping.  Keep calling different parishes, and find out what they would need.  (And do join a parish somewhere -- it is nice to be a member somewhere.)


  • edited December 2011
    You can try my parish, St William The Abbot in southern Howell Twp (about 20 mins from TR)... I don't believe they're very strict there and it may be worth a shot.
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  • Kaye SmithKaye Smith
    Sixth Anniversary 100 Comments
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    edited December 2011
    Also, you might want to look at the private Catholic high schools - often, they have beautiful chapels and you don't have to be an alumni.  Good luck!
  • edited December 2011

    One other reason for this church's unwillingness to allow you in that I don't think was mentioned is one I heard a few year's back.  When you get married in a Catholic church you are theoretically supposed to get married in your parish where there is a community that knows you and can support you. 

    There is a beautiful chapel/shrine outside of Omaha made of glass and wood.  They will not allow weddings there because it is not considered a parish and as such, there is no community to support the couple .  Same goes for Baptisms there. 

    I think the only way to really know is to ask and then ask if there may be any other options.  If there are any Jesuit communities around you that may be a good place to start as they have a reputation for being much more leniant....  Good luck!

  • edited December 2011
    We are getting married in a church that we do not belong to.  The priest was great.  He basically said that we would just need a letter from my parish priest giving permission basically to be married outside of our home parish.  We could have even done all of our prep through our home parish if we wanted.  I guess the leniancy (sp?)  depends on the pastor
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