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New York-Hudson Valley

Catholic ceremony outside of a church?

For a number of reasons, my fiance and I want to have our ceremony at our reception venue. However, I want to be more than just legally married, and we are both Catholic. So ideally, I'd like to find a priest who would be willing to perform the ceremony outside of a church. I've been told this is not an easy thing to find! Does anyone have advice or recommendations to help me find someone? I'd really appreciate your help!

Also, does this issue have anything to do with having a full mass ceremony? You do have the option of having the full mass with communion and everything or not, right? If you don't have the full mass, can that be held outside of a church more easily?

Thanks for your help in advance!

Re: Catholic ceremony outside of a church?

  • edited December 2011
    I was just doing a bit of research on my own, and I came across a website for Father Rich: http://www.fatherrich.com

    Is anyone familiar with him? He says he'll perform wedding ceremonies outside of a church. On his FAQ page, he says marriages performed by him are considered by the Roman Catholic Church to be "valid but illicity." I'm not sure what that means exactly.
  • SandDDSandDD
    500 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011

    We realized the same thing early on. For me it wasn't a huge deal, but my fiance was more traditional.  

    You may be able to find someone who will perform a Catholic-like ceremony with the same style & reading, but I do know what you will not be able to have communion or a mass type ceremony outside the church.  

    Another option, even though I've read it's difficult, is to have a civil ceremony and then go apply for Convalidation which is essentially having the church bless your marriage. Definitely read up on the process, because it sounds simplier than it is (at least from what I've heard)

    Found this online--it may help:

    5. Why does a Catholic wedding have to take place in a church?

    For Catholics, marriage is not just a social or family event, but a church event. For this reason, the Church prefers that marriages between Catholics, or between Catholics and other Christians, be celebrated in the parish church of one of the spouses. Only the local bishop can permit a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.

    6. If a Catholic wishes to marry in a place outside the Catholic church, how can he or she be sure that the marriage is recognized by the Catholic Church as valid?

    The local bishop can permit a wedding in another church, or in another suitable place, for a sufficient reason. For example, a Catholic seeks to marry a Baptist whose father is the pastor of the local Baptist church. The father wants to officiate at the wedding. In these circumstances, the bishop could permit the couple to marry in the Baptist church. The permission in these instances is called a "dispensation from canonical form."

  • ssagessage
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011

    Father rich married my husband and I.  I am Catholic he is Christian but having a ceremony in the Catholic tradition was impt to me and I was not willing to go through the annulment process (my DH was previously married with a child).

    I loved him!  jenniferk08 on here was married by him as well.  I say go meet with him...he is such a nice guy.  if you have ?s...email me at stephlsage at aol.

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  • edited December 2011
    we are using father rich as well. he's awesome. 

    to clarify though, father rich, as is most priests who will marry you outside a church, is a retired priest. his ceremonies are legal ceremonies, but are not recognized by the catholic church. to have it recognized by the church, you need to do a convalidation, which is basically going through the whole thing with the church again. 

    it will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to find a catholic priest who will perform a wedding outside of a church. god apparently is everywhere at other times, but for a wedding god only exists in the walls of a church. i find it ridiculous personally, and i'm catholic. 
  • edited December 2011
    I ended up having to do a lot of research on this topic, too.

    If you do not get married in an actual Church, you will not receive the Sacrament of Marriage.  Only if you marry in a church, will the marriage be valid- according to the tenets of Catholicism.  If you know in advance that you need convalidation, you will most likely not be granted one- these are more for people who converted to Catholicism after their marriage.  The Church will view your union as cohabitation.

    A practicing Priest, in good standing with the Church, cannot perform a marriage ceremony outside of the Church.  They can give a blessing, but not the Sacrament of marriage.  The Priests that perform marriages outside of an actual Church are really not considered Priests by the Church; they cannot perform the Sacrament.  They may be retired or they may be former priests who left the Church. A Priest who performs an actual marriage and signs those papers outride of a Church would be risking his career.

    At the end of the day you and your FI have to decide what's most important to you.  You have a couple of options to consider.  If you want the Sacrament, talk to the Priest and see how flexible he could be.  Perhaps, early on the morning of your wedding, you can marry in the Church in a private ceremony with immediate family.  Then, at your venue, perhaps the priest can continue the celebration of your vows in front of your guests outdoors at your venue.  While you will be married inside, you can still share your wedding day and repeat those vows with your guests outdoors. Good luck!


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  • edited December 2011
    As the pp have stated it has to be in a Church to have the Sacrament of Marriage. As my God-Father (who is also the Monsignor performing our ceremony) told me it is about being married in Gods home and him being present, which is in a church where you are able to receive communion, his body and blood. He also told me current practicing Catholic priests cannot perform a ceremony outside of a church.

    You could always have a cermony and then a church ceremony later I guess.
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  • edited December 2011
    You will not be receiving the sacrament of Holy Matrimony outside of the Catholic church. If you talk with your priest, you may be able to have a convalidation ceremony later on. You cannot just have a second ceremony at the church, but the church will bless your marriage.

    And it's not that it's hard to find a priest who will marry you outside the church - you can't unless there are extenuating circumstances - ie, my friend's uncle was dying of cancer and could not leave the hospital to get married - his wedding was at the hospital.
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  • edited December 2011
    As others have already commented. A catholic priest will NOT marry you outside the church. In order to receive the sacrament of matrimony the ceremony must be performed inside the church. You have to decide what is most important to you. To get married at a church or at your venue.
  • Riss91Riss91
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
    member
    edited December 2011
    You've been given great advice! If being married according to the Catholic faith is important to you, you will need to get married in a Catholic church. Sacraments are received in front of consecrated altars, within the walls of a Catholic church. I find it strange when Catholics have a problem with this. Receiving the sacrament is such a huge blessing, why would holding the ceremony in a different venue be more important?

    In your case, it sounds like you may just want to have a "spiritual" ceremony beyond the legal ceremony. If that is the case, feel free to use a rent-a-priest type that can bring in some of the ideas of Catholic and other ceremonies. If you want the marriage to be a sacramental marriage in the eyes of the church, you will need to have the ceremony performed in the church. And PP is right, the church likely will not approve a convalidation later if you choose to have your ceremony outside of the church. Convalidations are for those who have converted after marriage, or those who were requried to be legally married before they could arrange their Catholic ceremony.

    Best of luck with your plans!
  • edited December 2011
    Thanks everyone for your advice! You've all given me a lot to think about.
  • edited December 2011
    Again, thanks everyone for your great advice! It seems I'll most likely have to decide between having a true ceremony inside a church, or a Catholic-like but unsanctioned ceremony elsewhere.

    If we get married outside a church, does anyone know if my fiance and I could be denied certain privileges later on in life? Could our children be baptised? Could we be godparents for someone else's kids? Could we be buried in a Catholic cemetery? (I can't imagine we'd be denied burial, but I figured I'd ask.)
  • Riss91Riss91
    Sixth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Combo Breaker
    member
    edited December 2011
    I'm not really sure about being buried in a Catholic cemetary...I'm going to have to look into that one! Most Catholic churches will not allow godparents that have married outside of the church (I'm struggling right now just thinking about who my future children's godparents would be - I have very few relatives/friends that qualify). You could likely be godparents to a non-Catholic child, though. As far as your child being baptized, I would think it would be difficult for a priest to be comfortable with baptizing a child without having practicing Catholic parents in good-standing. I would try and speak to a priest before you get married so that you know what you're getting into. Good luck!
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