Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Non Catholic marrying Catholic—advice needed!

Hey all!! Getting married June 1 in OBX on the beach. My fiancé was raised Catholic and I Baptist. Our ceremony will be religious, but on the beach! As my fiancé was raised Catholic he wants the marriage sacrament and I have no qualms with him getting it! However, I have no intentions of converting and have no intentions of raising our kids Catholic. Both of these things are fine by him because at the end of the day our children will be raised as believers no matter the denomination. We split our time between two churches at the moment. We’ve just been told we have to go to a weekend retreat and I was wondering what it entails and hopefully I won’t be in for a world of pain as someone who has no intentions of converting (as I take issue with some teachings of the church). I’ve also heard there’s a substantial amount of paperwork involved. Just looking for advice from anyone who’s walked this path before. I’m happy to take marriage advice and tools for conflict resolution and stuff but I’m worried they will see my reluctance to convert as a red flag for my fiancé. Thoughts? 

Re: Non Catholic marrying Catholic—advice needed!

  • If he wants a Sacramental marriage then there are things you will need to agree to such as raise your children as Catholics.  They would not recognize a beach wedding as valid so in addition you should discuss your plans with his priest so he understands fully both what is required not just in preparation but in the ceremony onward.  
  • banana468 said:
    If he wants a Sacramental marriage then there are things you will need to agree to such as raise your children as Catholics.  They would not recognize a beach wedding as valid so in addition you should discuss your plans with his priest so he understands fully both what is required not just in preparation but in the ceremony onward.  
    I thought the requirement to raise the children as Catholic was removed? Hmmm wonder why I thought that.

    Also the ceremony has to be in a Catholic church (not just a church) in order for it to be sacramental.
  • banana468 said:
    If he wants a Sacramental marriage then there are things you will need to agree to such as raise your children as Catholics.  They would not recognize a beach wedding as valid so in addition you should discuss your plans with his priest so he understands fully both what is required not just in preparation but in the ceremony onward.  
    I thought the requirement to raise the children as Catholic was removed? Hmmm wonder why I thought that.

    Also the ceremony has to be in a Catholic church (not just a church) in order for it to be sacramental.
    I think you're correct.  There can be some understanding depending on the faith but I believe it's only Orthodox ceremonies that the Catholic church will recognize as Sacramental. 

    I would recommend asking your parish priest what is required for this to take place.  A wedding on the beach would not be considered Sacramental as it's not in your house of worship and you may be required to have a convalidation ceremony in his church.

    @ILoveBeachMusic I was married 16 years ago and that was part of our vows.  The only time I can recall hearing it removed from a ceremony is when it involved a couple marrying later in life (both widowed) and the bride was quite clearly post menopausal.  
  • Adding my two cents, as a person who works in this field.

    As PPs said, the beach wedding will not be recognized as a marriage sacrament. That's your main issue, if your FI does want his marriage recognized by the Church.

    I have heard of a dispensation (permission to deviate from the rules, given by the bishop) being granted to have a sacramental wedding held not in a Catholic church. But I've only heard of that once. And it was that the bride was devout and the husband was vehemently anti (i.e. I will not set foot in a Catholic church). That would red-flag it for most, but they were convincing that they could make it work and it has worked out for them somehow. (He became less anti-Catholic over time.)

    The other possibility is a convalidation. Usually, that is having a rite of marriage done after the fact, to rectify the fact that it wasn't done the first time according to the laws of the Church by which your FI is bound. But almost no priest, deacon or bishop will let you plan for that, or it comes with a lot of stipulations (primarily that the beach wedding comes after the "church wedding"). And it can be really, really hard to untangle if you guys ever divorce.

    Allowing your FI to raise your children Catholic is part of the agreement, but no one expects or should be pressuring you to convert. That is something that has to come freely. So you should hopefully be able to put your mind at ease about that.
  • Adding my two cents, as a person who works in this field.

    As PPs said, the beach wedding will not be recognized as a marriage sacrament. That's your main issue, if your FI does want his marriage recognized by the Church.

    I have heard of a dispensation (permission to deviate from the rules, given by the bishop) being granted to have a sacramental wedding held not in a Catholic church. But I've only heard of that once. And it was that the bride was devout and the husband was vehemently anti (i.e. I will not set foot in a Catholic church). That would red-flag it for most, but they were convincing that they could make it work and it has worked out for them somehow. (He became less anti-Catholic over time.)

    The other possibility is a convalidation. Usually, that is having a rite of marriage done after the fact, to rectify the fact that it wasn't done the first time according to the laws of the Church by which your FI is bound. But almost no priest, deacon or bishop will let you plan for that, or it comes with a lot of stipulations (primarily that the beach wedding comes after the "church wedding"). And it can be really, really hard to untangle if you guys ever divorce.

    Allowing your FI to raise your children Catholic is part of the agreement, but no one expects or should be pressuring you to convert. That is something that has to come freely. So you should hopefully be able to put your mind at ease about that.
    I was hoping you'd add your two cents.
  • Thank you so very much for your two cents! ;) Right now the plan is to have a blessing ceremony after we get back from the honeymoon; his parish said this was the way to go since it is a religious, but not Catholic beach wedding. The paperwork he has to sign pledges to raise and baptize our kids as catholics and he has to sign that or a substantial equivalent. So, we wrote a substantial equivalent that said we promise to baptize our kids and raise them as believers and he will impart his faith and I'll impart my own. Hope that is accepted, thoughts on if it will be? 
  • Thank you so very much for your two cents! ;) Right now the plan is to have a blessing ceremony after we get back from the honeymoon; his parish said this was the way to go since it is a religious, but not Catholic beach wedding. The paperwork he has to sign pledges to raise and baptize our kids as catholics and he has to sign that or a substantial equivalent. So, we wrote a substantial equivalent that said we promise to baptize our kids and raise them as believers and he will impart his faith and I'll impart my own. Hope that is accepted, thoughts on if it will be? 
    @flantastic have you seen this as an option?  The way I'm reading it I'd think faith formation is too ambiguous for it to be accepted. 
  • It certainly sounds as if your archdiocese is a lot my lenient than the ones around me. Best wishes.
  • banana468 said:
    Thank you so very much for your two cents! ;) Right now the plan is to have a blessing ceremony after we get back from the honeymoon; his parish said this was the way to go since it is a religious, but not Catholic beach wedding. The paperwork he has to sign pledges to raise and baptize our kids as catholics and he has to sign that or a substantial equivalent. So, we wrote a substantial equivalent that said we promise to baptize our kids and raise them as believers and he will impart his faith and I'll impart my own. Hope that is accepted, thoughts on if it will be? 
    @flantastic have you seen this as an option?  The way I'm reading it I'd think faith formation is too ambiguous for it to be accepted. 
    @banana468 It's ripe for an annulment case is my thinking. If that's accepted now as a "substantial equivalent," the argument could be made later for a lack of complete intent or understanding for the main 3 promises as well.

    Anywho, @knottie19cb3873d17250ff I would make sure you have a specific priest who is willing to sign off on doing the "blessing" ceremony, which is indeed the convalidation that I mentioned. It seems likely enough that you do and he's the one who has given you the paperwork, which I assume is a pre-nuptial investigation form.

    I don't know if they will consider that statement adequate. Catholicism is supposed to be a specific commitment, a fullness of faith and worldview, with its own privileges and responsibilities. Catholic faith formation, preparation for further sacraments (like First Communion and Confirmation, down the road), are going to need to be an understood part of that commitment. Your kids should either be Catholic or not. If you (both) don't really intend them to be Catholic fully, or to go to Mass, etc., then I'm not sure what exactly your FI wants from the Church. But of course, even if they are growing up Catholic, they will absorb some of your own understanding of Christianity and will consider its merits.
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