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Catholic Weddings

Catholic + Protestant in Spain

Hello everyone!

My fiancé is Spanish and Catholic. I'm from the States and Protestant. It is very important to him that, in Spain, we be married in the Catholic church. As I have only been to mass with him, I am wildly unfamiliar with the Catholic church and am not quite sure what to expect. We haven't spoken to the priest yet, but will be doing so as soon as I get back to Spain. I guess the first major question is: will he marry us? The second question, and it's one I have for you all is: will my father, who isn't Catholic either, be permitted to stand as my "padrino" (would the English translation be Godfather? Either way, it's the adults who stand with the bride and groom, in Spain it's the mother of the groom and father of the bride. Sorry I'm unsure of the proper English translation). Some in Spain have had doubts about whether or not he'd be permitted to do so. 

Perhaps the biggest fear is just how to do this. Due to family travel limitations, we have to do something in both countries. I'm seeing here that priests (and, rightly so) aren't keen on doing weddings for someone who is "already married." Spain will be our second wedding - and, to my fiancé and his family, it's where matters the most. Should I just do a reception in the US to save the ceremony for Spain? That, however, hurts those in my family who cannot afford the time or money to travel to Spain. 

Well, thanks to anyone who can offer up any bits of wisdom. I'm so terribly lost between two countries, two traditions, and ultimately two religions. Please keep me from going to Vegas!

Take care and best of luck in planning. I saw someone here whose signature indicates she's getting married in two days. Enjoy!!!

Re: Catholic + Protestant in Spain

  • edited December 2011

    You will probably need to wait until you get to Spain and talk to the specific priest to get your questions answered.  I am unfamiliar with the way the church operates in Spain, but FI is Mexican, and so I have a decent amount of familiarity with the way it works there, and it is very different.  Among other things, in Mexico, every church wedding is performed after the couple is already married because the law requires doesn't permit a priest to perform the legal/civil marriage.  I understand this to be common throughout Latin America, and therefore could be a carry over from colonialism, and therefore the same in Spain.  We also have friends who are getting married in the U.S. in September (not in the church) and then having a Catholic wedding in Uruguay in December.  I don't know if it was hard to get the priest to agree, but he did.

    As I said, the church rules here probably are not the same as the church rules there (the marriage stuff above is just the tip of the iceberg) so you really need to talk to the Spanish priest.  But if you want an idea sooner, maybe you could talk to FI's family and friends.  They should have some ideas of how it works.

  • halydiahalydia member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Many thanks! I may ask him to go speak with the priest before he comes to the US. I'm starting to think it may actually depend on the parish priest. 
  • ExpatPumpkinExpatPumpkin member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    I really hate to burst your bubble, but I really don't think they'll allow it unless you're both Catholic.  I lived in Spain for 3 years, and I asked this very question to both a wedding planner and a priest there and was told it was impossible...

    Same issue in Mexico where I live.  Only two Catholics can get married in the church.  My mother-in-law literally did not believe me when I told her that the church was more open to inter-denominational weddings in the States. 

    I think the reason why they're so strict about this is because they simply don't face the issue:  about 99% of Mexicans and Spaniards are Catholic.  Not like in the States where the many Christian faiths are widely represented...  The various faiths have been forced to face the issue because there are so many different kinds of Christians in the States.

    The good news is that there are Catholic churchs in the States who will marry you, so you can have a Catholic wedding (without you receiving communion) here.  But if you want a Catholic ceremony in Spain, you'll have to convert.  Sorry :(
  • halydiahalydia member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Thank you very much for your reply. You're not bursting my bubble at all - I've fully prepared myself for a "no." My FI seems to think that we absolutely won't have any problems, but as you said I'm an absolute rarity there. My grandmother-in-law doesn't understand why my church doesn't have a Pope. I guess the important thing is to get my FI to go speak with the priest as soon as possible!
  • ExpatPumpkinExpatPumpkin member
    1000 Comments Combo Breaker
    edited December 2011
    Well, hopefully I'm wrong and there's a way to get it done ;)  I know you can do it in the States, so at least you have that option. 

    And I understand about your grandmother-in-law...  Mine probably wonders the same thing ;)   Good luck!

    And please update me on what you find out.  You can always send me a PM ;)
  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Decide where you want the Catholic ceremony.  I'm guessing you'll want it in Spain.  Have the real Catholic ceremony in Spain.  Then, in America, plan something that would mean something to YOU since you'e not Catholic and it'll be mostly your family.  People on other boards tend to be jerks about this issue but I absolutely understand your need to have two weddings and I think you should do so.  I would be happy to see your second American wedding as a guest.  

    About the other questions, Spain may be different than America so I think you'll have to ask over there. But, over here, the religion of the bridal party does not matter.  YOu should be able to have a Catholic ceremony but not a mass since you are not catholic and can't recieve communion.  
  • Theresa626Theresa626 member
    1000 Comments
    edited December 2011
    If Expat Pumpkin is right and you can only have the Catholic ceremony in the states, at least be happy there is somewhere in the world where you can have a catholic ceremony.  If this is true, you can video tape it and broadcast it live over the internet to your family in Spain.  My friend who got married in India recently did this and I enjoyed watching her wedding online.  You can always have a reception in Spain. 
  • halydiahalydia member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    We'll see just how liberal they're willing to be. One of the local priests was very much open and accepting towards me during my granfather-in-law's funeral, and was just happy that I was at least a "believer." The bad news is that there's a very conservative priest in town and I'm not sure if he's at the church where we can get married (From what I understand, over there you're to be married in your parish church.) 

    Anyhow, as soon as my FI finishes his teaching tests over there (I'm counting down until I have a happy FI again on July 2nd!) I'll ask him to speak with the priest. Better to get these doubts resolved a year and a bit ahead than to wait and panic. Our hearts would not be broken if we had to choose the civil route, but I do know that his family would be severely let down. I sure wish there wasn't so much family-pomp involved! I'm certain my MIL will spend three times on her dress what I spend on mine.  Oh well. I still get my American wedding!

    And thank you all, again, for your input be it positive or negative. I realize I'm facing an uphill battle here Smile
  • halydiahalydia member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    Now that dress shopping is looming on the horizon, another doubt has surfaced: 

    I do remember at one time that someone made a comment about having to cover your shoulders in the Catholic church in Spain - so if strapless, covered by a jacket. Can anyone confirm or tell me I'm crazy? I asked my FI and he commented that I can wear whatever I want. I'm nearly certain this is a man-answer (Clothes? Important? Just calm down, silly bride lady!) and my FMIL is off on vacation so I can't get in contact with her easily... I figured I'd pick your brains :) 
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    It depends on the parish.  My priest said okay to my dress, and all of my FSIL married in strapless dresses in Catholic churches, but I have heard of more conservative parishes where you need to keep your shoulders covered.
  • edited December 2011
    It depends on the church. For cathedrals in Europe, knees and shoulders must be covered. Sometimes your entire arm must be covered. Churches I'm not so sure about. In the U.S. a strapless dress is OK. Also, in order to be married in a Catholic church both parties must be Catholic. It's relatively unheard of even in the U.S. for them to allow an interfaith marriage inside the church. Oftentimes a priest will bless an interfaith marriage afterward. My cousin's husband was baptized, but never received communion or was confirmed. All of that had to be done DURING THEIR WEDDING MASS in order for them to be married in a Catholic church in Massachusetts! That was the looooongest wedding I ever went to. I wish you the best of luck. Hopefully the church has become a little more lax in recent years, and you won't have any problems. 
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  • Riss91Riss91 member
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited December 2011
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/cultural-wedding-boards_catholic-weddings_catholic-protestant-spain?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Cultural Wedding BoardsForum:615Discussion:5faecd4c-c1f9-4141-8a67-077ef7baca66Post:6c86a6b9-7cdb-4cce-8d58-d45fb71583af">Re: Catholic + Protestant in Spain</a>:
    [QUOTE] Also, in order to be married in a Catholic church both parties must be Catholic. It's relatively unheard of even in the U.S. for them to allow an interfaith marriage inside the church. Posted by Jillibeans11681[/QUOTE]

    I think your cousin's situation was pretty extreme. Catholics may marry someone of another faith,in fact it happens all the time in the U.S. Usually, the couple does not have communion as part of the ceremony. You are not required to have your spouse convert in order to have a Catholic ceremony, as long as the non-Catholic spouse agrees to allowing their children to be raised Catholic.

    As for appropriate attire, I think you'll need to find out an exact answer from the priest performing your ceremony. Since this varies greatly, it's not safe to bet that what the majority have experienced is what you will. I would get an answer from your priest before buying your dress. You may be able to just add a bolero for the ceremony if you find a dress that is not modest enough on its own. Good luck!
  • halydiahalydia member
    10 Comments
    edited December 2011
    A quick update in the event there's anyone in my shoes who comes across this thread...

    We've set the date in Spain and spoken to the local priest. He's a sweetheart, and the biggest problem we had was about my paperwork as a foreigner, absolutely NO problem about being a protestant. 

    My FI will have to sign a paper stating that he will respect my faith and that he will raise our children in the Catholic church. Also, we'll have to go through the formality of writing to the Bishop in Bilbao, asking for permission to marry. 

    After so much worrying, all has turned out just fine Smile
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
    edited December 2011
    Yay!  I'm so happy for both of you!  Happy wedding planning!
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