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Catholic Weddings

Should I be concerned?

Hello Ladies!
After being engaged over half a year I am finally getting down to the buisiness of reserving a reception venue and the church. I have literally gone to every hotel/reception hall/country club in the area and have finally decided on the Alumni house from my university, which is located across the street from the Catholic Campus Ministries chapel. The date that we would like is open at both the Alumni House and the Chapel so I thought everything was going to work out just fine. But then I started filling out the paperwork. I was previously aware that the 'suggested donations' are astronomically high (totalling to $1,850, and yes, I am registered member of the parish) but then I discovered that they will only perform weddings either at 11am or 2pm, no exceptions. I could understand this policy if they would have regular services following weddings, but in this case, as it is a June wedding, the chapel will be closed other than for special events, and the main church that sponsors the CCM chapel has not one, not two, but THREE priests, so you'd think they could spare one for a wedding at 5pm. As far as I know they won't let me supply my own pianist for the ceremony either, and instead want me to pay $200 for theirs.Raising any objection to the office workers evokes a stone cold response of, "well that's just how we do it here."  
I am a bit beyond frustrated, especially since the my church at home charges just $200 for weddings because they, and I quote,  "want to encourage couples to get married in the church instead of city hall" 
Should I be concerned?
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Re: Should I be concerned?

  • It is pretty normal for churches to have these contrictions. There are a lot of things that need to be coordinated in priests' schedules and this is likely their way of keeping things simple and easy to maintain. They have regular masses, funerals, confessions, work at hospitals and other places. It's a lot more than you might realize.

    You could speak to one of the priests directly and ask about moving the ceremony by an hour or so. He might be more flexible than the office assistant.

    You can always be married in another church in the area if you feel uncomfortable with these constraints.
  • I agree with Riss, these constrictions seem very typical to me. We also had set times that we had to choose from and ended up with 2pm. We are required to use the organist or if we don't we must pay him $300 anyway (no one else is allowed to play the organ and he must approve all other musicians). And our church fee is about $1500 and this does not include a donation to the priest.

    I also would try talking to the priest that is marrying you and see what he is willing to do, or look for another church if you decide that these restrictions are deal breakers.
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  • One of the reasons we wanted our wedding at this church is because our priest of 10+ years moved from our home church to my college town when I started school. We spoke to him briefly and he diected us to the people who run the office. I guess I'm just a little taken a back by the office people. All I really want, I guess, is the use of the chapel, but I don't think they like to do that. 
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  • And again my home church, where my parents still attend, only charges $200 for everything
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  • so why not get married at your home church then, if money is an issue for you?
  • You have to think of it from their point of view. The office assistants are likely constantly dealing with people that want to be catered to in some way. I'm sure they have those guidelines for a reason. If you are close with the priest, I would speak to him again, letting him know what the office said. He might be able to pull some strings for you. And it's great that your parents' church only requires a $200 fee, but unless you are getting married there, it doesn't help you, so it's best to forget about it. The fees vary by church, depending on their budget/costs. It's not unheard of for a couple to spend $2,000 in fees/donations/stipends for their ceremony. When it comes down to it, the ceremony is the most important part of the day, so the cost is quite worthwhile.
  • edited April 2012
    Like everybody has said above the preists are super busy, so the majority of churches specify a time for weddings. During your wedding planning it can feel like these rules are stupid but if the church is big enough to have office people it means they must be a super busy ministry (read expensive to run). Which in turn explains the larger donation.

    However most guides suggest adding the price of the dress and the cake and dividing by two, and donationg that amount or the price of the photography and the groom's outfit and divide by two and using these numbers as a ballpark for the donation to the church (as it should fit in pretty well with your budget.)

    *eta* Its very common for there to be a gap between a catholic ceremony and then the reception, so your catholic guests will expect it.
  • I think you've gotten some good advice from PP's, but I want to add- 
    I know it might be hard for you to see it in this light, but like Riss was saying - In my experience from when I worked in a church office for a couple years, brides can really ridiculous and demanding. Even if you are being very polite, the office workers (who probably have to deal with a TON of brides, being at a university chapel!) they are probalby just so used to every bride begging for something different and trying to explain how her situation is "different," and so they just have to stick to their policies. It does stink that you're in this situation- that's too bad they can't be more helpful for you. :-(
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  • sbelle85sbelle85 member
    100 Comments
    edited April 2012
    I agree with previous posters. The restrictions and times available are things that you should take into consideration when deciding which church to marry in, and if you really have a serious problem or conflict with their requirements, choose a different church that will be more flexible in terms of letting you do things your way.

    With a Catholic ceremony in the Church, you'll encounter more restrictive rules than you would in a Protestant or non-religious ceremony, so getting the church to bend to your needs is already difficult. And at a school chapel, they probably have  even more restrictions and requirements. I know that our campus priests were responsible for being at prayer meetings and events every day, all year long. They have set times for a reason - the chapel might be closed except for special events, but the priests have commitments every day just like a regular job, and it might not be an option for them to push back or cancel another obligation so that they can perform a wedding at a time other than the scheduled options.

    There are definitely some rules in place at the cathedral where I am getting married that I would prefer for them to bend, but it's simply not an option, and that's something that we understood and made sure we were okay with when we booked it. If the restrictions at this chapel are really going to bother you, I think you should look into doing it somewhere else.
  • PPs have given you great advice, I just wanted to add that I don't think that's totally uncommon for university chapels.  The chapel at SMU (where my husband went) is used by the CCM for two masses a day, so it was one option we considered.  The rental fee alone was pretty comparable to yours.

    It's also pretty common for couples to have to pay a "music director" fee, even if they don't end up using the church organist/pianist/whatever.
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  • I can understand where they are coming from in some aspects, but to be honest, it still seems to me like they are taking advantage of the fact that Catholic weddings have to be in a church and therefore they can charge whatever the heck they want, and make whatever rules they want that have nothing to do with the actual sacrament itself. It's like they are actually encouraging couples, especially young couples, to save themselves the trouble and marry outside the church.
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  • I guess I see it differently, though I do choose to give people the benefit of the doubt. Churches do not have budgets for wedding ceremonies. These are above and beyond their operational budgets. A couple can choose to be married for free in the church - during a regularly scheduled mass. It is the fact that most of us choose a separate, private ceremony that illicits these fees.

    There are utility costs (heat, AC, electric, water), plus insurance costs and janitorial costs that the Church incurrs for these "private" ceremonies. I think it is completely fair that they ask the couple to cover these costs. Additionally, at least from my perspective, getting married in the Church is THE most important thing, so I would be happy to pay whatever was required to have received the sacrament of marriage.

    Additionally, I don't even think $1,000-$2,000 is that extreme considering most reception sites would require at least that much to have your ceremony on-site.

    If the fee is something to truly disway someone from a Catholic ceremony, then it is likely that (forgoing any severe financial contraints, which the Church would work around) the couple isn't holding the sacrament in a high enough regard.
  • To add to what Riss said (I was going to post something similar but couldn't think of all the things your money would go to), the CCM Chapel likely has to pay a fee to the university to have the building opened on a "non-regular" day (Saturdays, summers, whatever).

    I've worked for a summer camp at SMU for YEARS now and it is always a nightmare trying to get the university to rent even ROOMS to us for one night, not to mention whole buildings.
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  • In Response to Re: Should I be concerned?:
    [QUOTE]I can understand where they are coming from in some aspects, but to be honest, it still seems to me like they are taking advantage of the fact that Catholic weddings have to be in a church and therefore they can charge whatever the heck they want, and make whatever rules they want that have nothing to do with the actual sacrament itself. It's like they are actually encouraging couples, especially young couples, to save themselves the trouble and marry outside the church.
    Posted by MedStudent13[/QUOTE]

    Okay, slow down, you have to remember the church and the priests do more than just masses. There are hundreds of weddings, baptisms and funerals a year. Not counting first confessions, holy communions and conformations, and all the classes for them. They visit the old and sick, and at universities they usually minister for the university hospital too. As well as any number of other duties in the community.

    That all amounts to a pretty packed schedule, so to guarantee they can fit weddings in at ease they keep two slots free a day. If you want an evening mass though I'd recommend you look into the evening masses the church schedules during the week (my parish has a 7pm mass on a Wednesday and a Friday), catholic weddings are open to the public as a rule so it might be something to look into?
  • People put value on things that cost more. My pastor told me to up my charge as a wedding musician because it was too low-- relatively to other wedding costs. (and I'm still lower than the average). 

    Priests assigned to be at a campus ministry often have double/triple assignments. If not, when the campus ministry is closed for the summer, you can bet that they are doing masses at other parishes filling in for someone on vacation or transition. Or they are off doing some other work. 
  • I echo a lot of what others have said. Just because there appear to be three priests who don't have other committments, they probably have tons. They have meetings to go to, people to minister to, parishes and ministries to run. For campus ministers, in addition to the likelihood that they have other duties/assignments, the summer is often the time they are able to take personal time, go on their own retreats, go to business meetings, parishes to fill in at, get stuff taken care of generally, etc. because things are so busy during the year.

    Others have spoken eloquently about the money issue, which I see as a non-issue. Either you continue moving forward at this chapel and pay the fee or you go to your parents' parish and pay the $200. The mass was, for us, far and away the most important part of the day. Having our nuptial mass at our home parish with all of our family and friends was worth every penny we spent, and I would do it again -- paying ten times as much -- in a heartbeat.

    If, in fact, there are no other events at the chapel that day, and if, in fact, you have spoken directly to the priest about having a later mass, then I would ask him to talk to the office staff about making those arrangements. If you've just casually mentioned having him do the wedding, I would talk to him about whether a later time is possible and then have him talk to the office staff. 2pm weddings (or close to that) are pretty routine in Catholic-land, so he may not have envisioned anything else when you spoke to him.
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