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Customs and Traditions

How can we honor the groom's grandmother's Catholic beliefs, without having a Catholic ceremony?

My fiance and myself are not religious and neither are our parents, however we were both baptized Catholic when we were born because it was what his grandparents and my grandparents (now deceased) wanted. Although my parents and his parents are not religious, they obliged because it was so important to our grandparents. We had strangely similar childhoods if you can't tell. My only living grandparents are not religious at all either, but his only living grandmother is a very devout Catholic. My fiance and I already booked a ceremony venue in a beautiful room at the hotel we are having our reception, and while we could tell his grandmother was disappointed it wasn't in a church, she didn't say anything. The other day she mentioned to my fiance that she would like us to have a priest at our ceremony if it was okay with us. She said he wouldn't be able to officiate the wedding, but he would just be there participating in some way. We both agreed that this would be a good way to honor her wishes and we would be happy to do this for her, although I am now somewhat confused as to what the priest would actually be doing. Has anybody ever done anything like this before? What do we have to do to prepare for this, and does this limit who we can have officiate our wedding? We were just going to have a local judge, but do we now have to have a religious officiant? Most of our family members are non-religious as well, so it would mainly be to honor her, as well as the memory of my deceased grandparents. Does anyone have any other ideas or ways we could do this?

Re: How can we honor the groom's grandmother's Catholic beliefs, without having a Catholic ceremony?

  • I agree with HisGirl. If you are not practicing, you should not be incorporating those Elements into your ceremony, even if it is to appease the masses. I am Catholic and my fiancé is Athiest so we are having a civil ceremony but for me, I incorporated my grandmother's rosary that she had when she got married 62 years ago on the same day into my bouquet.

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  • Your wedding ceremony is not a place to honor someone else's beliefs.  It's about you and your FI's beliefs.  Your FI's grandmother appears to know that the priest won't be able to officiate, so I'm not sure what she thinks he's going to do.  Perhaps you could invite him to say a blessing at your reception dinner, if you have space on your guest list.
    This, especially that first part.
    You're marrying your fiance, not his grandmother. The ceremony should reflect you two, not his grandmother.
    I can understand wanting to make an old woman happy, especially one you both highly respect. But if she can't respect your religious choices, then why alter your ceremony to appease her religious beliefs? 

    You don't have to go out of your religious comfort zone to honor someone. There are other ways to honor people on your wedding day, even those who have died. Having a priest randomly at the ceremony just to be there, isn't really a way to honour someone else. It's just confusing.


    I mean, what is the point, if he isn't officiating? Would be be, like, an honoured guest?
    I would ask his grandmother specifically what he would be doing there.
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    rajahmdOliveOilsMom
  • I've attended several interfaith ceremonies where a Catholic priest is on hand to give a blessing but not officiate, which he can only do if the ceremony is in a church and both parties are Catholic. But the priest is always a good family friend, it doesn't sound like you and your FI know a priest like this. I applaud you for having the wedding that suits you and your FI.
    If it's really important to you to appease your FI's grandmother, maybe give your string quartet (or whoever you're using for ceremony music) the sheet music for a couple of her favorite hymns, for them to play before the ceremony. She'll get to hear catholic hymns but the rest of the guests won't be subjected to religious lyrics, since it could be instrumental only.
  • eileenrob said:
    I've attended several interfaith ceremonies where a Catholic priest is on hand to give a blessing but not officiate, which he can only do if the ceremony is in a church and both parties are Catholic. But the priest is always a good family friend, it doesn't sound like you and your FI know a priest like this. I applaud you for having the wedding that suits you and your FI. If it's really important to you to appease your FI's grandmother, maybe give your string quartet (or whoever you're using for ceremony music) the sheet music for a couple of her favorite hymns, for them to play before the ceremony. She'll get to hear catholic hymns but the rest of the guests won't be subjected to religious lyrics, since it could be instrumental only.
    This is incorrect. Only one half of the couple needs to be Catholic, not both, under any circumstances.
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    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    Your wedding ceremony is not a place to honor someone else's beliefs.  It's about you and your FI's beliefs.  Your FI's grandmother appears to know that the priest won't be able to officiate, so I'm not sure what she thinks he's going to do.  Perhaps you could invite him to say a blessing at your reception dinner, if you have space on your guest list.
    Need to put that on a T-shirt. Well said!
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    HisGirlFriday13lc07
  • This is weird. When I clicked to read, it shows my picture (me piggy-backing my fiancé) as the picture in the picture next to lauraictd. Does that happen to other people often?
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    There's really not anything for a priest to do at a non-religious ceremony.  Even if you could incorporate a blessing of some sort, a priest is unlikely to agree.

    You could ask him to do the blessing before the meal, but that would be really odd if he wasn't otherwise a guest.  
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I agree with the other ladies.   This is not the time to honor someone else's beliefs.  I kind-of surprised a priest would agree to go to a parishioner's non-practicing-grandson's wedding.   Odd.


    Anyway, DH and I are both confirmed Catholics but do not practice. We are not anti-Catholic or religion in general.  We just choose not practice anything.  All of our parents are practicing.    They were pretty disappointed we were not getting married in the church.  They were supportive of our choice, but disappointed just the same. 

    We ended up getting a former priest to officiate our wedding.  Mind you this is NOT recognized by the Catholic church in any way, yet it some how made our parents feel "better" that someone Catholic was marrying us.     DH and I didn't mind he added a couple of prayers to the ceremony.  






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    @CrazyCatLady3 said it best: Your wedding ceremony is not a place to honor someone else's beliefs.  It's about you and your FI's beliefs.

    That means that if you are not believing Catholics, it really doesn't make sense to have a priest at the ceremony to appease your grandmother.  And for just that reason, I think a priest is not likely to be willing to be present if he can't officiate (and he would probably refuse). 

    I think that means that your FI in particular needs to make clear to his grandmother that there isn't going to be a priest at the wedding, because the two of you are not believing Catholics, and she'll have to accept that.  Hopefully she can do that in a mature way.
    Marzipan13
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    This is weird. When I clicked to read, it shows my picture (me piggy-backing my fiancé) as the picture in the picture next to lauraictd. Does that happen to other people often?
    That was a frequent occurrence before TK changed to this format. The avatars would get switched around or replaced with one of TKs avatars and threads would get rearranged, posts would appear in different threads or take hours to show up. Those were the good old days.
                
  • We're a Protestant-Catholic couple that had a Protestant wedding (he's more culturally Catholic than religiously). We looked into this for our wedding, having a priest take part but not officiate. Found out, it's not permitted. Priests are only able to participate in a ceremony if they're officiating it apparently. So we just had our minister wear the full formal robes rather than everyday ones or a suit.
  • LOL - FI's mom asked me what religion we were having in our ceremony.  None - I have zero use for religion of any type, and FI doesn't really care, either.  He told me to tell her our choice, but then he did so he saved me from being the heavy.  LOL
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  • @HisGirlFriday13 -             10/10, sister
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    But seriously, why even entertain having any Catholic elements if you're not truly Catholic?  Why would you do something Catholic if it means nothing to you, but means something to your grandmother (who isn't getting married)?  Why would you choose to do something non-representative of you & your FI at your own wedding?  

    Please don't cherry pick elements of things you don't truly believe, just because grandma planted the idea that it'd be "nice".  That'd be like me, a practicing Catholic, getting adorned with mehndi for my wedding day just because I think it's gorgeous.  What's the point?  There isn't one.
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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    @HisGirlFriday13 -             10/10, sister
     applauding gif


    But seriously, why even entertain having any Catholic elements if you're not truly Catholic?  Why would you do something Catholic if it means nothing to you, but means something to your grandmother (who isn't getting married)?  Why would you choose to do something non-representative of you & your FI at your own wedding?  

    Please don't cherry pick elements of things you don't truly believe, just because grandma planted the idea that it'd be "nice".  That'd be like me, a practicing Catholic, getting adorned with mehndi for my wedding day just because I think it's gorgeous.  What's the point?  There isn't one.
    I really appreciate your post so much. I get really irritated when non-Jews use Jewish traditions in their wedding, especially since there are a lot of Christians who try to get in touch with what they consider their "roots," etc. There's so much, "But it's so beautiful!" but in reality, these are traditions and practices that mean something to Jewish people.

    Obviously, the OP and her fiance were originally baptized Catholic, so this isn't as outwardly egregious as the mehndi example, or even Jewish wedding traditions. But the fact remains that having a Catholic (ish) ceremony is something that doesn't mean something to the OP and her fiance. And that's okay--no one is going to be up in arms because there are two formerly Catholic people who don't find a lot of meaning in a Catholic wedding because they're not really Catholic anymore. But adding in Catholic elements feels very fake; it's adding in a meaningful ritual without the meaning.
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    Marzipan13
  • My grandmother is very old-fashioned Catholic (not to offend, or anything, but I can't think of any other word to describe it... she attends church every day, reads at church, absolutely hates the fact that FI and I live together, and that BIL and my sister live together before marriage, the fact that my mom (her daughter) got divorced, etc.), but I am not. I had my First Communion, was Confirmed, everything, but I am in no way, shape, or form in good standing--I stopped attending in college for personal reasons, and my FI was baptized in a Catholic Church, but has had no other Sacraments. We're doing a self-uniting marriage license, and his great-aunt is doing a beautiful ceremony for us (not officiating, mind, you, just celebrating the marriage with a few blessings and readings). I can tell my grandmother disapproves (not as badly as @HisGirlFriday13 's husband's grandmother), and as much as I know she would love for me to be married in the Catholic Church, I'm not. FI would if I was in good standing, and if I really wanted a Catholic wedding, but honestly, I don't. I'm so much happier with the decisions that WE have made as a couple. Is Grandma a little unhappy? I'm sure. However, it's not her wedding, and it would be disrespectful to the Catholic faith IMO to have rituals from a Catholic wedding that aren't meaningful. A little bit of my grandma pursing her lips slightly and sighing (she does try to be supportive--and I know she loves both my FI and me, she just wishes we would do things her way) is well worth having the wedding that WE want, and one that doesn't incorporate elements that don't make sense for our wedding.
    NYCBruinOliveOilsMom
  • jessiray said:

    My grandmother is very old-fashioned Catholic (not to offend, or anything, but I can't think of any other word to describe it... she attends church every day, reads at church, absolutely hates the fact that FI and I live together, and that BIL and my sister live together before marriage, the fact that my mom (her daughter) got divorced, etc.), but I am not. I had my First Communion, was Confirmed, everything, but I am in no way, shape, or form in good standing--I stopped attending in college for personal reasons, and my FI was baptized in a Catholic Church, but has had no other Sacraments. We're doing a self-uniting marriage license, and his great-aunt is doing a beautiful ceremony for us (not officiating, mind, you, just celebrating the marriage with a few blessings and readings). I can tell my grandmother disapproves (not as badly as @HisGirlFriday13 's husband's grandmother), and as much as I know she would love for me to be married in the Catholic Church, I'm not. FI would if I was in good standing, and if I really wanted a Catholic wedding, but honestly, I don't. I'm so much happier with the decisions that WE have made as a couple. Is Grandma a little unhappy? I'm sure. However, it's not her wedding, and it would be disrespectful to the Catholic faith IMO to have rituals from a Catholic wedding that aren't meaningful. A little bit of my grandma pursing her lips slightly and sighing (she does try to be supportive--and I know she loves both my FI and me, she just wishes we would do things her way) is well worth having the wedding that WE want, and one that doesn't incorporate elements that don't make sense for our wedding.

    Good for you for having the wedding that you and your FI want!

    P.S. -- The word you meant was 'devout.' Your grandmother is devout. :)
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    I'm gonna go with 'not my circus, not my monkeys.'
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  • @HisGirl13 Thank you. Obviously I needed more coffee when I posted that :)
    HisGirlFriday13
  • melbensomelbenso Hoth, apparently member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    My very Catholic grandmother was truly upset when my cousin got married in a Presbyterian church... For about 5 minutes. Then we got to the reception and she was overjoyed and ate and drank wine.

    I think you are likely overthinking this.
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  • Maybe I don't get it, but why should your wedding honor someone else's beliefs? That person had their beliefs honored at their wedding- they've had their turn, now it's yours.
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