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Etiquette

Questions from a non-Catholic about a Catholic ceromony

Hi. My fiance and I have been talking about getting married for a while and he just proposed! I'm very excited, but nervous about one thing - he really wants a Catholic ceremony.

I know that you talk to the priest, and there are rules about where the ceremony has to be done, but I'm worried about how the priest will respond to my very not-religiousness. I don't want kids. I use a form of BC that the Church considers an aborficant. My fiance and I have been co-habitating, which the Church does not like very much.

I want this to work for him. But I worry about the awkwardness of finding a priest (my fiance is currently not active in the church, another point of potential contention) and dealing with the expectations of the Catholic church vs. my convictions.

Any advice would be extremely helpful. Thank you!
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Re: Questions from a non-Catholic about a Catholic ceromony

  • I have literally been in this same situation, please PM me if you want more info from my side. I'd rather not publicly discuss the details. 
    slothiegalPrettyGirlLostjerkyanne
  • If he wants a Catholic ceremony then it has to happen in Catholic church. I can speak to the questions the priest asked us during our meeting. Note that I am an active Catholic and this is our parish priest. There was a standard list of questions used here including one about having children. I think that might just be to make sure you and your future husband are on the same page about that as many of the other questions seemed to be like that. The questions are supposed to be asked separately but we did them together lol. No question about if the kids would be raised Catholic (my fiance isn't Catholic). At our marriage prep course most of the couple were living together and some had children so I wouldn't worry about that.
  • melbensomelbenso Hoth, apparently member
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
    I was raised Catholic, but didn't have a Catholic wedding ceremony.  So I can't speak to the questions the priest will ask, etc.  I can say that just as many practicing Catholics use birth control as non-Catholics, and the church knows this.  And as twitterbird said, the same goes for cohabitating before the wedding. Unless the priest performing the ceremony is extremely conservative and hard-line in line with church teachings, I doubt that these things will be a problem.
    image
  • I question why he would want to be married in the church if neither of you have a strong pull towards it? I don't think they'll deny you but it may be asked about your future plans for children. To the catholic church this is a very important part of marriage. I've heard some ceramoys state they plan on bringing up children in the faith. Also that the couple agrees to accept any children god gives to you that is where the whole BC topic comes into play.NFP is big in the church.  With how specific the church is again I question why he'd want to get married there if he doesn't want to follow it's teachings? Not to sound mean in anyway at all! I LOVED my Nondenominational church until I met my FI. I miss it at times I took the classes and became catholic after learning a lot about the faith and it's teachings.  Those nondenominational churches you both may enjoy I suggest going to a few if you dont have plans of staying in the catholic church.
    snippet17
  • OliveOilsMomOliveOilsMom South Jersey member
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    You should not be asked directly about BC, so I wouldn't worry about that. The bigger thing is that in the marraige vows, it says will you accept children and raise them in the Catholic faith. Since you have no plans for children, that could be your stumbling block to marrying in the Catholic faith. _______________________________________________________________________________ First thing is that your FI needs to go to a church and ask to speak with a Priest. It's best to not plan anything else until he does this. _______________________________________________________________________________ Marriage is a sacrament, which could be why he does want to get married in the Catholic Church, even if he doesn't practice. If he were to marry you outside of the Church, he could never receive communion again, which is a big deal to Catholics - even non practicing ones. _______________________________________________________________________________ Do you generally live in a conservative area or more liberal? That will also help determine whether you can marry in the Church. More conservative areas will not want you co-habitating prior to marriage, but the more liberal areas will not care.
  • JBee85JBee85 member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper
    edited September 2014
    It's all going to depend on the priest and the culture of the parish. Some are relaxed, some are strict. But Catholics take marriage as a very serious sacrament.


    The priest isn't going to question your living arrangements unless you tell him. However, here are the two issues in which you will be up against:

    1. Your views on having children. Yes it will be questioned. Yes, it is apart of your wedding vows which you cannot change or omit. Yes you will be pledging to raise your children Catholic on your wedding day in front of the congregation. And during pre-Cana, you will take a survey test; one of the questions will ask if you and your fiancé discussed having children and if you do plan to have them. This survey is then forwarded to your priest. The Archdiocese WILL KEEP THIS SURVEY as a permanent record. If you don't want kids and your fiancé does... And it gets recorded on the survey, it will be used as documentation AGAINST YOU in court if you both decide to get a divorce and have to fight for child custody. I ran into this issue where I put that I was unsure about kids (I lost my job at the time and was a poor grad school student), and my priest looked me dead in the face and told me this because it has happened before.

    2. Neither of you actively follow the Catholic faith. A priest will not marry you if you or your spouse are not members of the parish. If you want a catholic wedding... You both need to start attending Sunday masses NOW and participate.
    PrettyGirlLostbeharrington
  • Another option might be to have a civil ceremony and get a convalidation after. My basic understanding is that you get your marriage blessed in church and then they recognize it. I don't know much more than that or if its hard to get. Just a thought.
    Knottie10345364
  • I thought a non-catholic couldn't get married in the catholic church. Is that not the case? Does it vary by church?
  • My FI and I are not religious, but I will say that my mom is still bitter (she would never say so, but I know she is) about having a Catholic wedding to appease my dad's family. She still brings it up with regularity, 35 years later. I'd be sure that you know what is going to be said during your wedding ceremony and mass and make sure you are ok with it. I've been to one recently where there was a whooooole lot of "marriage is only between a man and a woman" and some "obeys" thrown in for good measure.
    cowgirl8238[Deleted User]snippet17
  • A non-Catholic can marry a Catholic. I am Catholic, my FI is not. Just so you know, there is a lot of preparation that goes into it, and it varies by parish/priest. We had to meet with the priest, then take an online test, then go to a "sponsor couple" three times, then go to a Natural Family Planning Class, and then go to the weekend retreat. It's also not cheap, you have to pay for the retreat, test and classes, usually. You also need to be a member of the parish, usually. Unless you live out of state and it's your hometown church, or something. 

    Obviously, the Church can't do anything to you if you don't raise your kids Catholic, but I have to wonder why your FI wants to get married in the church if he's not active in it? 
  • MandyMost said:
    I thought a non-catholic couldn't get married in the catholic church. Is that not the case? Does it vary by church?

    Catholics can marry non-Catholics. The form is different if the non-Catholic is a baptized Christian vs. non-baptized-if you are marrying a non-baptized person, than a dispensation is needed and the marriage is non-sacramental. But still takes place in the Church. 

    OP-it varies from priest to priest how big of a deal your cohabitation & use of birth control will be-some priests may ask you to live as "brother and sister." Some may not mention it at all. Some may encourage you to move in with a friend until the time of the wedding, etc. Your biggest issue will be the fact that you do not want children, as you will have to promise to accept any children (and to raise them Catholic). So the question is-what would happen if you were to become pregnant (you don't have to answer that, just reflect on your answer personally)? And will your FI feel comfortable lying during the ceremony about accepting children? 


    image
    OliveOilsMom
  • Tami87Tami87 member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited September 2014
    I agree with previous posters that it sounds like the biggest stumbling block would be that you do not want children. As part of a Catholic wedding ceremony you will be asked "Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?". If you cannot honestly answer this yes, then I would not be comfortable with having a Catholic wedding ceremony.

    Is your fiance on the same page about no children? This is obviously something you should be sure to discuss in depth before you get married. http://www.catholicweddinghelp.com is also a great resource to learn more about planning a Catholic wedding.

    Edited to add: A convalidation usually requires the same marriage prep as a wedding ceremony. And accepting children lovingly from God will still be asked during the ceremony (which is essentially the same). So I don't see trying to get a convalidation later as a good solution for the OP.
    image
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer

    Hi. My fiance and I have been talking about getting married for a while and he just proposed! I'm very excited, but nervous about one thing - he really wants a Catholic ceremony.

    I know that you talk to the priest, and there are rules about where the ceremony has to be done, but I'm worried about how the priest will respond to my very not-religiousness. I don't want kids. I use a form of BC that the Church considers an aborficant. My fiance and I have been co-habitating, which the Church does not like very much.

    I want this to work for him. But I worry about the awkwardness of finding a priest (my fiance is currently not active in the church, another point of potential contention) and dealing with the expectations of the Catholic church vs. my convictions.

    Any advice would be extremely helpful. Thank you!
    I am of the belief that one can practice a religion and not agree 100% with every single teaching or aspect of dogma of that religion.

    The issue of children is one you have to discuss with your FI, 1st and foremost.  You and your FI have to be on the same page regarding having children, as this is a marital issue that it is not possible to compromise on.

    Many practicing Catholic women use hormonal BC for many, personal reasons.  This topic will come up in the Pre Cana classes, and  NFP will be discussed and loosely explained, but it's your choice what form of BC you choose to use.  No one should actually come right out and directly ask you what method of BC you use, and no one will ever check to see if you are using NFP or not.

    The co-habitating thing is an issue that in general The Church frowns upon because there is then implied immorality in their eyes and the eyes of your peers  and it could lead to the increased temptation to sleep together. 

    Some priests are very adamant about couples not living together before marriage and may not agree to marry you in the church, and that's their prerogative as spiritual leaders.  Some priests will advise you against it and gently explain why it's not accepting in the Catholic church, but will still perform your ceremony.  It just depends on how conservative they are. 

    In my pre cana class, 98% of the couples were already living together and many already had children together yet their priests were still allowing them to have a Catholic wedding mass.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    JBee85grassynowell
  • JBee85JBee85 member
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Love Its 100 Comments Name Dropper
    edited September 2014
    MandyMost said:

    I thought a non-catholic couldn't get married in the catholic church. Is that not the case? Does it vary by church?

    Yes you can. But the person who is Catholic has to be the one who is in good standing with the church. In this case, the OPs fiancé isn't and she may be facing problems because of it.

    Another option might be to have a civil ceremony and get a convalidation after. My basic understanding is that you get your marriage blessed in church and then they recognize it. I don't know much more than that or if its hard to get. Just a thought.

    Nope. A Catholic Church will not acknowledge a civil ceremony. Some churches will ban couples from partaking in the communion if your marriage is a civil union. It's either their rules or you don't follow the faith.
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited September 2014
    I'm also curious why he wants to get married in a Catholic church if he's not practicing. If he doesn't intend to become a practicing Catholic again, I don't see why it would be so important. 

    I was raised Catholic, but am not religious at all. There's no way I'd personally feel comfortable getting married in a Catholic church, when I had no intention of practicing. 

  • The way I see it, this isn't just a question of the type of ceremony you want.  It's really a question of what religion you each want to practice in the long run.  Your wedding ceremony should reflect that.
    100% agree with this. This is a serious discussion you need to have before you get married. It is not just about choosing a type of ceremony.
    image
    holyguacamole79
  • First I have to agree with a PP about discussing children...this is a VERY important issue and you NEED to be on the same page about this before planning anything.  Once you both come to a conclusion on children (one, none, if it happens but not gonna try, whatever) then I would proceed with the planning.

    For starters your ability to marry in the Catholic Church will depend on the strictness of the priest/parish and may prove difficuly if you are not Catholic and your FI is no longer active in a church.  All though I'm sure you can "shop around" for a church, this tends to upset some people who will take the religion more seriously than others.

    In addition to finding a church, you do have all the pre-wedding requirements.  And yes that adds up.  This was the point where one of our close friends "gave up" their Catholic wedding and found a JOP that would just incorporate Catholic traditions into their ceremony. 

    I guess my question is this...how much does he want a Catholic wedding and why??  Is there a way that you can do a civil ceremony that incorporates certain Catholic elements that he wants?  What about joining a non-denominational church and having your ceremony there, again incorporating both of your beliefs into the ceremony?

    I think the best ceremony is the kind where you incorporate the things both people want.  I have been to several weddings and I just love when the ceremony really represents the couple!  My H and I are no-frill to the point people, so we had a quick ceremony and just had a huge party to celebrate. 

    No matter what you decide, remember this.  You can compromise on the ceremony but you can't have half a kid.

  • slothiegalslothiegal The Sloth Farm member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer Name Dropper
    sarals24 said:
    Obviously, the Church can't do anything to you if you don't raise your kids Catholic, but I have to wonder why your FI wants to get married in the church if he's not active in it? 
    This.  We are in the same situation as you, OP.  Fi was raised Catholic, but no longer practicing, and I am not religious.  

    We sat down and had a real, open-minded discussion about where we see ourselves as a couple in regards to religion.  Why did Fi want to get married Catholic?  Did he want to start actively practicing the faith again?  Did he want me to come to Mass with him?  We also discussed, seriously, each of our thought's on God, Jesus, church teachings, and what religious beliefs we might want to raise a child with.

    The way I see it, this isn't just a question of the type of ceremony you want.  It's really a question of what religion you each want to practice in the long run.  Your wedding ceremony should reflect that.

    SIB

    Same.  I was raised Catholic, and my family still actively practices it.  (Me, not so much.)  When we got engaged. DH asked if it was important to me to get married in the church and that he would be will to take whatever steps necessary if it truly was important to me.  While my answer was "um no", it did open up a really great dialogue about religion/our future children/etc.   
    Anniversary

    image
  • JBee85 said:
    Nope. A Catholic Church will not acknowledge a civil ceremony. Some churches will ban couples from partaking in the communion if your marriage is a civil union. It's either their rules or you don't follow the faith.
    This is not completely true. A baptized Catholic must marry in a Catholic church or get a dispensation from canonical form to remain in good standing (this is usually only given to marry in another church when only one member of the couple is Catholic and can be difficult to get).

    However, if two non-Catholics get married in a civil ceremony without known impediments (previously married etc) then this would be recognized as valid even if this couple later converted to Catholicism.
    image
    holyguacamole79
  • I think a lot of this stuff varies...  None of my vows include anything about children.  They asked about children and I let my fiancee answer the question because he wants kids and I tend to change my mind depending on my mood.  We weren't asked specifically if we lived together (we do) but when questions like that do come up we word in such a way that it's more a "lie by omission".  We also attended church a few times because he told us to, but when he became obvious he still didn't recognize us we stopped going (I'm much more religious than he is, but I loath having someone tell me how I should view my religion).  We weren't asked about birth control or anything like that beyond "Can you function sexually" and it took all I had not to ask how that's an appropriate question considering you're not even supposed to be having pre-marital sex.

    Anyway....I think your best bet if to just talk to a priest and find out what expected and acceptable because it seriously seems as though every church/area/region is different.
  • Several PPs have mentioned that the priest will not ask about sex, living arrangements, or BC, or if he does, you can omit that information.  I just really, truly don't understand marrying into a faith that somebody doesn't live by, to the point that they'd lie by omission to the priest.  If somebody disagrees with the church to that extent, I just don't get the desire to be married in the church.

    Fi has floated this idea to me, as well.  Basically, that we can just sort of fake it through the meetings with the priest, have the wedding, and then not go back to Mass until we have kids christened.  After I really asked him a lot of questions about what he would get out of that, the answers were A) to make his family happy, and B) tradition and his Italian heritage.  I just don't see either of those reasons as good enough to lie to a priest.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    I hate when I quote and the dumb board wont let me write under the quoted area. ANYWAY .. THIS.. I agree 100% It becomes less about the church and more about the show.
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    If you go through pre-Cana, you will likely be given the FOCCUS inventory, which will help the priest / deacon guide your discussions.  There is a special section of that inventory for couples cohabitation.  So, while the church definitely has issues with it, it's not like that automatically "disqualifies" you.  The deacon who prepared us said that he usually doesn't have to ask couples if they are living together - he just looks at the address you put down and that gives him his answer.

    Regarding birth control, there is a question regarding family planning and if you have discussed it / agree on what you will use.  Some churches require couples to take an intro NFP class during pre-Cana, some don't (ours didn't, but they now do).

    Regarding not wanting to have children, this is where things will be difficult.  The priest / deacon will, at some point, question you & your FI separately regarding your desire to marry.  One of the questions, I think, regards your desire to have kids. 

    Amarantineyes, have you been baptized?  That will also play into this.

    And I'm with PPs ... I agree that your FI has some soul-searching to do regarding why he wants a Catholic wedding.  Good luck!


  • This is not completely true. A baptized Catholic must marry in a Catholic church or get a dispensation from canonical form to remain in good standing (this is usually only given to marry in another church when only one member of the couple is Catholic and can be difficult to get).

    However, if two non-Catholics get married in a civil ceremony without known impediments (previously married etc) then this would be recognized as valid even if this couple later converted to Catholicism.

    Depends on archdiocese rules what their requirements are for specific situations. The wedding requirements my parents were given were very different than what my fiancé and I were given because we are getting married under a different archdiocese.
    kraccoon said:

    I think a lot of this stuff varies...  None of my vows include anything about children.

    I met with my priest a couple days ago to go over the readings, prayers, hymns and vows, and children were mentioned in the vows. Might have been different for you.
  • kraccoon said:
    I think a lot of this stuff varies...  None of my vows include anything about children.  They asked about children and I let my fiancee answer the question because he wants kids and I tend to change my mind depending on my mood.  We weren't asked specifically if we lived together (we do) but when questions like that do come up we word in such a way that it's more a "lie by omission".  We also attended church a few times because he told us to, but when he became obvious he still didn't recognize us we stopped going (I'm much more religious than he is, but I loath having someone tell me how I should view my religion).  We weren't asked about birth control or anything like that beyond "Can you function sexually" and it took all I had not to ask how that's an appropriate question considering you're not even supposed to be having pre-marital sex.

    Anyway....I think your best bet if to just talk to a priest and find out what expected and acceptable because it seriously seems as though every church/area/region is different.
    While the stuff about children is not in the actual vows, there is a statement of intentions right before the vows that I believe is standard in all churches. This part explicitly asks about children, saying: 
    "(Name) and (name), have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?"
    "Will you honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?"

    "Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?"


    And you have to answer "yes" or "I will" to each of those. So you will definitely be asked about children during your ceremony.

    OliveOilsMomJBee85
  • holyguacamole79holyguacamole79 a taco truck in Houston member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    kraccoon said:
    None of my vows include anything about children. 
    The vows, no.  But right before the vows, the priest / deacon says this (to which you must answer "I will")

    N. and N., have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?

    Will you love and honor each other as husband and wife for the rest of your lives?

    Will you accept children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the Law of Love and Compassion?

    Since it is your intention to enter into marriage, with your hands joined, declare your consent before God and his Church, this community of your family and friends.


    CMGragainctr24JBee85
  • I was on BC and living with my fiance (now husband) during our engagement. Priest never asked.
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