Catholic Weddings

Catholic Marrying Unbaptized Agnostic/Atheist

I am a confirmed Catholic. While I may not be the most religious person, I do view the church as a large part of my childhood and family tradition. FI was never baptized and would check none or leave blank if he had to choose a religion. He also told me that he believes you cannot prove that there is or isn't a higher power and leans towards atheism. His family background is mainline Protestant (they are no longer affiliated with any particular denomination or congregation) and it sounds like he only attended church with his mother at Christmastime.

We did meet with a priest at my family parish last year and was told to get back in contact about a year before the wedding. We postponed until Spring 2022 and I haven't attended Mass since the pandemic began. FI has expressed discontent with having to do marriage preparation classes and/or workshops – even if we had the option to do them online. He also doesn't like how his mother would have to be interviewed. I assume this is just to prove that he's never been married before and is ready for a lifetime commitment, but am not sure what she would be asked. One aspect he did not have a problem with is meeting with the priest a few times before we were married and showing that we are a compatible couple. He was also relieved that he did not have to be baptized as an adult, convert or join the parish.

We also considered having a Protestant minister officiate, but it feels impersonal and if we are not going to have a Catholic wedding, I would rather just have a civil ceremony and ask his close family member to officiate. She was an influential part of his childhood and it was important that we received her blessing when we announced our engagement. Whether or not we marry in the church, I would still like to have any future child(ren) we may have baptized and FI has agreed to this. If he is unwilling to have a Catholic wedding, I doubt he would be open to a convalidation after a civil marriage.

I have a few questions for any Catholic brides (or non-Catholic brides who may have dealt with similar interfaith or intercultural issues) who would like to chime in. If you did marry in the church and your FI was unbaptized and/or nonreligious, how did you explain to him why you wanted a religious wedding? I know that in some families, parents put a lot of pressure on their children to marry in the church, so was that also a factor? Aside from Pre-Cana, what else was required? One on one interviews with the priest, character witnesses, etc. How did your FI handle prayers and other participatory parts of the ceremony (or even marriage preparation) that he does not believe in? My FI refuses to bow or kneel in a church and I hope this wouldn't be a hindrance in a wedding outside of Mass. I also am worried that he may put in his two cents when it comes to the church's teachings on birth control, etc. and is there a way for us to do Pre-Cana without him feeling left out or offended as someone not raised Catholic? Does he just have to sit quietly?

If you are Catholic and did not marry in the church, were there any Christian traditions that you still included in your ceremony? How did you explain to family your decision not to have a Catholic wedding? Was there a way to compromise? What were the religious repercussions? Are you not allowed to take communion if you attend Mass? I know that those who remarry without an annulment are not supposed to take communion, but am unsure when a Catholic is only married once and civilly. If you did have your marriage convalidated, did you have to attend Pre-Cana style classes or was it a simpler process with the understanding that you two have already been legally married for a while? Are you still able to have your child(ren) baptized (even if the church views them as illegitimate) and belong to a parish? And, if you did do this, did the non-Catholic parent have to attend meetings for the child(ren) to be baptized? Would I have more autonomy as a future Catholic parent if the church considers me unmarried (ex: FI could simply attend his future son or daughter’s baptism without having to do any parental preparation)?

Re: Catholic Marrying Unbaptized Agnostic/Atheist

  • The first step it to decide with your fiance what kind of marriage you want. "Marrying in the church" is not about just the wedding, but the actual marriage, which comes to commitment, and must have the 4 pillars in the statement of intentions (free, total, faithful, and fruitful). The classes can be good for any marriage, and bring couples through some basics... why wouldn't one want to prepare and learn to make your marriage stronger? 

    I've never heard of a parent having to be interviewed, but that would likely be just to confirm baptism status (or lack of) and previous marriage status. 

    Baptizing children in the catholic faith is a very serious commitment to raising the children catholic. If you don't really believe it yourself, then why do it? (This is a question they could ask). The church will likely require you to get an invalid marriage convalidated when going through the process. 

    I would also suggest looking into what and why the Catholic faith teaches what she does about marriage, because the answers make a lot of sense to even non-Catholics. Start with "Good news about sex and marriage" by Christopher West. 
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