Hailey
Just Said Yes June 2022

Catholic & Non-denominational Christian

Hailey, on May 9, 2021 at 10:42 PM Posted in Wedding Ceremony 0 19
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Hello,
The time has come. I need some help. So we are currently planning our wedding & picked out a venue for the reception that does not have a ceremony area. We are hoping to go ahead and use the reception venue as a ceremonial venue but my fiancé's family is catholic and they keep going on and on that you need to get married civilly and by the church. I'd rather not get married in a church because it adds extra cost & it seems harder to customize the ceremony how you'd like it especially since we will have a translator so both sides of our families can understand what is going on. Has anyone done a Hispanic/American wedding with a catholic & non-denominational Christain because I need some help! Another thing I'd like for y'all to know is my fiancé is not religious so I'm getting a bit frustrated that we MUST get married in a church according to them. Can someone please make some suggestions I don't know what to do.

19 Comments

Latest activity by Judith, on May 18, 2021 at 2:01 PM
  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    Your wedding, your decision. His family can dictate other relatives’ weddings when it is their turn. The Catholic Church will not marry you unless one or both of you are currently practicing.


    Plan the wedding you and fiancé want. Pay for it yourselves. Do not share plans with his family. Elope with your closest supportive friends/family who are dictating wedding plans.
    I would be tempted to not invite them if they are that adamant that your wedding can’t even reflect who both of you are and must fit their vision. Either way, you both need to set and maintain boundaries as a team. If you don’t, they will walk over you and dictate every life decision: where you live, where you work, where you spend holidays, how your children live, and so on. Nip it in the bud now. If they cross the boundaries you have set up, they lose contact privileges.
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  • Hailey
    Just Said Yes June 2022
    Hailey ·
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    Thanks so much for this reply. I wasn't expecting that! You are right though that's for sure. I feel a bit guilty about it but I definitely shouldn't since neither of us are catholic. It's hard because I can't fully communicate with her when it comes to things like this so I cant explain to her it's technically married though a "church" since we will have a pastor present. She's just not understanding and it's difficult because she speaks Spanish & some English & I speak some Spanish & English. I don't mind trying to do a few of the catholic traditions in my wedding to please the family since they are family after all but I guess if I did a little bit they wouldn't understand why I wouldn't do the whole thing so maybe we should just keep it basic.
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  • Samantha
    Rockstar October 2022
    Samantha ·
    • Flag
    What they mean is that if you want your wedding to be recognized by the Catholic church as the sacrament of marriage, it needs to be done in a Catholic church by a Catholic priest.
    Sometimes this gets lost in “translation” between Catholics and protestants. If you were married in a Catholic church by a priest, there is no need for a civil ceremony because the priest has the authority to do that. BUT a civil ceremony or one done by an officiant from another denomination or sect of Christianity or another religion entirely is not recognized as the sacrament of marriage. Sometimes people will have a Catholic ceremony after they are married elsewhere, called “convalidation.”

    I expect his family wants your marriage recognized by the Catholic church. It involves more than having a wedding in the church building, the priest will require some sort of preparation, and you will likely be required to raise the children in the Catholic faith and be strongly encouraged to convert. It’s not something you should do if you are not all in, that’s for sure!
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  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
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    The ceremony is for the bride and groom and reflects their beliefs or lack of. The reception is for the guests. If neither you or fiancé are Catholic then skip the Catholic ceremony.

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  • Jennifer
    Savvy August 2021
    Jennifer ·
    • Flag
    I’m not religious but I worked in the wedding industry for over a decade. I would look into a Unitarian Universalist church. In my experience it’s the most welcoming to ALL people and you can probably customize the ceremony a bit more than a Catholic Church.
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  • Fred
    Expert April 2022
    Fred ·
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    I Couldn't agree more with Michelle and her replies.
    My partner and I are both catholic,not practicing: we believe in God, in Jesus,in heaven & hell, that's it. We're not hispanic or latino but french (I'm saying this because catholicism and church weddings matter as much in french culture as they do in Latin America's) but we are having a secular ceremony.
    My mother's side of the family is not happy because of that but they know whose wedding it is ... They are free to either attend or decline. We are not allowing them to get what they want at OUR wedding. Period. I would only have accepted to have a church wedding for my partner but no one else, not even her parents,grandparents ... or mine.
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  • Fred
    Expert April 2022
    Fred ·
    • Flag

    However, if you really want to appease his family, you can incorporate 2-3 little religious stuff in your non religious ceremony.

    For example: the officiant can mention God once or twice, if you're having one (or more) reading(s), you can pick a religious text, the officiant or someone else can perform a prayer and/or a blessing ...

    Or you can have the blessing and/or the prayer at the reception, before dinner: I've been to weddings where the groom's and/or bride's parents blessed the meal and/or the couple before dinner but the ceremony was 100% non religious. This is a good compromise.

    We are not doing these because we are skipping religion altogether but this is something we considered before making the final decision.

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  • Elizabeth
    Super June 2021
    Elizabeth ·
    • Flag
    Like PPs said, being married in the Catholic Church requires preparation and assuring the priest that you will be raising Catholic children. Also, while a bilingual Mass won't be a problem, there is very little customization in a Catholic ceremony.


    I would recommend holding your ground. If you aren't Catholic, don't get married in the Church. I think you can even frame it as "we can't get married in the Church because we dont believe so it would be unfair to the priest"
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  • Valerie
    Savvy July 2021
    Valerie ·
    • Flag

    I agree with what everyone else is saying. It is YOUR wedding so do it YOUR way. I am Hispanic and was raised Catholic. It is tradition to get married in a Civil ceremony first and then in the Catholic church. As someone else stated, there is a lot of preparation involved. For started you both would have had to complete the Sacraments of Baptism, (confession) First Holy Communion, and Confirmation which essentially is your affirmation of commitment of faith to the Catholic church. Additionally, no Catholic church will marry you unless you both attend mass regularly as registered members of the church. If t his is not your first marriage for either one (or both) of you, then typically you are required to have any previous marriages annulled. If you are not a practicing Catholic, seems like a lot of unnecessary headache and money to appease his family. You two are the ones that need to be happy with your ceremony. At the end of the day, the ceremony is only minutes long. Your marriage is a lifetime.

    Good luck!

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  • MOB So Cal
    January 2019
    MOB So Cal ·
    • Flag

    Agree with others that this is yours and your fiance's decision. The only thing I want to add is that since the issue is with HIS family, HE needs to have the conversation with them about the choices you've made. Especially if he is not practicing the Catholic faith and has no desire to, I've never heard of a Catholic priest who would agree to marry you. In the Catholic faith this is a VERY serious, pretty much an all-or-nothing requirement, and it doesn't sound like either of you wants to conform to the requirements. The sooner he sets his family straight the better it will be for everyone. Good luck!

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  • Michelle
    Devoted August 2021
    Michelle ·
    • Flag

    I agree with the others and that you should get married how you and your fiance feels is relevant to your life. I also like the incorporating of familial blessings in the day which will include them and will be quite meaningful. But, if they still won't be understanding, lie and tell them you had an interview with a priest and you both do not fall within their rules for marrying within the Church. Oh, there are lots of guidelines in the R.C. Church. For example, my FH and I were asked (separately) if we wanted kids, of any previous marriages, our current parish, and we also had to provide proof of baptism with seal, and 2 notarized signatures from friends that we are not related and indeed marrying of our own volition. Lastly, ours would still be a petition to the bishop for a "mixed marriage"-- 1 confirmed Catholic and 1 Lutheran (baptized only). If you both are also not practicing, for sure they would not recommend a Church wedding. I feel the family could comprehend the hard Church rules and acquiesce to the decision that the Church said no. Honestly, the Church could still say no to me while we have pre-Canaan counseling (also required). Good luck.

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  • Jay
    Devoted September 2021
    Jay ·
    • Flag

    I think this is largely your fiance's issue, although of course it should be in discussion with you.

    First--You say your fiance's family is Catholic--but is he? If we was baptized Catholic, then in the eyes of church, he is one & must be married in a Catholic church. There's no leeway there, at least from the church's point of view. A Catholic married outside of a Catholic church is considered to have an invalid marriage, has committed a mortal sin, & cannot do things like receive Communion. This is all "technically," of course--a baptized Catholic may not necessarily care about having a "valid marriage" if they no longer practice, have renounced Catholicism, etc.

    So, if he is baptized, and he at all wants to participate in the church or would at all be bothered by living in sin, he will need to be married in a Catholic church. There are some exceptions here, but they all involve talking to a priest & getting official approval. This is the situation I'm in--we're both Catholic, although I do not practice. But it was important to my fiance that he remain in good standing with the church, & the only way to do that is to be married in the church. (There's also a cultural element for us, as both our families are Irish-Italian & very Catholic). I also assume this is what your fiance's family is concerned about!

    If he wasn't baptized or actively wants nothing to do with the Catholic church, then it's fine to not get married in one. But in that case, I agree with a previous poster that your fiance should be the one to tell his family.

    People are saying you have to be practicing, & I think this is really up to your particular area/parish. Many Catholic churches would be happy to marry you even if you aren't practicing, as long as you were baptized & go through the other requirements (i.e. pre-Cana, and I think some other paperwork if you are not Catholic). This is the case for us--I don't practice, my fiance only recently started going to mass again, and we live together. And it's all a non-issue, but I do live in a very liberal area. The churches in our area take a stance of "we don't approve, you should go to confession, but let's focus on getting you married."

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  • Kari
    Master May 2020
    Kari ·
    • Flag

    This is up to you and your fiance. I am not religious and the one place I absolutely was not going to get married was in a place of worship.

    Typically there are requirements to get married in a Catholic church and to me it feels wrong to do religious practices I don't believe in and falsifying my convictions to be "allowed" to get married in one. It's a disservice to everyone involved. In this case it sounds like your fiance's Catholic family wants him to get married in a Catholic ceremony in a Catholic church but he doesn't care about that at all. You and your fiance are the ones getting married, not his family. If getting married in a church is not important to either of you, and you don't want to convert to Catholicism, then don't do it. My understanding is that the Catholic church will not recognize marriages that aren't done the Catholic way in the Catholic church, so I don't see the point in finding a non-denominational middle ground, but maybe his family sees it differently, or maybe the Catholic church has become a little more lenient in recent years.

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  • Maddie
    Devoted February 2022
    Maddie ·
    • Flag

    If it's not important to your fiance, then for sure do whatever you want. I'm Catholic (somewhat practicing) and always pictured myself getting married in a church, but the older I got the more I just wanted to keep it simple. Also the priest is very important to me, so when my mom's pastor moved away, I just really didn't see the point of getting married by some priest I didn't care for. My FH doesn't practice at all, but all his cousins got married in the Church. Both our families are Latino and we were both baptized. If any of them have a problem with it, (some have made faces or surprised, concerned exclamations)h - both sides seem to know better than to try and change our minds.

    I do want to incorporate a prayer and maybe some readings but that's it. My Godfather is going to marry us and that means a lot more to both of us than some priest we don't know. God knows I love my husband and he loves me - I don't really think a private entity NEEDS to be involved. There might be a middle ground, there are also some cultural things that you might be able to bring into it. But unfortunately you aren't going to please the die-hard Catholics who need everything to be by the book. As long as you both feel good about it, that's what's important

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  • Barbara
    Dedicated March 2017
    Barbara ·
    • Flag

    You've gotten lots of good information and advice already, so I won't repeat that stuff, but I will say if you end up deciding to get married in the church, allow lots and lots of time. You'll need 3-6 months for premarital counseling, and, at least in our diocese, we had to do an enormous online questionnaire about all kinds of personal, financial, emotional, ethical, medical (i.e. birth control) and other topics which served as the basis for the counseling sessions. I was nonpracticing Catholic at the time was married before my current marriage, though only in a civil ceremony. All of it caused enormous headaches and I had to supply all sorts of documents, proof of my receiving the sacraments, and jump through a whole lot of hoops to finally get permission. Sadly for me, the priest in charge had just spent 6 years serving on the annulments panel (or whatever they call it) and he knew every rule in the book and was determined to enforced them all. Thank god I'm too old to have kids, or we'd probably still be in counseling. The point here is that the RC church has rules for everything. Maybe if you and FH saw a priest just to get the information on getting married in the church (maybe neither of you even 'qualify') the whole issue with the family would be moot.

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  • E
    Dedicated April 2023
    Elly ·
    • Flag

    I am so, so sorry you have to deal with this situation. This is very similar to what my father had to deal with when marrying my mother. (Neither was particularly religious at the time, and eventually the priest refused to marry them for their age gap and racial prejudice, so they decided on the Episcopal Church- but I digress).

    Here are a few potential solutions:

    1) Have a small ceremony in the chapel of the Catholic Church (most Catholic and Episcopal churches have a small chapel next to the main church) before the large wedding with a priest who can translate.
    The pros:
    -It can appease your in-laws
    -Sometimes some churches will lower the cost or "suggested donation" for a smaller event.

    The cons:
    -If you don't convert, most Catholic churches will not recognize your union.
    -The Catholic church will require you to have premarital counseling with the priest multiple times before you are marries.

    2) Choose an officiant (non-denominational or not) who can translate in English and in Spanish.
    The pros:
    -You and your fiancé won't feel pressured to marry in a church.
    -Both of your families will be able to understand.
    -It can add a unique cultural experience to your wedding.
    -You can incorporate a cross, or altar in your ceremony and have items like rosaries, and statues blessed by a Catholic priest as a sign of respect towards your fiancé's family.

    The cons:
    -Your fiancé's family may still not be happy that you married outside of the Catholic church and may resent you. You will need your fiancé to stand up to them on your behalf, but be warned: Some of the women that rule the roost might hold it against you for years, and can talk behind your back. (I have seen this in my own family, sadly).

    -The ceremony might become lengthy.
    -If you choose to speak in Spanish, and are a beginner to the language, you may get some laughs at your expense.

    3) Get married in a non-denominational church (with or without an officiant who can translate)

    The Pros:
    -You will be more in your element.
    -Some relatives (usually the younger generation) may come around to the idea that at least you are getting married in a church.

    The Cons:
    -May get costly
    -If your officiant doesn't speak Spanish, your fiancé's family may feel left out and can resent you. (At least consider getting a friend who can translate if the officiant cannot).
    -The non-denominational church may require you attend premarital counseling.

    Ultimately, no "solution" will be perfect. I do suggest that if money isn't too much of an issue, premarital counseling outside of the church may benefit you and your fiancé in terms of navigating difficult topics including his family's reactions after your wedding, and how you will handle the holidays. It will be extremely important that you present a united front with his family at all times.


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  • devotedlydavis
    Devoted March 2022
    devotedlydavis ·
    • Flag

    I am Catholic, but my FH is not. We plan to do a civil ceremony at our venue and will do a convalidation later. In my experience, you do NOT have to both be Catholic for the church to recognize your marriage, but you DO have to agree to raise your children in the Catholic church. This is big for us as my FH has no intention of converting to Catholicism, but has agreed to raise our children in the Catholic church.

    Right now it seems like you may need to buy some time with his family. I would try to explain to them that you understand their concerns and are working with the church to have your marriage recognized by the Catholic Church. However, you wish to do the civil ceremony first because it is what you BOTH want and will do the church part post nuptials. The other option is to have your FH talk to his mom and explain to her why he doesn't want to get married in the Catholic Church - maybe it will help if he can get her to understand that it's not what he wants, so you aren't going to do it.

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  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    At the suggestion of a friend, we asked the parish priest of my very Italian Catholic parents to talk to them, with us present. When we said not Catholic, their mission became to find a way to convince us, or the church, it is a detail. And in their younger years, The RC commonly got people to convert, so they thought it proper, and possible. Their priest knew my FI, and had talked with me. He told them he thought ot was vreat we were getting married. That we loved each other, had mostly common goals, and that morally we would be good examples for our children, good parents. But that neither he nor any other priest, now or ever , would marry us in the Catholic Church. Neither of us believed in the teachings of the church. We were not Catholic. FIL said something about, if he goes to classes, can this be changed. The priest said, they could recite the words, but not accept them. They are good children you have raised. But he as a priest would not stand at the altar of God and lie. Coming from their priests, that was it. We never heard a word again. When their aunts brought up baptism, suggesting they do it so we would not know, his parents stated flat no. And what they had been told. The authow


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  • J
    Master 0000
    Judith ·
    • Flag
    And cited the authority of the church.
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