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Nick wrote:

Hi, guys —

Good Morning! I have heard quite a few different opinions and conflicting answers to this and
I am not sure which opinion to follow.

  • Do you *have* to get married in a Church in order for your marriage to recognized by the Catholic Church?

My fiancée and I have a beautiful place picked out that is not a Church. She is not actually Catholic nor very religious. I am, however.

  • Does this bar us from having a Catholic wedding?

I do intent to have her convert, but it would not be possible before our wedding.

Thank you for any and all help in advance!

— Nick

  { Do you have to get married in a Church for your marriage to recognized by the Catholic Church? }

Mary Ann replied:

Nick —

First it is not possible for you to "have her convert." Conversion must be her free choice, and you should not get married under the assumption that she will. You can hope and pray, but that assumption can't be the condition of your marriage.

Second, yes, unless you have a dispensation, a Catholic wedding ordinarily must take place in a Catholic Church. This is because marriage is a sacrament of the Church, and an act of worship, not just a private romantic contract.

Actually, all sacraments, themselves, are acts of worship. They are liturgical acts in which we join with Christ in His prayer to the Father, and in which He gives us grace. The neat thing about matrimony is that it is a sacrament in which the principal Liturgical actors, the "priests", if you will, are the couple, who are the head and heart of the domestic church, the natural image of the Church, the family. That is why they process in, rather than the priest.

If she is of a different religion, you may get permission to have the wedding at her church, but with an official Catholic witness.

God bless.

Mary Ann

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