Why Do Catholics Have To Get Married in Church?
Thatâ€™s the gist of this piece by writer Cara McDonough, who raises a question thatâ€™s increasingly common these days.Â I get several calls a year from people who ask if I can do a wedding for them in a catering hall or on a beach.Â (Usually, itâ€™s after a priest has turned them down; deacons, of course, are always the last resort.)
My sister-in-law is getting married this spring. Iâ€™ve tried on my bridesmaid dress, jotted down the date of her New York City bachelorette party and also, intrigued, watched her struggle as she strives to book a priest.
Like me, she was raised Catholic and is marrying one. And, like my husband â€” her brother â€” and I did when we got married in 2005, she and her fiancÃ© are trying to make this a Catholic affair.
Trying. Because there are rules.
I remember sitting in the chapel of the Newman Center at the University of Chapel Hill with many other couples during a Pre-Cana conference prior to our own wedding, listening to the priest talk about the importance of our forthcoming unions.
And then, unexpectedly, but with true passion: â€œYou canâ€™t get married outside.â€ He paused, then repeated, â€œYou just canâ€™t.â€
My sister-in-law, however, wants to do just that. Plenty of people do.
Why canâ€™t a Catholic ceremony take place outside? I turned to the wisdom of the internet to help me sort this out, and found many reasons, both casual and, seemingly, from on high.
Catholics marrying non-Catholics can get a special dispensation allowing marriage someplace other than a Catholic church. But if youâ€™re both Catholic, the church wedding is important. The answer, as Iâ€™ve interpreted it, mostly concerns the fact that the church is the true â€œhouse of God,â€ and marriage, being a sacrament, should be celebrated there.
The sites Catholic Education Resource Center and Catholic Answers , as well as many others, approach the subject with articles and online forums.
But really, the best explanation Iâ€™ve heard was from that priest. â€œYou just canâ€™t.â€ [More]