Can't Afford Our Catholic Wedding…Advice?

posted 3 years ago in Catholic
Post # 3
1072 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

What is your budget and how much will the church part cost? You could always have the ceremony and then just a drinks, canapes and cake reception somewhere nice. I’ve seen Catholic weddings before like that and they were lovely. Might also be worth talking to the church and explaining your financial situation. Often a lot of the charges are technically voluntary and can be waived if you are in real need.

Post # 2
1383 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Not sure I understand…. Is it that you can’t afford the cost of the ceremony, or that having a nice ceremony in church raises the bar leading to other costs for a reception?

Post # 7
206 posts
Helper bee

Have you talked to anyone at your parrish yet?  If you’re practicing Catholics who want to marry in the church, I would think that your priest would help you figure out how to make it possible for you to receive the sacrament of marriage, regardless of your financial situation.  

I’m pretty sure that the brochure I got from my church said that, while a donation of $X is typical, it was ultimately up to the discretion of the couple – in fact, I’m pretty sure they would even waive some of the preparation fees, too, for parrishioners facing true financial hardship, and I think at least in some areas, there’s financial aid for Engaged Encounter programs as well.  I also don’t think it’s necessary to do something formal just because it’s a lovely church – I wonder if your priest might not even be relieved if you let him know that you wanted to keep things simple and leave out some of the decorative trappings.  But if you’re feeling self conscious about not being able to throw a big, formal party to match your church, perhaps there’s a simpler chapel nearby?

If you haven’t already looked at it, the USCCB’s For Your Marriage site ( is a good resource for more information about Catholic weddings.

I hope things work out for you and your fiance!

Post # 5
42157 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

maggiemarie64:  You do not have to host dinner if the reception does not fall during normal meal hours.

You could have an afternoon tea with hors d’oevres and sweets right after the ceremony.

If you want you could follow that with a private dinner for immediate family.


Post # 6
33 posts
  • Wedding: January 2015 - Country Club

@maggiemarie64  – I understand what you mean the catholic churches in my area ask for a “donation”/”stipend”, my parish was $1200, after calling several in my county I found that the price range was $800-1500! I called others in the next county and theirs were $200-600!

I recommend you talk to your priest, I know I brought up the price factor with several churches and they stated they would never deny any catholic members from marrying and understood everyone is on a budget and they could do a different catholic ceremony that would be shorter in time, and no extras like flowers for the virgin, no lazos, etc., so maybe if you ask your priest they will work with your budget? Its worth a shot, never hurts to ask 🙂

Post # 9
206 posts
Helper bee

@maggiemarie64 I just saw your budget update.  I don’t think there’s anything rude about not serving a whole meal if it isn’t meal time.  Perhaps there’s a local park with a picnic shelter where you could enjoy cake and punch with your guests?  Or depending on the number of people you’d invite, even have them over for an open house, or meet at a favorite restaurant.  With a smaller budget, thinking outside the box of reception halls might help you find a solution that feels hospitable, celebratory, and still affordable.  

The other thing to bear in mind would be that you don’t need any more people present than you would if you got married at the courthouse.  You could get married in the Church and still have a very simple marriage rite with you, your fiance, the priest, and your witnesses.  I certainly undertand wanting to celebrate with more loved ones and have a community there, but it’s just another option.

Post # 8
43 posts

Ymaggiemarie64:  You dont HAVE to get married in thf church….are you both active members?  I understand the faith, but perhaps you coukd talk to the parish priest and come up with something. Perhaps theres another location thats sanctioned for rites.? If worse comes to worse you can be married at the courthouse and then apply to have the church “approve” your marriage. Did they quote you that b/c you havent “given” your alloted amount, ie. havent turned in all your envelopes? Call the dioceses…there must be a church and a priest thats willing to marry you….

Post # 10
1193 posts
Bumble bee

maggiemarie64:  You should talk to your priest – usually they will waive the payment for a financial need. You also can have the priest preside over an intimate ceremony with you, your FI, and required witnesses (by your state). We considered doing that.

As for the reception, perhaps a Saturday morning wedding followed by brunch? Or a 1-2pm wedding with a cocktail hour (appetizers and drinks) afterwards? Your budget is totally workable, you will just have to do something outside of the box 🙂

Post # 11
972 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

maggiemarie64:  If you are up for doing something a little different, you could ask if you could have your wedding as part of a regular mass. Like a regular Sunday morning mass, but at some point in the service (my guess is before Eucharist – I’ve never actually seen this in person), the priest marries you. That actual part takes just minutes. So you could keep it small, do a more casual dress, then go out for a lovely lunch with your loved ones. Yes, you will have random parishoners you don’t know at your wedding, but technically every wedding is open to the parish and it would be pretty neat for anyone attending! 

Post # 12
9206 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2018

I agree with PPs. I would still get married at your church, but maybe have it at an inbetween meal times? So have a small cake and punch reception to keep costs down. $1000 for a full Catholic ceremony seems reasonable to me, but the Anglican church we want to get married at charges $1500. Plus that is a huge chunk of the budget. But if you really want to get married there I would still go ahead and do it!

Post # 13
5815 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2010

maggiemarie64:  I know $1000 is a lot, but even without that cost I’m not sure how you are going to pay for a sit down meal and (dress, photographer, etc) everything else on $3,000. Even with all of your small budget, you would probably be having a small, low key desert/punch  or hors’d affair. 

Post # 14
330 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010


Canon Law only requires two witnesses, following the marriage rite and the Catholic witness (priest, deacon).  It assumes you’ll get married in your home parish and makes it more complicated to get married elsewhere.  Either way, you need to go through your parish priest to get any permissions. 

All the traditions with the wedding dress, bridal party, big reception are cultural things.  You do not need them to validly be married in the Catholic Church. 

The issue is that it has become such a cultural thing to have a big Catholic wedding, that many parishes just assume that’s the route you’ll go.  Having a small ceremony is outside of the norm.

In no way do you have to have the look of the chapel influence how formal or informal your wedding is.  For crying out loud, we go to Sunday Mass in semi formal attire every week.  I’ve never seen anyone wear a dress as expensive as a wedding dress to their confirmation.  Look what people wear at baptisms. 

Don’t let the bridal industry get you call caught up in spending a ton of money or else you’ll be rude.  Just expect parish staff to be a little confused.  The priest will have a better idea of what can be done.  (Well hopefully.  When we were preparing for our wedding, our main pastor had short term memory loss.  We were mainly just taking care of him.  He was heading to his death and I think the man wanted to die while saying the Mass.  Meanwhile the parish seemed to want to help him acheive his goal.  The newly assigned Parochial Vicar had no clue what he was doing.  He was newly ordained and barely spoke English.  He seemed new to the idea of non-arranged marriages and seemed to think my husband and I needed special permission to marry someone from another diocese.  But he didn’t just mess up our wedding.  He kept forgetting to show up for Mass.  The parish secretary wouldn’t know where he was.  It was a nightmare!)

Post # 15
6194 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - The Liberty House

Cake, finger sandwiches, and mimosas after the ceremony! Easy, cheap, simple! Then, you also don’t have to combat the gap!

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