Post # 1
There is a beautiful church in my parents’ hometown that I have a deep connection to. My grandparents and parents were married there and it’s always been my dream to walk down that aisle of this church with my daddy and marry the man of my dreams. So, when the man of my dreams asked me to marry the first thing we did, after I said yes, was contact the priest of this church to set our wedding date.
Two months and several e-mails later, we hadn’t heard from the priest. I asked my mom to call and talk with him. She said that it was one of the most frustrating and infuriating converstaions she’s ever had. He neither gave nor denied us permission to be married there. He sent my FI and I a list of criteria that, frankly, we couldn’t meet at any church in the US since we live abroad. We replied with an e-mail basically pleading our case, the family connection to this church and how many family members are still parishoners. Nothing. We moved our wedding date back from December 2007 to May 2008 to give us more time and better weather in case we had to have an outdoor ceremony, but that would require us to have a second ceremony in another church to have the marriage blessed. We enlisted my uncle, who is also my godfather, to speak with the priest on our behalf. This conversation apparently went much the same way as the conversation with my mom. Not yes, but not no either. He must have said something, though, because we recieved an e-mail saying that we could have the church.
That was back in June and, I will admit, there has been no communication between us since then. Both my FI and I have been busy navigating a new country. I e-mailed him the other day to give him a "spiritual update", basically to let him know that I’d found a parish to attend and that we were beginning our Pre Cana classes (required by the Church). I recieved this from his secretary: "I am forwarding this to you. I will be glad to answer for you if you don’t want them to have your e-mail address."
How would you interpret that?
Like I said, it’s always been my dream to be married in this church, but this whole experience has been very very upsetting. My FI (not Catholic) has been very supportive. I have arranged for an alternative ceremony site just in case dealing with the priest becomes too much. I’m not willing to give up on my childhood dream yet, and I do want to be married in the Catholic Church, but I breaks my heart to dread dealing with these people.
What would you do?
Post # 3
i would use your godfather as a liason since he was the one who was able to get through to the priest. your family seems to have a long standing presence in your parish and maybe the priest just needs a face to face person to discuss things with.
at the same time, you’re quite a few months away. many churches are not communicative on more than just the basic requirements and it seems like you’re working on those already. most likely, you’ll communicate with them prior to the rehearsal and the priest will show up on the day of the wedding. unfortunately, this is the case with many catholic churches. it seems like weddings are pretty cookie cutter to them, so they don’t feel the need for gobs of communication. but hang in there. just make sure that your wedding is on the church calendar and the priest’s calendar. and you don’t really need to speak to the priest in order to check on that. it seems like the secretary may be more available for correspondence.
Post # 4
it seems like she meant that message to be for the priest and not you. I think she meant to forward your e-mail to him, but hit "reply" instead. maybe you can reply back to her to let her know that you think you received that e-mail by mistake because it isn’t really a response to your original email. Also, letting her know that it concerned you because previous communication with the church had already been so unclear.
good luck! i think most people (including myself) are dealing with similar communication issues with churches (catholic and otherwise). I hope it all works out.
Post # 5
Somewhat similar situation…
We had a church we really wanted to get married in… my parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles and cousins on my dad’s side had all been married in the same Episcapal church. My grandmother’s funeral had also been there too, so it had a lof of family history for us. We ended up running into a lot of problems.. they had way too many rules, and one of them was no photography in the sanctuary… at all! Photography was really important to us, so we ended up decided to choose a different church.
We ended up going with a church that was nearby, and even more beautiful and old… and they allowed photography in the sanctuary.
At first, I was bummed because I had always seen myself getting married in that one church. But after we started planning, it didn’t even bother us at all.. we created our own memories and tradition at this new one. I didn’t even think about it on our wedding day.
I hope that is encouraging to you. If this doesn’t work out, you will have just as beautiful and special of a wedding, as if you had it at the church you originally wanted to. Good luck.
Post # 6
Loveletter, I’m glad you said that you didn’t even think of your previous church on your wedding day. I too had my hopes and dreams set on getting married in our Catholic church where everyone in my family had their weddings and funerals. My mom (who teaches as the adjoining school!) talked to the priest shortly after our engagement to make sure everything was set to go and we learned that my fiance needed to get an annulment of his previous marriage even though a) he’s not catholic, b) his ex-wife isn’t catholic and c) they weren’t married in a catholic church. They’ve been divorced for seven years, she’s remarried and has a child and we didn’t even think of it. But through research and a lot of tears (on my part) we learned that most annulments take more than a year and need to involve witnesses, the ex, interviews, questionnaires, meetings, blah blah blah. Since our wedding is August 1, 2008, getting married in my church is basically out of the question. And personally, I don’t even agree with the whole annulment thing because it basically says that the previous marriage didn’t exist. Well, it did. And, being a girl, I don’t really want him to contact his ex to ask her ‘permission’ for him to get married again. I’m trying really hard not to turn my back on the catholic church because of this.
So we’ve found a Lutheran church that will accept us as we are and I’m going to look at it as you said – we’re making new memories and new traditions.
Post # 7
Is the church pretty big? Our church had 3 different people we could have to marry us, we chose to have the deacon at our church marry us. Have you tried other avenues?
Post # 8
Thanks for all the responses. It’s comforting to know that there are brides out there who have been in the same boat and are willing to offer advice and support. Hugs for you all.
Last we heard, the wedding is on the church’s calendar. I would ask my godfather to be the liason between us and the priest except that the last time he intervened on our behalf the priest wrote a nasty letter in the church bulletin that was very obviously, though not entirely, directed at my family.
All this has taught me the importance of the backup plan, and I have several. A few of you have said that that’s just the way churches seem to run, and I can see that that is a good point. While it’s the most important day of OUR lives, it’s just another day in the business of being a pastor for them. So the first thing I’m going to do is chill out. We will, hopefully, meet with him in December when we will be home and who knows, maybe all of this is just one big misunderstanding. Second, I’m giving my childhood priest a call tonight. He’s offered to officiate, but he has to be invited by the priest of the church we want to be married in. While my childhood priest is a pretty laid back guy, it is my understanding that the other priest is a control freak. It’s a busy weekend for the church we want to get married in, though – graduation the Friday night before our wedding, our’s and another wedding the day of and a vigil mass. Maybe he will be happy to have someone pinch hit. All else failing, I’ve reserved our reception site for an extra long period of time. It has a lovely garden patio where we could exchange vows…