Post # 1
Hi WeddingBee-ers, 🙂
This is my first post as I begin the (very) preliminary steps in planning our wedding! We’re still a couple years away from the big day, but a recent friend’s wedding got me thinking about some issues I worry may come up when the time comes.
My fiance and I are both Catholic, and our families belong to the same church in our childhood hometown. Unfortunately, long story short, it’s just not going to work out logistically for us to get married there considering we no longer live nearby, and neither do many of our guests.
I’ve been researchiing other Catholic churches, and am finding that many require you to be a member of the church for at least a year before you can even talk about getting married there.
Has anyone had success getting married in a Catholic church that they are not a member of? Do they ever make exceptions? And if anyone has any specific experience getting married in a Catholic church in New Jersey, that would be great too!
Thanks, ladies. 🙂
Post # 3
Some churches will marry you if you’re not a member. You just need to call and ask the church/priest. I am getting married in a church that I am not a member of. And, one of my friends was also married in a church that she was not a member of. Good luck!
Post # 4
PP is right, just call and ask! Most have that restriction where you have to be a member for X months because they want to make sure that you actually want to belong to the chruch and are practicing and not just using the chruch for a pretty backdrop or to appease your family. Are you a member of another church elsewhere? I’m not a member of the chruch where I’m getting married (as it is in my home town 500 miles away) but my parents are and I’m a member of a church where I live so it hasn’t been an issue.
If you have a few years before you get married, why not just become a member of a church? The minimum amount of time you need for marriage-prep is 6 months, so it sounds like you have time! Good luck!
Post # 5
We got married at a church we don’t belong to, but it was the church DH went to as a child. It did require a lot of extra approvals, and we had to pay a higher fee than we would have had to as members. We got it done, though. Just call the churches near you and ask!
Post # 6
- Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA
Most churches require that you be a member (catholic & not) but to my knowledge at least most, if not all, Catholic churches also require you to do couples counseling with the priest for 3-6 months before the wedding. Some will even require that you not live together, I know there was another gal last week that was struggling with a similar issue.
If you are both catholic, why don’t you choose a church to join anyway?
Post # 7
Also, FYI, be aware that there are two different definitions for being a “member” of a parish. (Knowing this info could actually work to your advantage!)
– the traditional definition comes from the fact that parishes are geographic divisions of a diocese. Depending on where you live, you and FI are both automatically “members” of whatever parish that territory belongs to, regardless of whether or not you’ve ever set foot in the church. Of course, it’s always better if you have been to Mass there, but if you want to get married at the church where you live, you are a de facto member and they have to let you. You have that right as a Catholic to receive the sacraments at your parish. If you’ve lived at the same address for at least a year (or if you will have, by the time the wedding comes around), you’ve already fulfilled the membership requirement at a parish. (Whether it’s the parish you want to be married at or not, you’ll have to decide, but you should at least know that this is automatically one of your options. The same goes for FI – it’s usually logistically a little easier to get married at the bride’s parish, because of some of the antiquated church bureaucracy, but he is also automatically a member of some parish just based on where he lives, and he has the same right to receive his sacraments there.)
– you can also be a “registered member” by actively taking the step of signing up with a parish. Once you find a church you like and (ideally) want to attend regularly, if you take this step it will pave the way for making your wedding arrangements there with greater ease and probably less expense.
Post # 8
@KCKnd2: I actually did not know this! Very helpful, thank you. I will look into this a little more.
Post # 9
We became members of the church we were married in, however, we could have been maried there without it. It would have cost us $500 more to be married there though! We just registered and went there as much as we could… 🙂
I think most churches would do the same… just ask!
Post # 10
We are getting married at a church we are not members of because it isn’t a parish– it is a university chapel. That might be one option. Another option is to join a new church. That was acutally the first thing FI and I did when we got engaged. It is common practice to make sure you start getting your paperwork in order. We went for 2-3 times, signed up as members, went for another month, then signed up for pre-cana. We could have signed up for a wedding at that point too.
Post # 11
@magazinegirl37: Yeah, it’s kind of a little-known fact … the US has a very individualistic culture and we think of parish membership as something we “choose” – which it is, to an extent, and there are good aspects to that. I mean, if choosing a parish other than the one right where you live (because you like the priest better, because you feel more connected to the community, whatever) results in you going to Mass more often and being more involved with the Church as a whole, then it’s a good thing.
The Church, though, operates in a much more traditional framework dating back to a time when it was much more interwoven in day-to-day life – being part of the local parish was part-and-parcel of being part of the community/village/neighborhood, etc. Also, people tended to move around a lot less, marry primarily within their own communities, etc., so generally your parish had your baptismal record, and your first Communion, and your Confirmation, etc, all on file because it all happened in the same place. That’s much less the case nowadays.
If you go to the priest, though, and you know this fact about how parish administration works, it might actually win you a few points, because so few people do know about it!