Post # 1
I need some major major help here. This is what happened: fiance and I are getting married next January in Miami. Meanwhile, I am finihsing up school in Boston and he has graduated and moved to his home country. The wedding has to be in Miami because it is easiest for both families. We thought we had a church reserved, they told us the date was free and everything, so we sent out the necessary paper work to save a date, and lo and behold a month later they figure out that the date had been reserved a year ago but they forgot to transfer it from the priests calander to their calander.
Unfortunately, we already have our reception venue booked and under contract with a hefty deposit down since the original church told us that the date was basically a sure thing.
Now we are left without a place to get married.
It seems that most churches require the bride and groomt to meet with them in person before being able to reserve the date. This is impossible for us. Yes, I will be in Miami for one week in March, but my fiance can’t make it as he is working in another country and can’t just get the time off and the money to come to Miami for one day.
Is there anyone who knows what we can do? Has anyone ever been in this situation? What is a long-distance international couple supposed to do to get married in the church? (We met in college so it isn’t like we have never been together in person, he just moved home).
We want to have a Catholic ceremony. For us that is the whole point in getting married, but it is starting to feel like the Catholic Church doesn’t want us.
Sorry this is so long, just feel like I’ve had a rug pulled out from under me.
Post # 3
We are going through something similar– I am from NY, Fiance is from MD, we live in VA, and are getting married in DC. What I have found is a lot of patience and coordination is key. First of all, you need to find out where your home parish is (probably where your parents live, unless you registered somewhere else). You will need to get permission from them to marry outside your parish.
Then, you need to find a chuch in Miami willing to marry someone outside of their parish. This is an extremely rare request and tends to get frowned upon. What can help is if you or your Fiance has a very close (parent, sibling, grandparent, aunt/uncle) who lives in Miami and can go in person and explain why you need to get married there. Just because you want to or it is easier will not fly. And don’t use the “we have deposits down” either, it won’t fly. I am not judging your motives, I have just been there. What worked for us was saying “although my parents are from the parish I am registered at, no one else invited, including us, lives within 4 hours of my parents house. Additionally, the church is not handicap accessible, preventing my grandmothers from attending. Seeing that we won’t be able to get married in my church and would have to use the handicap accessible church in the next parish over, which happens to be in another dioceses, we feel that we should get married in DC, our home, to allow everyone we love to attend if they choose”. (The real reason– I wanted to plan the reception myself, without having to have the reception where my dad oversees the staff and the whole reason I went to my grad school was to get married at that church)
If they can find a priest, call them and ask. Be flexible with the time. It is common to have back to back weddings– mine is at 3 and there is a 1, 5, and 7 wedding the same day. Some priests will do 2 weddings in a day, others will allow you to bring in a priest to use their chuch.
Finally, my last bit of advice is untraditional. Have your Fiance do all of the communication and paperwork. Everyone you are dealing with is males, in my experience, they respond way different to a guy (who approaches things differently) than to a “typical, stressed bride”. I cannot tell you how smoothly things have gone now that Fiance has taken over all church related matters.
Post # 4
I really feel your pain! My Fiance and I went through all kinds of roller coaster situations with the Catholic Church – so much so that we almost decided to just have a non-Catholic ceremony and then have our marriage blessed later. We were running into all kinds of issues running from being told no because he wasn’t in the same geographical location to no because while I had been attending mass at my church for years I hadn’t registered and I couldn’t “just join because I got engaged”. Luckily, with a little persistance and lots of phone calls, we’ve got the church and I’m actually going to meet with the priest today to set the date officially.
We’re in a long distance relationship, and have many friends who are as well, and based on advice from our Catholic friends who prepared for their marriage long distance, skype/video conferencing is the best thing ever! If you can maybe set up a time to video conference with the priest and your Fiance, then all three of you can feel like you’re meeting in person. That’s what I’m doing today as Fiance couldn’t make it down for the meeting with the priest.
Another option (and I don’t know what your budget is, or if there’s room) to consider is to find a church in Miami that will allow you to bring your priest from your home parish. Then at least you will have someone who you’ve built a relationship with acting as celebrant. Though with this option, you will be expected to pay the travel expenses for your priest.
I know it seems like it will never, ever work out (I know I felt that way myself) but where there’s a will, there’s a way. I prayed a lot over what was happening and really looked for guidance. I promise it will all work out, even if right now it doesn’t feel that way.
Good luck and don’t get discouraged!
Post # 5
Thanks for the advice everyone! We are having the ceremony in Miami because it would be impossible to people to go if it were in my home parish a few hours away. I am the only Catholic in my family (I converted about three years ago( and started going to Mass in my hometown the summer before I went to college. I was confirmed at my Catholic School in Boston, and since I am up here most of the year, I have a relationship with the priest up here, but not with the parish I am registered at in FL, since I am only there about two months out of the year and don’t know anyone at the parish. It is quite lonely to be a convert sometimes. Anyway, my fiance has a cousin in Miami who helped us find the original church, and I did get a letter of permission from my registered Parish in florida, but then of course they realized the date fell through and all that. I keep trying to call churches but I can never get anyone on the phone who can help me, it is always “leave a message for the priest” so I do and then never get any calls back. It looks like the only times available at other churches is 3:00pm anyway and our reception isn’t until 6:30 (because the original service was set for five), and now IF I can get a church booked, I don’t know what our guests will do for two and a half hours.
Our wedding planner says she knows a Catholic priest that will perform ceremonies outside of a church. 1.) I want to get married in a church building and 2.) I am very skeptical of this. I have always heard that this is not allowed, but the fiance’s family (all Catholic and from central america) say that it happens all the time and they have been to a lot of weddings like this. I am not sure if this is something that happens just down there a lot, or if it really can happen.
I just really really feel like this is hopeless. I can’t even get on the phone to TALK to anyone. I don’t understand why God is letting this happen when we only want to have a Catholic ceremony.
Post # 6
Usually you can arrange to do pre-Cana at a local church if you live out of town from where you’re getting married (my dad was living on a military base and my mom was still in NY before they were married, she attended pre-Cana alone in NY and my dad met with a miltary chaplain). I’m not sure what to do if they want to meet you to start with though. I would try to arrange to meet with them when you go to Miami by yourself and see if they are willing to let you Fiance skype in so he can be part of the conversation.
Post # 7
@flaminga: Take the 3pm mass– there is a reason it is called the Catholic gap in industry. The mass will take you until 4:15, and by the time you leave the church and do a recieving line it will be 4:45. It isn’t ideal, but is totally common. Guests will get a cup of coffee, go to a bar, or go back to the hotel. Killing 1.5 hours is seriously no big deal, someone will plan something (my great aunt booked a room in a bar for us at my uncle’s wedding, I opened up my hotel room for a good friend’s wedding, and good friends hosted everyone at their house during the gap at their niece’s wedding)
Also, email the priest directly. My Fiance emailed our priest (his childhood priest), who is in his upper 80s and retired. He heard back within an hour. He never got the phone message. The same thing with the priest at our parish who is doing our pre-cana paperwork. Snail mail and email have worked, but we have 0 luck with the phone.
Post # 8
Update: I called another Church and they told me I need to fill out a slip to even start planning anything, but that I can only pick up the slip in person. I tried to explain the situation to the person on the phone, that neither I nor my fiance could be there in person to pick up this piece of paper to fill out, and even broke down crying on the phone trying to explain, but he simply told me that there was “nothing he could do.”
I don’t know what to do.
Post # 9
@flaminga: Does the church only allow one wedding a day? I know for ours they allow upto 2 weddings a day so we could get married on the same day but change the time. Like a previous poster said, you may have a Catholic Gap but hey most people are willing to hang out, have coffee or go grab a bite until the reception.
Post # 10
Maybe try starting with the Archdiocese of the area – though I don’t know how much help they will be as they weren’t a whole lot of help for me. I second the whole email thing – I had much better responses when emailing the priest rather than calling him.
Have you considered going with the first church (that had told you the wrong date) and changing the date? I would call up the reception location and see if you can’t switch the date without too much issue. I’ve been in very close contact with both vendors I’ve booked (stupid I know to book before getting the official date with the church) and they’ve both been very understanding about moving the date back a week or two without losing the deposit. You never know until you ask. And I see you’re a 2014 bride (I am too!) and I think we’re still rather early as far as booking venues, so there might not be a whole lot of 2014 inquiries.
I know this is a trying time, both for your enthusiasm with planning and for your faith as well. I was feeling the same way too – I couldn’t imagine why I was having such difficulty and why God was giving me so many obsticles. The thought that really helped me was that it is not God’s job to make life easy, but to make you work for (and in turn appreciate more) what you want. That and sometimes the people that run the wedding guild at the churchs are on a little bit of a power trip.
I really do hope you are able to find a solution.
Post # 11
Thanks everyone. 🙂 I know something will get resolved, but it is hard not knowing what that will be. i’ve told the fiance that he has to take the lead on this because I really can’t handle it (I am still in school and working full time, so it is hard to be on top of that with the wedding drama) he is hopefully starting a new job soon, but in the meantime I need him to take the reigns on this. We have a wedding planner, but she can’t do much about this because it’s the Church. Absolute worst case scenario, we would just have to have a private Catholic ceremony in his country (I am moving there in July and it is a lot easier to get a church reserved and all that there), and then have another “ceremony” and reception at the date we already have. It would suck because then all the guests wouldn’t actually be there for the real wedding but idk what else we would do if we can’t get a church. The problem with changing the date is that I will have a teaching job and the reason we picked the date we have was to limit hte amount of time I needed to take off (winter break) and because the flights are the most reasonable for our international guests at that time. My fiance’s brother is a priest, so we are trying to see if there is someway he can marry us on that day in the country, be it a church or not, I am not sure how that works. I don’t even know how you would go about getting dispensation for an international prest to officiate a wedding IN a church.
Post # 12
I know this would not be ideal at all, but is there anyway you and your fiance could get married ahead of time (at the original church) and then you can just have the reception on your current date? You could have a recommittment ceremony or whatever it is called (I am not catholic, and I know they are strict about these kinds of things but I think they allow some sort of ceremony after the original wedding as long as you don’t actually call it a marriage ceremony).
This is obviously not what you were looking for, but it sounds like you can’t really get out of your date and it is important to you to get married in a church, so it might be the best you can do if no churches are being accomodating. My other suggestion would be to fly to Miami and show up to churches in person because as ridiculous as that might be it might be the onyl way you are going to be able to figure things out. It might be worth a $200 plane ticket to be able to get married in a church.
Post # 13
I’m having a long distance Catholic wedding, and I definitely jumped through some hoops to get it done. My advice? Just start CALLING. Some will be difficult, some will be great to you! It often depends on who is working in the office.
Don’t start jumping through hoops with a church that isn’t understanding in the first place. TRUST ME, it won’t get better. I’m sure in Miami, there are quite a few Catholic churches, don’t give up yet!
Side note, suprisingly, I found that the Cathedral in the city I’m getting married in was the easiest to deal with! They had so many weddings with people from different places that they were used to alternative situations. Sometimes, the smaller parishes had stricter rules. Chin up! You’ll figure it out!
Post # 14
What Pollywog said. Very good advice, we went through all the same stuff. Our wedding is outside the US, but once you have permission to marry outside of the local parish issued by your local archdiocese then it should be very straight forward. See if your original church will give you a different time slot on the same day, or pick a few churches and get on the phone calling one by one for availability.
Church wants you, don’t feel rejected, but their bureaucracy is second to none and not flexible.
Post # 15
I had HUGE issues with the Catholic church. Both Fiance and I are born and raised Catholic, although we don’t attend church regularly. We both moved to a new city and, since we don’t attend church regularly, we didn’t officially become members to a church, although we did attend one a few times.
With that said, when we got engaged, that church wouldn’t even talk to us about marriage for 3 months! I was completely shoked. I didn’t know Catholic Churches had that rule. I called a dozen more in the area and all said the same. I was getting so defeated by the whole process. I mean, it really shouldn’t be that hard if you’re both Catholic. Apparently, it is.
Then one day while research other denomination churches to marry in, I randomly came across a Catholic church I had overlooked. I called them up and they allow non-members to marry there. For a huge fee, but my parents ok’ed it, so we met with the priest and picked a date. It was a huge relief. We actually ended up joining that church and have been attending regularly, so maybe it was meant to be.
Side note – Before we found our current church, we were going to have a Catholic ceremony w/ just our parents at the church I grew up in in my hometown, then have a non-denominational ceremony with a reception a month or two later in the city I currently live. Luckily, it didn’t have to come to that as I was not a huge fan of getting “married” twice. But that’s an option if you really want a Catholic wedding. Just know that you have to do the Catholic ceremony before any other type of ceremony or they won’t marry you.
Anyways – my advice, don’t give up! There is bound to be a Catholic church that will marry non-members. Good luck all and happy planning!
Post # 16
You have some good advice here. Basically, start with the local church you attend, in your local parish. They need to do all the paperwork and also do your pre cana. Once you have an agreement with them, you just have to get the church of your choice to agree to have you on the basis that it has all been sorted with Father X in church Y.
You don’t say where you are. If you are in England, you now have a legal problem because of the additional checks and restrictions which the law of the land (NOT canon law) places upon religious marriages. However, you can get around it (it took me 3 attempts to get a license, but I got one in the end… the problem was civil law as it pertained to religious marriage, not canon/religious law, in my case). So feel free to ask a fellow Brit if that is an issue for you!