Post # 1
I have a long and sort of confusing question. I really appreciate your help!!
My fiance is Jewish and I am Catholic. We met with a Deacon at my parent’s church last weekend, and he told me that under no circumstances can you get married outside and have it approved by the Catholic church, even with a Dispensation from Canonical Form. Has anyone heard this before? Maybe it is just New Jersey, but it seems strange to me that they would allow me to get married at a venue but only indoors… once it is not in a Church anymore, why does it matter if it is outdoors or indoors?
The Deacon also told me that when we get the Dispensation from Canonical Form to be married at our venue a priest will be able to perform the ceremony, or witness the vows as the Church calls it. I’m confused because I had read online that once you receive the Dispensation and get married outside of a Catholic Church, a priest is unable to perform the ceremony, though they can attend and offer a blessing.
This situation is a big problem for me, because my fiance really wants to get married outdoors. He (rightly) points out that one of the reasons we chose our venue is because of the outdoor ceremony spot. The only reason I would even consider getting married indoors is because my uncle is a priest, and I wanted him to perform the ceremony. That is why it is important for me to know whether the priest can perform a ceremony outside of a Catholic church at all. If he cannot do it, then we probably will not go through with the Catholic part (I am not religious so this does not bother me. We would possibly get a convalidation later on instead if I decide I want it recognized). It is difficult because my fiance says the decision is up to me. I know how he feels about it, and it is his wedding too…I don’t want to force him to do anything, but I do want my uncle to participate.
I hope that made sense and I am sorry it is so long! Thanks in advance for your advice!!
Post # 3
@jbird: I’m pretty sure he’s wrong and you’re right. I would talk to a priest/diocese office. You can have a Catholic wedding outside (I’ve been to one), and no, the priest would not be the one to marry you if you have a Dispensation from Canonical Form.
Post # 4
I don’t know the official answer but maybe the deacon knows that your bishop won’t grant the request to let you get married outside? Can you ask your uncle about the rules? I feel like he should know.
Post # 5
@MrsPinkPeony: Yes, I was trying to avoid talking to my uncle without having all my facts in order. I would just prefer to know everything before I either ask him to perform the wedding or explain to him why we will not be asking him. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I feel more comfortable that way!
@jedeve: Thanks for your reply! I’m going to call my diocese office. I already did that once to ask about the dispensations, and the woman was so nice and seemed very knowledgable. It was really hard to get a straight answer about anything from the Deacon. I was trying to explain to him that we do not want a Catholic wedding (with Christian readings, prayers, and music) simply with some Jewish traditions added, but I’m not sure he was understanding that, because he was so vague.
Post # 6
I’m Catholic and what I’ve always been told is that it is not possible to get married anywhere (outdoors OR alternate venue) but in a church without a special dispensation from your bishop.
Post # 7
@jbird: They’ll know more than the Deacon since they are the ones that deal with these kinds of questions!
Post # 8
@babylou:Yes we are getting a dispensation no matter what, because my fiance is Jewish so we’re not getting married in a church. The Deacon told me that even with the dispensation we cannot get married outside, though we can get married at our venue. That’s what is confusing me, and causing a problem because we planned to get married outside.
Post # 9
I’m Catholic and the Rabbi who co-officiated was the best.(And cute…) I am just writing now because he just started a Facebook page, but his email is [email protected]. Cant hurt to write him? Good luck!
Post # 10
The deacon is wrong on all accounts. If you receive a Dispensation from the Canonical Form of Marriage, you can be married quite literally anywhere. Inside, outside, on a boat, at a beach – it doesn’t matter. And this doesn’t change if you are in New Jersey – it is the same anywhere in the world as the canons do not change.
Also, a priest cannot preside over a wedding outside of a church. A priest (or representative) might be required to witness the wedding outside of a church but he cannot perform the wedding. Also, a priest cannot co-officiate with another religious leader. That would invalidate the wedding.
Post # 11
One thing my friend was, was have an outdoor ceremony (destination) and then she came back and had a very small private Catholic ceremony. She was still considered married in the Catholic church, which pleased her grandmother, but got the wedding she wanted.
Post # 12
I am Catholic and my fiance is Jewish… we are having a Deacon and a Rabbi, and are getting married in a non-denominational chapel.
I think that the only dispensation we are getting is the one that makes it ok for me to marry a non-baptized person. We aren’t getting a Dispensation from Canonical form. So the Deacon will do the vows and it will for all intents and purposes be a Catholic wedding outside Mass (and not a sacrament). My question is whether or not the Deacon is going to let our Rabbi do the ring ceremony part!! (we are meeting with our Deacon this Saturday, so hopefully that question will get answered…)
If you get the canonical form dispensation, which I think is harder to get… then it is “approved” to take place, and like, anything goes! so it is not performed by the priest/deacon. that one I think would mean you could have it outside, and then the Deacon would be “offering a blessing/being a reader” only at the ceremony, or wouldn’t actually have to be there at all.
Post # 13
From what I understand, each Archdiocese may have a different view on outdoor wedding ceremonies. My husband is a rabbi and we have performed many Roman Catholic co-officiated ceremonies outdoors in San Francisco Archdiocese. But when we go to Sonoma they are more conservative, and i am told it is much harder to get permission for outdoor ceremonies.
Also, I have had priests tell me that it is harder to get permission to get married outside the church in an outdoor wedding than indoors. For Jewish weddings, it is preferred to be outdoors.
If I were you, I’d call the Archdiocese in your area and speak with someone in authority there.
Yehudit Steinberg – Jewish Interfaith Wedding Network
Post # 14
@yehuditsc: I think it’s VERY important that people are not fed false information. Brides want certain things. When someone tells them what they want to hear (even if that person is wrong), brides tend to believe it as the truth because they want to believe it to be true. This then causes all sorts of problems when the church tells the bride otherwise – she believes that it’s the priest that’s being problematic, when in fact the priest’s hands are tied.
To make this as clear as possible: The Code of Canon Law are the highest laws in Catholicism relating to the operating of the Church. It’s the Constituion of Catholicism, if you will. Canons cannot be violated by anyone, including the pope, without a majority vote of the College of Cardinals. Since it’s very unlikely the College of Cardinals will vote for one wedding, it’s very likely that the Canons are in effect for your wedding. Canons are universal, meaning that they are the same for everyone in the world, regardless of city, country, language, or county in California. You can see all Canons in English here: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/_INDEX.HTM
The Canons related to weddings are clear a priest or deacon cannot conduct a Mass or a Rite (which a marriage is) outside of a church building, and a priest cannot co-officiate a marriage with a non-Catholic minister. Doing so would be a grave offense and make the marriage invalid.
Post # 15
Just wanted to give you all an update: I finally spoke to a Monsignor in my Diocese, who also called the Diocese where the wedding would be taking place, and the final verdict is no outdoors. Even with a Dispensation from Canonical Form and having a Rabbi officially perform the ceremony, it’s still not possible. According to the Monsignor, some people get “carried away” with outdoor weddings and so they do not allow them at all, end of story.
Thank you all for your help and advice!