Non-Catholic Bee in a Catholic Ceremony?

posted 4 months ago in Catholic
Post # 2
697 posts
Busy bee

If I were you, I would go right to the source and ask for a sit down with the priest that will be performing your ceremony as soon as possible. We met with our priest earlier this week, and it was so reassuring for my fiancé, who is not Catholic, to hear from him directly about all of the things you mentioned above.

I was surprised to learn that the shoulders covered for the ceremony requirement I worried about isn’t even a  thing in our archdiocese. He also reassured me that a ceremony without the full Mass (communion) is just as much of a sacrament as the full Mass- which was a concern for me. Still planning to do the full Mass, thought. We both left our meeting there feeling relieved and excited. Hopefully getting all of your questions answered early will help with some of your fears above.

Post # 3
1123 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2019

Aww bee, relax! Don’t worry, priests have all seen this once or twice before and they are always happy to sit down with you and address your concerns 🙂 It’s amazing that you are willing fulfill your fiance’s wishes of having a Catholic wedding! Catholic weddings are absolutely beautiful! 

I’ll help you out with your questions first, but I advise you and your fiance to sit down with a priest – he can give you more comfort than I! 

1) You are absolutely allowed to have a sleeveless dress. I advise against boobs flying everywhere and thigh-high slits, because it’s a religious reverence that needs to be SOMEWHAT kept. But no, you don’t need sleeves. Just use your common sense about your dress and you’ll be fine! 

2) Your father OF COURSE can walk you down the aisle. I’ve never heard of any Catholic anything against that. 

3) Latin masses don’t exist anymore unless you REQUEST a Latin mass (or your priest is a Franciscan friar – sometimes they do Latin masses too). Honestly, touch base with the priest on that and he can give you words of comfort, but if he’s your typical priest, you won’t hear a word of Latin during your mass. 

I hope this helps!!! 🙂 But no, the Catholic church is not a stiff-necked religion like it was in the 50’s lol

Post # 4
1040 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

I’m Catholic! Husband was baptized Catholic but is pretty agnostic now. I’ll try to answer some of your questions as best as I can- for the sleeves on the dress, this is pretty church/priest specific. I’ve seen strapless, pretty cleavage-y dresses at Catholic weddings and I’ve also heard of ones where your shoulders must be covered. The church should provide guidelines. I’ve also known a few people who have worn beautiful lace toppers over their strapless gowns and ditched them for the reception.

Your father can absolutely walk you down the aisle! I know of absolutely no reason why he couldn’t. In terms of the Latin, unless the church you’ll be married in sticks to the old rites (very few of these) the vast majority of the Mass will be in English, if not all of it- I sing in a choir and sometimes we’ll use the Latin instead of the English for the Mass parts that are done every week (so we sing “Sanctus” instead of “Holy, Holy” and “Agnus Dei” instead of “Lamb of God.” That would be the most Latin I’d expect to see, but again, church-dependent. You might even be able to choose depending on your church.

Another big thing about the Catholic wedding is that you’re pretty restricted in the readings that you can use. The readings at a wedding follow the same order as a regular Mass: one Old Testament reading, one New Testament reading, and one Gospel reading. You’ll probably be given a list of 7-8 choices for each. There are also lots of websites that will give you ideas. I’d also start looking at different websites that can give you a step-by-step of what happens where to familiarize yourself with the process. Like this one: 

Post # 6
12146 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

hickoryhills :  your post probably just got caught in the spam filter, bee, it’s nothing specific about your topic. 

You sound really open to respecting the traditions of the Catholic Church, I am sure they will appreciate your attitude and efforts. That’s the best you can do as a non-catholic, so I would try not to worry about it. Love the idea of a dinner during which you can ask some of your questions. 

Post # 7
1040 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2017

hickoryhills :  That’s awesome that it’ll be his godfather doing the ceremony! That’s the perfect solution since you’ll be comfortable beforehand with him and can ask him questions. Another thing that he might be able to do (our priest did a little of this since we had many non-Catholic guests) would be to add little explanations before going on to each part of the ceremony. Like, “and now we’re going to do x, because y” rather than just barreling forward with each part. With a good priest leading the way and marking each rite it can help people not to feel so lost, especially if there’s a program they’re trying to follow along with. I definitely recommend having a relatively detailed program! You can include the exact text of whatever the congregation is meant to respond with, or include little tips and hints like “please stand here.” 

You’d also mentioned music which I forgot to talk about in my first post- yes it has to all be religious music (nothing secular) but there are some beautiful pieces! My church gave us a CD of options for us to listen to. We were very particular and worked with the cantor to get exactly what we wanted- at your church the cantor might just have 2-3 options for each part so I’d try to get an idea of that as well. Usually they’ll meet with you and play things for you to help you decide if you’re unfamiliar with the song options. 

Post # 9
2717 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Another Catholic Bee here. Don’t worry! As another pp said, priests marry Catholic/non-Catholic couples regularly and can certainly help you through everything and answer whatever questions you may have. As long as you are genuine (and not antagonistic) in your questions you won’t offend anyone. I know it all seems intimidating, but it’s really not that bad. To answer some of your questions:

1. Rites, sayings, etc.: The only time you MUST respond to questions or prayers or sayings is when you are actually saying your vows. For the rest of the Mass/Ceremony you can just sit or stand quietly and don’t have to respond to the prayers if you don’t want to. If you do want to respond, there should be able to find responses to prayers and such in the Missal (little book found in the pews). The priest should be able to guide to the correction section and you can follow along. When you meet with your priest, he’ll give you a Together for Life booklet that will contain your options for readings, Gospel, and songs. Your options will be pretty limited, which is nice because then you won’t be stuck with analysis paralysis and you’ll know what’s appropriate. 

2. You will also have at least one meeting with the priest and he’ll explain the Sacrament of Marriage and how it applies to your marriage. And as far as dispensation goes, your FH or priest (can’t remember which) will just have to submit a letter to the local Bishop asking for permission for you two to get married in the Church. You should have zero trouble obtaining permission – it’s more of a formality these days I think. 

3. Normal Masses are in English and only special or specified Masses are in Latin. Sometimes there’s a prayer or song in Latin, but it definitely won’t be the whole Mass.

4. Things you can and cannot do as a non-Catholic. The only thing you cannot do is take Communion. If you have a full Mass, the priest should invite only Catholics to take Communion so that way all the guests know what they are supposed to do. You’ll have to take to your priest about the exact set-up and procedure, but what I’m guessing will happen is that, when it’s time for Communion,  you and your Darling Husband will walk up to the front where the priest is and the priest will give your FH Communion and then bless you (and typically all you have to do for that is cross your arms over your chest to make a giant X and bow your head).

5. I imagine it varies from church to church but every Catholic wedding I’ve been to the bride had a strapless dress (mine was). If you get married in a more strict/traditional church you might have to wear a little bolero jacket for the ceremony but I think that’s pretty rare. Also, your dad can absolutely walk you down the aisle. =)  When I got married, my priest actually gave me a whole list of things we could and couldn’t do. I don’t think there was any sort of dress code, but we did have a limit on our bridal party size and couldn’t do a receiving line or extra symbolic ceremony like sand pouring or candle lighting. It also told us when to show up for the ceremony and how long we had to do pictures, etc.  These things were all specific to my church (priest was all about efficiency and simplicity) but maybe your priest will have a similar list to help guide you.


And don’t forget your’ll have a rehearsal where the prist will go through the ceremony step by step. He should also provide guidance the day of by calling you up when necessary, calling the readers up, etc. The actual marriage part is pretty quick and simple and the rest of the time you’ll just be sitting off to the side with your FH.

I also second the idea of doing programs. It will definitely help people who aren’t familiar with the Catholic faith follow along. You can also add a crossword puzzle or something in case people get bored. 😉

Also, also, you will have to do Pre Cana (marriage counselling). But don’t worry about this either! In my experience and talking with other friends who were married in the Church, it’s a lot less religious than you would expect. It typically covers things like communication, how to fight, love languages, things to make sure you’ve discussed before getting married etc. 


This website might also help you with any further questions you might have:


Good luck, congrats, and don’t worry! It’ll be totally fine and you won’t screw anything up. 

Post # 11
22 posts

It was pretty easy for us…  I’m not Catholic while the SO is.  If you’re cool with the blessing the full Mass is one way to go, but I’m not so we decided to forgo the full Mass and just the ceremoy.  We figured, why would we want the first thing we do as a couple be something that drives a wedge down the middle of the church.

Our wedding outside of Mass wasn’t much different than any other Christian wedding I’ve ever been to, no biggie.

Post # 12
22 posts

RunsWithBears :  on #4, not everyone (especailly non-Catholics) are comfortable with blessings either.  That’s one reason we decided to forgo the full Mass.

I had to get a blessing once as part of a wedding party….so embarassing.  Hey look at so and so from the wedding party getting their blessing with the little ring bearer and flower girl…

Post # 13
2359 posts
Buzzing bee

You are probably aware, but the Catholic Church requires you to agree to raise your kids Catholic in order to get married in the church. Some priests will ask during your pre cana meetings, some won’t. But I want you to be prepared for that question.

You may be required to take a natural family planning class. Do the online version, not the in person version. Trust me.

Also, ask your church for their wedding packet. That will lay all the requirements out and the related fees (unless there is a third party involved; some of the required classes are conducted by third parties). Some churches also put all this stuff on their website. The church receptionist/assistant is also a good source of information and usually easier to get ahold of than the priest.

Post # 14
784 posts
Busy bee

I wouldn’t worry about the details too much. The priest will tell you everything you need to know. You’ll probably need to take pre-cana. As for the dress,  I’ve been to a LOT of Catholic weddings and seen some extremely revealing wedding dresses. 

I’m not Catholic but my fiance’s family is. For the first half dozen weddings or so I just kind of followed what everyone else was doing, minus the Communion. I did go to one wedding where the program explained everything, and that was nice. It also invited everyone to go up for Communion, but to cross your arms if you didn’t want to partake. That was nice too because everyone was included. Usually I’m just sitting by myself while everyone else lines up for Communion.

Post # 15
22 posts

DogsAndWine :  Usually I’m just sitting by myself while everyone else lines up for Communion.


Ditto.  I did the blessing thing once, found it kind of embarassing and felt really uneasy.

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