Can A Catholic Priest Marry Us Outside The Church?

Reader Question – My fiancee and I are both catholics and we are getting married this summer. We decided for various reasons to have the ceremony performed at the reception site, hopefully outdoors (weather permitting). We understand that this marriage will not be recognized by the church, but are wondering if a catholic priest is still allowed to officiate the ceremony? According to legal statute, any clergy member of any faith can officiate a wedding in the state. Are there any restrictions within the catholic faith that would preclude our priest from marrying us under these circumstances?

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16 Responses to “Can A Catholic Priest Marry Us Outside The Church?”

  • jerz wedding says:

    Although the usual practice is for a Catholic marriage to be celebrated is in a parish church, the bishop can give permission for the marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.
    For more information, see the Code of Canon Law, Canon 1118:…
    With love in Christ.

  • imacatho says:

    As Catholics, you ought to know that marriage isn’t just between you and your fiance – it’s a Sacrament and a three-way “contract” between man, woman and God. So unless there is an extraordinarily good reason, Catholics are married in the presence of our Lord in the Eucharist. Aesthetics are not an extraordinarily good reason. A parent in the hospital dying or a war or something like that is an example of an extraordinarily good reason to have a Catholic wedding at any place other than in the Church. You know, like you wouldn’t have your baby baptized in the back yard, and you wouldn’t expect to be confirmed in a flower garden — matrimony is equal to those Sacraments.
    Your best bet is to have your wedding rite quietly in the church with your witnesses the morning of your big outdoor ceremony. Then the priest would may or may not agree to participate in your outdoor event.

  • sparki77 says:

    My friends wanted an outdoor ceremony by a Catholic priest. To have their wedding recognized in the church, they held their rehearsal at the church so that in the eyes of the church they were married at their rehearsal. The priest, who was very close to the bride, then gave a “blessing” at their actual ceremony, but it is not considered a marriage because that was performed the night before. They cannot perform a marriage ceremony outside of the church according to church rules.

  • Gillian says:

    Hi. Well, you and the others are absolutely right. Yes, a Catholic priest legally can perform a ceremony in any location and it would be legal. However, the Catholic Church does not allow this. The reason is very simple. It’s because, as Catholics, marriage is considered a sacrament, and thus, should be performed inside the church. Just like you would not have your baby baptized outdoors….the same for a wedding.

  • ilovewed says:

    A Catholic priest can marry a couple only in a Catholic church. If you don’t want your marriage to be recognized by the church, any other clergy can marry couples outside the church. If you would like to get married by a priest, then might as well have it be held in church and be recognized.

  • galcal says:

    NO. I wondered the same thing so I called and asked my local catholic priest. He said that the Bishops have forbid it. They cannot under any circumstance do a wedding outside the walls of a catholic church.
    Even if you wanted to do it on the church grounds they can’t. It has to be INSIDE the church.

  • An excellent advice giver says:

    The church won’t allow him to marry you outside of the church. In Catholicism, marriage is a sacrament, and sacraments (other than last rites) are to be performed inside of a church. The problem is not with the government, it is with the church not allowing it.

  • melouofs says:

    No. They refuse to do so. If you want it to be recognized by the Catholic Church as valid, then it must take place within the Church walls. There are reformed Catholic priests who will marry you anywhere, but your marriage won’t be considered valid by the Church if you go that route.

  • *Miss_Au says:

    Yes, the state says that any member of the clergy can marry you, but Catholic Politics will not allow the priest to perform a marriage outside the church walls. You have to remember there is a difference in Catholic FAITH and Catholic Politics,

  • Just Me says:

    A Catholic Priest will not be able to marry you outside of the church walls. You can have another clergy member of a different faith marry you outside, but the priest wont do it.

  • Anne says:

    depends on the priest… some priest are really cool and will do whatever u want. Some feel that whatever the bible says is how they live their life. First think of why u need a priest, then decide on your wedding. look in the phon ebook and call every priest… some WILL do it outside

  • kerriann says:

    Well, possibly you can find a Catholic priest to do it, but it is very unlikely.

  • brwneyes says:

    If the priest is officiating the wedding it means that he is performing the wedding. There are times when the arch-bishop will grant you an exemption (for lack of a better word) that will allow you to get married at another location. However, you need to have good reason for it and “it’s part of the venue package” or “it’s prettier” doesn’t float with most bishops. Especially because both you and your fiance are Catholic I think that you’re going to have a lot of problems getting the permission. The only reason why my husband and I were allowed to use the chapel at the reception site was because my husband is a non-Catholic and the arch-bishop would not allow us a full-nuptual mass (not that we minded).
    It depends on where you live but in many countries the Catholic church does not allow outdoor weddings or weddings away from the parish church. The main reason that the Catholic church has for this is because they believe that the tendency these days is for the focus of weddings to be on everything but the solemnity of the ceremony. So in an effort to try and get people to focus more on the ceremony they have restricted where the ceremony can take place. For example, an outdoor wedding is not allowed by many parishes (depends on where you live) because things like the weather and wind could be distracting.
    So to answer your question, it depends on where you live but for many countries a Catholic priest cannot officiate at an outdoor wedding or a wedding that is not performed at a parish church; BUT he can give a blessing at the ceremony.
    Good luck with everything.

  • Devin says:

    actually baptizing your baby in the backyard is just fine. in fact, as you may recall, John the Baptist was not baptizing people within church walls. a church is not a building, it’s the people.

  • Monica says:

    If you want your wedding recognized by the Roman Catholic church it MUST be done IN a church. There are reverends that will perform a catholic style ceremony outside of a church but the Bishop, diocese and local parishes will not allow it. I am speaking from experience and trust me I have done my homework. This is all knowledge I have acquired after speaking with numerous Monseigneurs, Chancellors, Pastors, Friars, Nuns, Dioceses, etc, etc, etc…My fiance and I have decided to do a quiet Church ceremony in the morning and then a blessing at our beautiful outdoor site….Good Luck

  • Karyn says:

    I recently attended a wedding performed outdoors by a Catholic priest. When I asked the question I was told,” The world is changing, so is the church, because they have to in order to survive. The wedding celebrated a mass and communion. It was a beautiful, memorable ceremony. I would be afraid to book such an event, due to the possibility of bad weather. This couple lucked out with a beautiful day. My own thoughts are – if God is everywhere why not the beach or lakeside?

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