Married couple sitting in pew - smallWritten by: Fr. Jason Kuntz

It is becoming more popular for Catholic couples to request marriage in an outdoor setting.  Sometimes this is because the couple has an appreciation for nature, an attachment to a specific location, or wants to have the celebration and reception at one location.

Catholic priests, however, will not witness marriages outside of a Church. [1]   Why not?

First, any marriage between two baptized Christians is a sacrament and sacraments are to be celebrated in a sacred place.  Just as a priest will not celebrate Mass at the golf course, he will not celebrate marriage there!   Marriage is holy, it belongs to the Lord, and thus it is celebrated in the Lord’s house.

Second, Marriage is a public ceremony.   The commitment spouses make is not just to one another – but to the Church and to the state.    Marriage is called a “sacrament of service,” since it benefits not only the couples themselves, but the Church and society.   Married couples bring children into the world – future members of the community and the Church.   They raise them to be good citizens and good Christians.  By their love for one another, married Christians are a sign to the world of Christ’s love for His Church.   The celebration of marriage should never be a private celebration, but “open to the public,” since the commitment made is to serve the public.   For this reason, marriage is celebrated in a public place: the church.

Besides – you can never predict the weather!   I wouldn’t want a thunderstorm to ruin your special day!

[1]  When a Catholic marries a non-Catholic, permission may be requested from the Bishop to celebrate the marriage in the place of worship of the non-Catholic party.  The bishop can also grant permission for marriage to be celebrated in “another suitable place,” but this is extremely rare (see Code of Canon Law c. 1118).

[2] See Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1533f


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