Catholic Wedding in a Non-Denominational Church. Is It Ok?

Catholics have followed their wedding traditions religiously over the centuries, but during interactions with people of different or no religious affiliations, these rules may clash. We sought to find answers to whether it is okay for Catholics to have their weddings in non-denominational churches.

So, is it okay to have a Catholic wedding in a non-denominational church? The answer to this question varies as follows; first, the church strongly opposes the idea of two baptized Catholics having their wedding in a Non-Catholic setup. It has to take place in the church or the chapel. Second, if either the bride or groom is a Non-Catholic Christian, they can only have their wedding in a non-denominational church with the priest’s permission and blessings.

What happens when a Catholic Christian wishes to marry a non-denominational Christian? Can they have their wedding outside the Catholic Church? If you want to have your wedding in a non-denominational church but you are unsure whether the church allows it, we researched to fact-check the possibilities. Read on to determine whether you can get married in another church other than the Catholic Church/ chapel.

Catholic Weddings

For a long time, Catholics have passed down their traditions to subsequent believers. Concerning weddings, both orthodox and non-orthodox catholic churches deem them as sacramental occasions. The man and woman join in holy matrimony, in the presence of both God and man. They are stringent with their rules when it comes to such ceremonies. We take a look at some of the most followed Catholic wedding traditions all over the world.

The Church

All Catholic weddings take place in a Catholic church where the parish priest officiates the entire ceremony. The belief behind this is that the wedding needs to take place in the presence of Christ. They consider the church/ chapel a holy place for prayer.

If a couple wishes to have their wedding anywhere else apart from the church, they need to get approval from the bishop, but the bishop’s chances of granting this request are very slim. One requirement for a valid Catholic wedding is that it has to be in the church, led by the respective church leader.

The Mass

A Catholic wedding takes place during a special mass called the Nuptial Mass, under the presiding bishop’s guidance. The couple sits at the front, and together with the congregation, they participate in the mass. The mass entails the reading of the Liturgy and the exchange of marriage vows. If both are Christians, they can also take the Holy Communion during the service.

The Readings

A congregation member can read an Old Testament chapter (most people prefer reading from the Genesis creation story). All the congregation members join in singing and reciting some verses from the Psalms, and lastly, another member of the church reads from the New Testament. After the readings, the priest takes over, speaks about them, and teaches about love and marriage.

Rite of Marriage

The vows are a significant segment of the ceremony. Here is where the couple affirms their love and commitment to each other in front of the entire congregation. They can have the traditional ‘I dos’ or incorporate their vows with the priest’s consent. After this, the couple exchange rings and kiss after the declaration that they are now married.

Non-Denominational Weddings

These are weddings between couples of different religious backgrounds or where one or both partners are Christians but do not conform to the church’s traditional or historical customs. It is easier to have these weddings when both partners are non-denominational.

If one has an affiliation to a strict denomination, they have to consult with the respective church leaders; else, their union may not be valid according to the particular church. Here is what you need to know about non-denominational weddings.

The Mass

Non-denominational weddings may or may not have a mass. The church leader may preside over the church’s wedding or in the couple’s chosen venue; they don’t have to conduct the ceremony in the church. However, it depends on the church’s rules of that church.

While Catholic churches have a well-laid down procedure regarding the Nuptials Mass, these weddings do not have a particular line-up of activities. They may decide to switch up the mass as they prefer, it could be shorter, and they may do away with certain aspects of a typical church service.


Unlike Catholic weddings, the couple does not need to follow any customs or traditions per se. They have the freedom to decide the venue, number of guests, the form their vows will take, the dress code, and other personal choices. Whatever they wish to incorporate is entirely up to them.

As much as these churches have no strict traditions, some non-denominational churches may have specific rules, although not as stable as other churches like the Catholics.

Catholic Weddings in a Non-Denominational Church

Due to frequent interaction between Catholics and people from other religions, a Catholic may wish to marry a non-Catholic Christian, a non-Christian, or someone with no particular religious affiliation. Given the code of conduct of the Catholics, this may be a challenge.

Some Christian couples may decide to have the wedding in one of their churches or in both churches; hence, can a Catholic have his/ her wedding in a non-denominational church?

If both partners are Catholic, they cannot have their wedding anywhere else other than the church/ chapel. Similarly, only the priest or bishop of their respective churches can preside over the ceremony because the Catholics follow unbending rules and consider marriage a sacred sacrament. Therefore, the two can only have their wedding in the groom’s or bride’s parish or in their university or college chapel.

In another instance where a Catholic wishes to marry a non-denominational Christian, they can either have their wedding in the Catholic Church or in the other partner’s church. In case they decide to have it in another church, they need to obtain permission from the area’s bishop, who then blesses the union.

For a catholic marrying from another religion or marrying a partner with no conformity to any religion, they can wed elsewhere other than in the church, as long as they inform the parish priest or bishop. They can have their wedding in any other venue (function hall or the outdoors). However, one setback is that most Catholic priests may decline presiding over the ceremony unless they conduct it in the church.

If the Catholic marries another Christian without obtaining the parish priest’s blessing, and it means that they will go through with their marriage without the acceptance of the church. In this case, the marriage will not be valid according to the church or in the eyes of God. The couple will then be married, but not legal to the church.

Final Take

Due to the Catholic Church’s traditions and rules, you cannot have a Catholic wedding outside the Catholic Church or without the ordained minister presiding over the ceremony. Nonetheless, you can have a wedding in another church, but with the parish priest’s blessing, or else the marriage will not be valid in the church’s eyes.

The Catholic Church may be stringent with their traditions, but they allow their members to marry outside their church, as long as it does not break any of their rules and is a legal marriage. You can have your wedding in a non-denominational setup, but your marriage may not be valid or blessed by the church unless you get your parish priest’s approval.

Recent Posts