Are you looking to get married in a church that you don’t belong to? Regardless of why you want to – be it for logistical reasons, a fondness for a particular church, or a former connection, it may not be as simple as going through your local or regular church. Or is it? Well, today, I am going to be walking you through the process along with discussing some considerations along the way.
So, how do you get married in a church you don’t belong to? A lot of the time, just reaching out to the local pastor or priest is enough to schedule your ceremony at a church that you don’t belong to. Though do consider some church faiths only accept local parishioners or that you meet other certain criteria, such as regular attendance.
If you are hoping to hold your wedding in a church but are not sure if they even accept ‘newcomers,’ keep reading to find out how you can get married in a church you don’t belong to.
Typical Requirements To Get Married In A Church
Even though it is super easy to get swept away with the fun side of wedding planning, you will want to knuckle down and find out what you need to get married in a church.
Some of these are legal requirements, and others are just specific to the church.
Commitment To The Church
Many churches like proof that you have committed to their church.
So, this could be the local church that you visit every Sunday or a church that shares your faith.
If you are in talks with a church outside your parish, they may expect you to attend a certain number of services as a sign of your commitment to them and their faith.
Attendance 6 Weeks Before The Wedding
Many Christian churches expect their wedding couples to attend a certain number of services in the weeks running up to the actual wedding day.
You may be expected to attend for a specific number of weeks before your big day.
This is definitely something you will need to discuss with the pastor or priest, especially if your preferred church is well outside of travel options so close to your wedding.
For example, churches that are states away from your home or even in a different country.
For churches that expect you to be a part of their faith, you may have to be able to present your baptismal or christening certificates.
This is especially important if you plan on getting married in a Catholic Church.
However, if you aren’t baptized, you could always discuss getting this done with the priest if it is a necessary expectation for couples getting married.
Proof Of Freedom To Marry
This is not only a religious requirement but a legal requirement for all churches.
You need to be able to prove that you are of legal age to marry in your state, that you are not currently married to anyone else, and that you are freely entering into this marriage.
Different states have different legislations surrounding this, so make sure you research that first.
This is more specific to Catholic Churches, but you may be expected to attend a pre-marriage course with the priest who intends to marry you.
These courses usually run for around 5 or 6 sessions and are supposed to help build a stronger foundation for you and your intended spouse.
They cover communication, preparation for potential differences and conflicts, including how to prepare as a couple for the challenges of married life.
How To Get Married In A Church You Don’t Belong To
Now that you know what you may need to get married in a church let’s go through some of the things you may need to do if you want to get married in a church you do not attend.
Contact The Priest Or Pastor
Firstly, you will want to get in touch with the pastor or priest.
They will be able to tell you whether marrying couples who aren’t committed to their specific church is allowed and if they can host their ceremony.
They can also advise you on the things you will need and the certain activities you may have to attend if you want to get married in their church.
Get Your Church To Recommend You
If you are hoping to get married in a church of your faith but in a different area, one of the best ways to plead your case is to get your current church to recommend you to your intended ceremony church.
This is basically your pastor or priest vouching for you to another parish and is usually all you may need to get married in a church you do not belong to but shares your particular Christian faith.
Expect To Pay A Bit More
Most couples that get married in their church receive a little bit of a discount on their ceremony donations.
Now, I just want to point out that this donation isn’t a donation but an expected fee.
However, when you get married in a different church, it is unlikely that you will get this local discount.
It is important to know that you will have to pay a little extra to get married in a different church.
Can You Get Married At A Church If You Aren’t Religious?
You can definitely get married in a church if you are not religious. However, not every church is willing to accept non-religious couples, so you may need to be flexible with the church.
It can make it easier if you have a close family member who still attends your preferred church, but I’m not going to lie; it may be a little trickier.
If you are hoping to get married in a catholic church, you will be expected to go through certain religious motions.
Such as attending Mass before your wedding, getting baptized, and attending a pre-marital course.
If you are opposed to this, a catholic church wedding is probably out of reach for you.
Many other religious churches have their own views on marrying non-faith couples.
It is best to reach out to those individual churches to find out if they are open to marrying couples who are not religious and, if they are, what you may be expected to do.
Can You Be Refused By A Church For Your Wedding?
You can be refused by a church for your wedding. There are many instances when a church may decide that it is against both their church’s best interests and your own, and they can refuse to hold your wedding ceremony.
Let us look at some of their potential justifications, below.
If You Are Not Of Their Church
Any church is well within its rights to refuse to marry a couple that does not share their faith or is not a member of their congregation.
It happens more often than you would think and, to a certain degree, is understandable.
A church is a very sacred place to many of the congregation, and it is unlikely they want their sacred grounds used by those who do not have the same level of respect and understanding of the church’s importance.
Some churches can be very small and intimate.
Meaning they know their conjuration like family, and they may not be comfortable marrying a couple who have no connection to their church or have never attended their services.
If You Refuse To Take Part In Pre-Marital Activities
Churches that are happy to take couples who do not share their faith or are not a part of their church will probably expect the couple to take part in certain activities, such as a pre-marital course or attending several services, before the wedding ceremony.
If you are unwilling to take part, it is likely the church will refuse to marry you.
If They Don’t Have Space
The church is still one of the most popular wedding ceremony venues, and because of this, they can book up wedding spaces incredibly fast, especially if the church is incredibly popular with parish members and outsiders alike.
If Your Lifestyle/Faith Doesn’t Align With The Church
Many churches will refuse to marry couples whose lifestyles or faiths contradict their own.
It is a very old-school way of thinking and one that many of us don’t agree with.
However, if a church turns you down because you are gay or follow a faith different from theirs, it is probably not a church you want to get married to in any way.
Getting Married In A Church You Don’t Attend
If you have your heart set on a church that is out of state or you don’t attend it doesn’t mean it isn’t an option.
Many churches are happy to marry couples that do not attend their services; they just expect to have to follow a few rules and regulations beforehand.
As long as you are happy to attend a few services or can get a recommendation from your own church, getting married in a church you don’t belong to can actually be fairly simple.
Other guides you may want to read:
- How To Ask A Pastor To Officiate Your Wedding? [Appropriately]
- How Much Do You Pay A Pastor For Wedding? [Should You Tip?]
- How Long Is A Church Wedding? [What To Expect]
Hey, I’m Allison – a recent bride, an expectant mother and the chief editor here at Everlasting Occasion. Here I document all the knowledge and experience I accumulated while researching and planning my dream wedding and ahead of our new baby. Here, I try to answer those many questions couples have when planning their dream wedding, while equally, helping expectant parents ahead of their new arrival!