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It has been said that all Catholics are Christians, but not all Christians are Catholic. Therefore, there are distinct differences in how Catholics worship as compared to other Christian denominations, and, yes, their weddings often have a different look and feel, as well. Catholic weddings will almost always take place in the church, as members believe that this is where Christ resides and that couples must unite within Christ’s presence.

Catholics view marriage as a sacrament, while other Christian denominations have eased their marriage rules to suit the individual interests of their members. These rules are still in place today. Here is a look at more differences between a Catholic and a Christian wedding.

Marriages Between Two Catholics Includes Mass

The pre-wedding rituals for Catholics include pre-wedding counseling and a wedding preparation course. The counseling and the course are also required for interfaith couples who plan to be married in the Catholic Church.

There is little room for personalization of a wedding between two Catholics, as the priest presiding over the wedding has the final say on whether the ceremony will stray from the specific order in which the traditional aspects of the ceremony are performed.

Most Catholic weddings follow a standard format that includes:

  • Traditional songs
  • Readings from the Bible, known as liturgy
  • Communion, which is referred to as receiving the Eucharist
  • A sermon
  • The Sacrament of Marriage, which involves the exchanging of vows and the exchanging of rings. 
  • A blessing and dismissal of guests

Following the ceremony, the wedding party and guests will generally attend a reception. Catholic wedding receptions are usually very similar to receptions held by couples of other denominations. While the wedding ceremony is more formal, the wedding reception is a time when the couple can provide their own personal touches to the day.

Marriages Between a Catholic and a Non-Catholic

While the Catholic Church has a preference that its members marry other Catholics, those wishing to marry a baptized Christian who is of another denomination can do so. It is preferred that the wedding take place in a Catholic church. The ceremony will be similar to that of two Catholics, except Mass will not be held and all references to holy communion will be removed.

It is not unusual when either the bride or the groom is not Catholic for the couple to actually have two ceremonies. These ceremonies include one in the church that is performed in the traditional way and another ceremony that features personal aspects that are important to the couple. 

Marriages Between a Catholic and a Non-Christian

Catholics are permitted by the church to marry unbelievers, such as atheists or agnostics. However, in order to do so, the Catholic member of the couple must obtain a dispensation from the bishop.

The Catholic member must also agree to do all that is in his or her power to ensure that children born of the union are baptized and raised in the Catholic Church. Additionally, the Catholic member must promise that they will remove all dangers that might cause them to fall away from their faith. This is another distinct difference from Christian weddings, in which couples are not usually required to make promises to their pastor about how they will raise their children. 

Although the marriage won’t be Sacramental, Catholics and non-Christians are permitted to have their ceremony in the Catholic church without mass. They are also welcome to have their wedding at the venue of their choice if the religious ceremony is not their preference. It should be noted that neither Christians nor non-believers are required to become Catholics in order to marry one. However, the expectation that children who are born of the union be raised as Catholics remains.

What to Expect From a Catholic Wedding

If you have been invited to a Catholic wedding and you’re not sure what to expect, rest easy. Catholics cheerfully welcome people of all faiths to its sacramental celebrations. Catholic wedding ceremonies are almost always held in a Catholic church. If the wedding includes a Mass, the Catholic attendees will line up to receive the Eucharist (communion). Generally, those who are not Catholic are not permitted to receive the Eucharist but are asked to offer silent prayers of unity for the couple and their Lord.

Catholic weddings are formal affairs and most attendees wear clothing to match the occasion. While there is no required dress code, guests are usually dressed in modest, formal attire.

Catholic weddings that include Mass usually last an hour or more, while ceremonies that do not feature Mass will last around half an hour. When the ceremony is over, there will be a wedding reception that is generally held at another venue. 

Looking for a Wedding Venue? Trust Windows on the Water in New Jersey 

Whether you’re looking for a place for your reception after your wedding at the church or you want to have your ceremony and your reception at the same place, Windows on the Water has a wedding package to suit your needs. Our professional event planners will meet with you to begin planning your special day and will work to save you time by providing as many needed services as possible to ensure that you have the wedding and reception of your dreams.

Come tour our 86-acre resort, meet our international chefs, and learn more about having a lakeside wedding in Millstone Township. To book an appointment, call us at (609) 208-9475 or send us a message online.