There are various reasons why Catholics choose to be married in the Church or not. Some do because it is a social custom to be married in church or because a church is a sacred and beautiful place for a wedding; others do because parents, grandparents or in-laws insist on a church wedding. Some don’t because they no longer practice their faith, disagree with certain Church teachings, or are marrying someone who is not Catholic and, in some cases, feel they cannot be married in the Church. In any case, this question entails more than the location of the wedding; it also speaks to the meaning of the marriage.
Catholics believe that marriage is an intimate community of life and love designed for the good of the spouses and the welfare of children. We believe that marriage between two baptized persons is a sacrament -- that is, a sacred relationship between a man and a woman which embodies and expresses God's relationship to humankind. Since God's commitment to us is permanent, total and life-giving, we believe that the commitment which a married couple makes to each other should also be permanent, exclusive and life-giving. This is a promise which is made freely, with reasonable knowledge and good intentions. The Church hopes that a married couple will remain faithful to their promise "until death do us part," barring circumstances which cause serious spiritual or physical danger to the spouse or children, or otherwise make life together impossible.
Although no one has a perfect marriage, and some marriages fail, two people who want their marriage to be happy, permanent, exclusive and life-giving should welcome the encouragement and support of a faith community which believes that, with God's grace, this is possible and desirable.
• If you have concerns or questions about what it means to be married in the Catholic Church, please visit with a pastor, parish staff member, or spiritual guide.