Ask a Priest: On Outside Weddings

by Diocese of Des Moines | February 21, 2018

Ask a Priest about outdoor weddings

Q.  Why can’t couples have an outside wedding in the Des Moines diocese?

A.  Well, a simple answer is: that’s why we have churches. 

Planning an outside wedding is asking for trouble.  You almost have to plan two weddings. 


Because the weather is something that we have no control over.  Why go through the grief of planning an elaborate (or even a simple) outdoor wedding, and then spend days worrying about whether the temperature, the wind or the precipitation might overcome all that planning? 

But there are other reasons, too. 

If you are asking the Church to witness your wedding, why would you go somewhere else to celebrate the ceremony?  The same goes for “destination” weddings.  It seems a terrible inconvenience to suggest that your wedding guests travel to remote locations at a considerable expense just so you can have a wedding in a place that has no connection to the Church. 

Perhaps some dioceses permit outdoor weddings, but there are countless reasons not to do so.

Q.  If a Catholic marries someone in a non-Catholic church, and a priest is helping to officiate is the marriage blessed?

A.  It depends.  Usually so. 

In an age of ecumenism, we see the benefits of working with both the bride’s and the groom’s families in planning a wedding.  Most ministers of other denominations are gracious about hosting a wedding in their church or in coming to be part of a wedding in a Catholic Church.  The ordinary preparations for the couple would be the same, and a fairly routine permission can be granted for the wedding to take place in a non-Catholic church.  Again, it’s smart to check with your pastor or another priest or deacon to determine the circumstances.    

 Q.  After our children have 12 years of Catholic education how does a parent encourage them to choose to attend Sunday Mass?

 A.   Nearly all parents ask a similar question as their children grow up.

Religious practice both for parents and for children varies greatly.  Some families are at Mass every week.  Others come occasionally. 

It’s the same with Catholic schools and religious education programs: some parents leave all that “religion stuff” to teachers and catechists. 

What they discover is that without reinforcement from parents and families, the faith seldom takes root.  But your question is about parents and families who do encourage their children to learn about their faith and who try to work with teachers and catechists in helping to form their children.  Unfortunately, there is no easy answer.  Some of the most committed and active parishioners discover that their kids are not interested or are distracted by sports, jobs, friends, etc. 

We live in an increasingly secular society, and so for religious practice to thrive, it takes a certain challenge to social pressures that both children and parents encounter. 

Regardless, at a certain point, young people make their own choices, and we don’t always agree with those choices.  If we really believe that faith is a lifelong journey, our sons and daughters may return to the practice of the faith once they become adults. 

But not always. 

So we love them and we pray for them, and we hope that they come to experience the goodness of the Lord in other ways.

 Got a question for “Ask a Priest” and its author, Father John Ludwig? Send it to or The Catholic Mirror, 601 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA 50309.

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.