Can Catholics get married outside a Catholic Church?
The short answer comes from the Code of Canon Law, the law that governs the Catholic Church. Canon 1118 states that:
§1. A marriage between Catholics or between a Catholic party and a non-Catholic baptized party is to be celebrated in a parish church. It can be celebrated in another church or oratory with the permission of the local ordinary or pastor.
§2. The local ordinary can permit a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.
§3. A marriage between a Catholic party and a non-baptized party can be celebrated in a church or in another suitable place.
In a society where vows are exchanged in all sorts of places, the Church’s requirement that a wedding take place in a parish church is an emphasis on the seriousness and sacredness of the commitment into which the couple are entering. A couple that marries in a Catholic church is demonstrating that their faith is part of their new life together from the beginning.
Marriage is a sacrament. It is also a vocation, a call lived in the context of the Church. Though deeply personal, it is never private. It is not just about a couple’s life together, it is their call to live in Christ in a new way. This has everything to do with the Church. Those who seek this sacrament must also be open to appropriate instruction on how this sacrament is celebrated. It is the practice of the Diocese of Bridgeport that the Sacrament of Matrimony take place in a parish church. Exceptions can only be granted by the Bishop.