CAN A CATHOLIC MARRY IN A GARDEN?
There is a lot to say about this topic. All the same, let me give you just the answer for now. The long explanations can be looked at some other time.
On the place for celebrating marriage, it also involves legal nuances. But, generally, a Catholic must marry in (inside) a Catholic Church. This can be inside the main church, a chapel (e.g. Adoration chapel) or another place in the parish like a parish grotto. But as I said, the legal background is needed before making the choice because a place for the celebration of marriages should also be a registered place according to the laws of the country. That is, which ever place in the parish marriage takes place should be a place licensed by the State as a proper place to celebrate marriages.
Also, a Catholic can marry in another Catholic church different from where he/she worships. Here, the priests of the two places would have to work that out as prescribed by the Church. In the instance of a Catholic marrying in another church which is not a Catholic church, though this is possible, it is generally not encouraged in view of the interest of the Catholic partner. In anyway, in such cases, you must see your parish priest to discuss it with him. There are some processes involved which the priest will guide you through.
However, Catholics are not allowed to marry in public gardens or at beaches or in some beautiful place inside a forest as some non-Catholics and some non-Christians do. They (non-Catholics) can do that because, generally, for them, marriage is not a sacrament (it’s more or less viewed as a social religious celebration, albeit, attended by Christians and performed by Christians.) Because for us Catholics, marriage is not just a social event or any religious celebration for that matter, but a sacrament, we do not celebrate marriages in gardens or at beaches, etc. just because we want a “nice ambience”. For us, Marriage is far more important and a sacred activity for us to reduce it to the “niceness” or the “coolness” of the surroundings. Because Marriage is a sacrament, like all Sacraments then, it also takes place in a parish, in a Catholic church.
In any way, which ambience is “nicer, more serene and cool” than being in the ambience of the Almighty Himself, inside His house (the Church), when you are promising a lifelong commitment to the man or woman of your life. In the Church we don’t only have the physical ambience of family and friends but also the spiritual ambience of the Saints surrounding us (the various images of saints inside the Church) and praying for us as we take this bold step which symbolizes God’s love for the world which will continue till the end of time.
Hope this little piece settles some doubts and has given you some clarification.
By: Fr. Anthony Agnes Adu-Mensah