Or any type of religious wedding your fiancé and you don’t want to have but are considering for your parents.
I specify Catholic because I was raised Catholic. Most of my cousins, childhood friends and I went to Catholic school for K-12th grade. Those who went to public school still had to go to Sunday school for forever.
Despite being spoon fed religion, many people I know moved away to college and stopped caring. They stopped going to church, stopped praying and some even stopped believing. They only go to church as adults when visiting parents on Sundays, for other weddings or for funerals. Even though they’re no longer practicing, they still ended up having a church wedding!
Because their parents said so.
It upsets me to see people I love have this particular conflict. It’s common for adult children to have disagreements or an all-out war with their parents over this topic. Their options boil down to, “I can go along with my parents’ expectations OR I can break their hearts.” It doesn’t seem very fair, and adult children default to being “the mature ones” who have to compromise. That is, they’re used to their parents never bending for them, so they bend.
When it came time for me to get married, my partner stood with me in my decision to not have a Catholic wedding. My mom and some aunties questioned this, and we explained it was a no-brainer for us. For one thing, my partner wasn’t raised with religion. Second, I was a Catholic school girl for 13 years but never bought into Catholicism once.
Based on this, we’d be living a lie if we did what my family wanted.
I remember the exact moment I realized I didn’t believe in religion. I was about eight years old, waiting for my turn to recite the Apostle’s Creed in front class. I was nervous because I didn’t study shit. My future was stank eye from my teacher and getting punished at home for not doing homework, yet again. It’s no secret that I was an awful all-around student, it didn’t matter the subject. And, like math or science, religion was another class and passing grade.
Before my turn, a light bulb went off in my head as I watched my peers recite the prayer. I thought in disbelief, “Is everyone else memorizing these prayers to not get in trouble, too? Why else would we all be following orders and going to church so much? That must be why!”
In retrospect, I don’t think my eight-year-old self was wrong. No one wants to get in trouble. Some people pray to get on the other side of their troubles. Some people go to church to prevent trouble in the afterlife. And, some people have church weddings so they don’t get in trouble with their parents.
Look, I’m not knocking my family’s religion or your religion. Faith is a beautiful and powerful life force. I tell my mom I don’t go to church ever and welcome the energy and sincerity of each of her prayers, especially those made for my well being. She has dope angels she prays to like the Marketing Angels (for my siblings and I to be prosperous at work), Driving Angels (shine your perpetual light upon us for safe journeys) and Parking Angels (Hail Mary, Full of Grace, help us find a parking space!).
If my mom believes in it, that’s all I need to let her be. She’s a grown ass woman who gets to make her own life choices. In return, I communicate that I hope she respects that I get to be my own person and call my own shots, too.
What I’m knocking is having a church wedding you don’t want to have, because of any of these reasons:
Your parents are causing a shit storm over it (Some examples: angry yelling, uncontrollable crying, long e-mails on why you’re hurting them, etc.).
Your parents are disappointed and are guilting you because they sacrificed so much for you to have the best life possible (Some examples: escaped a war-torn country, paid $10k a year for the private Catholic school you never asked for, etc.).
Your parents are threatening to not attend your wedding.
Your parents are threatening to disown you altogether.
Your parents are shaming you for ruining your future children’s salvation.
Your parents want to pay for the church wedding, most of the wedding or the entire wedding. Because of their generosity, you passively (or passive-aggressively) agree.
Your loving parents aren’t even pressuring you, but it’s expected for you to have a church wedding. Even if you don’t care or practice your religion, you’ll do it anyway without complaints.
The Catholic Guilt is real, Y’all.
These are real-life reasons from people I know who had a Catholic wedding to keep the peace with their parents.
Religion is a big fucking deal. I believe you’re either in or you’re out. Don’t have a Catholic wedding if you aren’t 100% about having Christ as an active partner in your marriage. That’s right, don’t forget this age-old tradition is also a union with God’s love, sealed in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Do it if you believe in it, but please don’t do it because your parents say so.
Your parents shouldn’t control any of your life decisions.
If you’re having a wedding, you’re most likely an adult. You should be in practice of making your own life choices. It’s ok to take the opinions of others into consideration, but you must still be in control of your own life.
This is what I believe. If you’re an adult child, your parents shouldn’t choose your school, your career, what you eat, if you get tattoos or not, where you live, who you love, your wedding plans and how you raise your kids.
I know parents can sometimes be super powerful and scary. It’s tough to set boundaries with them. It’s tough to risk hurting your relationship with them. It’s tough to go against their best wishes and fierce love for you. It’s tough to unlearn a lifetime of following their ideas and orders. It’s tough to accept that they may never treat you as an independent adult.
On the other side, it’s awesome to make your own life choices. It’s awesome to have moments where the boundaries you set are actually respected. It’s awesome when you level up your relationship with your parents because you said so. It’s awesome to love your parents and be able to tell them “no.” It’s awesome to be an independent adult, even if they choose to be difficult.
A bit of advice if you’re considering having a Catholic wedding for your parents. Ask yourselves some deep questions like:
What’s most important about marrying each other?
What does [insert religion here] mean to both of us?
What would it mean to us to have a religious wedding?
What am I tolerating if we do this?
What role will religion have in our lives five years from now? 10 years from now?
What do we value and want to honor as we start our new family?
What can we do to support each other in our decisions?
Notice when your parent’s voices or Catholic Guilt vibes pop up. These should not influence your reflection on what you personally want. Set those voices aside and focus on where your fiancé and you are most energized and excited. This is the space where your deepest desires and choice on the matter live.
Whatever the love of your life and you choose to do, decide together, and step forward in action as a new family.