Proper way to ask a priest to officiate marriage ceremony?

Hello Everyone!

My boyfriend (Christian, non Catholic) and I (practicing Catholic) are hoping to get married this August. We’d like to get married in the church I grew up in, which is an ethnic Catholic Church. The thing is, I don’t have any relationship with the priests there (the nature of our church is that we get a new pastor every few years and it’s kind of a cultural difference for me as I’m pretty Americanized), and besides I would really like to find a priest whom we can converse with easily, so basically an English speaking priest. Unforunately, the priests with whom I’ve actually known have moved away. There is one priest in particular I would like to ask (but I’ve never talked to him), but he assists at another parish, in my neighborhood, and he also is a professor at a local university. Just wondering if it’s proper to ask this priest if he would officiate our wedding, and if so, is there a proper way to ask? The only time I really see him is when he celebrates Mass, and he is hanging around afterwards and talking to the parishioners. Do I ask him in person? Email him? Should I try to set up an appointment with him? And at this point, I’m really not sure if we would have our wedding within the Mass or just do a wedding ceremony. And just to have my bases covered, we have been dicerning marriage for several years now.

Is it out of the ordinary to ask a priest other than your parish priest to celebrate/officate a wedding? How about those that are not parish priests but are of an order?

Thanks and peace.

Generally you simply call the Parish Office and speak to the secretary about scheduling your wedding and requesting a specific Priest. I would suggest attending mass regularly and chatting with this Priest after. Atleast get on a 1st name basis with him. Share you good news with him and casually say - I hope you will be available to say the Wedding Mass for us. This makes your intention known without putting him on the spot.

this happens all the time but you are running out of time if you want to get married in August. You need first to contact the pastor of your parish, either your residential parish, or your “home” ethnic parish, whichever is the church where you want to be married. He oversees your marriage preparation. Most parishes advise contacting them no later than 6 months before your prospective date. In addition to the standard marriage preparation, you also need the proper dispensations, and counselling from the pastor who will decide if they are advisible in your case. That is his role and perogative as your pastor. If you want another priest to witness the ceremony simply tell him. Then call the priest you have in mind and ask him. He will also want to meet with you both and be part of your marriage preparation and make sure he will be presiding over a valid contract.

Keep in mind that you can also call the priest that you do know and ask him. You would pay his expenses generally. But this is done all the time.

I wish I had done that! The priest that married us was fine. But there were 3 others that I would have gladly chosen from, and didn’t think to call them away from where they were. And I KNOW at least one of them would have done it. One of them did all the weddings for my best friends family. Like he’s part of the family.


Follow Annie’s advice. You do need to contact the parish where you would like to be married first. When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we wanted the priest who had been both of our spiritual director in college to officiate (though he was from another diocese entirely). We checked with our local parish, though, and they had a rule in place that weddings had to be officiated by one of the parish priests. So our friend con-celebrated and gave the homily. We had a few other priest friends that we asked to con-celebrate, too. We simply approached them and asked them. It all worked out quite nicely. :slight_smile:

Thank you all for the good advice! This definitely helps me navigate the process. We’ve also have been seeing off and on a Catholic counselor for pre-engagement/pre-marital counseling. I am wondering if this would/could cover any counseling by my ethnic-parish pastor. And yes, I know I am running out of time, and I know there would be more paperwork involved since this will be an interchurch marriage. My dad has gotten the paperwork for us, so now we just need to fill it out and submit it this Sunday and see where it goes. I guess I will have to see if God wills for us to get married in August. Thank you for all the advice!

It’s possible that the pastor would accept outside Catholic marriage prep to fulfill the parish requirements. My wife and I did that. It never hurts to ask. :slight_smile:

God bless you in your preparations. I pray it all goes smoothly for you! :thumbsup: