We began calling churches to inquire about pricing. I was shocked to discover our first pick required a $1,200 mandatory donation for 45-minute use of the church (more than 10 times the cost of our wedding venue for the evening). And from there, our options got less and less attractive.
A wedding symbolizes the start of a life together. The planning process is one of the first official steps in working as a team, and deciding what’s best for you as a couple. Getting married in a church is a beautiful tradition, but we had to look at our options objectively to decide if this was something worth sacrificing for and potentially going over budget for.
We decided it wasn’t.
The church had played no part in our relationship. We honored and respected the traditions held by family and friends, but realized we had to make a choice between what we ‘should do’ and what was right for us. For us, that meant promising to honor, love and respect each other every day. A pledge requiring work from both parties and not a religious deity to do the heavy lifting for us.
It was not a decision made out of spite or as a protest statement. But rather as a practical look at our finances and interactions with our religion. Not everyone was thrilled and it took time for some people to accept our decision. But ultimately, upon hearing our explanation, everyone understood our approach to the situation and welcomed it wholeheartedly. It helped that we were paying for most of the wedding ourselves, because it gave us the liberty to do what we wanted.
Well, I don’t find her case all that compelling. According to one source, the average cost of a wedding in the United States right now is almost $27,000. $1,200 for a church donation would hardly break the budget. On a hunch, I think she and her fiance just didn’t think it was important enough and didn’t want to be bothered. She writes that they had never gone to Mass together—”The church had played no part in our relationship”—so clearly faith was not a priority. The condescending smirk directed toward “a religious deity” doesn’t make her argument more convincing.
Blaming it on a greedy church demanding a donation seems like a stretch—and, frankly, a convenient dodge.
Moreover, if you want to talk dollars and cents: I don’t know any priest or parish that would deny a sacrament to anyone because they couldn’t afford the suggested fees. Something can always be worked out. Always.
But the more serious concern is that this woman and her fiance, for whatever reason, don’t think the grace of a sacramental marriage is worth it. And I fear there are many more like them—far more than we realize.
What can we do about that?
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