Tuesday, October 9, 2018


Over the last decade or so, destination weddings have become all the rage for the rich and famous, as well as the not so rich and famous.

Many dioceses which have cities or towns that are tourist destinations, are now allowing Catholics who are not a part of their diocese to have their weddings in their tourist destination towns, villages and cities, even in their beautiful cathedrals.

It can be quite lucrative. Destination weddings are appraised at a business level and are competitive with other venues. So a parish or cathedral could make a killing financially. I've heard of some churches charging up to $5,000 a wedding.

My parish church is near Savannah where two parishes in the city of Savannah allow destination weddings. I've allowed it a couple of times but no more. Why? you might ask?

1. It turns me and our church into a business and we are treated by the bride or groom, especially the mother of the bride as a business not as a church.

2. They want to come to Richmond Hill because the other venues in town (the two other parishes) are booked on the day they want.

3. It is a business adventure as well as a tourist/vacation venture for those attending the wedding.

So I don't allow it for the reasons above which have been my experience, but am I too rigid and mean?


Anonymous said...

1. You cannot be treated as a business unless you allow it.

2. I don't understand why this would disallow a destination wedding at your church. Unless you are piqued at not being the first choice . . .

3. That people enjoy the wedding locale should not be a deciding factor. What's wrong with combining the wedding and a long weekend in the Most Beautiful City on the East Coast?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I know that Richmond Hill is the most beautiful city on the east coast, I, for one, am not disputing that, only destination weddings.

Michael in VA said...

Well, Father, I guess I would want a little more clarification. Are these individuals who have no connection with the parish, either directly or through close relatives? If there is a solid family connection, I don't know that I would necessarily call it a destination wedding. However, if the couple and all of their guests would be complete strangers, then I would place them in a destination wedding category.

My primary concern for true destination-type weddings is theological. How well does the couple understand the Sacrament of Matrimony? If a pretty location makes or ruins your wedding day, you're missing the point. Yes, there are plenty of couples who get married in their local parish who do not have great formation or understanding of marriage, but to me that is heightened when the couple has no connection with the parish.

Related to this, how well can the priest make sure the couple completes marriage counseling and interviews? In my case, I think we met with the priest 3-4 times before the wedding. Does this all get squeezed into one meeting if the couple live hours away?

I'll defer to your experience with Mothers of the Bride and whether they are any worse for destination weddings than they are for local weddings.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Fr. McD, keep Pandora's Box closed (not that the church is Pandora's Box... :-)). This sounds like one of those things that at first seems good, but in practice turns into a nightmare.

As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, we're not in Kansas anymore.

God bless.

rcg said...

I am of the same mind when the destination is some ‘destination’ that one would only go to escape the daily grind and and not in the context of a sacrament and dedicating the joined lives and marriage to God’s will. That being said, my wife and I were married in a parish where we had met and have returned only once or twice since. It was roughly half way between our home towns by about a hundred miles so inconvenienced both families equally. I like the idea of the two famies joining to support this new creature. I will be planning the last daughter’s wedding soon so this is important that we send them off with the confidence of support and Love they will need in their lives. They can vacation ion in Singapore but will marry in dreary old Dayton.

John Nolan said...

Traditionally marriages were held in the bride's parish church. As late as the 1960s this was still the case; The parish in which I was an altar boy was a new one and the church wasn't built, but I often served at weddings in the distinctly uninspiring venue of the school hall, where Sunday Masses took place. There was a Catholic church nearby, built in 1938, but it was in a different parish.

You are supposed to be a 'regular worshipper' at the church in which you wish to be married, but this is not strictly applied. Brompton Oratory has long been a favoured venue for celebrity weddings - Edward Elgar and Alfred Hitchcock were both married there.

And if you want a picturesque medieval village church in which to tie the knot, the Church of England will oblige, and there are hundreds to choose from - you can hire them in the same way as you can hire a castle, a stately home or a posh hotel. If it generates an income and keeps them open when regular worshippers are few, why complain?