I saw this photo trending over on Reddit: A happy couple beginning their life together surrounded by…. penguins.
And it got me thinking about some of the other possibilities for wedding locales.
I mean, you can marry on a roller coaster….
…or on a glacier…
If you’re a runner, you can celebrate your new life together and get your daily exercise by marrying on a race track…
And of course there are beaches, and golf courses, and so many grand places on the earth.
But here’s the thing: If you’re a Catholic, you know that what really matters is that God be a part of your marriage, right from the start. Canon law, recognizing the importance of the union of a husband and wife, requires that the event occur in a sacred space–that the couple come before God to declare their love, and to ask His blessing and His help through the years ahead. The local ordinary (your bishop) can, for a good reason, give permission for the marriage to occur outside of a church, but only for a good reason. Canon 1118 explains:
Can. 1118 §1 A marriage between Catholics, or between a Catholic party and a baptised non-Catholic, is to be celebrated in the parish church. By permission of the local Ordinary or of the parish priest, it may be celebrated in another church or oratory.
§2 The local Ordinary can allow a marriage to be celebrated in another suitable place.
§3 A marriage between a Catholic party and an unbaptised party may be celebrated in a church or in another suitable place.
And I’m thinking that these alternate venues speak more about the couples’ focus on themselves than on their desire for God’s grace and blessing in their new life. I’m pretty sure the penguin exhibit would not fall into that category of “another suitable place.”