Check with your pastor about Communion at your wedding

Communion is a sign of unity with the church
By Emilie Lemmons
Until recent decades, the idea of a Catholic marrying outside the faith was practically unheard of, if not taboo. Such weddings took place in private ceremonies in the parish rectory, not in a church sanctuary in front of hundreds of friends and family.
These days, an increasing number of people marry across religious lines. More than 40 percent of couples married in the Catholic Church are of “mixed” religions, according to theologian Robert Hater, author of the 2006 book, “When a Catholic Marries a Non-Catholic.”
Because of the challenges that arise when a Catholic marries someone of a different religion, the church doesn’t encourage the practice, but it does try to support interfaith couples and help them prepare to meet those challenges with a spirit of holiness. “To regard mixed religion marriages negatively does them a disservice,” Hater writes. “They are holy covenants and must be treated as such.”
A marriage can be regarded at two levels - whether it is valid in the eyes of the church and whether it is a sacrament. Both depend in part on whether the non-Catholic spouse is a baptized Christian or a non-baptized person, such as a Jew, Muslim or atheist.
If the non-Catholic is a baptized Christian (not necessarily Catholic), the marriage is valid as long as the Catholic party obtains official permission from the diocese to enter into the marriage and follows all the stipulations for a Catholic wedding.
A marriage between a Catholic and another Christian is also considered a sacrament. In fact, the church regards all marriages between baptized Christians as sacramental, as long as there are no impediments.
“Their marriage is rooted in the Christian faith through their baptism,” Hater explains.
In cases where a Catholic is marrying someone who is not a baptized Christian - known as a marriage with disparity of cult - “the church exercises more caution,” Hater says. A “dispensation from disparity of cult,” which is a more rigorous form of permission given by the local bishop, is required for the marriage to be valid.
The union between a Catholic and a non-baptized spouse is not considered sacramental.
The wedding ceremony
Because Catholics regard marriage as a sacred event, the church prefers that interfaith couples marry in a Catholic church, preferably the Catholic party’s parish church.
It’s popular, and acceptable, for an interfaith couple to invite the non-Catholic spouse’s minister to be present at the wedding. But it’s important to note that, according to canon law, only the priest may officiate at a Catholic wedding. A minister may offer a few words, but he or she may not officiate or preside at a joint ceremony.
According to Hater, church policies generally recommend that interfaith weddings not include Communion, therefore, most interfaith weddings take place outside of Mass.
“The reception of Communion is a sign of unity with the ecclesial community,” he explains. “On a wedding day, the fact that one-half of the congregation does not belong to the Catholic community [and, hence, does not receive Communion] cannot be a sign of welcome or unity on a couple’s wedding day.” It might be “likened to inviting guests to a celebration and not allowing them to eat,” he adds.
In some dioceses, if an interfaith couple wants to have a full wedding Mass with Communion, they must get permission from the bishop, Hater says. “In addition, only with his permission can a person, other than a Catholic, receive Communion in church during such a wedding.”
(Reprinted with permission from the USCCB.)