Mr. Unicycle and I had our first meeting with our priest this weekend, and as we got closer the appointment time, I got more and more nervous. I’d heard horror stories about priests separating the couple and asking them questions in separate rooms (the ol’ divide and conquer!), making them sign a document promising never to use birth control, and badgering them about how often they attend church. I was basically shitting bricks rocks.
Image via IMDB
I’m not sure why I was so nervous. We’re basically moral/ethical people. We’re “pure” for all intents and purposes (and that’s the last I’ll say on that topic…), we don’t live together, we’ve never been married before, and neither of us are atheists. But yet, the more I think about it, the more I feel like I’m not devout enough to get married in a church.
Let me back up: I’m a former Catholic school girl.
I was raised Catholic, went to a Catholic university, and used to go to church every week. Mr. Unicycle is Lutheran, and neither us of has any intention of ever converting to the other’s faith. We’re getting married at the parish I’ve belonged to my whole life, the one affiliated with my old grade school, where I was educated from kindergarten through 8th grade.
Image via Laurie Peacock Photography
I found this picture of a wedding at my church. It looks HUGE with this lens…kind of like Kris Humphries’s hand…
But here’s why I feel bad:
- Neither Mr. Unicycle nor I go to church regularly anymore. It wasn’t a conscious decision. It’s not like I went to college and became an atheist like a lot of people do (no judgment if this happened to you. To each his/her own!). We merely don’t plan it into our weekly schedule.
- In order to get married in the Catholic church, you have to promise to raise your kids Catholic. I have no qualms about this, and Mr. Unicycle doesn’t really care too much either. But the reason we don’t care either way is that we don’t go to church. We need to snap out of this apathy real quick.
- I don’t even know the difference between Lutherans and Catholics, so how can I choose Catholicism for my children? Or myself, for that matter?
- I was afraid the priest would ask us questions that would out me as a derelict parishioner. All he would have had to ask is “how many priests do we have?” and I would have been a goner. Even “when’s the last time you went to mass?” would have ruined me!
Turns out I had nothing—well, I had little to worry about. When we sat down with the priest, he first exclaimed how great it was that we’d found each other and wanted to spend our lives together. (You know what? It is great.) He had us fill out some paperwork (our names, addresses, birthdates, etc.), and then he made us answer a few questions on a form. The first question scared me a little bit—whether we were active participants in our faith or not. I’m not sure what qualifies being an active participant. We also had to say whether we’d use birth control or raise our children Catholic, whether we’d been married before, whether we had a history of mental illness or impotence, and whether we were related to each other. The good news is, the wrong answers were marked with asterisks! I’m not sure what was on the other end of the asterisk because we moved through the forms too quickly, but I’m guessing it wasn’t good. (And don’t worry, we answered truthfully!)
Image via The Guardian
We also had to take a few forms home with us for “witnesses” to fill out, assuring the diocese that we weren’t already married to other people. Since Mr. Unicycle is not Catholic, I had to sign a dispensation promising to raise our children Catholic. We also need to provide the church with copies of our Baptism, Confirmation, and First Communion (I think) certificates, as well as a marriage license once we get one.
The priest gave us a book to keep that lists all the readings and songs we’re allowed to choose from at the wedding ceremony. We elected to have just a ceremony and not a full mass (most of Mr. Unicycle’s family is Lutheran, and most of mine is Atheist, so basically no one would have received communion!). He also gave us some information on Pre-Cana, which is the Catholic church’s required pre-marital counseling. After answering our questions, he shook our hands and told us we were required to have at least 5 children. He was joking. I think.
And that was that. See? Not too scary. I’ll let you know how the rest of the process goes in subsequent posts!
Note: my experience is with the Archdiocese of Chicago. I’m not sure how this differs from other dioceses.
Hive, be honest: are any of you nervous about getting married in the church? Do any Catholic brides have advice to share about the process?