Church officials requires the following if you want your wedding held in a church: a civil marriage license, a couple’s seminar, marriage counseling and confession prior to receiving the holy Eucharist (communion for the religious but un-informed). Except for the marriage contract, all are managed by the church and you have to pay a fee for the seminar and counseling.
No problem in obtaining a civil license. We signed the papers a year before in a simple ceremony at Manila City Hall before I flied back to Riyadh. So my fiancée already got the leverage document, I mean, insurance paper, este, the civil license needed by the church. As for the seminar and counseling, which I thought was a waste of time, I got no choice but to attend. We were scheduled one weekend; seminar in the morning, counseling in the afternoon and confession after that.
There are three other couples in that room besides us. One couple of marrying age was sitting on the far side. Another in the middle, whom I think, just wants to formalize their union since two children are sitting beside them. And a very young couple at the back who just can’t seem to let go of one another. Frankly, I have no recollection of what was being discussed in that seminar. My mind was somewhere else, occupied with calculating my expenses and subtracting it from my rapidly depleting bank account.
On the other hand, marriage counseling was a one-on-one sit-in with a young, if I’m not mistaken, newly ordained priest. But before he could begin, I asked him a barrage of questions: How old are you? What is your experience as a marriage councilor? Do you think, when it comes to life’s experience, you're more knowledgeable, even if you’re 10 years my junior? To which I received a series of nod and shake of his head. I think that’s the shortest marriage counseling there ever was.
The parish priest is no stranger to me. Not only is their house a stone throw away from our family compound, my brother-in-law was his former classmate back in their seminary days. So we for go the formality of the confessionary and just sat on a bench outside the cathedral. When he found out my last confession was 15 years ago, he asked me if I haven’t sinned for the last decade and a half. That’s when I told him about my little theory. The psychological effect of telling one’s problem to another, which somehow free or lessen a person’s anxiety when they "opened up". And as Catholics being one of the most guilt stricken religious group, it is, but logical, to "introduce" confession. Since I equate “sin” to “guilt” and I have freed myself of that “guilt” a long time ago, I think there is no need for confession anymore. He just looked at me, took a deep breath and our confessional session ended.
The price of “renting” a church for your wedding varies in its looks and size. Chapels’ and churches maybe cheaper but we paid a 5 figure to use the cathedral. Before that, I suggested on having a “garden wedding”. The place where we held our reception has a beautiful garden, a gazebo where we could put the altar and menos gastos pa since it’s included in the rental. But I was cut short by the “olds”. It’s not “traditional” said one. Its sacrilegious, said another. And everyone, who still wear a veil when attending mass, agreed it should be a church wedding.
But having a church wedding has its downside. In my town, if you want it fancy, they have their own “officials” to do it. You can’t bring in your own flower arrangers because they have their own “official” flower arranger. You can’t have somebody sing in your wedding because they have their own “official” choir to do the singing. And to all of these you have to pay extra and it’s not cheap either.
Since we can’t do anything but use their “officials”, I asked, if they could sing our favorite song during the actual wedding ritual. But their conductor told me they have an “official” list of songs and if my song is not there, they can’t sing it. Can you believe that? That’s typical Catholic clergy mentality! They’ll decide what’s good for you, boss you around and then expect to be paid for dumping their crap on you.
Not only that, these “officials” where also at the reception and enjoying their heart out. When I whispered to my wife “Who invited them?” she replied “Nobody”. I continued to smile while receiving guests and some more “officials”, but a lot of expletives were running around in the back of my mind.
Forget what they say about “In the eyes of God and men blah blah blah…”. How ever they phrase it, when it comes to legality, a marriage license issued by the church does not hold water in any judicial proceedings. It’s not recognized by the court and the only legal paper admissible are the ones issued by a judge in a civil wedding ceremony, like your marriage contract. And like any other contract, be sure you read it, especially the fine prints, and understand what’s stipulated in its provisions. Some contract contains “pre-nuptial” agreement that in some cases maybe disadvantageous to some party, especially to you, ladies.
You can have your heart’s desire at your own wedding. But I suggest you put your venue somewhere else but the church. Not only do you save financially but from the hassle and aggravation as well of facing these hypocritically self-righteous church “officials”. Cheers!
Since I couldn't get them to sung our favorite song, I might as well put it here: