Here we go.
I'm Catholic. Born and raised. K-12 was spent in uniforms, and religion classes, and with confirmation and the WHOLE shebang. I love me some Jesus, although I will say I'm more "quiet" about it than some of my Catholic counterparts. I just respect other people's beliefs and decisions and am not the poster child for Catholicism so yapping about it gives me anxiety. Anyway, as a qualified Catholic, I also feel like I'm qualified to whine a bit.
Catholics do NOT make it easy to get married. I'm totally down with the counseling and all that, and actually I've heard it's a ton of fun. That's not my gripe. My grip is that the ONLY option I'm seeing for mass times, on a Saturday, at ANY church in the metro in St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN is 1:30. Um, what? I get it. You have Saturday mass..and adoration,..and all that fun stuff, but really? why not like, 3:00? The issue we're having is the reception locations won't let us in until 4:00, 5:00, 6:00... and we don't want to have our cocktail hour until 4:00, 5:00, 6:00.. you know, "normal" drinking hours. I've been to weddings where there is a gap in between the ceremony and reception. Was it manageable? sure. Did we just go to the bar between? yes. Is it my IDEAL scenario? no. Especially when we have at LEAST 75+ coming from out of town (3.5 hour drive, M's mom's fam) ... I'm really not loving the idea of unleashing them onto the city for a FOUR hours without supervision. No, but seriously, these people are driving all the way down for us and I don't love the idea of saying to them, "hey guys! you're on your own for a few hours! good luck!"... it just makes me uncomfortable.
I can deal with a shorter gap. We think we've settled on a venue (the Como Park Conservatory), just have to set the date. Como is a conservatory and (free) zoo. SO, sending people there a bit early wouldn't bother me AS much because they can wander around the grounds, look at the flowers and plans, the animals, etc. I just can't get down with 3+ hours.
SO, that being said, I'm wondering first if anyone has ever been to a Catholic ceremony that had a creative solution for "the gap"..? OR if this is a totally hairbrained idea:
We're thinking we do a whole civil ceremony, just get an officiant, yadda yadda for the BIG wedding. BUT still go through all the Catholic pre-wedding stuff: the counseling, the Engaged Couples retreat, etc. Then, the next day, or a week after the big "party" ceremony, have a very small sacramental service. BUT my question here is: will the church only do it/recognize it as official if the sacramental service IS the real service in that, it's at this service where you sign the marriage certificate? Will they go through the motions for the sacramental portion if you've already signed that and mailed it? These are the bizarre scenarios I think about.
Real talk here- I honestly don't care if I get married in the Catholic Church. That's harsh, and it's not really like "aww I don't give a shit" but if it's going to be a whole circus to do it, I'm fine with an officiant. I'm far more spiritual than "structured" when it comes to my religion but It's my dad. That's a whole separate post, and I know it's "my wedding" and I can do what I want but the man is my idol, I'd do anything to make him happy, and let's be real, I've done baptism, confirmation, so on some level would it be nice to have it as a sacrament? yes. But I choose to believe God would recognize and accept it no matter WHERE it happens.