Can nuns go to weddings? (Can nuns officiate weddings?)

In theology school, I spent most of my time studying religious orders in various Christian denominations. The dos and don’ts of nunhood especially fascinated me more. Last year, I visited a nunnery and spent time interacting with and learning about how nuns lived their lives. A few days ago, I joined an online forum to discuss the monastic traditions of nuns. One member asked whether or not nuns could attend weddings and how much they could be involved in the process. She wondered if her sister, who is a nun, could officiate her wedding. With the knowledge I had gotten from my research and the conversations with the nuns, I answered her question with ease. So, can nuns go to weddings?

Yes, nuns can go to weddings. However, they can only go as guests, and they adhere to the requirements and rules of their orders. Some religious orders have conflicting views on nuns attending weddings, so this does not apply to all orders.

Join me as we discuss whether or not nuns can witness, officiate, or be bridesmaids at weddings. I will also look at whether they can celebrate wedding mass and attend parties. Read along to learn about these and similar topics.

Can nuns witness a wedding?

There is no definite confirmation that nuns can witness weddings. However, there have been cases where nuns have been allowed to witness weddings as long as they do not celebrate any mass involved. Also, it narrows down to individual commitments. Though there are limitations to the participation of nuns at such events as per the order, the restrictions aren’t that pronounced. There is nowhere that states that nuns cannot witness weddings, at least any that have been made public. The nuns may make a personal decision not to be part of the wedding event to reinforce their commitment.

Can a nun officiate a wedding?

Can nuns officiate weddings?
Can a nun officiate a wedding? Image source: Pixabay

Only ordained people are required to officiate weddings. Catholic nuns are not ordained, which means they cannot officiate weddings. However, there have been cases where nuns have been allowed to officiate weddings because there weren’t any priests around. In search cases, the wedding isn’t considered fully ratified until a priest puts it into the register. Since these cases have been mostly considered compromises and have not been recurrent, we can only conclude that nuns cannot officiate weddings unless there is no other option.

Can nuns be bridesmaids at weddings?

One thing I learned while interacting with nuns is that most of their don’ts are personal decisions. The main concern for a nun being a bridesmaid is whether it will mean taking off her habit. In many denominations, the role of the bridesmaid is not profound and simply involves helping the bride. If this is the case, then yes, nuns can be bridesmaids at weddings. Some can, however, choose not to be in case the bridesmaid duties or the involvement alone threaten their vows.

Can nuns celebrate a wedding mass?

No, they can’t. Bishop Douglas Crosby of the Roman Catholic Church said that nuns are not supposed to celebrate a wedding mass. While he agreed that they can witness the nuptials and sometimes even marry the bride and groom, the wedding mass falls under the umbrella of sacraments, which only priests can celebrate. However, this applies exclusively to the Catholic Church. There are nuns in other orders that fall under different denominations who are allowed to participate in the wedding mass.

Can nuns attend parties?

Can nuns go to weddings?
Can nuns attend parties? Image source: Pixabay

It depends on the type of party. Nuns do hold events like Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Fourth of July celebrations. The parties are celebrated based on the requirements of their religious orders. In terms of attendance, nuns can attend social parties as guests, but over time, they only get involved enough not to break their vows of obedience, chastity, and poverty. This might involve avoiding certain activities that everyone may be taking part in but which they consider inappropriate for them.

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