I am a Catholic. I love the Catholic church. I love the sense of peace and reverence when I walk into a Catholic church. I love the ageless grace and tradition of the mass. I even love the smell of a Catholic church, so it understandably causes me a great sadness when I experience the unbending, narrow minded, stilted, old-fashioned attitude of the church.
The Sacrament of Marriage is a good example of the inflexibility of the church. If a couple wants to marry in the Catholic church, they have to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop. If you are both Catholic and you want to marry in your home parish, you have to make an appointment at least 6 months in advance, meet with the priest or coordinator, gather all your documents such as Baptismal, First Communion and Confirmation records and attend an approved marriage preparation program, and that's just for a start. If you are Catholic, but your fiancee is not, or if you want to be married in a Catholic church outside of your parish, it is a confusing, timely and frustrating process. If you are marrying someone who is outside of the Catholic faith, you will need a dispensation from the bishop. If you are marrying an unbaptized person, you will have to obtain a "disparity of cult" dispensation. Also, your marriage will be considered a natural marriage, not a sacramental marriage. If a couple thinks they might want to be married somewhere other than in a church, think again. A Catholic wedding, with few exceptions, has to be performed in a Catholic church. The church teaches that marriage is not just a social or family event, but a church event as well. I don't understand that mentality. What could be more spiritually thought provoking than a grove of thousand year old redwood trees, or a bluff overlooking the sea, or the sun shining on a quiet lake. Those are settings that inspire the glory of God.
At the end of the day the Catholic Church teaches that marriage is a gift from the hands of God, but if that is truly their belief, then their man-made church laws should not be so restrictive and unforgiving.