During a true Catholic Wedding, there are important readings which are a declaration of the Church’s faith and the Word of God on the subject of marriage.
The church is equally jubilant on your day of celebrations and provides joyous support to you as you become man and wife through the covenant of Holy Matrimony, a Christian Sacrament for the baptized.
In the following article we will take a closer look at how to best use the wedding liturgy as a centerpiece for your Catholic Wedding Ceremony.
Engaged couples are provided with proper structure and a few options by the Catholic Wedding Liturgy or the wedding ceremony. The proper structure can be found in the right of marriage, this small ritual book contains the prayers, liturgical format and proper prayers used in traditional catholic weddings throughout the US.
The choices you will find can be seen in the Rite of Marriage, these also include a few useful customizations that can be used in various cultural differences in the US. It is worthwhile to take some time to look over the various options and even discuss the potential options with a priest or the minister of your church.
Within Mass or outside of Mass?
There are three ways to perform the Catholic Wedding according to the Rite of Marriage. When two Catholics are getting married, the wedding is often held within the Mass. If a true Catholic will be wedding a person belonging to another Christian denomination the wedding service can be held outside of Mass. The final wedding type is also outside of the Mass and is used when a Catholic is wedding someone who has not been baptized. Furthermore, if a Deacon will be leading the liturgy, the wedding is celebrated outside of the Mass even if both Man and Wife are baptized Catholics.
There are a variety of prayers you can choose for their suitability to your wedding and married life. You can find a variety of books and literature from which you can make your selection.
During the Catholic Wedding Liturgy, readings are solemn proclamations of the Word of God and the faith the Church has in the sanctity of marriage. For this reason, the options are limited to portions of the Sacred Scriptures. There are nine options found in the Old Testament and in the responsorial Psalms are another seven options that can be chosen for the first reading. For the second reading, there are thirteen options in the New Testament and ten more options from the Gospels. You can make your selection from these options.
Prayer of the Faithful
The Wedding Liturgy also calls for the Prayer of the Faithful, this important prayer petitions for the newlyweds, their families, the local community, the Church and the entire world. The pastoral minister, pastor or deacons of your church community can be of service when composing these petitions. You can discuss with him or her about what type of things you would like included in your prayer. For example, you may have deceased, or sick family members who you would like prayer for.
Typically, the newlyweds will be able to invite a selection of people to proclaim the first and second readings as well as the Prayer of the Faithful. Think very carefully about the friends and family members you have who have been selected as readers in the Church. Maybe you know someone who has participated in a Bible study and has some experience speaking in public. You can provide this person with a copy of the readings and prayers you have selected and ask them to practice them. When you choose to rehearse the wedding invite them to come along and practice their part with the microphone.
There is typically an organist or musical director at your church who will be instrumental in selecting the music that you will play at your wedding. Because the music included in the wedding liturgy is designed to be sung by all present, it is a good idea to communicate with this person so that they can help you select songs that everyone knows and will be easier for all. If the music is not directly related to the role God plays in happy marriage, the song is best left for the wedding reception.
Hospitality to your guests
There are many ways in which the experience can be made as hospitable and comfortable to your wedding guests. It is a common practice for some couples to arrive half an hour before the wedding begins and stand at the door with their parents to greet the people as they come in. Yes, this goes completely contrary to superstitions that the bride and groom should not see each other before the big moment. But, this outdated superstition has no foundation in Christian tradition and can be sidelined for a greater wedding experience. You can ask other friends and family to help greet the guests and take them to their seats as well as introduce them to the other guests in the assembly.
Many couples are not familiar with the traditional Catholic entrance to a wedding according to the wedding liturgy. This means that the priest or deacon enters first followed by the bride and groom with an escort of parents and witnesses, typically the best man and maid of honor. This is far different from the traditional entrance where the groom waits at the altar and the bride is escorted into the church by her father. According to Catholic tradition, the man and woman enter the wedding together as equals and complementary partners.
This is another reason that the traditional wedding march “here comes the bride” is not a recommended part of the wedding ceremony according to Catholic standards. This tune seems to focus on the bride as opposed to the couple as a unit. This can seem a bit different from what most people are used to. It is sometimes important to remind the father of the bride that he will still walk with his daughter down the aisle, only he will be duly accompanied by the mother of the bride and the parents of the groom.
Care for the needy
A Christian couple is called to reflect a certain altruism and care for the needy throughout their life and most importantly on this grand day of celebration. Some couples choose to prepare a large basket full of food including the communion wine and bread. Another option is to ask that your guests all bring a few items of non-perishable food that can be collected in a large basket. When the ceremony is over the food can then be taken to a food bank, a local pantry or even a family in need.
Wedding registrations online can include this charitable aspect and allow guests to choose to make a charitable donation as opposed to a wedding gift such as a piece of Catholic jewelry for example. Furthermore, the couple may receive many cash wedding presents in which case the couple can choose to make a charitable donation to the local food pantry or the parish’s social outreach efforts.