Catholic Weddings

Catholic Weddings
In the Catholic Church, marriage is a
sacrament – a man and a woman vow
before their family, friends and, most
importantly, God, that they will love and
be faithful to one another for the rest
of their lives.
A Catholic wedding is first and foremost a
religious ritual
Wedding Mass?
• Two Catholics will normally have a
“Nuptial Mass”
• A Catholic marrying a non-Catholic
Christian will normally not have a Mass.
but may if they wish to
• A Catholic marrying a non-Christian may
not celebrate a nuptial Mass – there is a
specific rite for such a wedding that
does not include the Mass
• Catholics must celebrate their wedding
in a church or chapel
• Traditionally, the wedding takes place in
the bride’s parish
• Most parishes do require either the
bride or groom (or their families) to be
members of the parish where the
wedding is taking place
• Catholics marrying a non-Catholic
Christian may get married in the nonCatholic church with their bishop’s
• Catholics marrying a non-Christian may
have a non-religious wedding in a neutral
Dispensation of Form – permission to get
married in a non-Catholic church with
non-Catholic clergy presiding.
Necessary to receive this before the
wedding if you wish your marriage to be
considered valid in the Catholic Church.
When Can a Wedding Take Place?
• You cannot get married on Christmas,
Epiphany, Holy Thursday, Good Friday,
Holy Saturday, Easter, Pentecost, All
Saints’ Day, or the Immaculate Conception
• Weddings during Advent and Lent are
discouraged b/c they are penitential
• Weddings taking place during Advent and
Lent may face some restrictions on
decorations allowed, music used and
prayers chosen b/c of the penitential
aspect of the season
• Weddings taking place on important holy
days (solemnities) may be required to
use the readings for the day
• Most churches will not schedule
weddings on Saturday evening or Sunday
– if so, you must use the Scripture
readings of the day instead of readings
for a wedding
What is “Posting the Banns”?
• Announcements made from the pulpit or in
the bulletin that a couple is getting
• Originated in the Middle Ages to give
people an opportunity to speak up if there
was a valid reason why a couple could not
• Catholic wedding ceremony does not ask if
anyone knows a reason why the couple
could not be married (Protestant
ceremonies do)
Couples are required to first approach
the priest 3 – 12 months before they
wish to schedule the wedding
Archdiocese of Cincinnati - 6 months
This is true for most religions – not just
At the first meeting:
• Determine if the couple is able to
contract a valid marriage (age, not
previously married, not related within
prohibited degrees, etc.)
• Go over parish regulations
• Set the date for the wedding
• Set dates for other meetings (3 to 6
Documentation Required:
• Baptismal certificate
• Proof of confirmation
• For converts, copy of Profession of
• If previously married, proof that you
have obtained an annulment
Other requirements:
• Take the FOCCUS inventory –
determines how well the couple knows
one another and areas that may cause
problems in their marriage
• Participate in a Marriage Preparation
program such as Pre-Cana or Engaged
The wedding of two Catholics should
normally take place within the Mass
because “receiving Holy Communion
together strengthens the couple’s love
and lifts up all present into communion
with Christ and one another.”
Rite of Catholic Marriage, #6
The Entrance Procession
• Instrumental music
• Anyone in the Wedding
Party may walk down the
• Two commonly used
• Opening hymn is sung
once everyone is in the
front of the church
Order of Procession:
Traditional Catholic
Groom (and his parents?)
Bridesmaids with Groomsmen
Bride (with her father or both parents)
* * *
Congregation stands for entire procession
Order of Procession:
Traditional American
Priest, Servers, Groom enter church from
Sacristy and wait at front of altar rail
( perhaps escorted by Groomsmen)
Flower Girl/Ring Bearer
Bride, escorted by father
Scripture Readings
• Three readings:
1. Old Testament
2. Epistle
3. Gospel
There are readings
that have been chosen
specifically for
Any reading in the
Lectionary may be
chosen if its
appropriate for a
• First two readings are always read by a
• Gospel is always read by a deacon (if one
is present) or the priest
• Responsorial Psalm – (between the First
and Second Reading) – is usually sung
• May never substitute or add a nonScriptural reading into the Mass
• Readings are followed by the homily – a
reflection on the readings given by the
deacon or priest
Exchange of Vows
The most important part of the wedding –
This is the Sacrament
Vow Forms
There are three
possibilities for vows
used in Catholic
Weddings in the
United States:
• Traditional Catholic
• Traditional American
• Write your own
Traditional Catholic
Both and bride and the groom will repeat this
“I (name) take you (name) to be my
(husband/wife.) I promise to be true to
you in good times and in bad, in sickness
and in health. I will love you and honor
you all the days of my life.”
Traditional American
Both and bride and the groom will repeat this
“I (name) take you (name) for my lawful
(husband/wife) , to have and to hold,
from this day forward; for better, for
worse; for richer, for poorer; in
sickness and in health; until death do us
Writing Your Own Vows
• May be allowed with permission from
the parish priest
• Vows must include a promise to be
faithful to one another forever
Blessing & Exchange of Rings
The priest will bless both rings. Groom slides ring
onto bride’s hand and says: “Take this ring as a
sign of my love and fidelity. In the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.” The bride then takes the groom’s ring and
does the same.
You are now married!
The Mass will continue
as it usually does at
this point, with the –
• Prayer of the
• Offertory Procession
• Preface to the
Eucharistic Prayer
• Eucharistic Prayer
• Our Father
• Sign of Peace
• Communion
Nuptial Blessing
• One of the oldest
parts of the Catholic
ceremony – it
predates church
• Originally a blessing
of the bride,
although some
modern forms
include the groom
• Reception of the Body
and Blood of Christ is
the most important
part of every Mass –
even a wedding
• Bride and groom
receive first
• Communion is always
offered to everyone –
not just the wedding
The Mass concludes with:
• A final blessing of the bride and groom
• The final blessing of the congregation
• A closing song (if you wish)
• Bride and groom
• Bridesmaids with
• Priest and Servers
• Family of Bride
• Family of Groom
• Rest of congregation
Signing the Wedding License
• Takes place after
the Recessional and
before you begin
taking pictures
• Best Man and Maid
of Honor are official
witnesses, along with
the priest
• Must be signed for
marriage to be legal!
Optional Elements
Unity Candle
• Symbolizes two
becoming one
• Not an official part
of the Catholic
• Usually done without
saying anything, with
appropriate music by
cantor or choir
Devotion at Mary’s Altar
• Asking Mary to bless
the marriage
• Traditionally bride
only, who left her
bouquet on the altar
• Today often bride
and groom together
• Still traditional to
leave flowers
CONSIDER . . . .
Music for a Catholic
Wedding should be
accessible, beautiful”
Music is to enhance
prayer and worship; it
is not for
The Rules for Wedding Music:
• All music must be liturgical
• Music must be appropriate for the part
of the Mass where it is to be used
• Mass parts and Service music should be
able to be sung by the congregation
Many parishes require you to work with
their Music Director in planning your
wedding music
Wedding pictures are an important reminder
of your special day. There are a few
things you need to keep in mind when
photographing the Wedding Ceremony:
• Most churches have rules about where the
photographer can stand and when pictures may
be taken
• Taking pictures should never detract from the
ceremony or get in the way of peoples’
participation in the Mass
• Flash pictures are generally not allowed during
the ceremony
• The time allowed for formal pictures after the
ceremony will often be dictated by the parish
Mass schedule
Most professional photographers will be familiar
with the rules for Catholic weddings and know
how to get good pictures while still following the
parish guidelines
Wedding Programs
Programs are especially
important if you have many
non-Catholic guests!
• Order of Service
• Song numbers or
• Words for responses
• Service directions
• Names of Wedding
• Any appropriate
“thank yous” from
bride and groom
• Focus always must
remain on the Liturgy –
no decorations can
detract from that
• Nothing may be placed
on the altar
• There may be come
limitations because of
the Liturgical Season
• You may not remove
Liturgical decorations
Who Can You Choose?
Who is Responsible for What?
The Celebrant
• May be a priest or a deacon
• You may have concelebrants, including
clergy from other denominations
• Usually the pastor of the parish – if you
wish someone else you must have the
pastor’s permission
Best Man and Maid/Matron of Honor
• Primary Responsibility: official
witnesses that the sacrament/wedding
has taken place
• At least one must be Catholic
• Best Man:
 in charge of the rings
 responsible to pay priest, servers, etc.
 helps groom with anything needed
• Maid of Honor:
 assists bride during the wedding (holds
bouquet, helps with train, etc.)
 helps bride with anything that is needed
Note: Although it rarely happens, it is
possible for the bride’s primary
attendant to be male or for the groom’s
to be female
Bridesmaids and Groomsmen
• May be anyone
• You may have as many as you wish
• Number of bridesmaids and groomsmen
should be the same
• They have no specific function in the
wedding ceremony
• There are 3 readings:
First, Second and Petitions
• You may have 3 readers
• They should be formally
trained parish Lectors
• It is not appropriate for
the bride or groom to
read, since the message of
the readings is for them
Gift Bearers
• Bring the bread and
wine to the altar
• May be anyone,
including the bride
and groom
Eucharistic Ministers
• Most weddings will need
one person to distribute
bread (in addition to the
celebrant) and two for
the cup
• They must be baptized
Catholics and should be
formally trained
Eucharistic Ministers
• If not members of the
parish, the priest will
need to meet with them
before the ceremony
• Ask the Celebrant if
he wants them (he
probably does)
• The parish can
provide them if
• You should pay them
• May be the groomsmen
• Do not have to be male
• Seat people as they
come in
• Seat mothers of groom
and of bride last
• Unroll the white runner
(if its being used)
before Procession
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