In honor of our second wedding anniversary this month, I figured this student series on catholic weddings was perfectly timed! Also all of the photos below are from our wedding photographer and good friend, Scott David Photography. Check out his website!
You may find yourself at a wedding this summer that celebrates customs you aren’t familiar with. Every culture has different wedding traditions, rules and ways of celebrating. When it comes down to a Catholic weddings, all the focus is around centuries-old Catholic traditions, which are very unique and strict compared to other more main-streamed Christian weddings.
After getting engaged, the first thing couples look for is the parish for their ceremony. A parish is a small administrative district that has a church with priest and pastor connections (typically near where you reside). The parish is also where they pay wedding fees and before anything else can happen, the interview. Once the couples has a face-to-face interview with the pastor, the real wedding planning can start!
The Entrance Rite
Welcome to the wedding! The Entrance Rite starts the ceremony off with a welcome from the priest or deacon. Sacred music that is appropriate for the religious service will be played during this time. Once everyone is seated, the assembly stands and the traditional entrance hymn is sung while the bride and bridegroom are escorted by their parents and at least two witnesses. Also known as the part where the bride walks down the aisle and the whole room stops to stare.
The Gloria is sung by the whole assembly. This song is Catholic tradition to sing during weddings. The Gloria hymn begins with “Glory to God in the highest…” Once this song is sang the priest will invite the guests into opening prayer. At the conclusion of this prayer, the guests will be seated for the Liturgy of the Word.
Liturgy of the Word
The Liturgy of the Word is a prayer by the priest, in dialogue with the congregants. Catholic weddings incorporate a lot of prayers; this is a prayer of offering. Bread and wine are brought forth to representing the Last Supper of Jesus. The priests will pray over the gifts, asking God to accept the couple. For example:
Receive in your kindness, Lord, the offerings we bring in gladness before you, and in your fatherly love watch over those you have joined in a sacramental covenant. Through Christ our Lord.
Then the gifts of bread and wine will be offered to the guests as the Body and Blood of Christ. Only those who have received their First Communion with the Catholic Church are allowed to participate in this ceremony. After that there will be a second reading followed by synchronized singing.
Rite of Marriage
The Rite of Marriage is the heart of the whole wedding ceremony. During this time, the priest will ask them to come together before the altar the exchange vows. The most intense, sacred moment of the wedding where all of your friends and family watch you join together for life. The priest will ask you to state your intentions into the marriage, followed by an introduction and questions that lead to the vows. If you are scared or nervous that you will forget your vows, sometimes the priest or deacon will say one phrase or sentence at a time, then you would repeat it. The vows will be said and then the exchange of rings. Now comes the kiss then concluding this joint of marriage will be a blessing.
The priest will pray over the new married couple and the assembly responds with “Amen.” The couple is then invited to exchange a kiss after the blessing as well. The priest dismisses the guest by saying “Thanks be to G-d.” This is a traditional Catholic dismissal for weddings since it is G-d who brought everyone together on the wedding day. Then you live happily ever after because Catholics don’t believe in divorce. 🙂
- Champlin, Joseph M., and Peter A. Jarret. Together LIFE. Ave Maria Press, 2016.
- Gribble, Richard. The Everything Guide to Catholicism. Adam Media, 2016.
- “Ms. Ortega.” Interview by author. May 5, 2016.
- Patel, Arti. “12 Things That Happen At Catholic Weddings.” Huffpost Living. Published May 7, 2014. Accessed May 10, 2016. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/05/07/catholic-wedding_n_5280917.html
- “Planning a Catholic Wedding.” Catholic Wedding Help. Accessed May 11, 2016. http://www.catholicweddinghelp.com/