Unlike television will lead you to believe, many couples handle most of their own wedding planning rather than seeking out the services of a wedding planner. If you are a couple beginning preparations for your wedding and at least one of you is Catholic, planning your wedding may include getting married in a Catholic church. This is a very important decision and means a lot more than just choosing a venue that is a picturesque setting for your wedding photos. You want you wedding day to be memorable and meaningful. You also want to convey your hopes and dreams for your married life that incorporates your religious beliefs.
Planning for Catholic weddings generally begins at least a year in advance because the United States Catholic dioceses have policies requiring a period of 6 month to a year of preparation for couples wishing to get married in the Church.
The very first thing you should do is to contact your parish priest, pastoral minister or deacon about what is expected and allowed in your wedding celebration. They will be able to give you specific advice and resources to help you in your planning process. More than likely you will be given literature about the wedding liturgy which you should read and then ask questions about. It is important that you take the time to do this as it will help you understand the meaning of the commitment that you as a couple are getting ready to make.
The Rite of Marriage
There are 3 different forms that can be used to celebrate the Rite of Marriage. If both parties are Catholic, the celebration generally takes place within a mass. If only one of the parties is a Catholic and the other is a baptized Christian, the wedding celebration is very similar but does not take place within a mass. There is a third form that does not include a mass for couples where one is a Catholic and the other is a non-Christian. You will be able to choose the appropriate form of wedding celebration after discussing it with the parish priest, deacon or pastoral minister.
You Have Options
There are many options available within all 3 forms of the Rite of Marriage. You can have blessings, biblical readings and/or prayers. You can have friends and/or family assist with the Holy Communion or give readings. All of these options should be discussed with your parish priest or deacon and discussed with your future spouse. By having these discussions and making these choices, you will be learning more about the Rite of Marriage and the Catholic understanding of the marriage commitment. You will also feel much more involved in the entire wedding celebration.
Be Thoughtful of the Ritual
Paying close attention to the ritual of the Rite of Marriage in the Catholic Church is an excellent way to understand what the Catholic Church believes when it comes to marriage. Whether the Rite of Marriages is celebrated in a Mass or not, you can learn much from the ritual. Here are are few things you will notice in the Catholic Rite of Marriage:
- the couple takes an active role as they are considered "ministers" of the sacrament.
- the wedding ceremony takes place in the church which signifies it is a sacred action.
- there are readings that speak of God's plan for a marriage.
- music that is uplifts the feelings and thoughts in a joyful and prayerful way.
- the homily by the priest or deacon which addresses the guests and the couple concerning the meaning of marriage along with it's joys and challenges.
- the couple's vows and the exchange of rings promising to have a lifelong and loving union with fidelity and openness to children.
- the blessings and prayers in which the Church supports and solemnizes the journey the couple is about to embark on.
If you take the time to thoughtfully and prayerfully plan and participate in your Catholic Rite of Marriage ceremony it will bring blessings to your marriage many years after the flowers have wilted, the photos have faded and you have forgotten about bridesmaids dresses, the wedding centerpieces and the stresses of all the other decisions you made for your wedding.
Tags: wedding planning, catholic weddings, religious weddings, church weddings