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a short primer on catholic weddings [Page 1 of 1]

If you choose to have a Catholic ceremony, you will be participating in one of the holiest traditions the faith has to offer.   The ceremony is simple and reflects a contract between two baptized Catholics to be joined in holy matrimony. To fully understand the depth of a Catholic wedding and how it may differ it's recommended that you speak to a Priest or Deacon. The Sacrament of Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments, one of the most important rites in all of Catholicism, and you will need to know what is allowed and what is not allowed for this specific ceremony.    

While it is becoming more common for couples to perform a Marriage Rite, a more private version of the Catholic ceremony, the traditional Catholic wedding takes place in a public place of worship (i.e., a church) during a Mass, and before a Priest. Unless you have received a dispensation from the church, the Roman Catholic Church will not recognize your marriage if you exchange your vows before a minister or other religious figure. Further, there are certain dispensations required if you or your bride is no Christian or a non-Catholic Christian. The music of your wedding ceremony should be approved by the Church as well and many churches will have pre-selected music that is approved and appropriate. Your personal favorite music may have to wait until the reception. This isn't so bad, as the church can provide the musicians required at a nominal cost to you.

The Nuptial Mass generally takes place in the morning or early afternoon.   The ceremony consists of the reading of no fewer than three Biblical passages (often a selection from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and a Gospel), the exchange of vows, the exchange of rings, the Prayer of the Faithful, the nuptial blessing, and often additional prayers, songs, and hymns.   As it is a Mass, there is also traditionally a Communion.   You will have to decide if you want it to be an Open Communion, meaning that any non-Catholics in attendance are free to partake in the Communion meal.   Some churches may not allow open Communions, so be sure to ask.

It is a tradition of the Catholic wedding ceremony, along with most other Christian ceremonies, for the father-of-the-bride to walk the bride down the aisle, delivering her to her groom.   The rings exchanged from bride to groom and vice versa are first blessed by the Priest. The union of the bride and groom is ratified by the Priest by saying, "Ego conjungo vos in matrimonium in nomine Patris at Filii et Spiritus Sacnti. Amen."   This translates to, "I unite you in wedlock in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen."

There are several ways to personalize a Catholic wedding: picking which Bible passages to be read, writing your own vows (if permitted - many churches insist that couples read traditional vows), having a unity candle, giving roses to parents/mothers/grandmothers, selecting your own music for the march down the aisle and wedding song, or having a candlelit service.   These are far from the only ways to put your personal touch on this centuries-old tradition, but before you decide on any of them, you and your fiancée should schedule a sit-down with your Priest or Deacon discuss all of your ideas.  

Many Catholic dioceses offer (or may require) you and your fiancée to participate in a marriage preparation course, which often takes place over a couple of weeks or a weekend. Such courses are designed not to be overly preachy, but opportunities for you and your fiancée to discuss pre-marital issues, from communication to wedding finances and everything in between. You may be requested to complete a long survey about your partner, yourself and your relationship. This is an opportunity to figure out, in advance of the wedding, some of the strengths and weaknesses in your relationship. Finally, a Catholic priest, often the one officiating your ceremony, will often interview a couple prior to getting married to discuss issues that may have been highlighted in the survey.


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Lin
Wed, Mar.31st 2010
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I am getting married for the second time in the Catholic church. The both of us have gone through everyhing required; but, i am struggling. We want it simple; only our children and close friends, maybe 30 guests at the most. I want to be in good standing with the church, but the ceremony by the church is very complicated. we are both 55 years of age and short and simple is what we want. Any suggestions?
Alex
Sun, Nov.29th 2009
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Just to be clear, Roman Catholics are not the only Catholics out there this may be a primer on the "Catholic" tradiiton
Sandra
Thu, May.21st 2009
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I agree, andi, there is no such thing as "open Communion" Not even all Catholics can or should receive the Eucharist if they are not in the state of grace(i.e. Confessed all mortal sins), have not made their First Communion, have not kept the (1 hour at least) Eucharistic Fast. To suggest an "open Communion" shows a serious misunderstadning of Catholicism and its very source and summit- Jesus Christ truly present in the Eucarist.
Sasha
Fri, Nov.14th 2008
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I need to know the differences between catholic weddings in the old days and catholic weddings today.
dennis
Mon, Aug.4th 2008
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there are some state churches in europe that require that catholic churches have open communion with other christians, particularly lutherans. neither the state run churces, nor the catholic churches advertise this. however, if you receive catechism into a state run church that mandates open communion, you may be in a very special situation. your membership in a catholic church allows you to receive catholic communion, but also to participate in any other communion of regular christians (those that recognize the singularity of the name of Jesus as the only method for the salvation we all need). does this work if you are ordained there as well? hmmm....
Rick
Fri, Jul.11th 2008
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At our rehearsal tonight, our priest( new priest) insisted on having the bride on the right side of the aisle and the groom on the left. This is the opposite of how it is traditionally done. He says it is because of the virgin mary is on the right side of the church and the bride and bridesmaids should be as well?? Any comments??
Christy
Fri, Jul.4th 2008
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It depends on the church. There are Catholic churches that welcome all Christians, as long as THEIR beliefs don't prevent it, that invite all Christians to share in Holy Communion. Traditionally there has not been open communion, however, it seems this trend is beginning to change in more forward thinking communities.
hollie
Fri, May.30th 2008
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If the groom is catholic and the bride is not and they get arried in another church do they have to light the unity candle? Also what do we have to do for it to be reconginezed in his church?
GroomGroove.com
Sat, Mar.15th 2008
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Andi - we stand corrected. I'm not sure how that concept snuck in - but yes - it is not accurate. Thanks!
andi
Tue, Mar.11th 2008
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"You will have to decide if you want it to be an Open Communion, meaning that any non-Catholics in attendance are free to partake in the Communion meal." This is an inacurate statement as the Catholic Church has never and does not now allow "open communion". Catholics believe that it is the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and only Catholics in the state of grace may receive. Non-Catholics are asked to refrain from receiving.
Clare
Sat, Jan.12th 2008
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Thank you for the above.

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