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Step Six: Planning the Ceremony

Mariage prepararion

 Societies have many ways of celebrating marriage.  Your parish community is grateful you have chosen the Catholic way of celebrating marriage.     When two Catholics marry, the ceremony takes place in the context of the Mass.  We listen to God’s Word expressing God’s hope and desire for us.  We witness the Words of the couple, their vows to one another and to God to live out God’s plan of married love for them.  We celebrate Christ’s Words that summed up his entire existence: “This is my Body this is my Blood”, this is my life I give for you.  This self-giving act of love is the foundation and model for the vows the couple just gave one another.

The marriage of a Catholic and a non baptized person cannot be in the context of the Mass but in a Liturgy of the Word

The marriage of a Catholic and baptized Christian of another tradition can be either in the context of Mass or without Mass.   The Catholic Church does not share Holy Communion with those who are not in communion with the belief and practice of the Catholic Church.  For this reason a couple may deem it best not to celebrate the wedding in the context of the Mass if one of them is not Catholic.

The Ceremony


In the ritual of the Sacrament of Marriage, you and your beloved are expressing to one another and to all your guests, what your love means to you.  The Church, the People of God, is also expressing to all present what your love means to us: that your love is a gift from God and that you are committing your entire lives to nurturing this gift and sharing this gift.  You are being joined by God into this partnership of life and love that mirrors Jesus’ love for us.


The Gathering

Ushers and family members can greet and welcome your guests and help them be seated.  We do not have a “Bride’s side” and Groom’s side” since we do not want to divide people but rather come together as one family in faith. Guest book will be removed five minutes prior to the ceremony to allow for all to be seated on time. Late guests will seat themselves.



The Procession

The procession is a symbol of being Christian.  We follow the Cross of Christ and the Word of God.    In the Catholic ritual, the bride and groom are at the end of the procession since they are the ministers of the sacrament of Marriage.  They bring about the sacrament through their consent.  They may be escorted by attendants and by their parents.   Flower girls are a ring bearer should be old enough to walk by themselves.  The ring bearer will carry the actual rings that the couple will exchange.  Couples may ask friends or family members to carry in the processional cross and the two processional candles.


The Readings

There are three readings from the Bible.  Options and commentary can be found in chapter three of Celebrating  Marriage; Preparing the Roman Catholic Wedding Liturgy.  Additional options from the Bible can be discussed with the priest or deacon who will officiate at the wedding.  Once you have selected the readings for the wedding, you are both asked to write one page each on why you chose those particular readings:  what they mean to you.  This will be of great help to the priest or deacon.  This should be done at least one week before the wedding.


It is encouraged that family or friends of the bride and groom serve as lectors for the ceremony.  They should be capable of reading well and with dignity the Word of God.  The Gospel is read by the priest or deacon.  The Responsorial Psalm should be sung by the Cantor.


The posture during the first two readings is for the Assembly and Wedding party to be seated.  Be sure bridal dress and attendants’ attire allow for easy movement.


The Marriage Rite


The marriage rite is explained beginning on page 32 in Celebrating Marriage; Preparing the Roman Catholic Wedding Liturgy.  It consists of a statement of intention, consent and exchange of vows, blessing and exchange of rings, and Prayers of the Faithful.  


Additional cultural symbols may be added following the exchange of rings.  This is especially true in cultures influenced by the Spanish Empire of the 16th century.  A Unity Candle may be used, but it is not required.  Some couples choose to have the Unity Candle at their reception rather than at the wedding itself. This gives more meaning to the reception. The large candle and two smaller candles and candle holders are provided by the couple. If used in the wedding, the Unity Candle can be placed by the Easter Candle or by the Crucifix



The Liturgy of the Eucharist


Presentation of Bread and Wine

If the Nuptial Mass is celebrated, two to four people should be selected to bring up the gifts of bread and wine.  Parents can do this, even if they are not Catholic.



For Catholics, the Eucharist is our expression of communion with God and with one another.  It is a sad fact that the Christian churches are lacking in this unity at the present time.  We hope and pray for greater unity.  Because we are lacking in unity of faith, we are not able to share in communion with those who are not Catholic.  The wedding party with be instructed at the rehearsal and a diplomatic mention may be made at the wedding.  Some mention in a wedding program is of great help for those at the wedding who may not know the practice of sharing in communion and does away with the need to mention anything during the wedding.


Guidelines for the Reception of Communion

We regret, that due to the divisions that still exist within the Christian Faith, we are not able to share in communion with those who are  not fully united if the faith, life and worship of the Catholic Church.  More information on the reception of communion is found on the inside cover of our Breaking Bread Hymnal. Let us all pray that the Christian Churches may grow together in faith and unity and one day be able to share at one common altar.