Catholic Wedding Rituals

Catholic Wedding rituals

Catholic Weddings are a highly traditional affair in which you will witness the inclusion of several meaningful cultural, religious and heritage values in the form of Rituals. The couples who follow the path of the Catholic religion, partake in the sacred wedding rituals which are laid by the leadership of a Holy Catholic Church.

For a nonfamiliar person, Catholic Wedding Events will seem like an entirely new subject to understand. But this small tour of all the Pre-wedding, during-wedding and Post Wedding rituals will enhance your understanding of Catholic cultural values. This guide will reveal so much about Catholic weddings beyond the well-decked-up bride and groom, their first kiss and the cake-cutting ceremony.

Let’s start with the pre-arrangements of the Catholic wedding.

Pre-wedding celebrations or rituals of a Catholic Wedding

1. Engagement –

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The Catholic Wedding is commenced with the engagement ceremony. The groom’s family visits the bride’s place and here they receive a warm welcome. Now the parish priest sanctifies and blesses the engagement rings according to the widespread custom of catholic Christianity. The couple exchanges these beautiful rings and places them on their ring fingers. This beautiful inception of a catholic wedding tradition offers the chance for the couple to know each other more closely.

2. The preparatory wedding program –

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According to catholic wedding customs, it is mandatory for couples to participate in the Marriage Preparatory Course. A Catholic follower can choose the duration of this marriage preparatory program according to his /her convince or wish. It guides you in understanding the dimensions of catholic Christianity and human life. The inclusion of several significant subjects like faith, prayer, the role of the church, conflict resolution, communication, parenthood, family planning, money and your roots of the family background etc.

This ritual is performed in the form of a seminar where the couple is required to fill the forms that include the personal information of the couple. After this, they swear on the Holy Bible and ensure their partner that nothing is concealed from them regarding their lives.

The priest announces the wedding decisions of the boy and girl every three consecutive Sundays and asks them to submit their baptism certificates. After waiting for three weeks, the couple is now allowed to get married to each other according to the rituals of Catholic tradition.

3. Bridal Shower –

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This one is the bride-centric pre-wedding celebration in the Catholic wedding event where all the bridesmaids along with the bride, enjoy the final single moments of the bride. The bride gives gifts to her bridesmaid and brings a pink-colored cake for them. A tiny thimble is placed inside the cake and it is believed that whoever will get this thimble in the group of bridesmaids, will get married soon in the group after the wedding of the bride. The gifts given to the bridesmaid by the soon-to-be bride are the depiction of an appreciation towards their companionship. This ceremony is organized by the family of the bride.

4. Bachelorette party and Bachelor party –

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The very private celebration of the groom with his friends and close male folks of the family is called the bachelor party in their tradition. It is organized by his friends on the eve of the D-day. Celebrating the groom’s final moments as a bachelor is always a memorable event for him.

Similarly, the bridesmaid organizes a fun party for the bride to cherish the love, friendship and long period in which they grew up together. No other opposite-gender person is allowed to interrupt the bachelor or bachelorette parties of the bride and groom.

Rituals that take place on D-day according to Catholic wedding tradition

5. The Procession –

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The beginning of a Catholic wedding is too spectacular to witness as all the important persons enter the church with so much grace. First, the groom with the best man makes his way into the church. Now the bridesmaid is followed by the groomsmen and then maid of the honor. In the end, the beautiful bride embellishes the church with her presence. Her father accompanies her during the entry. The best man who is from the groom’s side welcomes the bride with a bouquet and a kiss on her hand. The priest leads the couple to the altar of the Catholic church where they take a seat in front of the altar. The choir of the church plays a beautiful tone and sings a sonorous song for welcoming the bride and groom.

6. The Priest’s salutation –

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In this ritual, the priest welcomes all the guests to the Catholic wedding of the couple and asks them to sing a sacred hymn known as Gloria. After this, the priest offers a small yet significant opening prayer for the couple. During the procession, hymn and opening prayer singing all the attendees stand up at their places and after the completion of these initial wedding rituals the guests take their seats.

7. Liturgy of the world –

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This section of the Catholic wedding rituals is related to singing the sacred readings from their holy books. In the beginning, the priest and the guests recite the readings at the Liturgy of The World which starts from Old Testaments chapters. Now the couple chooses a reading from the book of Genesis that includes an account of Adam and Eva’s creation. The guests read from the Psalms. Thus the cantor sings the verses and the guests respond by singing from the Psalms. At the end, the priest recites a portion from one of the gospels and a close family member reads from a new testament as a response.

8. Rite of the Marriage –

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This ritual of the Catholic wedding shows that promises mean a lot in the wedding journey of a couple. Usually, the priest cites the sacred wedding vows in front of the couple and they read them from the holy book and recite after the priest or simply say, Yes, I do after every vow reading by the priest. In a catholic wedding the priest gives the couple liberty to choose their promises or vows as well but after agreeing on the written ones. The main wedding vows are said in this formation, I (name) accept you (name) as my husband/wife. During the marriage rites or the promising ceremony, all the guests remain standing to show their proclamation of the love of the new couple.

9. The Ring exchange ceremony –

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Both sides take part in this ritual of exchanging rings as a sign of the love between the couple. First, the best man comes forward and presents the ring to the priest for his blessings. Now the priest gives the ring to the groom and asks him to place it on the finger of the bride. A similar act is performed by the bride’s family in which the maid of honor presents the ring to the priest for blessings and the priest asks the bride to place it on the groom’s finger. Before placing the rings they speak a few words told by the priest as their confirmation and acceptance of love for each other.

In some regional Catholic weddings, the couple exchanges coins also. The close family members reach the podium and read a portion from the Bible which they selected before the wedding. In the end, the priest asks the couple to have a kiss which signifies the completion of the Wedding ceremony.

10. Catholic Wedding Ending without a Mass –

The Catholic wedding ends with blessing the couples for the wedding and a small prayer offered to God by the priest in which he says, ” Go in peace with Christ.” In response, the crowd tells that” Thankyou be to God.” This ritual takes place when a Catholic wedding ends without a Mass and here the catholic wedding is considered concluded.

11. Catholic wedding Finale: Mass –

If the catholic wedding includes the nuptial mass, the below-given rituals are followed according to the traditions of Catholic customs. The sequence or pattern of following these rituals can vary from one church to another but the rituals remain the same in every catholic church.

  • Offertory – This ritual of the catholic wedding includes the altar’s preparation for communion. This is also known as Eucharistic Liturgy. The couple and the close family members help the priest in the ritual and then the priest says the Eucharistic prayers over the bread and wine for the communion.

Image source: Why Be Catholic

 The bride keeps the flowers on the shrine of the Virgin Mary and the musician plays “Ave Maria” during this ceremony. This ritual can be performed before or after the processional.

  • The Lord’s prayer – In this ritual all the attendees join in the prayer which is taken from Matthew 6:9-13. The Lord’s prayer includes the following wordings. “Hallowed be thy name, Our Father in heaven; thy kingdom comes; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us our daily bread, and forgive us our transgressions as we forgive those who transgress against us; and lead us not into temptation, but rescue us from evil.”
  • Wedding Blessings – Now the couple kneels in front of the altar or simply stands. The priest bestows the couple with divine blessings for their nuptial ties.
  • Peace Sign – This ritual includes all the family members of both sides and the attendees. The priest asks them to share a peace sign usually the handshake and people say during handshaking that “Peace be with you” to the other person.

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  • Holy Communion – The priest splits the host (breads) and the communion is served to the couple and then to the guests. During this ritual, the guests continue the singing. The serving is performed with the assistance of the servers. The guests who do not belong to the catholic community are blessed by the priest.
  • Guest’s Blessing and Dismissal – The whole wedding event is concluded after the communion. Before the dismissal the guests and the newlywed couple are blessed by the priest with the help of these words, ” Go in peace with Christ.” and the guests & newlywed couple respond, “Thank you, God.
  • Recessionary – The newlywed couple and other people exit the catholic church in a sequence. First, the couple moves out of the church then the wedding party, the waiters and finally, the priest exits the church after the conclusion of the Catholic wedding.

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The post-wedding rituals of A Catholic Wedding ceremony

12. Reception party –

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In the catholic church, the couple and their families can not invite all of their relatives, friends and colleagues for the wedding celebration as the church has limited-hour services for the wedding ceremony. Therefore a grand and lavish reception is hosted by the families of the bride and groom after the nuptial ceremony.

In the reception ceremony, the newlywed couple cuts the cake at the beginning of the event and shares the very first slice of it between them. Now the cake is served among all the guests and family members of both sides. Then the toastmaster suggests the toast in honor of the newlywed couple. The couple performs the first dance after it and then all the people join them in their first dance ritual by following the couple.

Image source: Scripture Catholic

At the end, the beautiful bride flings her flower bouquet towards the backside without seeing it and it is believed that whoever catches this flower bouquet will be the next one to walk under the aisle. Usually, all the unmarried girls take part in this unique catholic post-wedding ritual by standing behind the bride when she is walking towards the aisle.

Here the Catholic wedding celebration comes to an end and the reception ceremony is marked as the final ritual in the Catholic wedding custom.

If a catholic follower wants to marry a noncatholic person, it is mandatory to take the guidance and permission of the local bishop before the wedding. The bishop can ensure the mixed marriage. 

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