For couples planning a Catholic wedding

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Order of a Catholic wedding outside of Mass

Here is the order of a Catholic wedding outside of Mass. At the bottom of this page, you'll find some notes for using this chart, as well as links to the order for alternate forms of the Rite of Marriage.

Order of the Rite for Celebrating Marriage Outside Mass

 

Introductory Rites

Stand

wedding-music

For more about the entrance procession, see "The wedding procession."

Entrance Rite

The assembly stands. The entrance hymn is sung while the priest, ministers (e.g., lectors, altar servers), and the wedding party process to the altar. The Rite of Marriage says this about the procession: "If there is a procession to the altar, the ministers go first, followed by the priest, and then the bride and bridegroom. According to local custom, they may be escorted by at least their parents and the two witnesses. Meanwhile, the entrance song is sung" (#40).  When the entrance hymn is finished, the priest leads the assembly in the sign of the cross.

 

Greeting

The priest greets the assembly, and the people respond.

View the text of the four options for the Opening Prayer.

Opening Prayer

The priest invites the assembly to pray, then offers one of several possible prayers for the bride and groom. At the conclusion of the prayer, the assembly is seated for the Liturgy of the Word.

 

Liturgy of the Word

Sit

To view reading options, see "Options for the First Reading."

First Reading

The first reading (from the Old Testament) is proclaimed by the lector. At the conclusion of the reading, the lector says, "The Word of the Lord," and the assembly responds, "Thanks be to God."

wedding-music

To view reading options, see "Options for the Responsorial Psalm."

Responsorial Psalm

The cantor or choir sings a psalm, and the assembly sings the response.

To view options for the Second Reading, see "Options for the Second Reading."

Second Reading

The second reading (from a book of the New Testament other than the Gospel) is proclaimed by the lector. At the conclusion of the reading, the lector says, "The Word of the Lord," and the assembly responds, "Thanks be to God."

Stand

wedding-music

To view options for the Gospel Acclamation, see "Alleluia Verse and Verse Before the Gospel."

Gospel Acclamation

The assembly stands. A cantor leads the assembly in singing the Gospel Acclamation, usually the Alleluia (except during Lent, when another acclamation is used).

To view options for the first reading, see "Options for the Gospel."

Gospel

The priest (or deacon) proclaims the Gospel. At the conclusion, he says, "The Gospel of the Lord," and the assembly responds, "Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ." The assembly sits.

Sit

Homily

The priest (or deacon) offers a homily drawn from the Scripture readings. According to the Rite of Marriage, "He speaks about the mystery of Christian marriage, the dignity of wedded love, the grace of the sacrament and the responsibilities of married people, keeping in mind the circumstances of this particular marriage."

 

Rite of Marriage

Follow this link for the complete text of the Rite of Marriage.

Stand

View the text of the address and statement of intent.

Address and Statement of Intentions

All stand, including the bride and groom. The priest asks the couple to state their intentions about their freedom of choice, faithfulness to each other, and the acceptance and upbringing of children (unless the couple are beyond the child-bearing years).

View the text of the consent and exchange of vows.

For more information on the vows, see "Catholic Wedding Vows" and "Can we write our own vows?"

Optional wedding music


 

Consent and Exchange of Vows

The priest invites the couple to declare their consent to be married, which they do by stating their marriage vows. The Rite of Marriage offers several different options for the vows.

Although it is not called for by the Rite of Marriage, a brief musical acclamation may be sung after the exchange of vows.

View the text of the blessing and exchange of rings.

Optional wedding music
 

Blessing and Exchange of Rings

The priest blesses the wedding rings. The groom places his wife's ring on her finger, and the bride places her husband's ring on his finger. The Rite of Marriage provides three options for the blessing of the rings.

Although it is not called for by the Rite of Marriage, a brief musical acclamation may be sung after the exchange of vows.

Although it is not called for by the Rite of Marriage, in some places it is customary for the newly married couple to exchange a simple kiss after the exchange of rings, perhaps prompted by the presider stating, "You may now exchange a kiss."

For more information, see "Prayer of the faithful (general intercessions) at a Catholic wedding."

Prayer of the Faithful

The Prayer of the Faithful, or General Intercessions, are read by a lector, cantor, or another designated person. The reader usually offers the prayer ("For ..., we pray to the Lord.") and the assembly responds to each prayer with an appropriate response, such as, "Lord, hear our prayer."

View the text of the three options for the Nuptial Blessing.

Nuptial Blessing

The presider faces the couple and prays over them. The Rite of Marriage provides three different options for the nuptial blessing.

 

Concluding Rite

Optional wedding music

The Lord's Prayer

The assembly prays or sings together the Lord's Prayer (the Our Father).

 Stand


Optional wedding music

View the text of the four options for the Blessing.

Blessing

The priest prays a solemn blessing over the married couple; the whole assembly participates in the blessing by repeatedly responding, "Amen." Optionally, the blessing may be sung. In some places, the couple is invited to exchange a kiss after the blessing.

 

Dismissal

The priest dismisses the assembly, which responds, "Thanks be to God."

wedding-music

Recessional

The couple, the bridal party, the ministers, and the priest process out of the church, usually accompanied by a song or instrumental music.

Explanatory notes

  • In the right-hand column, the different parts of the Mass are presented in the order in which they occur, along with a brief explanation (set in italics) of each part.
  • In the left-hand column, you'll find indications of when to sit, stand, or kneel, along with links to more detailed information about that particular part of the liturgy. A musical note wedding-music indicates that music usually accompanies a particular part. A gray musical note Optional wedding music  indicates that music may accompany a particular part of the liturgy, although it is not specifically indicated in the Rite of Marriage (check with your parish music minister).
  • The order presented here is for the United States. The order differs slightly in other countries and regions, depending on adaptations made by local bishops' conferences.

For more information

Order of a Catholic wedding ceremony during Mass
A step-by-step walk through the complete order of the Catholic wedding Mass.

Order of a Catholic wedding ceremony outside Mass
A step-by-step walk through the complete order of a Catholic wedding outside of Mass.

Order of a wedding between a Catholic and an unbaptized person
A step-by-step walk through the complete order of a wedding between a Catholic and someone who has not been baptized as a Christian.

Choosing the form of your wedding
As you begin planning your wedding, one of the first things you will discuss with the priest or deacon at your parish is which form of the Rite of Marriage you will use during your wedding. Here are the three basic options.

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