For couples planning a Catholic wedding

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Outline of a Catholic Wedding Without Mass

Here is the typical sequence of a Catholic wedding without 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 Order of Celebrating Matrimony.

 

The Order of Celebrating Matrimony Without Mass

 

Introductory Rites

Stand

wedding-music

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

Entrance Rite

The assembly stands. The entrance song is sung while the priest, ministers (e.g., lectors, altar servers), and the wedding party take their places in the sanctuary (near the altar). The Order for Celebrating Matrimony offers two forms for this. In the First Form (#45-47) the priest and servers in vestiments proper to the liturgy greet the bridal party at the door of the Church then all enter in procession as is customary for a Mass (the ministers go first, followed by the priest, then the bride and bridegroom, possibly proceeded by their parents and the two witnesses). In the Second Form (#48-50) the priest and servers go to the place in the sanctuary prepared for the couple or to his chair, ready to greet the couple when they arrive at their place. In both forms, the priest leads the assembly in the sign of the cross after the entrance song is finished.

 

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

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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 Order of Celebrating Matrimony, the presider "uses the sacred text to expound the mystery of Christian Marriage, the dignity of conjugal love, the grace of the Sacrament and the responsibilities of married people, keeping in mind, however, the circumstances of this particular marriage" (#91).

 

The Celebration of Matrimony

Follow this link for the complete text of The Order of the Celebration of Matrimony.

Stand

View the text of the address and statement of intent.

Address and Statement of Intentions

All stand, including the bride and groom and witnesses. The priest asks the couple questions to state their intentions about their freedom of choice, fidelity to each other, and the acceptance and upbringing of children (unless the couple are beyond the child-bearing years). The bride and groom respond to each question separately "I have" or "I am."

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


 

Exchange of Consent

The presider invites the couple to declare their consent to be married, which they do by stating their marriage vows. The Order of Celebrating Matrimony offers several different options for the vows The presider affirms the reception of the consent then leads the assembly in an acclamation which may be sung.

View the text of the blessing and giving of rings.

Optional wedding music
 

Blessing and Giving of Rings

The presider blesses the wedding rings through prayer and the sprinkling of holy water. The husband places his wife's ring on her finger, and the wife places her husband's ring on his finger. The Order of Celebrating Matrimony provides options for the blessing of the rings as well as the exchange of arras (coins) according to local custom. While not specifed in the ritual text, local custom may include the exchange of a kiss.

For more information, see "The Universal Prayer (general intercessions) at a Catholic wedding."

The Universal Prayer

The Universal Prayer, sometimes referred to as the Prayer of the Faithful or General Intercessions, is read by a lector, cantor, or another designated person. The reader usually offers each intercession ("For ..., we pray to the Lord.") and the assembly responds with an appropriate response, such as, "Lord, hear our prayer." If Holy Communion will be distributed, the Lord's Prayer is offered after the Nuptual Blessing.

Optional wedding music

The Lord's Prayer

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

View the text of options for the Nuptial Blessing.

Nuptial Blessing

The couple kneels, the presider faces them and prays over them. The Order of Celebrating Matrimony provides options for the nuptial blessing, including beginning with the blessing and placing of the lazo (veil) if customary. If included in the ceremony, the distribution of Holy Communion immediately follows the Nuptual Blessing. Remember, only Catholics may receive Holy Communion during your celebration. If Holy Communion will not be distributed the presider concludes by blessing all gathered.

 

Conclusion of the Celebration

 Stand


Optional wedding music

View the text of the four options for the Blessing.

Blessing

The presider prays a solemn blessing over the married couple and the whole assembly. All participate in the blessing by repeatedly responding, "Amen." This blessing may be sung. The ritual text indicates the witnesses may sign the marriage license in front of the assembly, though never with the license on the altar (The Order for Celebrating Matrimony # 117).

 

Dismissal

While not specified in the ritual text, the presider commonly dismiss the assembly with an exchange like "Go in peace to glorify the Lord with your life" to which all gathered respond "Thanks be to God."

wedding-music

Recessional

A recessional, or closing procession, is a natural way to conclude a Catholic wedding ceremony. Though it is not specified in The Order of Celebrating Matrimony, the couple, the bridal party, the ministers, and the presider process out of the church, usually accompanied by a festive song or instrumental music. Music suggetions for the wedding procession offer suitable options. Depending on local custom, the presider may invite the couple to exchange a kiss before leaving the sanctuary.

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

Outline of a Catholic wedding within Mass
A step-by-step walk through the complete order of a Catholic wedding Mass

Outline of a Catholic wedding ceremony without Mass
A step-by-step walk through the complete order of a Catholic wedding without Mass

Outline 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 (a Catechumen or a non-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 Order of Celebrating Matrimony you will use during your wedding.

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