Planning Your Catholic Wedding
Choosing the form of your wedding
The Order for Celebrating Matrimony offers three different forms for celebrating the Sacrament: Celebrating Matrimony within Mass, Celebrating Matrimony without Mass, and Celebrating Matrimony Between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a non-Christian. Which form is best for your situation? What does each form involve? Read on to find out.
The final decision about which form of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony to use is ultimately up to the priest or deacon who will preside at your wedding. Discuss any preferences for a particular form as part of your preparation with the presider.
This is a good time to consider who will witness your marriage in the name of the Church. Most couples will be have a priest preside at their marriage celebration, usually the pastor of their parish. However, that is not the only possibility.
- • You may have your marriage witnessed by a priest other than your local pastor, with your pastor's permission. Getting permission from your pastor probably will not be a problem. This option will work best if the other priest is a close friend or relative.
- • You may have your marriage witnessed by a deacon—again, with the permission of your pastor. If you choose to celebrate Mass with your wedding, the deacon may witness your marriage but a priest must celebrate the Mass.
- • You may have your marriage witnessed by a priest or deacon, and invite the minister of another faith to participate in the ceremony in some other way (special blessings or prayers, for instance). Non-Catholic ministers may not witness the exchange of consent ("vows") at a Catholic wedding, however.
- • You may have your marriage witnessed by the minister of another religion, if you first obtain a "dispensation from canonical form" from your bishop.
You may come across advertisements or websites for a "Catholic wedding priest" on the Internet. Such websites offer a "valid priest" for your Catholic wedding free from the "hassle" of the Church's requirements, such as the restriction on outdoor weddings. While these individuals may be authorized to witness a civil ceremony, they are not authorized to witness a valid Catholic wedding. The bottom line: in order to have a valid Catholic wedding, you must be married by your pastor or have his permission to be married by someone else.
Order of Celebrating Matrimony within Mass is the preferred form of the Catholic wedding liturgy when both the bride and the groom are Catholic. The Order of Celebrating Matrimony states that the celebration of marriage "should normally be celebrated within Mass"(#29); receiving holy communion together strengthens the couple's love and lifts up all present into communion with Christ and one another. The marriage covenant the couple make reflects the covenant that Christ established with us through his sacrifice on the cross.
Because this form includes both Mass and the Celebration of Matrimony, it typically lasts between 45 and 90 minutes, depending on the length of elements such as the readings, homily, music, procession, and so on.
Some couples object to the length of the nuptial Mass. However, celebrating Mass with your wedding only adds about twenty minutes to the ceremony (depending on the length of the Eucharistic Prayer and the number of people receiving communion). If celebrating the "communion" of your love for one another is worth thirty minutes, why not invest a little extra time to experience the grace of celebrating the communion of heaven and earth in the Eucharist?
You can review a detailed description of this form of The Order for Celebrating Matrimony by clicking through to the Order of a Catholic wedding Mass.
The Order of Celebrating Matrimony Without Mass is generally the preferred form when a Catholic marries a baptized person who is not Catholic (The Order for Celebrating Matrimony #36), although guidelines differ from place to place. A couple may celebrate their marriage during Mass with the permission of their pastor, but this option is generally discouraged because the person who is not Catholic may not receive communion.
This form of the wedding liturgy generally lasts between twenty minutes (for a bare-bones ceremony) and an hour, depending on the length of elements such as the readings, homily, music, procession, and so on.
You can review a detailed description of this form of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony by clicking through to the Outline of a Catholic Wedding without Mass..
The Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian is the form of the rite that is used when a Catholic marries someone who has not yet received Christian baptism; its wording and prayers are adapted to fit the circumstances. The outline of this form is similar to the outline of The Order of Celebrating Matrimony without Mass. It is the same approximate length, though the prayers differ slightly.
You can review a detailed description of this form of the Rite of Marriage by clicking through to the The Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian.
Outline of a Catholic wedding ceremony within Mass
A step-by-step walk through the complete order of the 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
Order for 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)
Frequently Asked Questions
Planning a Catholic Wedding
From ForYourMarriage.org, a comprehensive overview of the Catholic wedding ceremony, including an overview of your options for the various forms of the wedding.