Hollywood has taught us a lot about Catholic wedding traditions. The man and the priest at the altar, the bride entering the church with her father, and the vows taken in front of guests and friends, we have seen these many times in movies.
What most of us do not know is that Catholic weddings are more than just taking vows in a church. There are many traditions and rites couples have to perform that make them man and wife. The wedding is not just about wearing a white dress for the bride and a suit for the bridegroom, there are other Catholic Apparel that matter too.
Let us see some of the Catholic wedding traditions that many of us aren’t aware of-
The Processional (The entrance rite)- This is the rite where the priest, bride, and bridegroom enter the Church along with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. Though the customs vary from place to place, usually the bridegroom and her father are the last ones to enter the church.
The Priest’s greeting- The priest then greets the wedding guests and encourages them to sing an opening hymn. A prayer is recited for the couple after this. The guests are standing for this prayer and are then seated when the priest says so.
Liturgy of the Word- In this custom, the priest or family of the couple recite several readings from the Bible. Often, these readings are from the Old Testament. Once this is done, there are hymns to be sung from the Book of Psalms.
Next, the priest recites a particular passage from the Gospels while the couple’s friends or family recite readings from the New Testament. The assembly (guests) stand when the gospel is read and remain seated the rest of the time.
Rite of marriage- Once the Liturgy concludes, the priest then gets the couple to say their vows. This is a declaration of intent and a promise to stay loyal through the marriage rites. The couple memorizes and recites the vows to one another and responds with an ‘I do’. The wordings may vary from place to place but the intent is the same. Some priests also allow the couple to write down their own vows later on after the traditional ones are recited.
Ring ceremony- After the vows are recited, the priest initiates the exchange of rings and blesses the couple. The partners then slide the rings to each other’s ring fingers. After this is done, the priest invites the couple to share a kiss.
Nuptial Mass- This is an optional event where the wedding ceremony starts to look like a Sunday mass. It begins with the preparation for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Family and friends are chosen to assist in presenting the offertory, which is the presentation of gifts to the priest.
After this, an offertory song is sung and a money donation basket is passed amongst the assembly. After this, the congregation kneels for the Eucharistic prayers. Later on, the gifts are presented to the congregation.
Lord’s prayer and the sign of peace- Next, the newlyweds will kneel at the altar to be blessed by the priest. The priest will get the congregation to silently pray for the health and success of the couple.
Holy Communion- A ritual where only Catholics can take part, here guests line up to the priest to receive their bread and wine. Non-Catholics can come forward to take the blessings of the priest, with hands crossed to their chest.
Nuptial Blessing- Lastly, the priest will recite a final prayer, blessing the couple as well as the congregation. At this time, the marriage license would be signed, but it can be done later too depending on the couple’s preferences.
Once everything is complete, the priest will dismiss the congregation. They can then move on to the post-wedding reception and cocktail party.
As you see, what is shown in the movies is just a small part of the Catholic marriage ceremony. For many people, the marriage ceremony is one place where they get to wear their best clothes and enjoy themselves with their friends and relatives. No wonder why many people flock to Online Catholic Stores to get their share of clothes and other items for wearing to a Catholic wedding.