Planning Your Wedding Liturgy

The liturgy of marriage is a moment of joy and celebration. In our Catholic tradition, we hold that the couples themselves minister this sacrament or the vows to one another. While it is necessary that an official witness of the Church preside over the celebration (a Priest or Deacon), the active involvement of the couple in every aspect of planning the celebration is essential. 
This planning should always keep in mind that the ceremony is first and foremost a moment of prayer for all who are present. All aspects of the celebration should reflect the noble simplicity befitting Christian worship. 
Together with the Priest/Deacon who will be presiding at your liturgy, you will have a part in planning your ceremony. He will provide you with a copy of the wedding booklet, Together for Life, along with a liturgy planning sheet. On your final meeting with him, you will discuss the specific readings from Scripture and liturgical options that you have chosen. He will help clarify any further questions you may have regarding the ceremony at that time.  You will also need to schedule a meeting with the Music Coordinator regarding music. 
At the bottom of this page, there are two PDF files - Sample Outline - Wedding Mass and Sample Outline - Ceremony without Eucharist - which are helpful in planning your wedding celebration.
There are generally three readings from Sacred Scripture: one from the Old Testament, another from the New Testament letters and a third from the Gospels. These are available as PDFs at the right side of this screen and at the bottom of this page. 

Mass or Ceremony?  

Should you celebrate your marriage in the context of a Mass or a non-Eucharistic ceremony? 

When a wedding is celebrated at Mass, the Rite of Marriage takes place after the Liturgy of the Word and the homily. The Liturgy of the Eucharist then follows. When a wedding is celebrated outside of Mass, it is celebrated within the context of a Liturgy of the Word in which the Rite of Marriage takes place after the homily. This Rite concludes with prayers and blessings. 
You should make your decision in consultation with the Priest/Deacon who is assisting in the preparation of your marriage. You will want to consider the following points:
  • What is our relationship to the Sunday Eucharist? Are we faithful to the church’s Sunday prayer? Have we been away from the community’s prayer? Have we committed ourselves to returning?
  • In light of your answers to the above questions, is Mass or a Liturgy of the Word the better context for the celebration of our marriage?
  • If one of you is from another faith tradition and so will be unable to share Holy Communion if the wedding is celebrated during Mass, you may want to consider what this means. Do you want to include something in this celebration in which only one of you will be able to take part?
  • Who will your guests be? Is the celebration of the Eucharist the best way to help them be with you and pray with you at your wedding?
Ministers of the Celebration  

In addition to you (who as a couple are the ministers of the sacrament or vows of Marriage) and the Priest, others will have important ministerial roles in your wedding celebration. Members of your wedding party, particularly ushers, will greet the invited guests in a spirit of hospitality and welcome. Our parish pastoral musicians will provide a musical setting that respects the dignity of this moment and that will support sung prayer by all. Beyond these ministries, we ask you to consider individuals who might function in the following special roles in your wedding:

Lectors - Whether your celebration takes place in the context of a Mass or a non-Eucharistic ceremony, the proclamation of God’s Word in the Scriptures is an integral part of the wedding celebration. You may select one or two individuals, depending on the number of readings you select, to proclaim God’s Word to the community gathered. Those whom you select should first and foremost be persons of faith who actively participate in the liturgy of their church. In addition, if you include the Prayers of the Faithful, an additional person may be selected.

Gift-bearers - For those who choose to celebrate the Nuptial Mass, it will be necessary to invite two people from the assembly to bring forward the gifts of bread and wine, which will be placed upon the altar for the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Again, the fullest form of participation is best served by inviting active, practicing Catholics to act as gift-bearers.
Eucharistic Minister – If you are having a Nuptial Mass, it would be helpful to have a Eucharistic Minister assist the presider with communion. Please discuss this with the Priest you have chosen.

Other Elements 
Signs, symbols and gestures are intrinsic to worship, but an overabundance of them tends to become superfluous and redundant. The primary symbols of your marriage covenant are the exchange of vows and rings, and if a Nuptial Mass is celebrated, this includes the sharing of the one bread and the one cup as a sign of unity and love. Together with these essential signs and symbols, others of a secondary nature are sometimes used:  
  • Unity Candle.
  • Flowers to Mary, the Mother of God (a gesture of prayer and petition that normally takes place toward the end of the wedding celebration).
  • Veil and Cord / Arras and Lazo (symbolize mutual support and unity in love in the Filipino and Hispanic cultures).
In determining to include additional elements in the ritual of marriage, couples should be aware that where liturgy is concerned, “less is often more.” That is, focusing on doing the key elements well and with care will be much more satisfactory for both the couple and the assembly than trying to do too many things at once. Please feel free to discuss these elements carefully with the Priest/Deacon arranging your wedding before making a decision.