I preface all of this with a suggestion that you speak with your priest about any deviations that you want to make from the standard service or mass, and also the suggestion that you speak with your priest about any concerns you have about toning down the ceremony and making it less religious.

It can be a rather daunting task and confusing if you are wanting to be married in a Catholic church and not sure of what is going on or what you need to do. I am by no means an expert in this field, I am a lay person who knows about this through my involvement with the Catholic church and liturgy planning.

In terms of what is required of you, if you are wanting to take a back seat, your priest will take the lead in terms of the planning and all that you will need to do is pick your readings and vows. If you are wanting to be more involved and understand more of what is going on your priest will more than likely be very happy and welcome your involvement in the planning process.

If you do not usually attend mass and are wanting to be married in a Catholic church, I would recommend attending mass a couple of times at your local parish to get an idea of what will take place during your wedding. Naturally if you are not having a mass and only a service, there will be no communion.

Nuptial Mass or Marriage Service

Firstly, to differentiate between a marriage service and a nuptial mass. A service contains similar components to a mass, but does not have the liturgy of the eucharist or communion. A service goes for about 30 or 40 mins, a mass goes for about an hour.

Naturally these times may vary depending on how long the homily goes for and how much music you have. Most practicing catholics have a nuptial mass, but may opt for a service. Usually people that are not practicing but want to be married in the catholic church will opt for a service. This is a decision that can be discussed with your priest.

Parts of the Ceremony

A nuptial mass is made up of the following parts:

  • The Gathering Rite
  • The Scripture Readings/Liturgy of the Word
  • The Rite of Marriage (Marriage Vows)
  • Liturgy of the Eucharist
  • Communion Rite
  • Concluding Rite

A wedding ceremony is made up of the following parts:

  • The Gathering Rite
  • The Scripture Readings/Liturgy of the Word
  • The Rite of Marriage (Marriage Vows)
  • Concluding Rite

Readings

Your first reading comes from the old testament, the responsorial psalm comes from the book of psalms and your second reading comes from the new testament.

The Gospel comes from either the book of Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. You may be able to include readings from non-scripture texts, but you will need to check this out with your priest.

Order of Service or Full Text?

Whether you have an order of service or outline the whole text for people is up to you. If you are having a nuptial mass and a number of non-Catholics attending, you might like to have the full text made available for people so they know what responses to say and when.

If you are having mostly Catholics at your service they will be very comfortable with what is taking place and know all of the responses off by heart. Some people suggest that an order of service is best rather than the full text as people should be looking at the bride and groom rather than having their nose burried in a book.

Music

Some churches, usually cathedrals, have fairly strict guidelines about what ceremony music can or can not be used during a wedding. Usually cathedrals will only allow sacred music and advise that CD players and recordings can not be used. Most churches now days are fairly felxible in terms of the music that can be used, but always check with your priest.

Involving other people in your service

At a minumum, you will need someone to do your first reading, psalm and second reading and someone to do your prayers of the faithful (also known as general intercessions). Some people opt to have two people share the readings and two people to alternate the prayers of the faithful.

You can also use people as ushers, or if you are having a mass, you can use people in the Offertory Procession or as ministers of the Eucharist.

From i-do forum member Vik

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