Planning your wedding is one of the most exciting times in your lives. If you have always dreamed of getting married in a big church, with a white dress and black tux, with a traditional Catholic ceremony, there may be more to planning a Catholic wedding than you ever imagined.
Catholic marriage preparation isn’t as simple as booking a hall and getting a minister. There are rules and regulations to follow and plenty of pre-marriage advice to help you on your journey to becoming husband and wife.
Yes, much of the pre-wedding planning for a church involves getting to know your partner better, taking family planning classes, and getting to know your Bible a lot better.
Here are the keynotes for Catholic wedding preparation and how you can ensure your wedding day goes as smoothly as possible.
Contact your Parish
After you have become engaged, you will want to contact your parish to start getting some wedding details in order. For example, choosing a date for booking the church and the minister. You will likely be booked in for a consultation with your priest, pastor, or deacon.
During the Catholic marriage preparation consultation, you will get to know one another, the pastor will check for what are called “impediments” to your marriage, and you will also discuss fees and dates of availability.
You will also need to check with your church regarding their rules and regulations related to getting married in a Catholic church, as some may not allow you to do so if you are already cohabitating, if one of you is divorced, if neither of you is Catholic, if you are unbaptised, or if you do not attend mass.
The church encourages engaged couples to spend their engagement truly getting to know one another and to prepare for marriage. These are usually done through marriage programs or retreats such as PREPARE (Premarital Preparation and Relationship Enhancement) or FOCCUS (Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding, and Study).
These programs consist more than 100 questions each, to help get to know you both better, and is then followed by counseling sessions. In these sessions you will discuss:
- Faith and Spirituality
- Cohabitation and Intimacy
- Family Planning and Parenting
- Career Choices
- Conflict Resolution
Weekend retreats and family planning courses are also highly encouraged by the church. These may seem like unnecessary steps, but research suggests that marriage preparation can actually help prevent divorce.
Choosing Scriptures and Songs
One of the most traditional aspects of a Catholic wedding is the scripture reading. Your minister will be able to give you various options for the readings. Often these are broken up into the first reading, responsorial psalm, second reading, and gospel readings. These readings usually go over the book of Psalms, the old and new testaments, and the account of Jesus life on earth.
When choosing your scriptures, pray over your choices with your spouse. Ask yourself what the point of the account is. What will it teach you about marriage, love, patience, humility, forgiveness, and God’s goodness? Make sure you pick readings that will be beneficial to your partnership.
You will also be allowed to choose your own songs or hymns that you walk down the aisle to, and that will be sung during the ceremony. You will also be able to choose which lectors (or readers) will be proclaiming the scriptures during the wedding.
Deciding on Vows
If you are following Catholic Marriage Preparation, that means that you will not be able to write your own vows. Instead, you will be able to choose from two different versions of traditional Catholic wedding vows.
You may choose to memorize these vows or have the priest read them to you to repeat. Having the priest read the vows to you for repeating is a great idea for those who fear they may be too nervous or emotional to repeat them from memory alone.
Assigning Roles to Family and Friends
Part of the preparation process for the ceremony is assigning roles for friends and family. For a traditional Catholic wedding, you will need a presider, a witness, your wedding parties, the assembly, lectors, musicians, ushers, altar servers, Ministers of the holy communion, and of course your adorable flower girl and ring bearer.
Learn from other Married Couples
If you’re looking for pre-marriage advice, look no further than the faithful older couples in your parish who have stayed together faithfully. Ask them for the best piece of advice they have, for keeping a marriage happy and healthy. This knowledge is invaluable.
The Bible also has wonderful accounts of married couples who showed outstanding love to one another. Take time as a couple to look up the stories of Joseph and Mary, Priscilla and Aquila, or Jacob and Rachel. These accounts are filled with love, loss, forgiveness, and humility and set a wonderful example for your marriage.
Pray About Your Marriage
Ecclesiastes 4:12 reads: “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
The threefold cord in this situation is the two marrying spouses and God.
Praying is one of the most intimate things you can do together as a couple. It allows you the opportunity to see what is in your spouse’s heart. Pray for your marriage, that you will have patience, love, and forgiveness for one another always.
You can also pray for your spouse. You may give thanks for your partner, ask God for his help with your daily trials, pray for the strength to get through certain situations and express appreciation for their admirable qualities.
Prayer opens up the lines of communication like no other between you and your partner. This action will bond you closer than ever and remind you both that you can talk to each other about anything.
There are many things to consider for your catholic marriage preparation. Many parishes offer pre-marriage advice programs or retreats to help strengthen your future marriage. Be patient as you go through the wedding planning process and remember that by keeping God in your marriage, you and your spouse will be putting the threefold cord to good use.
Rachael Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.