Planning a Catholic Wedding
The Catholic Church reverences marriage so deeply that we consider matrimony one of our seven Sacraments, a powerful source of grace that increases throughout the whole of married life. A Catholic wedding reflects our beautiful belief that a marriage is not just an agreement between two people; it is also a spiritual contract sealed by God himself, which is witnessed, celebrated, and supported by the entire family of the Church. Further, it reflects the unfathomable love between Christ and his bride, the Church, which is why it ideally culminates in the celebration of the Eucharist (Mass), which St. John Paul II called "the Sacrament of the bridegroom and the bride" (Mulieris Dignitatem n. 26).
The following resources are here to assist you in planning your Catholic wedding, though your primary resource will always be the priest or marriage preparation coordinator at your parish.
We're engaged... now what?
Step 1: Contact your Parish
The very first step in planning a Catholic wedding should be to contact your parish (or the parish where you hope to get married) to get in contact with the priest or marriage preparation coordinator who will walk you through the process. Because the parish is your family of faith, they want to walk with you every step of the way as you prepare!
Step 2: Marriage Preparation
The marriage ceremony and reception comes with lots of planning and excitement. But remember, your wedding day is the first day of a commitment that will last the rest of your life! Our Catholic Church wants to make sure you and your beloved are ready for this commitment. Marriage preparation is a formation program that walks you through Church teaching on marriage, practical tips on a healthy relationship, and planning the wedding liturgy. Typically, you must begin marriage preparation at least six months before your wedding is scheduled.
Step 3: Planning the Wedding Liturgy
The wedding liturgy is the most important event of the whole wedding day, as the moment when your consent to one another in marriage vows forms a holy bond of love between you and your beloved. The more beautiful, dignified, and sacred this ceremony is, the more truly it will show forth the incredible reality that is occurring. The wedding liturgy can take three forms:
- Matrimony within Mass
- Matrimony without Mass (usually used if one party is Protestant)
- Matrimony of a Catholic and a Non-Christian (unbaptized)