Wedding Liturgy Planning

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					        Wedding Liturgy Planning
      St. Mary Church – 708-326-9300 –
     19515 South 115th Avenue, Box 2, Mokena, Illinois 60448-0002

                                                 (October 2008 Edition)

       The wedding liturgy is a special time of prayer during which the bride and groom celebrate a Sacrament.
         Let everything in the Wedding Liturgy reflect the sacredness of this celebration of our Catholic faith.
          These guidelines have been updated to reflect the new liturgical directives for Catholic weddings.

1. SETTING UP FOR THE WEDDING                                   Pew Bows: Pew bows are discouraged because
                                                                they do not attach well to our pews. If you wish to
The Florist: Ordinarily, the florist can come to set            use some pew bows to reserve the seating for the
up about an hour before the wedding, due to other               parents and other family members, they may not
scheduled services in church. When there is more                be taped to the pews or attached with wires which
than one wedding on any given day, couples                      might scratch the finish off the pews. Rubber
sometimes wish to choose flowers together and                   bands and plastic clips are better. It is never
share the cost. The following parish regulations                permitted to cordon off the main aisle with any
are designed to protect church furnishings as well              ribbons, due to the layout of the pews in church.
as to promote a more dignified celebration of the
wedding rites in our sacred place of worship.                   Aisle Runners: White aisle runners are not
                                                                practical because paper and plastic runners often
Floral Arrangements: All the flowers are the                    tear on our carpet. Cloth runners are better, but
responsibility of the bridal party. The church has              are very expensive. If you choose to have an aisle
some alternate silk flower arrangements for use in              runner anyway, it should be 75' long, and is
the altar area for weddings. The most effective                 obtained from a florist. If you choose to have an
place for flowers in this church is on the floor in             aisle runner, you are responsible for setting it up
front of the altar, and in the front of the pulpit. No          before the wedding starts. We do not recommend
flowers may be placed on top of the altar. Also, no             the use of aisle runners in our church building.
flowers may be elevated on stands or pillars in the
sanctuary, because they obstruct the view of the                Candles: No extra candles are needed beyond the
photographers and the congregation.                             regular candles that are always on the altar. Aisle
                                                                candles are not permitted because they do not
Other Flowers: Flowers for people to wear should                attach easily to the pews, they block the view of
be placed in the kitchenette of the church narthex              the congregation, and the candlelight effect is
(vestibule) so that the designated people can find              negated by the video equipment, which requires as
them as they enter the church building. If there is             much light as possible in the church. Unity
a flower girl, she should have silk or other artificial         candles are really more appropriate for use at the
petals, not real flowers, because real flower petals            beginning of the wedding reception than in church.
stain the church carpet. Any other flowers should
be left at the same location prior to the ceremony.             Removal of Decorations: After the ceremony, the
                                                                ushers or other designated persons should assist
Flowers in Advent and Lent: During the seasons                  our wedding coordinator in removing your flowers
of Advent and Lent, but particularly during the                 and any other wedding decorations from the
season of Lent, floral arrangements are at a                    church. If there are any silk flower petals on the
minimum, and the church is decorated in purple                  floor, they need to be collected before you leave.
and violet colors. The entire tone of weddings                  Also, before you leave church, the bridesmaids’
during these liturgical seasons is somewhat                     personal belongings will be brought back to them
subdued as well. Please keep this in mind when                  by our wedding coordinator, who collected them in
planning any weddings during Advent and Lent.                   the church hall before the ceremony began.

Wedding Liturgy Planning at Saint Mary Church                                                                      5
2. BEFORE THE WEDDING STARTS                              3. ENTRANCE PROCESSION

Proper Attire: We prefer that everyone attending          Here is the preferred manner of conducting the
the wedding, bridal party and guests, male and            entrance procession at our parish. Please note
female alike, observe the following dress code: all       the various alternatives that are also provided.
shoulders and knees should be covered. Please
advise your guests about proper attire as well.           Clergy: When it is time for the wedding to begin,
                                                          the priest or deacon greets the bridal party at the
Proper Behavior: Because of current problems              inner church doors of the narthex, and then leads
that many churches have been encountering at              them in procession down the aisle to the altar.
weddings, it is sadly necessary for us to remind
people about the mature, respectful, and dignified        Groom: The groom enters next, usually escorted
behavior that is required of them in sacred places.       by his parents. Optionally, he may enter with just
The church is a reverent place of prayer before,          the priest (or deacon), and his parents are already
during, and after the wedding ceremony. While we          seated in their pew. The groom then waits at the
welcome the presence of people who may not                front pew as the procession continues.
regularly attend church services, or who may not
be members of our faith, or of any faith, we expect       Attendants: The bridesmaids and groomsmen
their behavior to appropriately conform to their          enter next in procession. The best man and maid
status as guests in our sacred place of worship.          of honor are usually last in the line of these
                                                          attendants. As the attendants arrive at the altar,
Bridal Party: The bridal party should arrive at           they go to their assigned places in the front pews.
least thirty (or more) minutes early to avoid a last
minute rush, or delay the prompt beginning of the         Children: Any ring bearers and flower girls come
ceremony. The bride and the bridesmaids should            next. If the children are too young, it is preferable
enter by way of the lower parking lot, and go             that they be directed by an adult in the back of
directly to the church hall for privacy. Everyone         church. At the appropriate time, this adult quietly
else enters by the main doors on the upper level.         directs the children to slowly walk up the aisle
The groom and the groomsmen wait out of sight in          toward another adult who awaits them.
the priest’s sacristy before the wedding begins.
                                                          Bride: The bride comes last in procession, and is
Ushers: Ushers should seat guests as soon as              usually escorted her parents. Optionally, she may
possible after they arrive, to avoid a last minute        be escorted by her father alone, in which case her
rush for seats when the wedding is about to begin.        mother is already seated in her pew. The organ
It is not necessary for all the bride's guests to sit     music may change for the entrance of the bride.
on the bride's side of the church, or vice-versa.
However, as you face forward toward the altar in          Altar: From the front pew, the groom then escorts
church, the bride’s side is traditionally the left side   the bride forward to the altar kneeler. Neither the
(south), and the groom’s side is the right side           bride nor the groom is “given away” in the Catholic
(north). The first row of pews is for the seating of      Church. The bride and groom freely and mutually
the bridesmaids and groomsmen. The second row             give themselves to each other in Holy Matrimony.
of pews is reserved for the parents of the bride and
groom. Please check with the parents concerning           Alternatives: All the groomsmen may come first
other pews being reserved for other family                with the groom to the front pew, and then all the
members, especially grandparents. If there are            bridesmaids enter by themselves. Sometimes the
persons with disabilities, please consult the             men go down the aisle half-way to escort the
wedding coordinator about their seating. About            ladies up the rest of the way. Please discuss any
ten minutes before the wedding is about to begin,         other entrance procession options with the priest
the ushers no longer seat any guests. The guests          or deacon who will be officiating at your ceremony.
who arrive later may seat themselves, as the bridal       (Although rarely done in our country, a more
party is lining up to enter the church in procession.     ancient custom is for the bride and groom to be
If there is an aisle runner, it is should be secured in   greeted by the priest, and then be led into church
the front and the back before the procession.             together, followed by the rest of the bridal party.)

Wedding Liturgy Planning at Saint Mary Church                                                                6
4. LITURGY OF THE WORD                                 7. CLOSING RITES

The bride and groom select three appropriate Bible     Secondary Symbols: The main focus is on the
readings from this wedding handbook. Other             Vows, on the Rings, and on the Nuptial Blessing.
translations may be used, with the prior approval      Although unity candles, extra flowers to mothers,
of the priest (or deacon). Before the wedding          and Marian bouquets are not standard parts of the
starts, the readers should sit near the organ, so      official Catholic wedding ceremony ritual, they are
they are near the pulpit for their readings. Later,    sometimes still allowed at the conclusion of the
they may join their families and friends in the pews   ceremony, but they are unnecessary additions.
when the people stand for the gospel reading.
Later in this wedding handbook, the regular set of        Unity Candle: A unity candle could be lighted
Scripture readings is provided for you to choose          after Grace is prayed, just before the wedding
from. Please pick them out beforehand, in                 banquet is served, similar to any festive dinner.
preparation for your liturgy planning session with
                                                          Flowers to Mothers: Presenting additional
the priest (or deacon), and remember to select            flowers to the mothers during the ceremony is
readers for the first and second readings.                redundant. The mothers have already been
                                                          given their own special corsages beforehand.

5. RITE OF HOLY MATRIMONY                                 Marian Bouquet: Presenting a special bouquet of
                                                          flowers at the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The bride and groom select their Wedding Vows             is impractical in this church because of the
and Nuptial Blessing from the options provided.           location of the statue. If the bride really has a
                                                          genuine devotion to the Blessed Mother, a floral
The entire bridal party comes forward to the altar
                                                          arrangement could be placed by the statue
steps for this part of the liturgy. The priest (or        beforehand, as part of the wedding decorations.
deacon), along with the best man and maid of
honor, are the three designated official witnesses     Requests for the use of any of these additional
for the sacrament that the bride and groom bestow      secondary symbols in church should, therefore, be
upon each other. The three essential parts of the      discussed with the priest (or deacon) who will be
sacramental ceremony are the exchange of Vows,         officiating, before finalizing your flower order. So,
the exchange of Rings, and the Nuptial Blessing,       please carefully study the instructions for florists
which form the heart of the Catholic ceremony.         that are found at the conclusion of this handbook.

                                                       Recessional: After the final blessing, the bride
6. LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST                            and groom are presented to the congregation, and
                                                       then lead a procession out from the church. The
Wedding Masses are usually only celebrated when        bridal party then forms a receiving line in the
both parties are practicing Catholics. Otherwise, a    narthex. Afterwards, the bride and groom make
Wedding Ceremony is usually celebrated. During         their formal exit from the church doors, so the
Lent, ceremonies without Mass are preferred.           guests may leave for the reception hall. Please
Some churches do not allow weddings at all during      remind your guests that we do not permit throwing
Lent – however, our parish does allow them.            anything up or at the bride and the groom as they
                                                       leave from the church doors after the wedding.
If there is a Mass, two people may be selected to
bring up the offertory gifts of bread and wine for     Pictures Afterwards: The bride and the groom
the celebration of the Eucharist. At the sign of       may return to the altar steps, for a formal wedding
peace, the bride and groom kiss, as others just        portrait. Additional pictures in church depend on a
shake hands with the person right next to them.        sufficient amount of time available before the next
                                                       religious service, the respectful behavior of the
Please read the Bishops’ instructions on who may       bridal party members in our church, and the choice
receive Communion in the Catholic Church, which        of dignified picture poses appropriate for a church.
are found in the missalettes in the church pews.       It is always wise to have an alternate site in mind
Please remember to go to Confession to worthily        for more extended picture-taking. So, please
prepare to receive Holy Communion, and to be           carefully study the instructions for photographers
spiritually ready for the sacrament of Matrimony.      that are found at the end of this handbook.

Wedding Liturgy Planning at Saint Mary Church                                                                 7

Religious Music: Music at weddings must be              If you are preparing an optional wedding program
religious in nature due to the sacredness of the        booklet, here are some ceremony outlines to help
liturgy and the church setting. General secular         you in this regard:
love songs are not appropriate for use in church.
What is inappropriate for use in church, however,       Wedding Ceremony (without Communion)
may be very well appropriate at your reception. A              Opening Rites
later section of this wedding handbook has more                          Entrance Procession
helpful information about religious music choices.                       Opening Prayer
                                                               Liturgy of the Word
                                                                         Old Testament Reading
Musicians: As the attached instructions explain in                       Responsorial Psalm
greater detail, our parish musicians are contracted                      New Testament Reading
by the parish to provide music at all the weddings                       Gospel Acclamation
celebrated in our church. Sometimes, soloists and                        Gospel Reading
instrumentalists may assist our parish musicians in                      Sermon
providing music for wedding liturgies. Our parish              Liturgy of Marriage
musicians may not, however, be replaced by                               Statement of Intentions
outside musicians without the prior permission of                        Exchange of Vows
                                                                         Exchange of Rings
the pastor. In such cases, our parish musicians
                                                                         Nuptial Blessing
still earn their contracted fees by planning and                         Lord’s Prayer
approving the music, by setting up microphones,                Concluding Rites
and assisting the visiting musicians as needed.                          Closing Prayer
                                                                         [Optional Rites]
                                                        Wedding Mass (with Communion for Catholics)
Flowers: As the attached instructions explain in               Opening Rites
                                                                         Entrance Procession
greater detail, the main focus of the wedding
                                                                         Penitential Rite
ceremony is on the Vows, the Rings, and the                              Opening Prayer
Nuptial Blessing. The secondary symbols of unity               Liturgy of the Word
candles, flowers to mothers, and Marian bouquets                         Old Testament Reading
are not part of the Catholic wedding ceremony, but                       Responsorial Psalm
may be permitted by special request. Also, we                            New Testament Reading
have been having some difficulties with stands for                       Gospel Acclamation
flowers near the altar, the use of tape on our pews,                     Gospel Reading
and the quality of aisle runners. Therefore, please                      Sermon
study the attached instructions for florists, so we            Liturgy of Marriage
                                                                         Statement of Intentions
can make our beautiful church building especially
                                                                         Exchange of Vows
nice for your religious wedding ceremony here.                           Exchange of Rings
                                                                         General Intercessions
Pictures: As the attached instructions explain in              Liturgy of the Eucharist
greater detail, St. Mary Parish requires that the                        Offertory
members of your bridal party and your guests                             Eucharistic Prayer
respect our house of worship with mature and                             Lord’s Prayer
dignified behavior at all times, and especially after                    Nuptial Blessing
the wedding ceremony is over. We strongly urge                           Holy Communion
                                                               Concluding Rites
you to discuss this issue with your bridal party in
                                                                         Closing Prayer
particular, as any misbehavior in church may result                      [Optional Rites]
in an end to any further picture-taking. Therefore,                      Recessional
please carefully study the attached instructions for
photographers and video personnel, so we can all        If you are preparing an optional program booklet
work together to provide you with a cherished           for your wedding, please let the celebrant proof-
album of dignified and memorable pictures of your       read it beforehand. Please note that most guests
religious wedding ceremony here in our church.          seldom read these optional program booklets.

Wedding Liturgy Planning at Saint Mary Church                                                          8