There's so much to consider when planning a wedding: the hall, the flowers, the bridesmaid's dresses. The most important element is the ceremony itself. If you're having a wedding in a Catholic church, there are specific guidelines to follow to ensure a solemn and memorable day.
- Almost immediately after becoming engaged, you should contact the Catholic church where you hope to have the wedding ceremony. Many Catholic churches require at least six months notification.
- All Catholic churches have the same basic minimum requirements for planning a wedding. One of these is that the engaged couple must take pre-Canna classes, which are designed to prepare couples for marriage. Coordinated by the diocese, pre-Canna classes are typically led by a nun or a priest as well as a few married couples who share their marriage advice and experiences. Several engaged couples attend the pre-Canna classes at once, and they are usually held over the weekend. Ask your parish or call the diocese for upcoming dates.
- Once you have registered for your pre-Canna classes, make an appointment with the priest who will be performing the Catholic wedding ceremony. He will help you to choose the first and second readings for the Mass. There are usually two or three options available. The priest will ask you to think about guests you'd like to have said the readings. They must be Catholic, but they do not need to be members of a particular parish. The priest will also ask you if you would like to honor Mary during the wedding. This is a beautiful part of a Catholic wedding service in which the bride places a rose before the statue of Mary while the choir sings "Ave Maria."
- Once the details of the Mass are organized, you should meet with the choir director, organist or soloist to choose music selections. You may select traditional melodies for your entrance and exit, along with standard Catholic songs for the offertory and Communion portions. Depending on the church's dictates, you may also be able to select one or two non-religious songs to be played after Communion or at the end of the Mass.
- As the time gets closer for the wedding, you will meet again with the priest and choir director to review and make any last-minute decisions. At this point, though, you have completed most of the tasks necessary to plan a Catholic wedding.
Now, relax (if you can) and get ready to celebrate your special wedding day.