Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Wedding Processions

There are two options for a wedding procession according to the Catholic Rite of Marriage:

"If there is a procession to the altar, the ministers [e.g., lectors, altar servers] go first, followed by the priest, and then the bride and bridegroom. According to local custom, they may be escorted by at least their parents and the two witnesses. Meanwhile, the entrance song is sung."

In the average US suburban parish today, where most of the other rubrics of Catholicism are disregarded, it should not surprise us that this rubric is also discarded.

In the typical suburban US Catholic wedding, the priest and groomsmen walk out of the sacristy, and this is followed by a 5 minute fashion show.

What the Church requires, however, is a procession - servers, followed by priest, followed by either

a) the bride and groom


b) groom and his parents followed by the bride and her parents

I would like to note a couple of objections that some might have to doing it the Church's way:

1)  Bride: "This is my day!"

My response: "Say that slowly a few times and then see if you still want to say that out loud.  Is the wedding Mass really about you?  Is that not in fact one of the most narcissistic things you can say?  When is a Mass ever ABOUT anyone other than Christ?"

2) Bride: "But I've envisioned doing it my way since I was three!"

My response: "Is it good to still want the same things when we are 20 that we wanted when we were 3 years old?  When you were three you also wanted to be a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, to eat all the cookie dough, and to snuggle with your snorting blanket."

3) Bride: "But I just want my Dad to walk me down the aisle!"

My response: "When else do we want to hearken back to the days when women were merely regarded as property to be given away?  Your Mom raised you too."

4) Bride: "My groom can't see me before the wedding!"

My response: "Okay, so do you want to bring a lucky rabbits foot with you?  Get married during a solar eclipse or when the stars are in the right order?  Any other completely superstitious behaviors you want to have as a part of your wedding day?"

Look, which do you want?

The Church says something very important - the couple getting married are the MINISTERS of the Sacrament of Marriage!

What impression do you want people to have who attend your wedding?

There is SUCH AN INFINITE difference between incense, a crucifix, servers, a hymn, the Gloria (something else the Church asks that is often ignored) etc. vs. the standard narcissistic fashion show.

Weddings are one of the most frequently attended Masses by non-Catholics.

Do you want non-Catholics who attend your Wedding Mass to encounter Jesus as Jesus has asked the encounter to take place through his Church, or do you want people to remember you?


  1. My wife and I came close... We had the altar servers, followed by a deacon and the priest, then myself and my mother, and then my wife and her father.

  2. J+M+J
    Question: Does this mean that traditionally flower girls/ring bearers aren't allowed as part of the ceremony? My husband and I were married in the traditional Latin Rite, but I have never heard of this requirement you outlined. While I certainly understand and value the rationale of the Church (I'm sure my husband and I would have willingly consented to the traditional procession, had it been made known to us), I also don't think all Catholic brides view their conventional processions as mere opportunities to flaunt their fashion. I certainly didn't think of it that way. I honestly believed I was doing the most "traditional" thing and that I was simply honoring my family members and friends by including them in the procession and meeting my soon-to-be husband at the foot of God's Altar. I can imagine there are brides who do spin their weddings into opportunities for self-glorification, but I just wanted to point out that many women are *trying* to do the right thing and have no inkling they are doing otherwise.

    1. Megan, the flower girls can be part of the procession for the same reason that all the brides maids and groomsmen can.

      It is also important to note that I'm not saying everyone is bad for doing it different than what the Church asks ... Most people just don't know what the Church asks.

  3. Good luck with that. If you want to see bug eyed ugly, deny a bride her right to her Princess fantasy.

  4. I had no idea! Thanks for sharing Father I will pass this along.