What is Marriage?
God who created us out of love also calls us to love - this is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.
For we are created in the image and likeness of God who is love. The mutual love of man and woman becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves humanity.
Marriage is an “intimate community of life and love … established by the Creator... God himself is the author of marriage." Gaudium et Spes 48. This communion of spouses is ordered to the good of the spouses and the good of children.
Marriage between baptised persons is a sacrament.
A Catholic Wedding
Cultural ideas of marriage are shaped by popular movies and televised royal weddings. Couples want their marriage ceremony to be unique and personal. The bride and groom often expect to be able to prepare their own marriage ceremony, including writing their own vows and using songs that are personal favourites.
However marriage in the Church is not the private celebration of the couple or their families and friends. The Rite of Marriage is the official ritual of the Church, so the Church regulates its celebration.
The priest or deacon who celebrates the wedding will help prepare the couple for the marriage, complete the necessary documentation and prepare the wedding ceremony.
Why Marry in a Catholic Church?
The question of where to hold the wedding is an important one which couples need to talk about together.
Sometimes couples want to be married in a church because of social pressure or family tradition. These are not sufficient reasons in themselves for choosing a church wedding.
A church is the appropriate venue for the marriage of those who believe in Christ and who wish to celebrate publicly God’s blessing of their union.
Catholic Wedding Structure
The Catholic rite of marriage is structured as follows:
Introductory Rites - After the entrance procession, the minister greets and welcomes the people and prays the opening prayer.
Liturgy of the Word - A reading from scripture is followed by the singing of a psalm and the reading of the gospel. Then in the homily the priest or deacon speaks of marriage.
Liturgy of Marriage - After an introduction and some questions addressed to the couple, they declare their consent to marry. This is followed by the blessing and exchange of rings, and prayers of intercession. The Nuptial Blessing and Lord’s Prayer follow.
Liturgy of Eucharist - If the marriage is celebrated during Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist follows. It incorporates the Lord’s Prayer and Nuptial Blessing.
Concluding Rites - The priest blesses the couple and the people. The marriage register is signed.
Within the structure of the ceremony, you are able to choose readings, prayers and music to make your marriage a special celebration.