Category Archives: Ceremony

The Catholic Ceremony, Part 4

Ok, so now that we’ve gotten the actual mass out of the way, it’s time to talk about the music we chose and some traditions that you may or may not have heard of! 

The first thing you should know is that in general, the Catholic Church does not allow recorded or popular (read:  non-church) music to be played during masses.  There may be some exceptions to this rule, but for our church, this is one rule that they definitely follow.  There are several reasons for this, including the fact that the marriage celebration is NOT just the mass—it is the rehearsal, the reception, etc—where there are many opportunities to play popular music.  Makes sense, right?  The entire wedding mass is viewed as a sacrament, and to play popular music would really muddy that up.  That being said, at first, I was afraid we would feel constrained by the musical options we had to choose from…but now that we’ve chosen, I am really happy with everything we’ve picked! 

The church provided us with a list of suggested music, and I am posting it here for you in case you need your own music ideas.  Here is what we chose:

Processional:  Prelude to a Te Deum, by Charpentier

While we’re discussing the processional, there is one thing you should know about Catholic weddings.  In the Roman Catholic rite of marriage, the music does NOT change when the bride walks in.  The ritual calls for a single liturgical procession, which means that the entire processional—groom, parents, bridesmaids, bride, etc. all walk in to the ONE song choice. 

After the processional, everyone sings a hymn.  Of course, we had to choose this one:


AHEM, ok…not that version (though I LOVE that movie!)  This one:

Hymn:  Joyful, Joyful

I’m not going to go through what we chose for the normal parts of Mass—it is pretty standard stuff (but if you have questions or want to know what we chose, please ask!).

For our communion song, we chose One Bread, One Body…which is one of our all-time favorite church songs. 

Communion:  One Bread, One Body by Foley

And finally, our recessional!  We chose a pretty standard wedding choice:

Recessional:  Hornpipe (Water Music)


Yay, I am so excited!  I really love everything we chose and think it will make for a beautiful Mass.  Now, a couple of points to note:

You’ll notice we’re not having a Unity Candle or any other unity-type ceremony.  That is because this is NOT part of the Catholic rite of marriage, something a lot of people do not know.  Your church may allow you to do one if you choose, but it is DEFINITELY not part of the rite, which is why we opted not to do it.  We want to have as authentic a mass as possible.

Another point of note for our church specifically?  We must choose our musicians from the Cathedral.  No hiring of outside musicians is allowed.  We can ask a family member or friend to sing if we really want to, but they must submit a tape that is approved by the Cathedral music director.  We must choose one organist and one cantor from the many who serve the Cathedral during regular Sunday masses. 

So, that brings my discussion of our ceremony to an end.  I hope you’ve learned a little bit more about the Catholic Ceremony along the way!

What types of music did you/are you choosing for your wedding?  Share your ideas in the comments!

The Complete Catholic Wedding Crash Course:
The Liturgy of the Word
The Rite of Marriage
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
Music & Notes

***If you are a Catholic bride who needs some resources, I highly recommend checking out our church’s website.  They have a lot of great material for planning a Catholic wedding!***



Filed under Ceremony

The Catholic Ceremony, Part Three

Last we left off, we talked about the Rite of Marriage during the mass.  Now, we’re moving on to the basic parts of mass that are included in ALL masses in the Catholic Church, not just a wedding mass.  What am I talking about?  The Liturgy of the Eucharist of course!

The Liturgy of the Eucharist is, I would argue, one of the most, if not the most, important part of mass.  This is where we, as Catholics, believe that the bread and wine we are about to eat and drink actually transforms and becomes the body and blood of Christ.  The liturgy of the Eucharist centers upon the altar, which we as Catholics believe is both a place of sacrifice as well as the table from which as Christians we are “fed.”  The themes of sacrifice, thanksgiving and meal dominate this part of the mass. 

Preparation of the Gifts:  Gift bearers will bring up the bread and wine, as well as gifts for the poor (this can be a monetary donation or a basket of goods to be delivered to the local food pantry).  We have chosen our mothers as our gift bearers, as we are not having a unity candle as part of our ceremony (something I will speak to in my next post!).

Prayer over the Gifts:  The priest will perform the rituals of transforming the Eucharist into the body and blood of Christ.

Eucharistic Prayer: The acclamations of this prayer are sung (Holy, Holy; Christ has died; and Amen).  The priest will then continue his prayer and rituals over the Eucharist.

Lord’s Prayer:  Together, everyone assembled prays the Lord’s Prayer.

Rite of Peace:  This is when peace and blessings are shared with those around you.  Usually you will shake hands (or hug those you know) and offer, “Peace Be With You.”  The Sign of Peace always gives me warm fuzzies inside—it’s a great way to connect with other parishioners.  At our wedding, we will go share this greeting with our parents.

Communion:  A song will be sung as those members of the assembly who are Catholic will come forward for communion—a piece of the bread (which is a flat, wafer-like disc), and a sip of the wine (usually blush or red in color). 

Bread and Wine
This what the bread and wine typically look like.
(Click here for the
Fabulous Source of the above photo—
seriously, she is a rocking photog!)

Prayer after Communion:    The priest will lead a prayer of thanksgiving after communion is over.

So, that’s your basic Liturgy of the Eucharist.  After that, the mass is starting to wind down, ending with the Concluding Rite.

Final Blessing & Dismissal:  There is a final blessing of the couple, followed by the dismissal, in which the priest says “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

Presentation of the Couple:  Usually, the formal presentation of the couple occurs right after the words of dismissal.

Recessional:  A festive instrumental is played as we exit the church!

So, there you have it:  A Catholic Wedding Crash Course in three parts.  The whole thing usually lasts about an hour and 15 minutes or so (normal Catholic masses tend to last anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour).  Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post, where I’ll discuss our music selections (yay!) and some weird dos and don’ts the Catholic Church has laid out.

What is/was your ceremony like?  How long did it last?

Catch up here:
Part One
Part Two


Filed under Ceremony

The Catholic Ceremony, Part Two

So, after the Liturgy of the Word, the next part of the Catholic Ceremony is the Rite of Marriage.  It goes a little something like this:

Instruction:  After the homily, the priest will give a short “instruction” on marriage.  This usually flows right from the homily and can even be based on the readings, just as the homily is.

Statement of Intentions/Consent:  The priest will ask the bride and groom publicly to state their intentions concerning:

                         * the freedom of their decision to marry
                         * the permanence of their commitment
                         * the commitment to their family life

Usually, this will be a series of questions that goes like this:

[Name] and [Name], have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?  [We answer yes, or we do.]

Will you love and honor each other as man and wife for the rest of your lives?  [We answer yes, or we do.]

Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?  [We answer yes, or we do.]

Exchange of Vows:  Ah, the moment!  This could actually be considered part of Consent, as we are asked to join our right hands and “declare your consent before God and his Church” (and then we say our vows).  Technically, we are supposed to memorize our vows, but we have chosen to repeat them after the priest, for various reasons:  we like that style better than memorizing, and we want to account for any nerves any of us might have!

Here are what our vows will be (!!!!):

Groom:  I, Dr.  Groomy, take you, Amy, to be my lawful wife.  I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

Bride:  I, Amy, take you, Dr. Groomy, to be my lawful husband.  I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.  I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.

I LOVE THEM.  I always knew we would have traditional vows.  While I love the idea of heartfelt, handwritten vows, there is just something about repeating words that have been said by many others, generations before us, that gets me every time.  This is one area where tradition just feels…so RIGHT to me.  My heart beats fast just writing the vows down here!

Blessing & Exchanging of Rings:  After the vows, the wedding rings are blessed and exchanged.  Each person says the following, while placing the ring on the other’s finger:

[Name], take this ring as a sign of my love and fidelity.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Wedding Bands & DMB 014 (Our rings!)

General Intercessions:  Then comes the general intercessions.  This is also known as the Prayer of the Faithful, or petitions.  We have written prayers based on a specific model that are shared with the assembly as a whole.  After each prayer is read, the assembly responds with “Lord, hear our prayer.”  You can read our intercessions here!

Nuptial Blessing:  The last part of the Rite of Marriage is the Nuptial Blessing.  It can either be sung by the cantor (the person who leads the singing throughout mass) or spoken aloud by the priest.  We have chosen to have our blessing spoken aloud instead of sung.  You can read what our nuptial blessing will be here.

And with that, we will be married…but our mass is only about half over!  Stay tuned for part three, where we celebrate the Eucharist and finish up mass, followed by part four, where I discuss our music and some interesting Catholic dos and don’ts. 

What kind of vows did you have?

Missed the first part of my Catholic Wedding Crash Course?
Catch up here.


Filed under Ceremony

The Catholic Ceremony, Part One

We finalized our ceremony last week and I am so excited about it!  It is all finally starting to feel real, if you know what I mean!  I think that sometimes, with long engagements, it feels like your wedding day is never going to come.  I am so happy and excited to say that we are now 39 DAYS AWAY!

As I’ve mentioned previously, Dr. Groomy and I are having a full Catholic mass for our ceremony.   This was really important to us.  I am a pretty liberal person and while I don’t agree with all of the Church’s teachings (and in fact, I think some of them are downright archaic), my faith is really important to me…and it’s really important to both of us, as a couple.  I thought I’d give you guys a quick breakdown of what a Catholic Wedding Mass is like.  Now, Catholic masses are generally long, and the wedding mass even moreso.  This post will be broken up into a few separate posts so I don’t bore you too much!  Let’s get started, shall we?  Welcome to your crash course in Catholic weddings!

The outside of our lovely church.  Sooo excited!

Introductory Rites:  This includes the Gathering of the Assembly (when ushers will greet and seat guests), as well as the Procession (which I will speak about more in depth when I post about our music selections), the Opening Hymn (which everybody sings), and the Opening Prayer.

Liturgy of the Word:  This is all of our readings.  When I first was writing this post, I had listed out all of the readings, with explanations for why we chose them.  This got really boring, really quick, and it was hard for me to explain in depth why we chose them…so I decided to just give you a quick rundown of each (Note:  For people who are against organized religion or have issues with Catholicism, it would be hard to explain in depth why we chose certain readings.  Frankly, I don’t feel like getting into a discussion about it on the blog, though I gladly will discuss via email and share our reasoning with anyone who wants to comment or email me!).

First Reading:  The first reading is always from the Old Testament.  We selected Sirach, Chapter 26, Verses 1-4 & 13-16.  Click on this link to read it.  Basically, we picked this reading as reminder to each other that we are the most important thing in each other’s lives (yes, even before children, which could be a whole ‘nother blog post in and of itself.  I will gladly get into our reasoning about this another time, if you guys are interested.  Suffice it to say, I read a lot of new mommy blogs and sometimes I just want to scream at the women, “Um, you still have a husband you know!”). 

Responsorial Psalm:  This is a psalm that is sung after the first reading.  It is chanted by the cantor (who leads the assembly in singing throughout the mass) and includes a refrain that everyone sings.  We chose Psalm 103, The Lord is Kind & Merciful.  Click here to listen to an excerpt.

Second Reading:  The second reading is always from the New Testament.  We chose Romans, Chapter 15, Verses 1b-3a, 5-7, and 13.  Again, this reading offers advice to those entering marriage.  The reading speaks about learning to love not just each other’s strengths, but also faults, and striving to be a supportive partner.  Click here to read it!

Gospel Acclamation:   A series of Alleluias coupled with a short psalm that is sung by everyone.

Gospel:   We chose Matthew, Chapter 5, Verses 13-16.  Click here to read.  This gospel talks about selfless love, and reminds us that although we are the center of attention on our wedding day, we need to continue to be a light or beacon for others even after that day, by showing caring, concern, and love to our friends, family, and those in need.

Homily:  Here, the priest digests and explains the readings for all those present.  Our priest, Father Mike, is awesome and we are so excited to hear what he has to say on our wedding day.

Next up, the Rite of Marriage.  Stay tuned!

OMG we will be standing there in 39 DAYS getting married!  Yay!

What kind of ceremony are you having/did you have?


Filed under Ceremony


As many of you know, Dr. Groomy & I are having a full Catholic mass for our wedding ceremony.  We are active members in our church and it was really important to us—and to our families—that our faith was a part of our wedding ceremony.  So, with a Catholic mass comes Catholic Wedding Prep!  I previously talked a little about that here and here, but today I thought I would talk about another big component of the wedding preparations…the FOCCUS Pre-Marriage Inventory, or FOCCUS Test.

FOCCUS stands for Facilitating Open Couple Communication, Understanding and Study.  According to the FOCCUS website, “The FOCCUS© Pre-Marriage Inventory is not a test and is not used to predict marital success or failure. Rather, it is a tool used to help couples identify, discuss and work through important relationship issues before they get married.”  Basically, it’s a set of 156 questions designed to get you and your partner talking about a lot of the things that go into making a marriage work.  It’s created by a private company, FOCCUS Inc. USA, but has a lot of questions that lead back to some of the church’s teachings.  A lot of the questions are pretty typical stuff—things about finances, having & raising children, etc., but there are also some off the wall-type questions too.  Here’s a few examples I clipped while taking my test:

Foccus 1
This is what the screen looks like while you’re taking the test.

Foccus 2

Foccus 3

Foccus 4

Foccus 5

Foccus 6
(Source for all of the above)

Truth?  I laughed out loud at some of the questions.  Another truth?  Some of them were really thought-provoking.  It was interesting to talk with Dr. Groomy about some of them and it really did facilitate communication.

So, after you take the test, our church has you meet with an older married couple to go over some of the things that might need to be discussed between you and your partner.  We had a great time with them and they gave us lots of good pointers and tips (they were in their 60s and had been married for many many years).  I did feel, however, that it was sort of hard to hear them comment on how we could communicate better when a) they don’t really know us and b) we’ve been living together for nearly 5 years.  Example:  they wanted to know how we planned to merge our finances after the wedding, since we had both said on our FOCCUS test that it hadn’t really been discussed.  Well, the merging of our finances hadn’t really been discussed because we don’t plan to merge them right away.  We both bank at the same bank and share an auto loan there, and how we’ve been doing it the last five years of living together works for us now.  We plan to share the joint wedding account and eventually merge into that together, but we don’t feel we need to—or want to—do that yet.  Still, that issue was pushed as something we need to continue to discuss and figure out. 

All in all, I would say the FOCCUS test was a good experience, but perhaps better suited for couples who have never lived together before.  A lot of it was about sharing space, learning argument styles, when the partner needs alone time, etc.  Dr. Groomy and I already know that about each other because we have lived together for so long.

Did you take a FOCCUS test or something similar?  What did you learn in your marriage prep?

Learn more about our wedding prep here:
Catholic Ceremony Prep:  Pros and Cons
Engaged Enrichment Conference


Filed under Ceremony

Ceremony Prep: Pros & Cons

Dr. Groomy and I are getting married in the Catholic church.  Both of our families are Catholic, we both went to Catholic schools (me:  just elementary school, Dr. Groomy:  elementary, middle, high school, AND grad school, with a stop at public university for undergrad!), and we both enjoy attending mass together, so it was very important for us to get married in the Church.  I am excited for a beautiful wedding mass, but I have to tell you, getting married in the Catholic church does have its own set of pros and cons.

Hello, gorgeous!  I can’t wait to get married to Dr. Groomy here.

One of the biggest pros, for me at least, is that we don’t have to write our ceremony from scratch.  Our church provides us with a worksheet, options for readings and prayers, and we basically just fill in the blanks.  While some people might not like this lack of freedom in writing the ceremony, I love it—truthfully, it’s one less thing for me to do, yet we still get to pick readings and prayers that speak to us as a couple.  Best of both worlds, in my opinion.  Another big pro?  We will not be writing our own vows, but instead choosing from a few different pre-set options.  For some of you, this may be a huge con, but I have to be honest:  I love the way traditional vows sound and I think it puts a lot less pressure on the bride and groom.  I fully plan to write Dr. Groomy a love letter to go with my wedding gift to him, so it’s not as though we won’t share those mushy, handwritten thoughts anyways.  And again, I just really love traditional vows—there is just something about them that gets me every time!

One of the biggest cons for me is the music selection and policies of our church.  The Cathedral does not allow secular  or pre-recorded music, so there will be no fun processional and recessional choices for us (I’ve always had a secret wish to walk back down the aisle to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder!). In fact, there will be no change of music at all for some parts of the mass—whatever we choose as the processional song, ALL of us will walk into during that music, the bride included.  According to our church’s website, “The Roman rite does not specify a change in music for the entrance of the bride. Since the ritual calls for a single liturgical procession, the same piece you select will be played for the entire wedding processional.”  So, we can’t choose one song for the bridesmaids, something else for the parents, etc. etc.  Whatever song we choose, we will all be walking in to.  In the long run, not a big deal, but I sometimes envy you brides who can pick fun and different songs for each part of the processional and recessional!  The music policies at our church are also pretty strict—all weddings are required to have a church organist play and a church cantor sing.  If we want someone else to sing or play for us, they must audition on a tape and we have to have it approved by the Cathedral music director.

Although the music policies are strict, I have to say that I have really enjoyed planning my wedding at the Cathedral as a whole thus far.  I really love the traditional twist on it all, and the way our church really emphasizes the reasons behind their policies, the music choices, the prayers, the readings, and the entire event.  Not only that, but we love the priest we have chosen to perform our ceremony, the parish is very welcoming, and the people who run the wedding programs are very helpful and organized.  Another great bonus at our church?  They do the wedding programs for you!  One more thing I won’t have to worry about.  The reason they provide the programs is because they include information on the mass, prayers, and song choices, so that those guests attending our wedding who are not Catholic can still participate in some aspects of the mass.  We just fill out a worksheet that includes our bridal party, parents, those we want to remember, and our thank you, and they take care of the rest.  Awesome, right?  I have seen the programs the church provides and they are simple, elegant, and gorgeous—printed on nice ivory paper with script fonts.  If we want to personalize them, I can arrange to pick them up in the month before the wedding to attach a special cover or a ribbon to them.  I am still undecided as to whether we will do this or not!

As you can see, our adventures in planning a Catholic ceremony are moving onwards, regardless of the pros and cons…how exciting!  Every day it feels more and more real to me.  So tell me:  are you having a religious ceremony or a secular one?  What is the ceremony preparation process like for you?


Filed under Ceremony