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Bride and Groom Holding HandsCatholic Wedding Traditions

In many cases a marriage is recognized both by a church and the state. While the legal requirements for a wedding are established by the state, many couples wish to follow certain religious traditions to have their marriage recognized in their church as well. In the Catholic religion marriage is considered sacred and is one of the sacraments of the faith. The Catholic Church puts forth their own requirements for a marriage to be recognized in the eyes of the church.

One of the most important aspects of a Catholic wedding is the location. Many couples may wish to be married in an outdoor ceremony but it is important to realize that an outdoor wedding would not be recognized by the Catholic Church. The purpose of holding your wedding ceremony is to demonstrate that you are seeking God’s blessing and influence in your marriage. For this reason the Catholic Church does not recognize any marriage ceremonies that are held outside of a church. While you will still be legally married in accordance with all state guidelines your marriage will not be recognized by the church.

A Catholic wedding does not have to include a Mass as part of the wedding. The church will recognize a union that is performed in a church and by a priest without the full Mass. Many couples will opt for a full Mass to have the opportunity to receive additional blessings during their wedding. A wedding that includes a full Mass can be slightly over an hour long in terms of length. A wedding that does not include a Mass can be approximately 20 minutes long and usually includes readings, hymns and psalms as well as blessings from the priest but does not include a celebration of the Eucharist.

Another Catholic wedding tradition requires that previous marriages receive an annulment before the couple can be married in the church. Even if the previous marriage was not held in the church or recognized by the church, they still require an annulment before they will perform a marriage ceremony. In this situation a divorce decree is not enough. The previously married party will have to seek an annulment that verifies that the previous marriage was not valid.

The music of a Catholic wedding also holds quite a bit of tradition. While religious music is encouraged, many churches will allow secular music as long as it is approved by the priest prior to the wedding. Although there are many beautiful love songs that have been written over time, it is important to understand that since a Catholic wedding takes place inside of God’s domain, many priests are hesitant to allow any music that might be offensive. They take extra precautions to ensure that the music will be appropriate and that guests will not be offended. The easiest way to avoid this problem is to not include secular music in a Catholic wedding.

One additional tradition of the Catholic Church is requiring the couple to attend pre-marital counseling sessions, sometimes called Pre-Cana. These are extremely worthwhile because they give the couple the forum for talking about various serious issues. This time honored tradition of the Catholic Church goes a long way in ensuring that the couple is right for each other and that their marriage will last. These sessions are usually hosted by a priest and can also include young married couples who testify to the joys and tribulations of marriage. These can be either individual or group sessions and include weekly or monthly sessions or may be one intensive weekend of counseling.

Both parties do not have to be Catholic in order to have their wedding recognized by the Catholic Church. It is required, however, that at least one member of the couple be an active member of a Catholic Church. The non-Catholic party, however, is required to participate in the required pre-marital counseling in order to ensure that the church will recognize the union. Additionally, if either party was married previously, they would have to seek an annulment before they could be married in the church.

In order for a marriage to be recognized by the Catholic Church it is important to adhere to certain traditions. These traditions include location, music selections, seeking annulments for previous marriages and participating in church sanctioned counseling sessions.

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