Catholic Wedding Celebration Guidelines
“Unnecessary parts” of the wedding ceremony prompted Cebu Archdiocese’s officials to come up with new guidelines for the sacrament of marriage. Msgr. Achilles Dakay, archdiocesan media liaison officer, said the new rules will be implemented to do away with “the numerous extras, especially created by wedding planners, that are not supposed to be included in the liturgy.” The new guidelines took effect in Easter 2007.
Place of Wedding Celebration
- All Catholic wedding rites are to be held only in Parish Churches or Parish Community Chapels.
- The local policy prohibits celebration of weddings in school chapels, hotels, restaurants, offices, underwater/mid-air, gardens and parks, resorts, shrines, house of formation and oratories of religious congregations.
- The bride and the groom should be practicing Catholics and had undergone the Baptismal and Confirmation rites of the Catholic church.
- The bride and groom should undergo a canonical interview with the parish priest and the Pre-Cana seminar at least 2 months prior to the wedding day
- The time element given to the parish priest for the wedding preparation should be at least two months before the wedding.
Music is a very important part of the wedding liturgy. Music is a form of prayer that allows the community to more fully participate in the wedding.
- The suitability of texts sung at the wedding liturgy is an important consideration. The Christian concept of “love” is characterized by commitment and fidelity, supported by love of Christ. Popular love songs often stress only the couple and exclude God’s role in a marriage. These songs would be more appropriately preformed at the wedding reception. Only sacred music is allowed to be sung during the wedding and WITHIN the Church building.
- Secular and popular music (love songs from the hit parade) is not allowed during the liturgy and WITHIN the church building.
- The music should also suit the place in the rite and the liturgy season.
- The members of the entourage are to consider the sacredness of the whole wedding liturgy. Thus, they should wear appropriate attire for the said occasion.
- The bride’s dress and that of the entourage should be to designed as to cover especially the shoulders and the back. Dresses should be below the knees and should have no slits.
Photographers and Videographers
- Photographers and Videographers are not allowed in the Sanctuary during the service but should keep to the side aisles, behind the pew line.
- Professional photographers and those videotaping should be appropriately dressed and are asked not to move around during the liturgy.
- During the processional and recessional, photographs may be taken from the pews by anyone in the assembly.
- No cameras of any kind are allowed in the sanctuary during the service.
- Video cameras should be stationary. A tripod may be set up.
- No taping of cord to the floor is allowed. No tape on wood is allowed. No taping to the tile is allowed.
- Movement by the photographer / videographer should not distract from the ceremony.
- No extra lights are to be brought into the Church without previous arrangement with the Parish Priest.
- Wedding Coordinators, photographers and videographers must be licensed by the Commission on Worship.
- No missalettes are to be used during the Liturgy. Only official liturgical hooks are to be used
Flowers and Decorations
- The Church is usually decorated according to the liturgical season of the year.
- Pew candle lamps are not allowed.
- Moderation should be practiced. The Altar and the Lectern should always stand out with dignity.
- No Arcs and Canopies may be place in the Sanctuary or entrance of the Church.
Observance of Cleanliness
- The use of rice, bird seed, confetti, flowers and petals are forbidden in any Catholic Church and Church grounds in the Archdiocese. It is also forbidden to use or do any other rites and symbols related fertility.
- Releasing of doves, balloons, butterflies and bubbles during or after the ceremony inside or outside the Church is also not allowed.
The Gathering and Procession
- The entrance procession can take several forms and should not be limited of the customs of the bride being escorted by neither her father, nor another significant male relative and “giving away ritual” which originated in an early practice where this gesture actually mean the “transfer of ownership” of the bride from the father to the husband. This tradition was traced back when women were just considered as one of the “property.” The church wants to emphasize that women are equal to man and is not just a “thing” to be given away. While many consider this “traditional” from desirable, couples are encouraged to consider the other forms for the procession, like letting the bride walk alone and met by the groom by the altar or the groom escorting the bride herself to the altar of which may appropriately signify the action of two adults freely pledging themselves in marriage and not just a mere ritual of a transfer of ownership.
- The groom and his parents as well as the bride and her parents may be part of the entrance procession, along with other ministers of the liturgy.
- The ring bearer and flower girls should not be less than 5 years old. Witnesses (Sponsors) must be practicing Catholics and should be in good standing in their respective parishes.
- An opening hymn may be sung by all as a fitting way to gather the assembly for the celebration
- The wedding liturgy may take place on any day of the year with certain exceptions. Though the wedding liturgy is not prohibited during the seasons of Advent and Lent, these are more subdued seasons and other times of the year are appropriate for the festive nature of a wedding. Marriage is never allowed during Holy Week. Parish activities may also restrict certain dates and times.
Liturgy of the Word
- The Lectionary for the Rite of Marriage provides a variety of scripture readings for use at weddings. Selecting the scripture readings can be done by the couple with careful reflection and discussions guided by the officiating priest. The choices of the scriptures are limited to the Lectionary.
- Only official lectors and psalmists are allowed to read the readings. Members of the choir are allowed to do the Psalm for as long as they are trained psalmists of the Archdiocese. In all masses this role must be upheld and respected by refraining from arbitrary giving of assignment to non-lectors especially at weddings. (Guidelines for the Eucharist in the Archdiocese of Cebu #B 15)
- The Lectionary should be used for the proclamation of all the scriptures, not loose sheets or program booklets. The Gospel Book may be used for the proclamation of the Gospel.
- The Lectionary provides several choices for Responsorial Psalms. The psalm ought to be sung, with the assembly joining in the antiphon. The psalm may not be substituted by any other song.
- The Lectors and Psalmist are to wear prescribed robe for the Liturgical celebration.
- By traditional, the function of proclaim the readings, and a Deacon or in his absence, a priest other than the celebrant should announce the Gospel (cf. GIRM 2000 #59)
- No commentators and commentaries are allowed except by the presiding priest.
The Rite of Marriage
- The Rite of Marriage includes the statement of intent and the exchange of vows and rings. The Rite of Marriage provides the forms to be used. Individual couples are prohibited from composing their own vows or reword the formula provided for the Rite of Marriage as approved in the Archdiocese.
- There is to be no unity candle or bible blessing or any other extraneous rites added. Only the Rite of Marriage in the Philippines is to used as approved in the Archdiocese.
- Yugal is a symbol of the Bonds of love (ref. Hosea). Therefore, these should be cords made of either fibers or synthetic materials. These should not be made of coins or of rosaries. Coins should be loose and placed only in a pouch not in cages.
- The General Intercession concludes the Rite of Marriage. These Intentions should follow the same order as the Intercession at a Regular Sunday; Eucharist; the Church, the world, that in need, those intentions for this assembly, for the soul of the dead especially related to the couple. While it is the role of the deacon to proclaim the intercessions should not be long. It has to have a maximum of 5 intentions.
- If the Creed is required it is to be recited after the General Intercession.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
- There should be no offertory procession when a sacrament or another rite is celebrated within the mass. This is also prohibited because it takes away the importance of the bridal procession, the nuptial procession and recession.
- To signify the participation of the Sacrament of Marriage in the mass two candles are lit, one at the right and the one at the left side of the couple. (Cf. Marriage rite for the Philippines). This is done during the singing of the Sanctus.
- After which, the friends of the couple lay a white veil on the shoulders of the groom and head of the bride; of preferred, the veil of the bride may be laid across the groom’s shoulders.
- The cord will be placed in the form of an eight over the shoulders of both. Choir can repeat Sanctus until this rite is done.
- The veil and the cord may be removed during the Lamb of God or after the final admonition.
- The couple may receive communion under both species. The communion of the bride and groom will be given by the priest only. It is forbidden for them to give communion to each other.
- Nuptial and final blessings should be done by the presiding priest only.