The few months of planning before a wedding can be far from peaceful. Planning a wedding can be particularly difficult because it involves not only your future spouse, but your family, your spouse’s family, your friends, and your parish Priest. Most couples start out trying to not hurt anyone’s feelings and to accommodate everyone’s idea of what your wedding day should be. Negotiating these potential mine fields can turn a wedding into one of the most anxiety-ridden events of your life.
One of the issues is that people view a wedding as a cultural event, not a religious one. And usually it is the cultural aspects of the wedding which rule the day and the religious aspects get lost in the shuffle. You may think you are planning your own wedding ceremony but more often than not, and without even knowing it, you are basing your plans on someone else’s wedding day, what you saw at a friend’s wedding, or images from your favourite movie or reality TV show.
Couples often try to accommodate too many extremes in order to keep the peace, or they bring in too many “extras” to enhance the liturgy only to find that what they want is not acceptable by the Church’s standards.
During this period of planning, try and be aware of the cultural, familial and personal influences that are guiding your choices. Some can contribute to making this a meaningful and prayerful event, but we have seen many couples who overloaded the simplicity of the marriage rite with extras that distracted from the commitment they were making and rendered the marriage liturgy mundane and disappointing.
What will you be doing?
Your marriage is first and foremost a sacrament. Through your wedding vows, you will make known the loving presence of God as revealed through Christ and His Church. You should be concentrating on the unity you will be bringing into your lives, your commitment, and the blending of two people into one.
The Priest will help you plan your wedding liturgy. He will help you to see the sacramental nature of this day. He will discuss with you those things that will not be allowed to interfere with the sacredness of the ceremony.
What do you believe?
Your wedding liturgy communicates what you believe. What you do in the liturgy demonstrates this. So, speak your vows loudly and clearly, respond to the prayers and the songs. Your attention to each other and the sacrament is more precious than posing for photos.
A wedding ceremony is not a staged event in which only a few have starring roles. These guidelines are meant to help you make this a sacred day. The Priest will suggest some things which will seem new and different to you, but they are true to the Church and to the faith of the worshipping community.
The Essential Symbol
You are the essential symbol of the sacrament, not the arches made of flowers, not the dress nor the rings. You, your love, and your commitment to each other are the essential symbols and the liturgy is designed around this fact. Filling up the Church with distracting clutter and over the top wedding decor diminishes your role. You are the minister of the sacrament, not the Priest. You are the one who speaks the words that bring about the reality of the sacrament. Your consent made before God and before your guests make this a marriage. Everything else is window dressing and, if not properly attended to, can detract from the sacredness of the sacrament.