I’m Catholic and it’s always my dream to hold my wedding in church, because the act of marriage is sacramental to me. Now, I will not go on about what it means spiritually to me, but in this post, I’m going to share some of the things you probably have to take note of. (Married Catholics, feel free to comment. Since I haven’t gone through everything yet, I may have missed out some things.)
Photo from pianofortephilia.blogspot.com
There are several things to take note of for a Catholic wedding, but here is a basic check list:
Before you book the church…
One of you has to be Catholic before you can get married in a Catholic church. You also have to have already completed the Engaged Encounter (EE) or Marriage Preparation Course (MPC) before the wedding takes place.
Keith and I went through the MPC before we were engaged. While many couples choose to only go through it in the midst of their wedding preparation, we wanted to do it before the engagement was announced, to be sure that we knew what we’re in for before we say yes with the proposal ring. But of course, it is up to the individual. I should probably write a separate post on this, but the MPC was a great programme that really benefited Keith and me. If you’re thinking of just “getting over and done with it”, I hope you could uplift the attitude, because after all, you’re planning for a marriage, not just a wedding.
Anyway, another thing you should think about before you head over to book the church is the date. Most churches only do weddings on Saturdays. Also, while it is still done, most priests would not encourage weddings to be held during the Lent or Advent period because it’s a period of repentance and spiritual preparation.
Booking the church
You can technically book any Catholic church for your wedding. Keith and I will be holding ours at St Teresa Church, although we attend Mass at Christ the King (and will make Holy Cross Church our parish after we move into our new place).
Photo from marctey.com
Visit the website of the church of your choice for details on how to go about the booking. Most of the time, you’re required to see the parish secretary personally to do the booking and to pay a token for the facilities.
The priest who’s celebrating your wedding
It’ll be best if you have already asked a priest to celebrate your wedding for you when you do the booking of the church. Because of the busy schedules of priests, some of them may request that the wedding be held at the parish that they serve in. Check with him on this. The contact details of the priests are also available in the link I’ve provided above for the list of Catholic churches.
Three months before the wedding
This is probably the time when you begin to feel the heat of preparations. It is also time to do the following: book the choir, hire a florist and speak to the priest.
The secretary is likely to pass you some notes and contacts regarding the resident choir and florist that you can speak to. Otherwise, you can use any Catholic choir, and any florist. We decided to go with the St Teresa Church ones because we feel that they would know the church best. Your choir and florist should be able to guide you through what to take note of and provide you with songs/flower options.
Your priest will contact you around this time too, to fill in an application form for a church wedding. During this meeting, he will explain the meaning of a Christian marriage to you and then you declare your understanding of what the church teaches about marriage. He would also fill in an ROM form that states that your solemnisation will be done by him. You need to eventually submit this form to ROM.
Some priests may also speak more to you to learn a little about you. This is a good time to ask the priest for any advice and if you need help with choosing the readings for the Mass/service. The priest is very experienced, having celebrated many weddings. He will be able to give you guidance.
Two months before the wedding
Photo from nearby.sg
This is probably the time to decide on your readings and hymns, complete your Mass/service booklets (if you’re intending to have them) and send them off for print. Remember to let the priest approve it before you send it to print. He is definitely more familiar with it than you are.
One month before the wedding
The parish secretary will call you up to arrange for a rehearsal. She will let you know who is involved in the rehearsal and you have to arrange for everyone to be present.
If you’re intending to do a reception after the wedding (like we are), this is also approximately the time for you to confirm your attendees and to shortlist and book a caterer.
I will be posting more about choosing of the readings and hymns, as well as spiritual preparations in later posts once I find the time to I hope this is helpful!