Having been raised in a Catholic household, spent all our youth in a Catholic school, and got married through a Catholic ceremony, me and my husband have lived our whole lives trying to live the teachings of God. So in a way, you can say that we know what we’re talking about when it comes to Catholicism. And in today’s article, we’ll talk about Catholic weddings and how long they usually take.
Catholic weddings can last from 20 minutes to an hour on average, depending on whether or not you will have a mass. If you’re going to have a mass service, your ceremony can take anywhere between 45 to 60 minutes. On the other hand, if you choose to go without a mass, it can take only 20-45 minutes.
Now, if you’re going to have a Catholic wedding ceremony, you should know what goes on in one to understand why it takes as long as it does. You should also know whether or not you should have a mass at your wedding.
What is a Full Catholic Wedding?
Catholic weddings are full of symbolism, tradition, and rituals. They are also very specific with a certain order and structure required. If you attend mass regularly, then you know what we’re saying.
A full Catholic wedding usually takes place within a mass. It’s just like any other mass but with a few rituals for marriage added. Now, to help you understand and know what to expect, here’s everything that goes on in a full Catholic wedding:
The Introductory Rites
Every wedding starts with welcoming the bride and the groom by the priest. Depending on the style of procession chosen, the welcome can happen at the altar or the door of the church. The priest will then greet the couple and congregation, and the opening prayer will begin.
The Liturgy of the Word
In this rite, there can be two or three readings and a Responsorial Psalm, with at least one of them explicitly speaking of marriage. The priest will also share the Gospel and the Homily, which is based on the Scripture, the teachings of the Church on marriage, and the couple itself.
The Celebration of Matrimony
During the celebration of matrimony, the priest will ask the couple a series of questions that revolve around their freedom of choice, faithfulness to each other, and their acceptance and upbringing of children. This is a very solemn moment as the bride and groom take their pledge before God on their intention for a lifelong marriage.
The couple will then exchange their marriage vows, which is considered the heart of the Catholic wedding ceremony. Without this, there is no marriage. After, the rings will then be blessed and given. For Hispanic and Filipino families, there will also be a blessing and giving of the Arras.
The couple will then have to declare the Universal Prayer or the Prayers of the Faithful. If the couple prefers, they can also work with the priest to write their own. Depending on the day of the wedding, the Creed will have to be said or sung as well.
The Liturgy of the Eucharist
At this point of the ceremony, the gifts, which consist of bread and wine, shall be brought to the altar by either the couple or someone else. The Eucharistic Prayer and the Lord’s Prayer will also take place. For Hispanic and Filipino families, the blessing and placing of the veil or lazo is an important tradition.
Once that’s over, the nuptial blessing, the sign of peace, and holy communion will then take place.
The Conclusion of the Celebration
Finally, during the Conclusion of the Celebration, the newly married couple and the congregation will be solemnly blessed by the priest. The ceremony will then be ended, and the recessional will ensue where instrumental music can be played or a hymn can be sung.
Keep in mind that after the mass, the witnesses who are invited to the wedding and the priest will have to sign the marriage record. Now, when all these rites are carried out, the ceremony can last for about 45 minutes to an hour.
Do You Need a Mass in a Catholic Wedding?
Now that you know what a Catholic wedding ceremony with a full mass entails, your probably wondering whether or not you should have one (mass) in yours. Well, this actually depends on your preference and you and your partner’s religion.
For instance, if both the bride and groom are Catholics, it is encouraged that you hold a wedding with a mass. Since you are both baptized, you already share a covenant with Christ and the Church. So it’s only fitting that you get married in “the framework of a liturgical celebration…” as mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1663. Furthermore, the Eucharist is also our primary sacrament as Catholics. So all the other sacraments find their meaning in it, including the Sacrament of Matrimony.
On the other hand, there are many reasons why a Catholic wedding can be held without a mass. For one, if a Catholic marries a baptized non-Catholic Christian. If this applies to you and you wish to hold a wedding with a mass, you can still ask the bishop for permission.
Additionally, a Catholic wedding may be held without a mass if a significant number of the guests are not Catholic or when a priest is not available. In this type of ceremony, there are still the Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, and Celebration of Matrimony. Without the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the duration of the wedding can span from 30 to 45 minutes.
Lastly, there’s also a form of Catholic wedding ceremony wherein a Catholic marries a person who is not baptized or is still preparing for baptism. For this type of wedding, there will be a Rite of Reception (which can also be omitted), Liturgy of the Word, and Celebration of Matrimony. So how long can these types of Catholic weddings last? Well, it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes.