Catholic wedding vows are a great way to personalize your big day with a bit of your culture and religious background.
Understanding Catholic Wedding Vows
While the world is full of devout Catholics, it is also a religion many Americans are raised in but do not regularly practice. If you are a non-practicing Catholic, it is important that you realize the importance and meaning behind Catholic vows. Any religious tradition or ritual added to a wedding should never be taken lightly, especially if it is a faith found within your family, which may make it extremely symbolic and special to not only you and your spouse, but to other family members as well.
Traditional wedding vows are usually derived from two sources - the Holy Bible and oral tradition within the church that has been formed into what Catholicism practices today. While the vows can be scripturally based, the words of the priest are also integral to a Catholic wedding ceremony. This combination of biblical basis with church tradition is what makes Catholic vows exceptionally unique.
Below are a few other examples of this uniqueness, as well as ways to make your Catholic wedding especially memorable.
How it Works
The focal point of Catholic wedding vows is often found in the words of the priest. Since most Catholic weddings involve a regular mass, the priest is center stage for the majority of the ceremony. The priest has basically three main jobs during the vows.
Rite of the Nuptials
During this first portion of the vows, the priest usually asks both the bride and groom if they are freely offering themselves to each other in marriage. He then requests for them to promise to honor and cherish each other as a married couple, and also for them to embrace the children given to them and to raise them up in the Catholic Church.
During the secondary portion of the vows, the couple makes a declaration before the Catholic Church. They are then blessed by the priest and the vows are read. Catholic vows can both be ultra-traditional or written uniquely by the bride and groom themselves. It is completely up to the preference of the couple what the vows say, though many devout Catholics choose to go the more traditional route.
Blessing of the Rings
Lastly, the priest blesses the rings and the exchange is made. The priest can now pronounce the couple as officially married by the power of the Catholic Church and whatever state the wedding takes place.
Since the Catholic faith is so diverse and modified by various regions throughout the world, many American Catholics like to add in their own heritage's tradition and personal flair.
Many Irish Catholics enjoy a Gaelic blessing from their priest. This can be something added to your vows as well if you are looking for individuality in your Catholic wedding vows. They also may choose to exchange Celtic bands rather than the traditional gold and diamonds found in most Western affairs. Lastly, Irish music such as bagpipes or a fun jig can add a memorable flair to your reception. Many women even purchase wedding gowns embellished with Celtic designs to carry the Irish theme throughout.
Italian Catholics often follow the rule of vows and ceremony taking place in the morning. Most Roman Catholics in Italy prefer morning weddings, as it leaves plenty of time for an afternoon/evening reception. Another unique addition to Roman Catholic vows can be found in an Italian prayer or a popular Roman hymn sung right before the exchanging of rings. Food is also an integral part of an Italian Catholic wedding, and traditional food lists can be found easily online or through your oldest living Italian relative.
While there are very few rules to follow when planning your wedding, if you are intending to exchange Catholic vows, remember it is often required both bride and groom are confirmed Catholics.
If you did not go through this process as a child but wish to, there are Catechism courses available for adults throughout the year at most major parishes. These can demand a few months of study, while others can be expedited if it is near the set wedding date.
Catholic wedding vows can be a beautiful addition to any wedding, whether you decide to marry within the Church or at your favorite destination locale. Rich in tradition and valued by many families, this recognition of the Catholic faith will assure a beautiful and memorable ceremony.