It may seem silly to read this title, because of course a Catholic bride and groom will be incorporating their faith into wedding planning. It is kind of a no-brainer, right?
Hear us out.
It takes intentional decision making to plan a marriage as beautiful as your wedding day.
To the outside world, getting married in a church is “enough.” Yet the Catholic couple knows that getting married is more than viewing the church as merely a venue and that getting married is more than being simply taking “the next step” in the relationship. Marriage is a true vocation. It is bigger than the bride and groom themselves. This is is why they make their vows before God and ask for His outpouring of graces on the lifetime of sacrificial love that awaits. In order to fully enter into the sacrament of marriage, it requires that the bride and groom invest time into spiritual preparation too.
So here are 10 ways a Catholic bride and groom can incorporate their faith into the wedding planning process from the moment you become engaged.
A lot of this depends on when your favorite feast days fall within the calendar year and on the availability at your church. However, choosing to get married on a feast day is a great way of entrusting your relationship to the saint’s intercession. I remember walking into our own church with the goal in mind: we would try to get married on either the Feast of the Sacred Heart, the Feast of the Immaculate Heart, or we would simply wait until October for a fall wedding as our back-up plan. Since the Sacred Heart was open and the others were already taken, we trusted this was meant to be part of God’s plan for us. The bonus of this (beyond the inherit beauty of the symbol of Christ’s heart as the image of marriage) was that this is a feast day that moves with Easter… SO we get to celebrate our anniversary not just once, but TWICE each year. Once on the feast day itself and always again on our wedding day of June 23. Win-win!
Many couples will choose a prayer that they pray together during their season of engagement. The prayer they pick ranges from a litany, the rosary, or asking for the intercession of a particular saint. As a little girl I remembered my grandpa sharing a sweet story about when he was courting my grandma in the 1950s. He shared that while most couples end their dates with a kiss goodnight, he and my grandma would pray the Memorare prayer together at the end of theirs. Hearing this MELTED my heart. It was a profound insight into their relationship and is as true today as it was then. This became the perfect model for us to follow.
An elegant addition to your wedding invitation, program, or save the date can be the inclusion of a symbol of faith. One of our brides added the marian symbol to the back of her invitation suite. It was subtle yet beautifully profound in its meaning. As photographers, we were also able to use this as a background when styling their wedding rings during the getting ready pictures to further showcase the symbolism of their marriage in Christ.
A simple way to add a touch of your faith to the wedding day is to wrap your rosary around your bouquet. This could be the one you use daily, a family heirloom, or it may be a new gift from the groom (hint hint). We’ve also seen a beautiful alternative to this of attaching a miraculous medal or one of your patron saint to the satin wrap around the bouquet.
Ask your priest on this one, but many will allow you to bring and place a special crucifix on the altar that gets blessed during your nuptial mass. You can then take this crucifix home and hang it on the wall as another tangible symbol of your vows.
Bring a bouquet of flowers after your vows to each of the Mary and Joseph altars. It is a beautiful offering and tribute to the Holy Family. Not to mention, it is also a great opportunity to silently reflect on the reality that you are husband and wife as the choir sings the Ave Maria. It’s most common to bring flowers to only the Mary altar, but we think St. Joseph gets left out too often so if you have the option to leave flowers with him too, do it!
Many people will ask you in the wedding planning stages, “what can I do to help?” Honestly, the thing that is the most helpful and long-lasting is to pray for the bride and groom. My brother introduced me to this idea of inviting the wedding party to pray with him and his soon-to-be wife in the 9 days leading up to their wedding. We followed St. Josemaria Escriva’s Novena for a Happy and Faithful Marriage. They sent a group text to their wedding party on each of the nine days with a daily reflection and prayer. Since this particular novena has two different prayers (one for the engaged and one for those married), it can also be a great exercise to renew this novena each year leading up to your anniversary.
Especially if you are getting married on a Marian feast day, consecrating yourselves and your relationship to Mary is a perfect addition that can be incorporated directly into the mass. It is important to note that the consecration process can be completed leading up to any marian feast day – doesn’t have to be your wedding. St. Louis de Montfort coined the consecration to Mary in his writings called True Devotion. This 33-day process leads you through understanding how the most sure way to Christ is through his mother, Mary. The traditional consecration process gets more intense as each week goes on by adding several litanies and a daily rosary. If you’re up for that challenge, go for it! However, this might be a lot to do in the midst of wedding planning and so we would recommend instead following Michael Gaitley’s simplified retreat-style book called 33 Days to Morning Glory. This book leads you into the consecration with short reflections that examine the works of four saints (St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. John Paul II, and St. Theresa of Calcutta) who followed de Montfort’s example of entrusting their lives to Mary’s powerful intercession.
I often get overwhelmed by the beauty in prayer as the sisters, mamas, friends, brothers, fathers, nieces, nephews, and the like gather together around the bride and groom to pray over them in the final moments before they walk down the aisle. Family and community are essential ingredients for life post-cana so being surrounded by them in the final moments before the ceremony are a wonderful way of showing support and keeping Christ at the center of all of your relationships.
Several weddings we have attended as both guests and photographers have placed prayer cards at each table setting as wedding favors. Not only do the guests get a beautiful icon to take to their home, but they are invited in to continue praying for your marriage past the wedding day. The ones we’ve seen most often include either an image of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts, the Holy Family, or a patron saint.
Everyone will tell you that the wedding day FLIES by SO fast. And it’s true. To help, we value carving out as much time as possible throughout the day to be together during this exciting, life-changing celebration. One way to do that is to head straight to the adoration chapel after the priest says you may now kiss the bride! You will be feeling a lot of emotions as you recess out of the sanctuary now married! Let the reality of it sink in and offer a prayer of thanksgiving with your spouse!
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Leave a comment with what inspired you for your own wedding and other beautiful ways you’ve seen faith incorporated into Catholic weddings.