Catholic Wedding Ceremony: Procedure and Traditions


If you want to hold a Catholic wedding ceremony, it is best to consult with your priest or deacon to help you choose the type of ceremony (with or without mass) you should go for. A wedding ceremony is a big deal in the Catholic Church. It is considered as one of the seven sacraments or channels of the grace of God. A lot of symbolism and spirituality is attached to the ceremony.

What to Expect in a Catholic Wedding Ceremony

Catholics celebrate the rite of marriage in 3 different ways. The first is conducted within a Mass whenever two Catholics are getting married. The second is between a Catholic and a baptized Christian. This type of marriage does not include Mass. The third is between a Catholic and non-Christian. It doesn’t include a Mass.

Dress Code

Pick a modest and elegant outfit. Steer clear of short hemlines and plunging necklines. If in doubt, ask your priest for their opinion.



More often than not, you will have to hold the Catholic wedding ceremony at the church where the bride, the groom or their parents belong to. The ceremony is usually held within the confines of the church. If you want to hold it outdoors, you need to seek the permission of the priest.


The Processional Order

During the processional, the best man and the groom enter from the side of the church. The groomsmen then escort the bridesmaids up the aisle closely followed by the maid of honor. Finally, the bride walks down the aisle escorted by her father or another male family member.


Opening Hymn

The priest then requests the guests to join in an opening hymn. You should make sure to talk to your parish’s music minister well in advance to help you pick a hymn. They can also help you get permission to reprint the music in your wedding program. You should note that music that was not written for liturgical prayer is not allowed e.g. “Here comes the bride”.


Reading and Psalm

There is usually an Old Testament and New Testament reading. This is an opportunity to include a loved one in the ceremony. They can read a passage of their choice that is relevant to the wedding. You can then have the guests or church soloist sing the Psalm.


Gospel and Homily

The priest will read from any of the first four books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). They will then expound and reflect on what he read in the Homily part.


Ring and Vows

When saying your vows, you have three choices. You can recite your vows to one another, read them from a book or have the priest read them out for you. Find out whether your priest will allow you to add a couple of lines to the traditional vows. After you exchange vows, you will exchange rings, and the presiding priest will bless them as a symbol of fidelity and love.


The Kiss and Nupital Blessing

After the vows and the ring comes the kiss. If you do not want to go with “you may now kiss the bride”, ask the priest to say what you want. 

At this stage, the priest will pray and bless your union.


Sign of Peace

If the wedding ceremony includes Mass, the priest will ask for the “sign of peace”. The guests shake hands and say “peace be with you” to each other. If there is no mass, the priest tells the congregation “Go in peace with Christ”.



Communion is offered to church members who have attended the ceremony. If there are members of the wedding party who plan to take communion, you should let the priest know well in advance.


The Lord’s Prayer

In a catholic wedding ceremony, everyone will say the Lord’s Prayer in unison.



The offertory can be given by the guests before the processional or just after the recessional. This will, however, depend on the priest. During the offertory, the bride usually places flowers on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s shrine.


Blessings and Dismissal

The priest dismisses the congregation after saying one more blessing. This marks the end of the wedding ceremony.

Catholic Wedding Traditions

You would be surprised to find out that most wedding rituals practiced in the Catholic Church today are actually not path of the official catholic wedding rites. Here is an overview of the wedding tradition associated with the Catholic Church.

Historical Wedding Traditions

While it is considered normal for the bride to be given away by the father, Catholics believe that the bride and groom give themselves to each other as equal partners. This means that the bride and groom should walk in together or be escorted by both their parents. While you hardly ever see this, it is what is recommended according to the Sacrament of Marriage teachings.

New Traditions

This refers to traditions derived from trends in popular culture. Things such as the sand ceremony, improvised vows and the unity candle came into the picture recently and are often used in civil and religious ceremonies. In some Catholic Churches, the unity candle is not allowed. You should consult with your priest on what exactly they allow.

Ethnic Traditions

Some of the catholic wedding ceremony traditions are rooted in various ethnic cultures. These rites and customs often hold a deep meaning to those that practice them. For this reason, they incorporate them into the Catholic Church as long as they do not conflict with the Christian faith. For example, Hispanic families bless and give of coins during the wedding. The Vietnamese honor their ancestors and the Filipino place a cord and veil over the newlyweds. You can incorporate some aspect of your culture in your wedding upon consulting with your priest.

Virgin Mary Traditions

One of the key tenets of the Catholic Church is the spiritual devotion to the Virgin Mary. For this reason, many Catholics pray and lace flowers at an image of Mary during the wedding ceremony.

When you are planning for your catholic wedding, make sure to have every detail planned out including the rituals and rites you will incorporate into your big day. A Catholic wedding ceremony typically takes about an hour. It could go longer depending on the circumstances.