So This Mass Thing…

Hands and Bible

For someone who grew up Catholic, I’ve been to surprisingly few Catholic weddings. And by few, I mean two. One was my uncle’s wedding when I was a senior in high school, and one was Nicole’s wedding in August. I don’t remember a ton about the first ceremony, so I was surprised this summer when I saw the order of the wedding Mass.

Apparently, this is the traditional order for a nuptial Mass:


Gathering Song
Opening Prayer


First Reading
Responsorial Psalm
Second Reading
Gospel Acclamation
Gospel Reading


Exchange of Vows
Blessing and Exchange of Rings
Prayer of the Faithful
The Lord’s Prayer
Sign of Peace


Preparation of Gifts
Offertory Song
Eucharistic Prayer
Nuptial Blessing and Dismissal
Closing Song/Recessional

Besides the fact that it looks really long when it’s spelled out like that, what seems odd about this arrangement? The actual marriage part, with the exchange of vows and all that good stuff, is right smack in the middle of the Mass before Communion. I’m not a fan of this plan. It seems awkward and disjointed, like we’re just randomly sticking a wedding where it doesn’t belong. I’m used to the flow of Mass, and messing with it will make me go all Rainman on you.

I also think it’s kind of anti-climactic to say “I do” and exchange rings… then have the “Our Father,” the sign of peace, the preparation of gifts, Communion… It just takes all the fun and excitement out of “I now pronounce you husband and wife”! Haven’t you seen the movies? When the priest says that, we’re supposed to kiss and process triumphantly out of the church to trumpet fanfare and swelling violins. And perhaps there would be some sort of dove release. Fireworks would work as well. I like a good plot line, and this doesn’t cut it!

Has anyone ever changed this order, or is it set in stone? And am I just being overly picky?


1 oliver { 11.13.08 at 11:29 am }

i think the reason you never see it in movies is because they prefer not to show the tell-all sign of a catholic mass (communion) just my thought.

2 Ide { 11.13.08 at 11:36 am }

I would assume that the Mass’ order is set in stone, because marriage is a sacrament. Despite being raised Catholic and attending parochial school, I have never been to a Catholic wedding and was also really surprised to see the vows smack-dab in the middle. Haven’t they ever seen the movie version?

I was really curious about that as well, so I tried to look it up online. Couldn’t find anything about straying from the traditional service, but the official policy on a Catholic marrying a non-Catholic made me throw up a little in my mouth.

3 Ide { 11.13.08 at 11:44 am }

Actually, having read more closely, it looks like it is possible to have a Catholic ceremony without the full Mass. This service eliminates the Liturgy of the Eucharist, essentially ending the service after the exchange of vows and the blessing. It sounds short, sweet and awesome…but isn’t really a wedding Mass. I suppose it would depend on how many Catholics will attend and how important it is to the families.

4 Gillian { 11.13.08 at 11:55 am }

I have heard of this abbreviated Catholic wedding, but I’ve never seen it in action. You know how I like short, sweet and to the point. Inverted pyramid, people!

5 Nicole { 11.13.08 at 12:13 pm }

Totally IS disjointed! That’s how our two grandmas, who’ve been to more Catholic masses between the two of them than, shit, I don’t even know, were able to somehow forget when they were supposed to go and present the gifts. Awkward! I was going to tell you about that whole thing how you could just have a Catholic wedding ceremony and not have a mass. Totally up to how much that will bug the families. I actually think you MIGHT be able to change the placement of the Rite of Marriage during your mass if your priest is down.

6 Kathleen { 11.13.08 at 12:13 pm }

Ah the abbreviated Catholic wedding. Patrice & PJ’s wedding this summer was abbreviated. Her family is Catholic, his Baptist. And they had to compromise. Catholic ceremony, but not the full Mass. It was quite lovely and short. And they did process triumphantly out shortly after the vows… though I don’t recall the trumpet fanfare and swelling violins.

7 Heather { 11.13.08 at 1:02 pm }


I am no expert but I too had a catholic mass. The summer before our wedding, we went to our friends wedding that was a catholic mass. Neither of us changed the order. At there wedding though, they were announced man and wife before communion. At our wedding we did not change the order but were announced man and wife at the end, the kiss the bride thing, the whole bit.

8 Nicole { 11.13.08 at 1:16 pm }

Don’t you want to have the “exit the church” scene that they had in Love Actually? Shit. I’m still jealous of that.

9 Steph Poirier { 11.13.08 at 1:24 pm }

We had such an old priest that he forgot the part where he asks us the questions: ‘are you here willingly, will you have kids and make them catholic’ So old!. And In fact he never even said YOU MAY NOW KISS THE BRIDE. We did vows/rings then communion and during communion Aaron and I were like, “um are we married right now??” haha. At the end of mass with the blessing he did say, “i now present to you Mr.and Mrs. Aaron Smith,” so we decided that we were gonna get a big kiss in anyway. As long as your priest isn’t senile, I think it flows OK for the whole mass. But like everyone says, do you want a whole mass?? or Do you want just the marriage bit? I loved having a mass..

10 mimi { 11.13.08 at 10:38 pm }

Sister Joan, at St. Jospeh’s in Capitola, Cali said that you can re-arrange the ceremony to fit your needs.

Talk to your priest girl.

11 Gillian { 11.14.08 at 10:37 am }

Wow, thanks for all the advice! I’m glad I know so many experts. Brian and I talked about it, and we’re going to do the shortened Catholic ceremony. It will still have the readings and the songs, but it will be a short and sweet format that is more inclusive and comfortable for our non-Catholic guests (there are a lot). I think it’s a happy compromise. Thanks!

12 Jim D. { 11.14.08 at 9:11 pm }

Hey, I am a friend of Gene’s and happened to be looking at your blog. … You can have the vows at the end IF your priest agrees to it. Most will, some won’t. Generally, the older the priest, the bigger the chance they want to stick to the old-time outdated rules and won’t allow change. Good luck.

Jim D.

13 Sebastian { 12.17.15 at 6:35 am }

I never thought I would find such an everyday topic so entirallhng!

14 { 02.28.16 at 12:10 pm }

That’s a cunning answer to a challenging question

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