Catholic Wedding Rituals

Roman Catholic weddings have a charm and beauty that add to the significance of the Big Day. The priest in the Church marries the bride and groom. The wedding nuptials (the religious wedding ceremonies) are conducted during a Mass. The congregation includes the immediate family of the couple, close relatives and friends. His Best Man, usually a close friend, accompanies the groom. The Bride's closest friend is chosen to be her Bridesmaid or her Maid of Honour (if she is married). The church choir sings hymns during the wedding mass. The nuptials are followed by a fun-filled reception, where everyone celebrates and joins in to wish the newly-weds.

The Engagement Party Homily
The Announcement Blessing & Exchange of Rings
Attending A Preparatory Course Penitential Rite
Bridal Shower Liturgy of The Word
Bridesmaid's Luncheon Party Prayer of The Faithful
Bachelor's Party Offertory Procession
His & Her's Pre Wedding Party The Communion Rite
The Rehearsal Dinner Nuptial Blessing
Welcoming The Bride The Recessional
The Wedding Mass The Reception
The Engagement Party
The parents of the bride usually host the engagement party. The parish priest conducts the engagement ceremony. The ceremony consists of a brief prayer service. The couple exchanges engagement rings that have been blessed by the parish priest. The ceremony over, there is a small celebration in the form of a formal dinner or cocktail party.
The Announcement
A crucial element in Catholic weddings. On three Sundays before the wedding, the priest announces the proposed matrimonial union of the boy and girl. The purpose of this public announcement is to coerce those who have undisclosed information about either side (that could gravely affect the marriage) to come forward and reveal it before it's too late. If no such information is produced, the couple is free to marry after this three week period.
Attending A Preparatory Course
It is mandatory for the prospective bride and groom to attend a Marriage Preparatory Course. They can choose between a one-day and a three-day course. They must also fill in a form declaring details of their lives and take an oath on the Holy Bible that they have not withheld any information and that they are aware of the duties within a Christian marriage. They must produce their baptism certificates. In the case of a mixed marriage, only the Christian partner is required to produce the baptism certificate.
Bridal Shower
The bridal shower is an informal hen party hosted by the bride's female friends. It is a festive occasion and games are played at this all-girls party. Often, the friends contribute and shower gifts upon the bride.
Bridesmaid's Luncheon Party
The bride hosts a luncheon party for her all her bridesmaids. This is a token of her appreciation for their support. She also gives them gifts and serves a pink cake with a thimble hidden inside. According to tradition, the girl who gets the slice of cake with the thimble in it will be the next to marry.
Bachelor's Party
This is a stag party hosted by the groom for his Best Man (closest aide during the wedding) and friends on the eve of his wedding. Usually this is a wild party, and the groom is expected to enjoy his last night as a bachelor. It is customary to raise a toast before thedrinking begins in earnest. Sometimes, enthusiastic friends break their glass after the toast is raised. This is part of the tradition to ensure that the glasses are not used for a less worthy purpose.
His and Her's Pre Wedding Party
Sometimes the bride and groom decide to forego the bridal shower and bachelor party in favour of a combined party for friends.
The Rehearsal Dinner
The purpose of this dinner is to bring together the families of the bride and bridegroom before the wedding. The groom's family usually hosts it when the expenses for the wedding reception are borne by the bride's parents. The dinner can be an elaborate affair at an exclusive restaurant or just an informal get-together at home.
Welcoming The Bride
On the day of the wedding, the groom sends a car to pick up the girl and waits for her outside the Church. When the bride arrives, the Best Man welcomes her with a kiss on either cheek and hands her a posy of flowers.
The Wedding Mass
The couple walks down the aisle with the wedding procession in tow. The priest begins the ceremony. He welcomes them into the Church and offers them his good wishes. The wedding mass begins with hymns and selected readings from the Bible. Those attending the mass may refer to the liturgy that has been provided by the couple.
The priest delivers the Homily, an interesting lecture with an emphasis on the sanctity of marriage. Often, the priest makes the Homily more interesting by punctuating it with amusing anecdotes. 
Blessing & Exchange of Rings
The priest blesses the wedding rings so that the couple that wears them will have deep faith in each other, do the Lord's will and always live together in peace, goodwill and love. The bride and groom exchange rings with a promise of unconditional love and fidelity.
Penitential Rite
The priest requests the congregation to be silent for a few minutes and confess to God and to one another, personal shortcomings, sins and failures.
Liturgy of The Word
The couple and their close relatives come up to the lectern (podium) and read previously selected passages from the Bible.
Prayer of The Faithful
The priest conducts a prayer service for the couple. He calls upon the Lord to bless the couple so that their love may grow and mature into a deep strong bond and become a blessing for them and for others. He also prays for the friends, families, and the souls of departed relatives of the couple.
Offertory Procession
The couple bring offerings like The Bible, a miniature house modeled out of thermocol, candles and flowers. Each offering has a significance. For example, the flowers represent the beauty and fragrance of God's creation, and the priest asks God to bless the couple so that they spread this beauty and fragrance wherever they go. After the offerings, the priest gives the couple consecrated bread and wine which represent the body and blood of Jesus Christ. The wine is given only on special occasions like marriages. The choir sings an offertory hymn.
The Communion Rite
The congregation receives holy communion. The communion over, the congregation jointly recites the Our Father, a Biblical prayer
Nuptial Blessing
The priest prays for the couple. The bride and groom offer a thanksgiving prayer to God and ask for His blessings. The priest concludes the ceremony with a final blessing followed by prayer. The congregation joins in to bless the couple. The priest and the couple sign the Church register that serves as a valid legal document of marriage. A copy of this document is sent to the Registrar of Marriages
The Recessional
The marriage procession, led by the bride and the groom, walks down the aisle and steps out of the church. The organist plays the tune of the recessional hymn as they walk
The Reception
The reception has plenty of quaint charm attached to it. A live band usually sets the feet tapping and the dance floor is never empty. The newly-weds enter the venue and are welcomed by all with a shower of confetti. They cut the wedding cake and feed each a bite of the first slice. The cake is distributed among the guests. The Toastmaster proposes a toast in honour of the newly-weds. The bride and groom get the evening going with their 'first dance'. This is usually a waltz. Mid-way through their dance, the bride's parents join in. The Best Man and Bridesmaid, and the groom's parents follow them. Soon the guests join the dancing and spend the rest of the evening in keeping time with the music. The couple mingles with the guests, dance some more and say their grace before beginning dinner. Dinner over, the couple leaves the reception. At this juncture the bride must throw her posy of flowers behind her. The girl who catches it will be the first to marry, according to popular belief
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