09 Oct Church Weddings: What to Expect
church weddings: what to expect
Most couples of Christian or Catholic background will hold their wedding in their church. While church wedding ceremonies are similar to a secular one, there are some aspects that might be unfamiliar to those not from a Christian or Catholic background. As the ceremonies differ quite a bit between the two religions, we’ll have two sections. One covering the ceremonies and culture of Christian church weddings, and one for a Catholic church weddings. Here’s what to expect when attending a church wedding.
Choosing a venue is not usually a problem with Christian couples. The majority of Christian couples meet in church, or through church-related activities and events. They will usually attend the same church, and the ceremony will probably be held there. There are exceptions, and some couples might choose another church for its aesthetic, or for other reasons. In any case, the ceremony will be the same, with minor differences. (These differences usually lie between denominations)
Most Christian ceremonies are not difficult to navigate, and are relatively simple. The bride is walked down the aisle to meet the groom for the solemnisation. Then they say their vows, and are married. The main differences will be the inclusion of a sermon, worship, and the taking of communion.
Praise and Worship
Praise and worship is the singing of hymns (for more traditional denominations) or worship songs (seen in modern churches). They are meant to praise the Christian God, as a sign of worship. Praise and worship is a part of any church service, and will usually be included in weddings. Typically 3-4 songs are played per worship session, and there are no particular worship songs played during weddings.
While optional, many Christian couples choose to have their pastor give a sermon at their wedding. The sermon is usually given after the praise and worship, but before the solemnisation. A typical wedding sermon gives advice to the couple, touching upon subjects like roles within the marriage, how to get through tough times and so on. The advice is given in the context of Christianity, of course, and is often taken from bible verses. Sermons last anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.
Also called the Eucharist ( a term more commonly used in Catholicism), taking of communion is a symbol of a believer’s devotion, and a remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. In Christian ceremonies, the communion is passed to believers, and is taken after everyone has gotten one. This ceremony excludes non-believers, which the pastor usually makes clear before the passing out of the communion.
The Unity Candle
The lighting of the unity candle is the ritual where the bride and groom light the unity candle with two smaller taper candles. Each taper candle is traditionally lit by two representatives, one from each family. Lighting the candle symbolises a unity between couples, and sometimes a joining of families. This might not be present at all weddings, as it is a traditionally American custom.
Catholic weddings, while not dissimilar from Christian ones, are usually more ceremonial. They have quite a few stages, and can be very complex, especially if held in the context of a Mass. Here, we will only cover the major elements of a Catholic wedding. If you’re looking for details on Catholic ceremonies, you can find them here.
Catholic wedding ceremonies are typically taken from the Nuptial Mass, which follows a set of procedures, known as a liturgy. This usually includes a gospel, homily, consecration, and communion, with selections of readings and psalms. Sacraments, such as the Eucharist (communion) are also included. The intricacies of a Mass may be hard to follow if you’re not a Catholic, but don’t worry. Liturgies are usually printed out and handed to guests before the start of Mass.
Also known as the Holy Communion, the taking of the Eucharist symbolises the same things it does in Christian services. The main difference between the two ceremonies is that Catholics form a queue in front if the bishop to receive the Eucharist. In comparison, Christian services pass the symbols to believers, without them leaving their seats. Participating in taking the Eucharist or Communion is limited to believers only, just as in Christian weddings.
The Unity Candle
Whether or not a unity candle is present in a Catholic wedding is up to the discretion of a couple, and their bishop. Some Catholic parishes do not allow the unity candle, as it is not mentioned in the Catholic Rites of Marriage, the liturgy for the Nuptial Mass. If the parish does allow the unity candle, the candle will never be placed on the altar. Couples whose parishes disallow the unity candle sometimes opt to light it at their reception instead.
Some couples opt to hold their wedding ceremony in their local church or parish as it allows them to invite a larger group of friends without breaking the budget. It also prevents more distant friends from feeling left out. A buffet lunch is sometimes provided for the larger group at the church ceremony, while the couple to has a more intimate banquet later that night. This is a more budget friendly option, as it keeps down the per table cost of the banquet.
We hope this article has helped you navigate your church wedding. If you’re looking for any more help or advice, we have a few more articles on our blog. If the wedding hasn’t started yet, and you need a videographer to record the wedding, why not try us out?