Courtesy of Rocco, I came across this set of guidelines designed by the USCCB for Catholic weddings. Too often in our culture, the Church wedding is just part of the trappings that goes along with the extravagant dress, the “wedding parties”, the flowers– plus the overdose of mushy sentimentalism. It’s a great photo-op. But these guidelines note that it is more than a photo-op, and that the Church should not be used as as a mere wedding prop.
My favorite point is the one concerning the wedding procession, which seems to be universally ignored:
“What the movies depict isn’t necessarily what the Church envisions. The bride and the groom enter freely and equally into marriage, and the entrance procession symbolizes that, as the couple approach the altar to stand before the Lord. The Rite of Marriage suggests that the liturgical ministers (priest, deacon, reader, servers) lead the procession, followed by the bride and bridegroom, each escorted by “at least their parents and the witnesses.” Perhaps the groom goes first, led by his attendants and escorted by his parents, followed by the bride, led by her attendants and escorted by her parents.”
I wish more Catholic couples would take these guidelines seriously. Yes, it is a small issue in the scheme of things, but it feeds into the larger issue of the loss of a distinctive Catholic culture.
For the record, my wife and I followed these guidelines almost to the letter — from the procession to memorizing our vows to the use of people in liturgical functions. We also used incense, and were told this was a first!