Catholic Wedding Ceremony vs. Mass: What’s The Difference?


Catholic priest conducting wedding ceremony

The catholic church has numerous events that the congregants participate in throughout the year, mass being the most common, followed closely by weddings. Wedding ceremonies are held on selected days in the church, depending on the church’s and priest’s schedule. There are several differences between a catholic wedding ceremony and mass.

So, Is there a difference between a catholic wedding ceremony and mass? The main difference between a Catholic wedding ceremony and Mass is their purpose, with Catholic weddings celebrating the union of two individuals and Mass celebrating the sacrament of the Eucharist. Different rituals within each of these play a part, with different rites in a Catholic wedding including the liturgy of the word, the nuptial blessing, wedding vows, amongst others, whilst in Mass, the liturgy of the eucharist and the liturgy of the word are the two crucial principal rites.  

If you have been attending mass in a catholic church, get an invite to the first catholic wedding and you will notice a few things being done differently.

The catholic church offers a variety of services to the congregants like mass, wedding ceremonies, Easter celebrations, among many others. The main service that occurs in a catholic church almost on a weekly basis is mass. Read on to find more information about the difference between a catholic wedding ceremony and mass; also, get an in-depth analysis of catholic wedding ceremonies.

The Difference Between a Wedding Ceremony and Mass

Catholic wedding ceremonies are beautiful, symbolic, and full of wedding ceremony rituals. The purpose of a catholic wedding ceremony is to celebrate the union of two catholic individuals, making the marriage valid before the eyes of the church. Before a couple can have a catholic wedding, they have to fulfill several conditions before the priest or deacon can officiate at their wedding.

Mass

Mass, on the other hand, is the central act of worship, which culminates in the celebration of the sacrament of the Eucharist. Mass also has several rituals in it, like receiving the holy communion. Catholic wedding ceremonies and mass are celebrated in different ways. Here are some of the differences between catholic wedding ceremonies and mass.

The first difference is the program of the two events. A catholic wedding ceremony comprises different happenings compared to mass. For example, in a catholic wedding ceremony, you will start with the processions, readings, nuptial blessing, communion, and then a final blessing.

In mass, the program will start with greetings, the penitential act, the liturgy of the word, the gospel, and then bidding prayers. Some events could be added depending on the parish.

Another difference is planning; a catholic wedding requires a lot of planning. The couple has to book their wedding date early, go through interviews, consult with the priest on numerous aspects of the wedding, among others.

In mass, there is no prior planning, since the church holds mass on numerous occasions throughout the year, they have everything in place to hold mass.

A catholic wedding ceremony will last not more than an hour depending on the type of wedding ceremony. If it is a nuptial mass, then the ceremony will last close to forty-five minutes but will not go over an hour. If it is a marriage service ceremony, it will last not more than thirty minutes. A traditional low mass will last about an hour. A high mass will last between ninety minutes to two hours.

For a catholic wedding ceremony, baptism in the catholic church is very important for the couple or one of them. For you to have a valid marriage as per catholic laws, you need to have been baptized in the catholic church. However, your guests need not be baptized. Any individual can attend a catholic mass. The catholic church does not restrict who can attend mass, but for a non-Catholic, you will not receive the holy communion.

A catholic wedding ceremony consists of several rites; they include the liturgy of the word, the nuptial blessing, wedding vows, among others. In mass, there are two crucial principal rites, the liturgy of the eucharist and the liturgy of the word.

In the liturgy of the word, there is the reading of the scripture, the priest or deacon will give the homily and there will be intercessory prayers. In the liturgy of the Eucharist, there will be offering and receiving the holy communion.

In a catholic wedding ceremony, the liturgy of the word is carried out differently. The priest will give you selected scriptures to choose their reading from. You will pick the one scripture for each reading and the responsorial psalm.

This is only afforded to you if your wedding is held on a normal day, during special days the readings will be selected by the priest. In mass, the readings are selected by the priest or bishop. No layperson is allowed to choose the scripture to be read during mass.

Another difference between a catholic wedding ceremony and mass comes from the purpose of the events. The purpose of a catholic wedding ceremony is to celebrate the marriage of two people and ensure it is valid as per the laws of the church. The purpose of mass is to worship the Lord; congregants attend mass to worship God through songs and prayers.

Most catholic churches require that you dress in an appropriate manner during mass. If you are a woman, you will be required to wear clothes that cover your knees and shoulders. If you are a man, you will be required to dress in official attire that covers your arms and legs.

In a catholic wedding ceremony, the priest or deacon may allow a few changes to the dress code for the bride and her bridesmaids. As a general rule, the wedding dress has to cover your shoulders, but sometimes a priest may allow you to wear a strapless wedding dress that shows your shoulders.

In a catholic wedding ceremony, you have to pay some fees for the venue as well for the wedding personnel such as the administrator, cantor, singers among others. The guests at your wedding will not be required to give an offering. In mass, it is common for the congregants to offer money during the collection of alms.

This offering is for the church to use in some of its projects. When attending catholic mass, you can give some money during the offertory if you can afford to do so.

Catholic Wedding Ceremonies

A Catholic marriage is not just one of the biggest commitments that two Catholics make in their lives; it is among the most important aspects of the catholic faith. Marriage is among one of the seven sacraments in the catholic church. Hence, it has a spirituality element in it, and it is a privilege for a catholic to have a catholic wedding ceremony.

Catholic wedding ceremonies are celebrations for catholic to make their marriages valid before the eyes of the church. There are two different types of catholic wedding ceremonies; they are nuptial mass and marriage service. Nuptial mass is a wedding ceremony held inside of mass while a marriage service is a wedding ceremony held outside of mass.

Nuptial mass is the oldest and most formal form of the ceremony available to all Catholics. Before interfaith marriages were accepted in the catholic church, a nuptial mass was the only way of having your marriage valid as per the laws of the catholic church. A nuptial mass has been structured around the readings from the scripture and celebration of the Eucharist.

The catholic church is very restrictive when it comes to planning a nuptial mass. The church decides what can or cannot be included as part of the wedding ceremony. For example, the priest will have the final decision on the music to be played at the ceremony, the wedding attires, and the catholic wedding traditions that will be performed.

Marriage service is a modern catholic wedding ceremony introduced to cater to interfaith couples and catholic couples who do not attend the church that often.

Marriage service ceremony tends to be a more private affair; as a couple, you can limit the number of guests to your wedding by having a marriage service. The majority of those attending your wedding will be close to you, making the celebration more personal and special to you.

The main difference between a nuptial mass and a marriage service is the components of the two ceremonies. A marriage service contains the same components as a nuptial mass with the expectation of the liturgy of the Eucharist. If you get married in a marriage service ceremony, you and your guests will not receive the holy communion.

The nuptial mass wedding ceremony procedures will start with the gathering rite, the liturgy of the word, the rite of marriage, the liturgy of the Eucharist, communion rite, and end with the concluding rite.

A marriage service ceremony procedure will also start with the gathering rite, followed by the liturgy of the word, the rite of marriage, and end with the concluding rite. The only missing procedures are the liturgy of the word and communion rite.

The reason why the liturgy of the Eucharist and communion rite are missing from the marriage service ceremony program is the baptism rule. You cannot receive the holy communion if you are not a baptized catholic. Baptism in the catholic church is the gateway to receive other sacraments. If you cannot receive the other sacraments, then you will not receive the holy communion.

Interfaith couples and non-practicing Catholics opt for marriage service because they cannot receive the holy communion. If your bride or groom is from a different faith, then they cannot receive the communion. The priest or deacon will suggest you have a marriage service because one spouse cannot receive the holy communion. It has to be both.

Another difference between nuptial mass and marriage service is the time taken to complete the ceremonies. Nuptial mass is the longest, taking from forty-five minutes to more than an hour. Marriage service is usually the shortest, taking up to thirty minutes. So if you would want a short catholic wedding ceremony, you should choose the marriage service ceremony.

The reason why the nuptial mass ceremony is the longest is because of the liturgy of the Eucharist and the communion rite. In a nuptial mass, after the liturgy of the Eucharist, the priest will invite the bride and groom to receive their communion for the first time as a married couple.

The priest will then invite the guests who can receive the communion to the altar to receive their blessing and the communion. This exercise will take time, depending on the number of your wedding guests. A short guest list means less time; a long list means the wedding will go over the one-hour mark.

Most practicing catholic have a nuptial mass ceremony. It offers them a more traditional catholic wedding ceremony. However, it is not a must for them to have a nuptial mass ceremony. They can choose to have a marriage service ceremony instead. A marriage service ceremony offers more freedom for you as a couple to personalize the wedding.

The number of guests at your wedding that will receive communion can also determine if you will have a nuptial mass or marriage service. Most churches require that a significant number of guests should be catholic and able to receive the holy communion for you to have a nuptial mass.

It is a logical decision because there is no need to hold a nuptial mass if out of the one hundred guests only five can receive the holy communion.

If you are an interfaith couple, your non-Catholic bride or groom would like to have some elements of his or her incorporated in the wedding. For example, he or she would love to have a religious leader from their faith involved in the wedding ceremony.

The priest can allow the religious leader to read one or two scriptures during the readings and also act as a witness of the marriage. This cannot be allowed if it was a nuptial mass.

You can also opt for the marriage service to save on time. If you want a simple wedding that does not take a lot of time, then a marriage service ceremony is the best for you.

The wedding will last only thirty minutes, and you will have more time for the wedding reception. Your guests will not be bored with many procedures and rites, meaning they will attend the wedding reception still full of energy.

If you wanted an outdoor wedding, having a marriage service will make it easier to convince the priest to officiate at your wedding. The catholic law dictates that all marriages be celebrated inside the church unless the priest or bishop directs otherwise.

If it is a nuptial mass, chances are the priest will decline to have it held outdoors. Since the marriage service ceremony takes a short time with fewer rituals, the priest may agree to have it held in an outdoor venue.

When it comes to customization of the nuptial mass, the options available to you are the readings and music. The priest will show the scriptures, which you will pick readings from. You will also pick the responsorial psalm as well as the songs to be sung at the wedding.

You have to make sure the songs are appropriate for the occasion. The scriptures should also carry a meaningful message to your bride or groom; the priest will offer guidance on how to pick the scripture readings.

You also have the opportunity to appoint the lectors. The lectors are the people that will read the scriptures you selected for the first reading, second reading, or the gospel. Most couples pick their close relatives and friends as lectors for their wedding. The priest will show you the scriptures readings for the lectors and the ones that he will read.

Before deciding whether you want a nuptial mass or a marriage service, hold a discussion with your local priest or deacon. He will help you decide whether nuptial mass or marriage service is the best ceremony for you.

If you are practicing Catholics and you are still undecided whether you should have a nuptial mass or a marriage ceremony, talking with the priest or deacon will help steer you to the correct decision.

There might be some confusion regarding the validity of a marriage celebrated outside of mass. Some people might think that because there is no communion rite in a marriage service, then the marriage is not valid. All that is missing is the liturgy of the Eucharist. As long as there are consent and nuptial blessings for the couple, the marriage is considered valid as per the catholic laws.

Final Word

A catholic mass is different from a Catholic wedding as it offers congregants the opportunity to say their prayers as well as worship the Lord. The liturgy of the Eucharist is the most important part. The priests consecrate the offering at the altar during the Eucharist prayer and invite the congregation to the latter to receive the holy communion.

A catholic wedding ceremony plays an important role in the life of a catholic. To cater to the needs of all the catholic faithful, two different types of ceremonies were created; nuptial mass and marriage service. Nuptial mass is for the couple that is both baptized Catholics and wants a more traditional catholic wedding.

Marriage mass is for interfaith couples and couples who want a more modern wedding that they can customize to fit their personal preferences.

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