A Catholic marriage calls for the celebration of the sacrament of the holy matrimony, that unites a man and woman in a lifelong mutual commitment. It is one of the seven sacraments that the Catholics abide by, and thus, comprise several Roman catholic wedding traditions that are essential for its proper fulfillment.
There are a few pre-marriage traditions that are specific only to Roman Catholicism. One of them is that if a couple seeks to get married in a catholic church, they need to attend a marriage preparation course or a pre-marriage counseling program. These programs have multiple goals, from helping a couple judge whether they are well suited and truly ready, to preparing them for the changes their relationship will undergo, and equipping them with the tools to maintain a healthy long-lasting marriage. Another pre-marriage tradition is the 'reading of the banns'. This 800 year old catholic wedding tradition involves an announcement made in the parish church, several weeks before the wedding takes place, that the couple plans to marry. The to-be bride and groom are named, along with the churches they belong to and their wedding date, to enable anyone who knows of any cause why they should not marry, to bring it to the church's notice.
Catholic Wedding Ceremony
Having gone through all the preliminaries, the couple now needs to go through the most prominent of catholic wedding traditions, the wedding mass. A traditional catholic wedding will take place in a church, for which, certain formalities have to be completed and prior permission needs to be attained. The entrance procession usually has the groom and the best man entering first from the side of the church. They are followed by the bridesmaids and groomsmen in pairs, and finally the maid of honor. Once everyone has taken up their places, the bride and her father enter to the decided music. A traditional wedding mass usually comprises the opening prayer and the liturgy of the word (the Old and New Testaments, a responsorial psalm, the alleluia before the Gospel, and the Gospel reading). The priest then delivers the homily for the benefit of the couple and the wedding guests. For the wedding vows, the couple may memorize and recite, or read out the traditional vows, or the ones that they write themselves. After the rings are exchanged, the mass continues with the prayer of the faithful, the liturgy of the Eucharist, and the nuptial blessing. The ceremony is then closed with the final blessings and dismissal. The procession then exits the church in the reverse of the order they entered in, with the newly married couple walking out first.
One Mexican Catholic wedding tradition followed by Roman Catholic Mexicans before the ceremony involves the bride's mother (or parents) saying a prayer for their daughter before her wedding ceremony. A well-known tradition is that of the thirteen gold coins (Trece monedas de oro), in which, the groom presents his bride with thirteen gold coins to represent his unquestionable trust and confidence. It is a symbolic pledge of all his material possessions. By accepting, she is saying that she will honor that trust and confidence.
A Filipino Catholic wedding tradition laden with meaning, is the veil and cord ceremony. The 'veil sponsors' place the veil on the grooms shoulder and over the brides head, which symbolizes two people 'clothed' as one. The 'cord sponsors', loosely place loops of a rope in the form of a figure eight over the bride and grooms neck-shoulder area to represent the infinite bond of marriage.
During Irish Catholic wedding ceremonies, it is commonplace for the bride to carry a horseshoe for good luck and a handkerchief, which with a few stitches, turns into a christening bonnet for the first baby. Later, with the removal of the stitches, it takes on its original form to be carried by the child on his/her wedding day.
Weddings are such a momentous occasions in all countries, that they always have a myriad of traditions associated with them. For a bridal couple, it is best to delve into their lineage and dig out an old, family tradition to incorporate into their ceremony.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only and does not in any way attempt to replace the advice offered by an expert on the subject.