The Main Event: The Wedding Liturgy
As I’m writing this, I am still Brooke Paris, but as you are reading this, I am Mrs. Brooke Foley. Our wedding date is June 30th, which means for you, it has already happened! I thought it was fitting, then, for the last post I write before the big day to be about how Tim and I have prepared for the part of this whole process where we actually get married – the wedding liturgy and Rite of Marriage.
It has been so easy to get caught up in the details of the reception – the venue, the caterer, the centerpieces, etc. Any bride-to-be who picks up the average wedding magazine knows that the reception is the part of the day most focused on during the planning process. I can’t help but get the feeling that the wedding ceremony is seen as a mere pit-stop on the way to the big party. As Catholics, though, we know that the Mass and Rite of Marriage are the main events! The focus of a Catholic’s wedding day is meant to be the actual act of getting married, of receiving the sacrament…not the celebration that follows. While that celebration is meaningful and absolutely has its proper place, we must remember that there would be no celebration without us actually getting becoming husband and wife.
With that in mind, when all the planning has gotten stressful, I have tried to remind myself that even if all else fails, after we walk out of the church doors, our wedding day will still be perfect, meaningful, and sacramental. Because even if all else does fail, we will now be husband and wife, Mr. and Mrs. Foley. It is the gravity and glory of the wedding liturgy that Tim and I have tried to focus on during our engagement. We also have tried to take very seriously our responsibility as the primary catechists of our wedding day. Fun fact: Marriage is the only one of the seven sacraments where the proper minister of the sacrament is not a priest or deacon. Instead, it is the ones who are themselves receiving the sacrament. The Catholic Church believes that the bride and groom confer the sacrament on each other, which therefore makes them the ministers of the sacrament and its primary catechists. Knowing this, we wanted to be particularly intentional about how we involved our loved ones gathered with us in the liturgy and how we handed on the faith through it.
Early on in our engagement, we started talking and praying about which readings and prayers we wanted for our Mass. We both had a vague idea of which wedding readings were our favorites, but we knew we wanted to look at all the options the Church recommends before making our decision. Over the course of a few days, we read through each of the options together, shared our thoughts on each one, and then prayed for God to open our hearts to the movement of the Holy Spirit. This was an absolutely amazing process — not only did we get to read God’s Word together and pray together, but we got to reflect on our own relationship and which of the readings we felt most spoke to, and also of, our relationship.
Choosing the Mass readings provides a unique opportunity for a bride and groom to share with their guests all of the beautiful beliefs the Catholic Church has about the Sacrament of Marriage. The same goes for choosing which options we wanted for the various prayers throughout the rest of the liturgy and the Rite of Marriage. Praying over the different options made us really take the time to reflect on what it is that we most want our guests to know about marriage from attending our wedding.
Another way we have poured our hearts in our wedding liturgy, while keeping our community that will be gathered with us in mind, is through choosing the music for the Mass. We are blessed to have two very good friends who are incredibly talented musicians and who agreed to share their gifts and talents with us for the wedding. Not only will their gift to us be a witness to the wonderful work that God has done in our lives through their friendship, but the music we chose will also witness to God’s goodness and glory.
When considering songs, we asked ourselves again, what do we want our loved ones to walk away knowing about marriage and about God? As we reflected on this question and looked through some of our favorite song options, we decided to choose a mix of songs that would talk both about marriage and about God’s faithfulness. For marriage, we chose The Servant Song and Set Me as a Seal. For the praise of God, we chose Adoramus te Domine, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, and What a Beautiful Name. We hope that the overall sentiment our guests take away is that we are so incredibly thankful for all the blessings God has poured out to us and for all the ways He has brought us to this moment, in which we enter sacramental life together. Listening to and choosing these songs isn’t just a witness to our guests though; the process has been a witness to us and a deep prayer experience where God has reminded us again of His love and faithfulness.
We are so grateful for all the ways that God has poured out His grace on us as we have planned for and prayed over our wedding liturgy. We continue to pray that the grace that has been poured out to us overflows unto our guests who will gather with us to share in our joy. And I ask you to pray that that very thing did in fact happen and that God’s grace continues to work in our hearts as a brand new married couple!