Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: Advice for the Catholic Bride

Hi everyone and thanks for stopping by for Wedding Wednesday. This week I decided to address a wedding topic I personally had a tough time finding advice on in BlogLand: Catholic Weddings! I'll be honest, as a little girl who dreamed about her wedding day I never envisioned it being in a church let alone a Catholic Church...well except for when I was thirteen and saw Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York lol. I always thought I'd have a beautiful outdoor wedding somewhere in West Virginia but a funny thing called life happened and an amazing [Catholic] guy from Cleveland, Ohio swept me off my feet. Through the years I attended several Catholic masses because so many of my close friends were Catholic. Whenever I was at mass I felt more "at home" than any other church I had attended, so when Brian and I got engaged I told him that I wanted to become Catholic. I started my RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) classes in October of 2014 and the day before Easter 2015 I was happily confirmed into the Catholic church.

Brian and I after my confirmation into the Catholic Church.

I wanted to offer a bit of help to the Catholic brides out there so I asked a few former Catholic brides to answer some questions for me. I adore these ladies and they just so happen to be my sorority sisters so I just had to include their maiden names. First up is...

Rachel (Mosier) Klein

Married on August 9, 2014 at Saint Bridget's Chapel in the Field in Berryville, Virginia to Tyler Klein.

FK: Tell me about a challenge you faced while planning your [Catholic] wedding.

Rachel: The timing of the wedding ceremony was a bit of a challenge. In my mind, I had pictured an evening ceremony, lit by candles only in the church, however we learned that was not an option. St. Bridget's is an intimate mission church which means Mass is presided by one of the priests from the Catholic church in Winchester, Sacred Heart. Our ceremony time options were 10AM, Noon, 2PM, or 3PM.

FK: What was your favorite element of your Catholic wedding?

Rachel: Besides saying "I Do," I really liked the "Prayer before the Virgin Mary" part of our Mass. Following the Communion, Tyler and I went to each of our mother;s, hugged them, and took a rose from them to place at Mary's feet as "Ave Marie" was sung by our soloist accompanied by our violinist. After the wedding (but unique to Catholic weddings) was the Benediction Papalis my parents surprised us with. It's a certificate of a papal blessing, by Pope Francis. Each certificate is hand painted and bless by the Pope himself! I was a very unique memento of our wedding that is reserved for Catholics.

Next is my dear friend, former roommate, and bridal house party gal...

Anastasia (King) Lowe

Married on April 18, 2015 at The Assumption Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Steven Lowe. 

I was lucky enough to have a first row seat at this beautiful wedding and was the second reader, Anastasia is reading the same passage at my wedding. Now on to the good stuff.

FK: Tell me about a challenge you faced while planning your [Catholic] wedding.

Anastasia: I think my biggest challenge with a Catholic wedding was that nowadays people don't practice religions like they used to. My entire family [both my mother's and father's side] are Catholic yet I had some immediate family tell me they weren't coming to the ceremony because they don'f like churches or because they don't go to Mass anymore. I had some friend who aren't Catholic say that they were skipping out on the ceremony because they aren't Catholic so they wouldn't know what was going on. To me the ceremony is the true reason why anyone should be there. I told them if they didn't come to the ceremony their dinner would be boxed up and ready for them at the reception ballroom door. (Go Stacy!!!)

FK: Please offer your best Catholic wedding planning advice.

Anastasia: Get ready for every excuse in the book that people will try to use to get out of coming to the ceremony but, make sure to voice your opinion about how important them being there is for you. It's hurtful sometimes but, don't let it get to you. Get ready to get complained at, unless everyone in your wedding party grew up Catholic and make sure the boys don't drink too much before the ceremony! Have fun and enjoy the best day of your life!

Lastly the most recent bride...

Allison (Cupach) O'Malley

Married on August 1, 2015 at Saint James Catholic Church in Lakewood, Ohio to Thomas O'Malley. 

FK: Tell me about a challenge you faced while planning your [Catholic] wedding.

Allie: Our priest was very traditional, therefore less was more for him. We had to be very careful about what flowers we used and where they were placed. The aisle runner had to be very simple and we weren't allowed to use a unity candle because it isn't a part of the traditional [Catholic] ceremony. My husband is Irish (clearly lol!) and we had a bagpiper but he was only permitted to play outside of the church.

FK: When it comes to choosing your ceremony venue, what's your best advice?

Allie: Don't "church shop." Choose a parish that is important and means something to you with a priest you can relate to. We got lucky because our home parish is beautiful but it's not about what the church will look like in pictures, it's about being able to see the church you got married in every week and being a part of the parish.

Planning a Catholic Wedding Mass is a bit more time consuming than a Non-Catholic ceremony so here are my personal tips of what I've learned along the way.

  • Start talking with your home parish early on. Although a Non-Catholic can marry a Catholic in the church if you was to be confirmed before your wedding you'll need to start your RCIA process before you begin your Pre-Cana (six month marriage counseling) sessions with your priest. We did our counseling in Georgia so our priest has to send all our paperwork to the parish we're getting married at in Cleveland. 
  • Ask your parish's wedding coordinator about EVERYTHING! I had to learn this one the hard way. Never assume you're fine with a certain aspect because you've seen another Catholic wedding have it. I didn't check with my church to see if they had modesty guidelines for wedding dresses...long story short I had to get a new wedding dress. I'm actually glad this happened because my current dress is so "me" but, still it was a stress to have to find a new dress. Don't be afraid to ask a ton of questions whether it's about dress guidelines, music selections, or decor. For example our church allows the flower girls to drop petals but many cathedrals don't because it will harm their beautiful wood floors. Also most churches will have more than one wedding in a day, so ask your parish so that you can plan accordingly. We have a wedding a few hours before ours and when I first found out I had the biggest meltdown! I'm pretty sure Brian achieved sainthood by getting me through it. 
  • Figure out what time of the year works for you. For the majority of the year you're able to choose the elements to your wedding mass yourself but, if you choose a date that falls on a sacred day the readings and music can not be chosen by you. Tip: if you get married around Easter or Christmas (the weeks before or after) the church will already be filled with beautiful flowers that won't cost you a penny. My friend Anastasia's wedding was after confirmation and the church looked like a garden, it was gorgeous. 
  • Work with your priest and let him know if a large majority of the guests are not Catholic. None of my family is Catholic so he [Father Luigi] is going to work extra hard to make everyone feel included and motion when to stand and sit. Music was a huge thing for me and he put us in contact with the parish organist who made my dream to have a special song for my grandmother played, I'm actually getting to walk down the aisle to it. If I wouldn't have talked with the organist I wouldn't have know I could use that song. Our home parish priest, Father Greg, is even helping me with our wedding program. 
  • Create the ceremony that you and your future husband want. A huge part of the wedding process with Catholics is preparing for it together, this isn't a one sided day. Brian and I discussed and selected every aspect of our wedding mass together. So many times the groom is not a part of planning and I've loved having Brian help with everything. We only plan on doing this once  so we want it to be "our" way.   
Don't think you can't use things on Pinterest when planning because I found some great things like this program template from The Budget Savvy Bride that is the blueprint for our program. 

We [Catholics] already know our ceremonies are longer than what you may be used to but the great thing is if you don't want to sit through it you don't have to but don't be surprised if you're asked to not "sit through" the reception either. Being invited to any wedding is a privilege, it means two people who are beginning a new life together want you to be a part of that life. Most wedding masses last around 45 minutes, think about all the times that person [bride and/or groom] has been there for you during the ups and downs of life. You are more than just a filled seat or a name on a place card. Be fully present, be happy, be honored, or be honest enough to respond with a "no" on the RSVP.

I love hearing your input. This post was inspired by a sweet sorority sister named Meredith who wanted to hear more about Catholic nuptials. If you have a request for future posts let me know. Are you a Catholic bride with more advice you'd like to share? Are you a non-Catholic who has questions about Catholic weddings? Please comment below and thanks for reading.

Linking up with Macy & Nikki for Wedding Wednesday and Jessi & Jenn for What's Hap-Pinning?



  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am Baptist, but my finance is Catholic and we are still having to work through some things to make sure all is well. One issue that has already come up is that we chose February, which is during lent and are having to figure out what can be served at the Rehearsal on a Friday! Apparently it usually isn't an issue because Catholics generally just don't get married during lent, I of course had no idea!

  2. I have a few friends going through the Catholic wedding planning process right now! You looked beautiful!

    1. Thanks Ashley! I'm very excited for my upcoming wedding and love that my sorority sisters helped me with this post :)

  3. This is such an informative post! I have attended catholic weddings before and I must admit I am jealous of the setting it provides, they are always gorgoues! It's such a great idea to ask some of your friends to answer questions about their weddings.

    Thanks for linking up with us!

    1. Thanks Macy! It's my pleasure as always. So many people don't realize all the work that goes into the elements of a wedding mass if you aren't Catholic. Everything is selected for a reason and serves a purpose. Glad this post brought some of that to light :)

  4. What a great post! I got married at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, DC two years ago. My biggest piece of advice is to lean on the church's wedding coordinator. They have helped plan many weddings and know exactly what the church will and won't allow. Also if there is another wedding mass on the same day as yours, reach out to the other couple(s) to see if they would be interested in splitting the costs of the church flowers as a way to save some money.

    1. Thank you Emily! You're totally right in getting help from the church's wedding coordinator. Ours has been such a big help. I love the idea of reaching out to the other couple that's getting married the same day as you, unfortunately our other couple isn't decorating at all so we didn't get to share the costs of alter flowers.

  5. This is such a great idea-- to ask other Catholic brides about their ceremony. I was raised Catholic, so I think my family always had this idea of me marrying in a grand cathedral. But I am a Lutheran now and we decided to marry in my husband's family church. One of the brides mentioned not shopping for a church based on looks. So true. Our church was not an ornate cathedral but it is was such a symbolic church and we had attended while engaged. So it was very special to us. :)

  6. This is so neat. I had no idea how Catholic ceremonies ran and how strict it can be. I love how beautiful some of these churches are, can't wait to hear all about your big day. Thanks for linking up!

  7. Love this - absolutely beautiful too!! Thanks for linking up with us! xo

  8. I am a cradle Catholic as is my new husband. We just got married this June and yes, everything you have said is correct. I was very lucky in that the parish priest is a family friend and didn't put any restrictions on me. I do have a background in liturgy, so he wasn't worried about me picking weird music or something like that. It was a fabulous wedding and I am so grateful that I was able to have our mass personal to us.

  9. Wow, bride’s mermaid wedding dress simply took away my heart. I can’t keep my eyes off from it. Anyways, I am going to get married at one of the top wedding venues Los Angeles soon and want a similar dress to look at my best.

  10. Truly some gorgeous wedding photos. Have you ever considered placing some of these into a gallery for a showing or anything like that? Seriously, I can picture some of these in professional wedding magazines or even in photography magazines as a primer on exactly how to make the happy couple or the wedding party look their very best.

    Carson Coronado @ Old St Marys Detroit

  11. My wedding had took place at our own church. It was like a holly wedding. Now, it is badly in need of church loans in USA refinancing and searching for a right lender.

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