Every religion will have traditions that you are likely to see used in their wedding ceremonies. Catholic weddings tend to be rich with tradition. They are also among the more formal ceremonies, and usually follow a standard format.
When a Catholic couple becomes engaged, one of the first things that they should do is meet with their parish priest. There are specific requirements involved in being married in a Catholic church, and your priest can help you with the steps along the way. The sooner you get the ball rolling, the better off you will be.
One of the first things that you will need to do is set the date and book the church. Many churches will have specific times of day reserved for weddings. For instance, at my church, weddings could start no later than 1pm on Saturdays to make sure that there was adequate time to transition between the wedding and the regular afternoon Mass.
Catholic couples will be required to attend pre-marital counseling. This would also be the time to discuss with your priest whether you intend to have the full Nuptial Mass with Communion or not. Pre-marital counseling can take the form of private meetings with a priest, a compatibility exam, and Pre-Cana classes. The classes cover a variety of material, from finances to relationships, to family planning.
The idea of the counseling and classes is to encourage couples to take the time to discuss their views on all of the things that go into a marriage. Sometimes people get so swept up in a romance that they do not take the time to consider what it will be like to be married to their sweetheart on a day-to-day basis. The hope is that if couples discover serious differences that they will either resolve them before the wedding, or delay the wedding until they are certain their differences can be resolved. It is rare that a priest will advise a couple to break off their engagement, but occasionally it does happen.
When a bride is choosing the attire for her Catholic wedding, she should keep in mind the formality of her parish. At all times, the attire should be respectful of the solemn nature of a church wedding. This is not the place for sexy dresses or guys wearing “tuxedo" t-shirts! If you are at all in doubt, be sure to inquire about whether your particular church has any specific rules.
When I was getting married, I asked the priest if there were any rules about the bride's gown, and he just laughed and said, “Why - what were you thinking of wearing?!", but other officiants might be particular about things like bare shoulders or strapless gowns.
If you are unsure, it is always best to err on the conservative side for a ceremony in any house of worship. Save the slinky, spangly dress for the reception. The bride's gown for a church wedding should be a bit more demure and classic. If you love a strapless gown, make it less bare for the ceremony by wearing a little lace shrug or long gloves. A veil is always a nice touch for a church wedding.
A great way to add a little flair to a more conservative bridal ensemble is with the wedding jewelry. A very traditional bride might prefer a classic strand of pearls, but there is no reason that you could not opt for something more dramatic and original. Look for wedding jewelry that really expresses your personality.
Catholic weddings are rich with tradition and custom. There are a few extra steps to consider during the planning process, so be sure to get a jump on it once your engagement is official.
Ask Bridget for advice in areas of jewelry or weddings. She writes numerous articles providing information for the customers of Silverland Jewelry.com. Wedding jewelry is a great way for a bride to express her personal style.