A History of Together for Life

It is traditional in many places for a bride to wear or carry “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue” on her wedding day. As you prepare for your Catholic wedding by using the Together for Life booklet, you might like to know that it, too, is both “something old and something new.”

Old Edition of Together for LifeIn 2010 Together for Life marked its fortieth year of continuous publication. It was most likely around this time when your parents got married and they may well have used it. It might be fun to ask them if they recall using the book and how they went about planning their wedding ceremony.

Together for Life was the brainchild of a young priest from Syracuse, New York, Fr. Joseph Champlin. Throughout his fifty years of ministry, Fr. Champlin had a special love for working with engaged couples. So when the Church issued a revised Rite of Marriage in 1969 he was anxious to help couples learn about all the possibilities they had for planning their wedding.

The new rite of 1969 brought about many changes. If you were to ask your grandparents about their wedding ceremony according to the old rite, they might remember that the wedding actually took place before rather than during the Mass. Couples had no input at all into what prayers, vows, or readings would be used (but then neither did the priest). Every wedding was performed in the same way, unless of course, one of the spouses was not Catholic. In that case, there was never a Mass and rarely did the wedding even take place inside the church building. It was usually performed privately in the rectory. The new rite changed all this.

Creating Together for Life

In order for couples to take advantage of the many choices of scripture readings, the different forms of the vows, and the various prayers and blessings that are a part of the wedding celebration, Fr. Champlin gathered all the choices together in a clear and simple format and created an easy way for a couple to let their priest (or later their deacon) know what their preferences were.

The idea was immediately welcomed by both priests and engaged couples and Together for Life has been the most popular Catholic wedding planning book for two generations.

The New Edition of Together for LifeNew Together for Life Booklet Cover

Today Together for Life has many new features that build upon the foundation of the original edition. It has been enriched with new commentaries to make it more helpful and redesigned throughout to make it even easier to use. And now, of course, it has a companion website, togetherforlifeonline.com.

Be sure to hold onto your copy of Together for Life. Perhaps one day your daughter or son will want to know which scripture readings, prayers, and blessings you chose for your wedding.

About Robert Hamma

Robert M. Hamma is the editorial director at Ave Maria Press.