Weddings often bring people together who have never met before: members of two different extended families, friends of the bride and groom from childhood or college, current co-workers, colleagues of parents, and neighbors from long ago. The group that will attend your Catholic wedding has most likely not worshiped together before, nor will they again. Yet on your wedding day they will form a community, a praying assembly of support around the two of you.
Structuring Your Catholic Wedding Gathering
As you prepare your wedding liturgy, consider how you can help your friends and family to gather together in Christian hospitality and a prayerful spirit.
- Will you greet them as a couple at the door?
- Will you ask a few friends or relatives to offer hospitality as others begin to arrive?
- Perhaps there is an appropriate gathering space outdoors or in a vestibule where you can welcome guests and they can greet one another.
- The Order of Celebrating Matrimony calls for the priest to greet you at the door of the church or at the altar. You might ask about gathering everyone at the church entrance or the baptismal font if it is near the doorway so that this opening greeting can take place there with your loved ones gathered around you. Everyone can then move to the front as the processional music begins.
Consider also where you invite people to sit. While it is common in many places to designate a bride’s side and a groom’s side, The Order of Celebrating Matrimony makes no mention of where people should sit. Think about what seems most hospitable to you. What will help your guests come together in a spiritual bond of prayerful support?
Your Support Community
The community that gathers around you on your wedding day is the community that has helped form your identity thus far. Many of those who gather will sustain you and love you as you strive to faithfully live your marriage vows. They will provide you advice, and a listening ear, and often very practical help like insurance quotes, family recipes, and babysitting.
The more these people come to know each other, the more tightly woven the net of support your marriage will enjoy. The more your wedding guests are welcomed into shared prayer, the more meaningful your wedding day will become for all.