Although it seems like fewer and fewer people are attending Mass each Sunday, it is hard to deny that Catholic traditions are still going strong. They say once a Catholic always a Catholic and that is true, even for those who don’t go to Mass regularly. However, does this hold for wedding traditions? Perhaps the best way to answer that is to take a glance at the typical Catholic wedding held in today’s society both here and abroad.
Nuptials Within the Liturgy
For Catholics, the Church still holds that unless a marriage is blessed by a priest it is not valid. It may be in the eyes of secular law, but not in Church law. This doesn’t always mean that the couple gets married in the Liturgy, which can be a bit lengthy. Nonetheless, the marriage should take place in a church, officiated and blessed by a priest.
All Catholic wedding traditions are observed from the ceremony to the reception with traditional Catholic wedding favors. As for the ceremony itself, it’s rather like having the Liturgy of the Word without the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Readings from Holy Scripture will be read after which the priest stands for the couple to recite their vows. There is very little leeway in their vows, but some priests allow a small amount of modification. After blessing the couple, they leave to the accompaniment of the recessional on the organ, followed by the wedding party, then the serves, and finally the priest.
Traditional Catholic Wedding Reception
The couple then greets all the attendees as they leave the church, after which they climb in their car to drive to the reception. As they turn to ‘flee,’ the attendees toss either confetti or rice over their heads as the traditional blessing. Their choice is decided by the parish. Some parishes will not allow confetti because it is difficult to clean and tiny bits of paper remain for months. Traditionally, rice is seen as the better choice because it doesn’t fly around as easily as confetti and if any remains it is easily cleaned without chasing it all over the lawn.
It’s Always All About Tradition
So then, in answer to the question, Catholic weddings are typically all about tradition even before the actual wedding ceremony. Couples are required to attend Pre-Cana classes that can be held one evening a week or sometimes in a weekend retreat. In other words, that’s a tradition and a requirement, which must be met before the couple can be officially married by a priest.
The wedding itself, whether in a Mass or just a nuptial service, must be officiated by an ordained priest and the ritual itself must follow a traditional format. It can be safely said that a majority of practicing Catholics still follow tradition as well as many who no longer attend Mass. Bear in mind that Catholics view matrimony as one of the seven sacraments, so yes, the majority of Catholics still follow tradition today.