I love weddings. There are some Saturday afternoons when I think to myself...I wish I was at a wedding right now. I am not an expert on them, but I frequently have the overwhelming responsibility of singing brides down the aisle as I have been singing in weddings, most often Catholic wedding masses, for many years. I have talked with numerous brides who have told me they had never been to a Catholic wedding Mass before their own, so I compiled a list of 5 things that I have learned from singing at many Catholic weddings and from attending my sister’s and my own last year. These tips will certainly not make-or-break a wedding day, but I hope one or even a few of these can be helpful for any bride currently crafting her beautiful day!
1. Speak Your Vows
I am not trying to tell you what to do here...and I am not saying that any couple who did not do this did anything wrong...but in the Mass you get two choices. You can either have the celebrant say your wedding vows (Do you, Emily, take Daniël to be your husband...in sickness and in health...all the days of your life?) to which you respond “I do,” or you can look at the man currently-in-the-process-of-becoming-your-husband and say them to him yourself! Some people feel as though they may be nervous and would rather say two words than a few sentences, which is extremely understandable with the magnitude of the day and the amount of people who will have their eyes on you, but it is so beautiful to declare the entirety of your vows to your spouse yourself.
2. Our Father
There’s a beautiful blessing for the married couple at the end of the Our Father - and it typically turns very awkward. People are still holding hands and are not sure whether they should let go because they know it is not the Our Father but don’t know what it is if the priest goes right into it...so they often don’t listen and miss the stunning beauty of the whole thing.
“May the grace of love and peace abide in your daughter N.,
and let her always follow the example of those holy women
whose praises are sung in the Scriptures.
May her husband entrust his heart to her, so that,
acknowledging her as his equal and his joint heir to the life of grace,
he may show her due honor and cherish her always
with the love that Christ has for his Church.”
(Just a snippet. Beautiful, right? You don’t want people to miss this stuff.)
I highly recommend asking your celebrant to let people know that they can let go of hands as he will impart a special blessing on the couple. He may already do this, but at many weddings I have attended it is not done. At my sister’s wedding, she and her husband were invited to turn toward the congregation and all guests were invited to extend hands as the priest prayed over them. It was spectacular. At our wedding, Father Dan came down to pray over each of us individually.
3. 33 Days to Morning Glory
Daniël and I walked through the book 33 Days to Morning Glory while we were dating, and consecrated ourselves to Jesus through Mary. We wanted to do it again to consecrate our marriage, so we counted 33 days back from the wedding, walked through the book again, and read the final consecration prayer when we placed flowers at Mary’s feet during our wedding ceremony. I hand wrote the prayer from the book on an index card and sent it over to Daniël’s house in the morning with my wedding day gift to him, so during the ceremony he had the consecration prayer for us to read handy in his pocket. We opted out of the traditional Ave Maria and my sister and aunt sang Holy Is His Name. It was magical in that Jesus magical kind of way.
4. Cover Ups
I am not anti-strapless-wedding-gown in any way. I think every bride finds the dress she loves, and if it is strapless that is totally fine! However, some people like the idea of having their shoulders covered in church for a variety of reasons. I wanted sleeves for our wedding Mass, and I searched for hours and days - bought one - it ended up not fitting right...and then I finally found Polina Ivanova’s Etsy shop. I felt like I struck gold. This woman will handcraft the most beautiful lace cover up for you at a fraction of the price you will find in any bridal salon. I was so happy with the one she created for me. Find her shop here : https://www.etsy.com/shop/PolinaIvanova?ref=l2-shopheader-name.
5. Parents wedding day photo (This does not have to do with Mass or being Catholic, but I wanted to include it anyway!)
My parents have been married for over 30 years, and their love and marriage is the root of so much of the beauty in my life. I understand that the majority of young people who marry today have parents who have divorced for many different reasons. However, if your parents are still married, I recommend taking this photo. I brought my parent’s wedding photo in my day-of-wedding-bag, and was able to take this photo that I will cherish forever.