When we think about “traditional” weddings, there are a lot of things that come to mind: a bride in a beautiful white dress being escorted down the aisle by her father, the “Bridal March” song (known as “Here Comes the Bride”), bridesmaids and groomsmen, a flower girl and ring bearer, a reading from The Letter to the Corinthians, the bride and groom being separated before the wedding, and common phrases like “speak now or forever hold your peace,” and “I now pronounce you husband and wife.”
But there’s a reason that I put “traditional” in quotes: for Catholics, none of these things are essential to the ceremony, while a few of them are actually forbidden.
The fact of the matter—and I can say this because I’m writing on the internet, very far away from the angry glares and fists of brides—the wedding is not about creating a fairytale in which everyone marvels at the “princess” being married in a fantasy world. Weddings are not all about the bride. *gasp*
And there goes my female readership.
But really, a wedding is about what the couple is doing, not just about what the bride is doing. What the couple is doing is profound: they are exchanging vows to one another with God as their witness. In other words, they are entering into a solemn, life-long covenant with God and each other. Their saying of the words, “I take you to be my husband/wife,” is arguably the most profound thing either person will ever say. It is the essence and height of the whole ceremony, and everything else should point to this moment.
Which is why, despite the confusion of many Catholics and non-Catholics alike, many of the “traditional” aspects of weddings are left behind in Catholics ceremonies. That’s the focus of the newest installment of “Catholicism in Focus.”