Family Participation

Bridal Party Considerations

As you selected the members of your bridal party, you chose friends and family members with whom you are especially close, and who you wish to honor with a special place in your day. Here is some information that can make the liturgy easier and more special for those important people.

Keep in mind that not every member of your bridal party is necessarily familiar with Catholic Liturgy. It is easy to forget that fact in the whirlwind of dresses, tuxes, flowers, seating arrangements and all of the exciting minutiae. It would be a good idea to stop for a moment and think carefully of who is and is not a regular attendee at Mass. For those who are not, an advance copy of at least the order of worship from your printed program could be helpful. If you are not printing a program, you may want to sit down with the members of your bridal party who are unfamiliar with the liturgy and simply page through a Missalette with them, showing them the general order of things. You can keep it as simple as explaining that the Mass is divided into two main portions: the Liturgy of the Word during which the readings are proclaimed and the homily is given, and the Liturgy of the Eucharist during which the Communion is prepared and distributed. (The actual marriage ceremony occurrs at the very end of the Liturgy of the Word, when at other Masses the creed is recited. )

You should also explain to those unfamiliar with Catholic liturgy that they can know when to sit, stand, kneel, etc. and how to conduct themselves by watching the Cantor and other liturgical ministers as well as those who regularly attend Mass.

For their own sake, please explain to all bridal party members that the utmost decorum is required of them during Mass, since all eyes are on them as well as on you. It happens from time to time that some bridal party members react to rituals and gestures that are unfamiliar to them with laughter or other inappropriate behavior. This draws a great deal of negative attention to them, casting an unnecessary shadow over all of the carefully planned beauty of your liturgy.

You may want to suggest that any member of your bridal party who wishes to do so attend a regular weekend Mass with you so that they can see and experience the liturgy before the wedding day.

Please take the time to be certain that all members of your bridal party are as prepared as possible to participate in your most special liturgy. The time you invest in this will be more than repaid in the comfort of your special friends and family members as they celebrate with you!

Wedding Participants – Ring Bearers, Gift Bearers, & Scripture Readers

We encourage you to invite family members, friends, or members of your wedding party to take special roles in the wedding service.

At a Wedding Mass, such people may read the scripture and bring the gifts of bread and wine to the altar. Because the Mass is so intimately Catholic, readers and gift bearers should be practicing Catholics. Since the scriptures must be heard and understood by the congregation, the person(s) you choose to read should have self-confidence as well as a strong and articulate speaking voice. The ability to project one’s voice and careful enunciation are essential to an effective and meaningful scripture reading.

At a Wedding Ceremony, (wedding outside of Mass), anyone who practices his or her particular faith is welcome to read the scripture. Readers should be able to read well!

Couples frequently desire to involve as many family members as possible in the wedding liturgy. The role of ring bearer and flower girl are most often assigned to young children. It is strongly advised that the couple exercise good judgment when making their choices regarding the involvement of children. To expect a two-year-old child to walk down the aisle with the same maturity as an eight-year-old child is an unrealistic expectation. Care should also be taken when deciding where the child will sit during the liturgy. Younger children are better seated in a pew with a parent or other relative rather than with the wedding party itself. Each child is different and couples are encouraged to make an informed and prudent choice in determining how best to involve children.

Cantors, Soloists, and Other Special Musicians

Occasionally as couples are planning the music for their wedding liturgy, they receive offers from friends or family members to provide some or all of the music at the liturgy. This is a lovely gesture, but must be handled with care.

Please be aware that even though the person offering may be a fine musician, there is a great difference between being a good musician and being a good liturgical musician. There are many intricacies of content and style that must be adhered to, as well as certain leadership qualities that must be in place if a musician is to be effective in liturgy. Besides knowing what music is appropriate at each place in the liturgy, a liturgical musician must be able to bring the assembly (in this case, your guests) along in singing and responding. Music at a liturgy is not a performance.

Should you be fortunate enough to have talented family or friends offering to participate in the music at your wedding liturgy, however, the music ministry here welcomes them. We suggest that they prepare a selection for the Presentation of Gifts, which, as you read elsewhere in this packet, does not require the participation of the assembly. This allows your friend/family member to give you his/her musical gift in full hearing of the entire assembly, without having the strain of cantoring the entire liturgy in an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar organist. Additionally, he/she could perform as the guests are being seated, as the Mothers are being escorted to their places, even during the processional or recessional. Any music provided, however, must still be approved by our music ministry to assure that it is liturgically correct for use. If a desired selection is deemed not appropriate for liturgical use, please consider having it performed at your reception.

Although the Catholic Church has standard practices for its liturgy that are adhered to as closely as possible at here, it stands to reason that other churches, even local ones, will each have their own minor variations on the precise implementation of each liturgical item. It is difficult for a cantor who is from another parish to quickly learn all of the minor details that make liturgy in this particular church run smoothly, regardless of their experience.

Further difficulties arise between a cantor and organist who are unfamiliar with one another. There are many subtle communications that pass between a cantor and an organist in the course of the liturgy that, while unnoticed by the assembly, nevertheless allow the cantor and organist to function effectively as a musical unit. When a cantor is brought in for just one wedding liturgy, there is no opportunity for those signals to develop, causing a somewhat precarious musical situation that can be uncomfortable for both organist and cantor and may result in substandard musical quality at your wedding liturgy.

Also, please be aware that a singer/soloist is not necessarily a cantor. A cantor has undergone specialized training in liturgy to enable him/her to effectively lead the assembly and proclaim the musical readings and acclamations.

If it is absolutely necessary to engage a cantor other than one from the Church of St. Catharine for your liturgy, it will be extremely important that you put the person in touch with Kathy or Patrick as soon as possible so that it can be determined if he/she is a qualified cantor. To be a qualified cantor, the individual should have received training as a cantor, and should be currently cantoring in a Roman Catholic Church.

It is the policy of the Church of St. Catharine not to allow organists not hired by the music ministry to use our instrument without the supervision of a music ministry organist Again, it is suggested that any organist who wishes to be involved in your wedding liturgy be invited to play while guests are being seated, Mothers escorted, at the processional, recessional, or Presentation of Gifts.

You absolutely must contact the Music Ministry of St. Catharine’s before finalizing any arrangements with a soloist, cantor, or other musician.

If you have further questions, please contact Patrick or Kathy Dalton at at kdalton@stcatharine.net