Musical Guidelines

Music is a vital part of your wedding liturgy. Whether you are planning a Nuptial Mass or a simpler ceremony, music is an important consideration. Music enhances the liturgy, allows for the active participation of those assembled, and helps bring your own personal touch to the liturgy.

Here are a few suggestions as you consider music.

  • Choose your readings first: The wedding liturgy planning materials that you have received or will receive from the church contain options for, among other things, the three readings that will be proclaimed at the liturgy. These are the Old Testament reading, the Epistle reading, and the Gospel reading. Selecting these readings before considering your music may provide suggestions or thematic material.
  • Choose music that is meaningful to you: The liturgy is for you, the sacrament is yours. Choose music that you like and care about,although keeping in mind that music for the liturgy must be liturgically appropriate.
  • Listen to and participate in the music at Mass: Many couples encounter songs that they like and that are meaningful to them during weekend Masses. While that is not the only source of music for your liturgy, it is certainly a rich one, since the music for weekend Masses is planned to include a wide variety of styles.


Music in the Wedding Liturgy

  • Processional Music: This is the music that will be played as the bridal party , and finally the bride, process down the aisle just before the liturgy begins. This is usually instrumental music. Unless your bridal party is very small, you will usually make two selections – one for the attendants, and one for the bride.
  • Responsorial Psalm: The Responsorial Psalm occurs after the first (Old Testament) reading. While this psalm may be recited in a reader/assembly format, it is most often sung.
  • Gospel Acclamation: This is the acclamation that is sung just before the reading of the Gospel. If your wedding is scheduled during Lent, the acclamation will not contain the usual “Alleluia” text, since “Alleluia” is not used during Lent. The Gospel Acclamation sung at your wedding liturgy will be the one currently in regular use for weddings at St. Catharine’s. The Gospel Acclamation is not open for selection.
  • Lighting of Unity Candle (optional): Although a beautiful visual expression, the unity candle is not actually a part of the liturgy. It is therefore strongly suggested that couples who wish to light a unity candle do so at the rehearsal, or at the reception. If, however, the candle ceremony is included in your liturgy, a simple but meaningful acclamation is sung by the cantor. The focus is on the action taking place and is best not shared with a lengthy song. Music at candlelighting is not open for selection.
  • Presentation of Gifts (Nuptial Mass only): This the time in the liturgy at which the gifts of bread and wine are brought forward. Since the assembly is not liturgically required to participate in song, this is the time in the liturgy at which a vocal or instrumental solo not intended for community participation is acceptable. Music selected for the Presentation of Gifts must still, however, be liturgical (sacred) music.
  • Acclamations (Nuptial Mass only)(Holy, Holy; Memorial Acclamation, Amen, Lamb of God): These acclamations are always sung if there is music for any part of the liturgy. They are led by the cantor, and are sung by all present. The acclamations sung at your wedding liturgy will be the ones currently in regular use by the assembly at all Masses. Music for the Acclamations is not open for selection.
  • Communion (Nuptial Mass only): The hymn at Communion time is sung by all. This should be a selection from the Music Issue found in the pews so that your guests can join in the song. If you select a song that is not available in the pews, you should be prepared to contact the publisher of the song for reprint permission so that you may print the song in your wedding program, or have a copy available for each guest. The Communion song is led by the cantor, but is not a solo. The Communion song should be eucharistic in nature, or should reflect the Gospel reading. Ave Maria and similar Marian devotional songs are not appropriate for Communion.
  • Presentation to the Blessed Mother (optional): Like the Unity Candle, this is not actually a part of the liturgy. It is therefore suggested that couples who wish to make a presentation to the Blessed Mother do so at the rehearsal, or at another suitable time. If, however, you have a special devotion to Mary and truly wish to include this in your liturgy, the accompanying music should indeed be Marian in nature. Most often the selection is an Ave Maria. This is usually a vocal solo, but may also be done instrumentally.
  • Recessional Music: This is the music played as the celebrant (priest or deacon), altar servers, newly married couple, and bridal party process out of the church at the conclusion of the liturgy. It is usually a joyful and celebratory selection, and is almost always instrumental.
  • Please be sure that you have contacted the music ministry regarding your selections of music no less than two weeks prior to your liturgy. This allows enough time for the musicians to adequately prepare.