Preparing Your Wedding Liturgy
Preparing your Wedding Liturgy
In every Catholic liturgy there are readings taken from the Bible. The Church selects suitable readings for the liturgy and there is a range of passages for use at weddings. These readings speak of the nature of marriage and about God’s love for humanity.
Choosing the readings for the wedding liturgy will be an important stage in preparing for marriage and will be a fruitful process for the couple in developing their understanding of marriage. For example, when choosing a Gospel text a couple may prefer different texts and in expressing the reasons for his or her choice they will appreciate each other’s viewpoints.
2 or 3 readings?
There will be always be a Gospel reading but there is a choice about whether there are 1 or 2 readings preceding it. If there are 2 readings the first reading is usually taken from the Old Testament and the second reading from a New Testament book (which is not a Gospel). If there is just 1 reading before the Gospel it may be from either the Old or New Testament.
Couples may find that as they reflect on the choice of readings that it is easy to find 3 readings; others may find that just one reading and a Gospel is enough. One aspect to think about may be to consider the congregation, those who will be at the wedding. If they are unused to being at a church service they may also be unused to hearing a number of passages of text.
|First Reading||First Reading|
|Responsorial Psalm||Responsorial Psalm|
|Gospel Acclamation||Gospel Acclamation|
Just 1 reading?
When the wedding celebrated is Order of Celebrating Matrimony between a Catholic and a Catechumen or a Non-Christian the number of readings proclaimed can follow the normal pattern or there may be just one. This reading must speak explicitly of marriage — see below.
One for marriage
A requirement when choosing the readings that one of the texts speaks explicitly about marriage. Not every reading provided does speak explictly about marriage. For example, the familiar reading from the first letter to the Corinthians ‘Love is patient…' (check & ref) is a powerful reflection on the nature of love but it is not specific to marriage. In the list of readings ‘M’ is used to mark readings which fulfil this criteria.
The website has a number of resources to help you choose the readings:
- a list of all the readings
- the text of all the readings
- reflections on each readings (including further guidance on choosing the texts)
The Liturgy of the Word has two places where the texts are usually sung:
- Responsorial Psalm
- Gospel Acclamation or Alleluia
For further information see Choosing Music
Can I have another scripture reading?
A couple may have a favourite scripture passage which they wish to use at their wedding but is not given in the list of readings. In consultation with your Priest or Deacon it should be possible to include the text. It is worth checking to see if it is in the Lectionary as this will mean the text has already been edited for reading.
Can I replace a scripture reading with a poem?
Any reading in the Liturgy of the Word should be taken from scripture (the Bible) and cannot be replaced by another text. In a similar way any music played or sung should normally be taken from the Church’s long and living tradition of music. Texts should be expressive of the faith of Church.
It is important to remember that the Marriage liturgy is one of a sequence of events that make up the whole of the Wedding celebration. It is not therefore necessary that a favourite poem or song is included within the liturgy; it may be better placed within the wedding reception.
Who will proclaim the readings?
Consideration should be given as to who will proclaim the readings at the wedding. You can use 1 reader for both first and second readings or 2 people. It is worth identifying people who are used to reading in Church, or may be speaking publicly. Someone who can convey the meaning of the texts and be heard clearly. It would be unfortunate to spend time carefully choosing the readings and then for them not be heard clearly at the wedding.
Guide to readers [link]
The readings on the website are prepared so that they may be used in the wedding liturgy - with, as a rule, one page per reading. If they are used in the wedding liturgy they should be placed in a worthy folder which is placed on the ambo (where the readings are proclaimed from). Readers should be discouraged from taking up pieces of paper with them to the ambo - they should read from the carefully prepared folder or the Lectionary.
It is normal, good practice that the text of the readings is not included in the service booklet. The readings are something proclaimed, God speaks to us now in the readings, rather than something to be followed along in the book.
There can be reasons for including the readings in the booklet. If there will be a number of people for whom English is not a first language who would welcome the printed text. Another reason might be that having carefully chosen the readings the couple might wish them to be part of the ’souvenir’ of the day.