How to Plan a Traditional Latin Mass Wedding

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If you are considering a traditional Latin Mass Catholic Wedding or Tridentine Wedding Mass, there are number of factors you should consider. The Traditional Latin Mass is a beautiful ceremony and many people feel there is no more sacred way to enter into the sacrament of marriage. In this article we will provide some basic steps for you to consider prior to beginning your wedding planning. In the end you may decide a more modern mass is better suited for your wedding. However, if you are willing to put forth the effort to plan a traditional wedding mass, the rewards may last a lifetime.

  • Understand the basics of a Tridentine Mass:

    • everything is in Latin

    • the priest conducts the liturgy facing East, leading the community who are behind him

    • everything happens strictly and precisely according to the rubrics (instructions)

    • the congregation follows the Mass in private prayer and doesn't play an active part
  • If you do not attend a parish where the Tridentine Mass is regularly said, you will first need to find a priest or parish in your area where the traditional Latin mass is held. You may be able to ask a priest who is versed in the Traditional Latin Mass to come and perform the wedding at your local church. However, you will need permission from your parish for an outside priest to perform your wedding mass. This will take coordination with your parish staff and the parish priest. Be aware that typically only one priest is allowed to say the mass. No con-celebrants.

    It is traditional to officially announce your intent to marry to your priest. The priest will then publish what is called the "banns of marriage". Traditionally, the banns were a public announcement of the coming marriage. This allowed for any impediments to be discovered from the community. The banns are typically published on three consecutive Holy Days in the church bulletin, alternately they can be announced during the mass. Obviously, banns are not a usual practice in the modern church and are not necessarily a requirement.

  • Understand that the dress of the wedding party will conform to the same rules of decorum that should apply any time a woman enters the church for a traditional Latin mass. The focus is on modesty.

    Typically the head of all female participants is covered, i.e. with a veil. The dresses should fall below the knees both when standing and sitting. The dress neckline should be of a modest nature. The arms should be at the very least partially covered. This would rule out any dresses with spaghetti straps, low neck lines, or of short lengths.

    Furthermore, it is likely a good idea to share the dress code with your guests. A possible addition to your wedding invitation would be:

    "Out of respect for Our Lord, the bride and groom request that women refrain from wearing slacks
    or dresses that are sleeveless, low-cut, or above the knee. Ladies are further asked to cover their heads upon entering the chapel. Chapel veils will be available at the ceremony."

  • The Music for your traditional catholic wedding mass will be handled differently from some of the more modern ceremonies you may have attended. Only Scared music is to be used. No popular tunes or ballads. Do not expect to be able to use the Wagner's or Mendelssohn's Wedding Marches, these are not considered to be sacred music.

  • Remember that the mass will be in Latin. Typically a large percentage of your guests will not have their own missals. Missals are Latin to English translations that help us to follow the mass. You can make your own missals that will accompany the wedding programs. Include the entire Mass along with instructions for when to sit, stand, kneel, etc. You may wish to include brief explanations of what the priest is doing at specific points in the mass. This will make the ceremony more meaningful for everyone.

    You can also find wedding missals online for a reasonable price.

    You will also want to include instructions concerning who can receive communion. Word the instructions as tactfully as you can. This will prevent any confusion from your guests and avoid any hard feelings.

    It also will be helpful to have someone sitting in the front who understands the traditional mass. This will give the other guests someone to watch when it is time to kneel, stand, or sit.

  • If you are not accustomed to kneeling, start practicing. There will be long intervals when you are required to kneel during the mass. With practice you can become comfortable kneeling for long periods of time.

  • It is a beautiful custom for the bride to place her bouquet (or other flowers) at the statue of the Virgin Mary. The Bride can kneel at the statue and pray for Mary to help her in her duties as a wife and future mother. Traditionally this symbolizes the bride offering her own virginity (flowers) to Our Lady, in return for Mary's prayers that she will have a fruitful marriage.

    The groom can also light a candle at the statue of St. Joseph. Praying for guidance and strength to be a good husband and father.

    Hopefully all these tips will help you plan your Traditional Catholic Wedding Mass. Your priest can provide further guidance and advice. We also suggest reading the section of the missal outlining the sacrament of marriage.

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