Wedding Extras

wedding ring placementThe wedding I served as a musician this past weekend had no unity candle, but a ceremony for washing feet. One of our recent graduates married in another state the same day. A few of my staff colleagues attended. They reported no unity candle either, but the couple signed the wedding license on the altar after exchanging rings and vows.

I’ve seen a lot of “symbols” added to the wedding liturgy over the years. Here’s how I would rate the additions …

10 - Washing feet. Maybe it gets an extra point or two for tweaking those who insist that Holy Thursday foot fuzz is about men only. Another extra point for those who read and preach John 13:1-15 at the wedding liturgy.

9 – Wedding rings. One can be married without rings, but as a person who dislikes jewelry of any kind, I have to confess a degree of trauma when my wedding band slipped off my finger when I was hauling a fallen tree across the backyard a few years ago. I have a replacement, but it’s not quite the same. Even after it was blessed by the pastor. My problem with wedding rings is largely with the pressure commercial jewelers place on couples, especially men, to shovel a sixth of an annual income to get that diamond.

8 - El lazo. Maybe I’ve been to too few Hispanic weddings. I saw a lazo once that was too small, and it was awkward for the couple to be inside it as they exchanged vows.

7 - Las arras. The groom gives the bride thirteen coins. Some sources suggest Jesus and his apostles. My wife would have preferred milk chocolate wrapped in gold-colored foil. When we got married, I only owned two gold coins. But I divested of gold and silver in my coin collection a long time ago. But I digress: exchanging money on a wedding day just seems wrong.

orthodox wedding crowns6 – Crowns. The Orthodox have crowns. I mean Eastern Christians, not Catholics-more-than-the-pope. Crowns seem cool to me.

- Special song. This can be really good, but more often it goes horribly wrong. I remember one bride who insisted on a song, the whole song, for the unity candle. I told them it takes ten seconds to light a candle, and the music would last four minutes. So we had almost four minutes of awkward making-googly-eyes.

- Flowers to the Blessed Mother or Holy Family. It’s not that I object to devotion to Mary. And if the couple has a true devotion, this rates much higher than a four. But it’s the kind of gesture that seems better outside of Mass.

3 - Wedding license. Signing a civil document on the altar? Really? I guess it could be worse. One couple forgot their wedding license last year. They thought the church provided it. Mad scramble to find a judge to ensure the liturgy was celebrated on time.

2 - The Two Music Traditions, Wagner and Mendelssohn. You know what I mean. If you don’t, you don’t want to know.

- Unity Candle. The only reason it has a point at all is because of …

0 – Unity Sand. I’d love to know who thought up this one. Perhaps they could be buried in sand, but not at a destination wedding location.

Maybe we should be grateful some of the truly tasteless reception traditions are not done in church. Garters, bouquets, the Chicken Dance.

Any liturgical extras you’ve seen  I’ve missed? Mainly things you’ve liked.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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6 Responses to Wedding Extras

  1. Liam says:

    The advent of the diamond engagement ring is an interesting piece of cultural history. Pricey engagement rings (as opposed to wedding rings) became popularized during the generation between the World Wars, as middle class sexual mores followed those of Belle Epoque cultural elites; it was in this period that it became much more common for engaged couples to, well, couple, before the wedding day. The shift in expectations, however, was reciprocated in an interesting way: brides-to-be wanted evidence of serious commitment on forfeitable deposit, as it were. And then there was a genius advertising woman (Frances Gerety) who came up with the precursor to the “Diamonds Are Forever” ad campaign for the diamond cartel just as the post-WW2 boom took off. The rest is history.

    Just to make that diamond a little less shiny….

    • Liam says:

      Part of the reason many Lost Generation parents tried to reestablish a firmer line on premarital sex in the 1950s is that they had memories (and for some, associated guilt) of the the first popular relaxation of sexual mores….

  2. Jen says:

    That’s the only way I’d ever consider the Pachelbel canon. I do know a few people who play gayageum and beatbox, so…

  3. Jim McCrea says:

    Do people actually still DO the “chicken dance?” Really????

  4. Fred says:

    I get few requests for Wagner, though Mendelssohn seems to be making a comeback. And even if presented some good options (Elgar or Handel or Stanley), most couples end up with selecting Pachelbel and Trumpet Voluntary lest they do something non-traditional. I won’t tell my daughter about the crowns in an Orthodox wedding…she’d want one. Todd, I’m in your old diocese (musician), and most parishes here wouldn’t now allow the unity candle or unity sand (which eliminates the need for a “special song”) even if the marriage not part of Mass…. but surprisingly I’ll bet once a year, a priest will start by saying “who gives this woman to this man” (and the procession will then end with the bride still on the arm of her father). Rare is the bridge and groom who walk in together.

  5. FrMichael says:

    Liam, never knew that about engagement rings.

    With the lazo comes the veil, a big one that covers both the kneeling spouses. Speaking of which, what about couples that kneel the entire Mass?

    Present to/acknowledgement of child(ren) the couple will be raising.

    Bouquets of flowers to the parents of both the newlyweds.

    Last one that comes to mind, baptism of the couple’s baby at the convalidation.

    Sorry for a cryptic comments, I’m typing on an iPhone!

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