The Armchair Liturgist: Wedding Schedules

This one’s getting a lot of talk on staff at my parish at the moment. How would you approach these questions:

– Weddings during Lent?

– People who insist on a Saturday night wedding?

– Maximum number of weddings per weekend? (Would you do three or even more?)

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Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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12 Responses to The Armchair Liturgist: Wedding Schedules

  1. While not banning weddings during Lent, we do discuss with the occasional couple who requests one the liturgical/environmental/musical implications. In the last 35 years I don’t think I’ve had more than 3 weddings in Lent, and as I recall, they were all quite small and simple celebrations.

    We have a regular Saturday 5:00 p.m. Mass and when we tell couples that the earliest start time for a wedding thereafter would be 7:30, they choose another time.

    Although our wedding schedule isn’t that heavy, I’m at a point where I would not book more than two per weekend and they would need to be Word liturgies (not Eucharist) since I’m generally the only priest for the 4 liturgies on the regular weekend schedule.

  2. Anne says:

    Sorry if I send this in another direction. Understanding the busy schedules of parish priests,is the choice ever offered to couples to be married in the presence of the community at a regular Sunday Eucharist? I don’t imagine this would be as popular a choice today like it was in 1949 when my parents were married.

  3. Todd says:

    Good direction, Anne. My wife and I were married in such a way as you may know. I have close friends, a staff colleague in fact, who has chosen that for later this summer.

    But is the choice offered actively? Nowhere I know.

  4. Anne, Todd:

    I generally make the offer; it hasn’t been accepted yet.

    We don’t ban weddings during Lent, but I explain that there will be purple, and they need to keep things toned down. We don’t have many weddings during Lent, I think mainly because of the weather.

    We have one wedding per weekend as a rule; the only exceptions have been, a soldier getting deployed overseas, and where a couple can supply its own priest and organist. But we don’t have so many that this has been an issue.

    Oh, and I offer Friday evening weddings, and some couples go for that.

  5. Randolph Nichols says:

    Having played the organ for countless weddings over the past quarter century, I confess to being ignorant of – yet intrigued by – the regular Sunday Eucharist option mentioned above. For those of you who have experienced it, does that mean foregoing the usual wedding trappings (gowns,attendants, bridal marches, etc.)? Do members of the community find it intrusive? In parishes with limited seating,are invitations mailed? And though I suspect that they are,are marriages begun in the presence of the larger community more likely to succeed?

  6. Matthew Meloche says:

    Does it also mean that the organist loses his stipend for the wedding? Were it not for wedding stipends during this past Summer, I still wouldn’t have furniture and would be sleeping on a sleeping bag on the floor.

    Some full time music director/organists are given a lower salary if their Parish is known to have a lot of weddings and therefore that is considered part of their income (i.e. 30 weddings at $200/wedding = $6000).

  7. Fred says:

    I have played for one wedding in the context of a Sunday liturgy (actually the Saturday evening vigil). The processional was simply the opening hymn, recessional we did a regular “wedding” march out. The couple was dressed in suit and dress but not traditional wedding attire. They did have reserved pews for themselves and close family. They had one couple “stand up” with them who joined in the procession in (along with the couple, the priest, the servers) – the bride didn’t carry a bouquet but I don’t see any reason she couldn’t have had she chosen to. The couple was well known in and active in the parish, so I think the parishioners who happened to be at the Mass (and weren’t invited to the reception) were nonetheless happy to attend – and it really didn’t last any longer than a regular Mass.

    Lent weddings have always been permitted at the parishes where I’ve played – but rarely happened (time of year, tradition, etc.) Perhaps the only exceptions have been Valentine’s Day weddings (or close to the 14th) when Lent starts early -as it did this year. But again, the church couldn’t be decorated, purple vestments, etc.

    Saturday evening weddings have been allowed at any parish where I’ve played. Usually though, even with a 5 PM Mass, the wedding would start at 7. I can’t imagine wanting to start that late, but many did.

  8. Anne says:

    Clearly there is much to consider or re-consider before marriages at Sunday Eucharist become a popular option again. However I don’t see this as an insurmountable problem. The fact that the number of priests is declining…(btw,another option for parish priests is that ordained deacons can preside at weddings)..I think it’s high time more parishes start to offer this. Of course couples will have to decide what’s more important, a wedding with a large procession, their choice of music and readings, a photographer etc…or the sacrament itself which not only effects themselves but the whole community. Until there is more catechesis about this whatever option is chosen by the couple is to be respected. Also, if the Sunday Eucharist option is chosen, I’m sure something could be worked out for the organist worried about $$$…lol. This is the best possible option in view of what the church professes about all sacraments. Sacraments are not private functions.

  9. Rob F. says:

    Armchair liturgist indeed! I have no experience planning weddings apart from my own. Nevertheless, here are my thoughts.

    My wife and I were married on a holy day of obligation, so we could not select our readings, and all the propers were from the day, of course, instead of from the ritual mass. On the other hand, we got our own priest; it was not a regular parish mass, so we could and did have a wedding march (Charpentier, IIRC) and an exchange of bouquets. The Ave Maria was out, though.

    I imagine that what went for us, would go for anyone else getting married on a Saturday evening or Sunday or other holy day of obligation.

    If I recall the rubrics correctly, there is to be no unaccompanied instrumental music during Lent (or Advent either), so we could not have had a wedding march if we had gotten married then. I can’t imagine that would be the first choice of too many couples here in the US, where a wedding march is traditional.

  10. Liam says:

    The only slots I can think of readily in most parishes would be, in order of popularity:

    1. Early Saturday afternoons (the wedding has to clear out before confessions start before the vigil Mass – late brides will find penitents wandering around the vestibule towards the end of the wedding…I’ve witnessed this personally).

    2. Sunday afternoons

    3. Friday evenings

    4. Late Saturday mornings (after daily mass and/or funerals) – that would be what I would be encouraging more of.

    5. During the regular liturgy – hard to do for any weddings of size that would have guests who would force regular Mass attendees out, as it were. In particular, among those regular Mass attendees, elderly and disabled people who are accustomed to having certain kinds of access (parking) and seating need to be very carefully considered regardless of the wishes of the bride and groom, as it were. If the photographer decides to take that lovely extra space up next to the end of a corner pew, she may find an irate person in a wheelchair muttering about being displaced from a rare safe spot and then being stuck in a very awkward spot. Et cet. Put those logistical issues up towards the top because, if you can’t make them work, there’s really no feasibility.

  11. Tom says:

    1. We discourage it, but do not ban weddings in lent. They do need to be toned down.

    2. Weddings on Saturday after 7:00pm are possible, but at least once a year someone (usually a mother of a bride) will ask if we can cancel Sat vigil mass on the date of her daughter’s wedding. :)

    3. We have had 3 weddings over the past 10 years at our Sat 5:00pm Mass.

    4. We would almost never have more than one wedding per weekend but we do have a parish not far from us with 4000+ families that has a limit. There parish council has been active over the past couple of years helping the pastor plan for the near future where there will only be one priest who will have 5 regular weekend masses. When that is combined with 1 or 2 weddings and maybe a funeral…..when is enough, enough.

  12. Padrevic says:

    Here are my answers:

    1. We allow them, just no flowers…none. Everything else toned down; dramatically.

    2. Like those above, the wedding can only begin at 7pm with no photos before, because of people leaving Vigil. Also the parties cannot arrive early. Friday is always an option.

    3. Two per weekend. One priest and three deacons it is all we could do.

    A few thoughts. I worked at a “wedding factory” parish for my first three years. We always had slots for 3 weddings per weekend. we allowed weddings during Lent, only slightly toned down. We had funerals early if they wanted Sat with a wedding in the early slot. People were told from the beginning that their ceremony might have to be held as a service of the Word (not Mass) depending on if there was a funeral or illness or some other unplanned situation. I enjoyed working in the “factory” but i am glad those days are over for now. I cannot forget to mention how important a good church supplied wedding coordinator is to a parish. Once they knew how the wedding would flow, they did the night before rehearsal (as part of final meeting the couple and I would go to the Church and do a rehearsal, done at a time they would actually remember something of it)
    wedding coordinators make weddings a breeze, thanks be to God for that ministry. sorry for the long comment.

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