Three brief sections reflecting on the needs for the Rite of Marriage. First the essentials:
§ 106 § The Rite of Christian Marriage contains no directives about the spatial requirements for the celebration. Instead, the ritual focuses upon the consent given by the bride and the groom, the ambo from which the word of God is proclaimed, and the altar at which the couple share the Body and Blood of Christ within a nuptial Mass.
The Rite of Marriage gives the couple, priest, and parish broad leeway in terms of ritualizing the moments outside of the liturgies of Word and the Eucharist.
§ 107 § The options within the Rite of Marriage provide for a procession of the priest and ministers to the door of the church to greet the wedding party, followed by an entrance procession, or the entrance of the wedding party and movement down the aisle to meet the priest celebrant at the altar. Some planners have experimented with seating arrangements that eliminate a center aisle in favor of two side aisles. Although this plan can be very useful by allowing the congregation to face the altar and the priest celebrant directly, it challenges parishes to plan how they will provide for entrance processions and recessionals, especially during wedding processions when all wish to have equal visual access to the wedding party.
In designing a church, most people will pnder the more popular local option or two for couples, and ensure that a new design accommodates this somewhat. By far I see more of the priest and ministers greeting the couple (reunited) at the edge of the sanctuary.
The reference above to two side aisles is a little curious. Churches with dseating in the round usually have a dedicated central aisle, even if it is not long.
§ 108 § If it is the custom to have the bride and groom seated in the sanctuary, then the design of the sanctuary should be spacious enough to allow an arrangement of chairs and kneelers that does not impinge upon the primary furniture in the sanctuary. Many ethnic groups and local churches have additional customs for the celebration of marriage that can be honored and accommodated when they are in keeping with the spirit of the liturgy.
How many churches provide for the wedding couple to be seated in the sanctuary?
All texts from Built of Living Stones are copyright © 2000, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Inc. All rights reserved. Used with permission.