The Catholic Wedding Ceremony

Having a Catholic wedding? Here's what makes up the traditional ceremony

If you're planning a Catholic ceremony, you have quite a few decisions to make. In addition to processional and recessional music, you'll need to choose hymns, Psalms, readings, and blessing. A little confused? Here's a step-by-step guide through the traditional Catholic ceremony to help you plan.

The Processional

First the groom and the best man enter from the side of the church. Then the bridesmaids and groomsmen escort one another up the aisle, followed by the maid of honor, who enters alone. And last but certainly not least, the bride and her father (or another male family member) make their grand entrance.


The priest invites the wedding guests to join in an opening hymn (or song).

Greeting or Opening Prayer

After the hymn, the priest begins the mass with a greeting to the guests or an opening prayer.

Old Testament Reading

Here's your opportunity to include those people you couldn't squeeze into your bridal party—ask a friend or family member to read a passage from the Old Testament. Often, couples choose a reading from the book of Genesis, which contains the story of the creation of Adam and Eve.


You can either have the church soloist or the entire congregation sings the Psalm. Some choices include "Taste and See the Goodness of the Lord," "Sing a New Song," and "On Eagle's Wings."

New Testament Reading

Here's another chance to include a loved one. Choose a friend or family member to read a passage of your choosing from the New Testament.


The priest will read a passage from one of the first four books of the New Testament, written by the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


After the Gospel, the priest will expound or reflect upon what he has just read.

Vows and Ring Ceremony

You have at least three choices. You can memorize and recite the vows to one another, read the vows from the book, or have the priest read them and respond with "I do." Some priests might allow you to write your own vows or add a couple lines to the traditional ones. After you exchange vows, you'll exchange rings and the priest will bless them as symbols of your love and fidelity.

The Kiss

You can probably figure this one out on your own. Instead of "You may now kiss the bride," you might ask the priest to say, "You may now exchange a kiss."

Nuptial Blessing

The priest blesses your new union with a prayer.

Sign of Peace

The guests and wedding party exchange a sign of peace, by shaking hands and saying, "Peace be with you."


The priest offers communion to the members of the church. Generally, at the rehearsal he'll ask which members of the wedding party plan to take communion. Then at the ceremony, your non-Catholic attendants can walk through the line and give him an inconspicuous nod.

Lord's Prayer

The entire congregation says the Lord's Prayer in unison.

Blessing and Dismissal of Congregation

One more blessing, and then the priest will dismiss the congregation by saying, "This mass has ended. You may now go in peace."


Make your recession in the reverse order of the processional.

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