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A Catholic wedding is a beautiful, sacred ceremony that many Catholics look forward to their entire lives. In Catholicism, marriage is one of seven holy sacraments, during which God’s love is present to the couple and also flows through them to their family and community.
Considering God is the guest of honor, a Catholic wedding is a meticulously planned event. Catholic weddings typically take place within a wedding mass, which are filled with long-standing rituals and traditions, prayers, and songs.
If not all your guests are familiar with Catholic weddings, the religious proceedings can be quite confusing. A Catholic wedding program is helpful to hand out to your guests before they take their seats to help them follow along.
“Friends and family gather on your wedding day to celebrate you as a couple and to witness your sacrament of marriage, and a wedding program helps orient your guests to the space, gives them a quick guide for the next hour or so, and can also help familiarize them with the beauty of the Catholic Mass,” says Chloe Langr, author of Created for Love: Reflections for the Catholic Bride-to-Be.
“A wedding program offers a beautiful chance to share about your Catholic faith with those you love. Simple things like a quick explanation of what is going on at different parts of the ceremony and how to enter into the prayer of the Mass alongside you as a couple is a way to welcome your guests into the celebration of your day in an intentional way.”
While your priest and/or church will do all the actual ceremony planning, it’s up to the couple to provide Catholic wedding programs for their guests. Ahead, we have a detailed list of everything you need to include in your Catholic wedding program to make sure your guests can feel comfortable following along.
What to Include in a Catholic Wedding Program
Here’s the order of a Catholic wedding mass to include in your program:
Prelude music is usually played or sung about 15 minutes before the start of your ceremony as your guests are getting to their seats.
The priest and groom enter first from the side of the venue and take their place at the front of the church, followed by the wedding party. The bride, escorted by her father, enters last.
Greeting and Opening Prayer
The priest will begin the mass by saying a few words about the couple and the sacrament of marriage, and will finish with an opening prayer.
Liturgy of the Word
This section of the ceremony contains:
- The First Reading
- Responsorial Psalm
- Second Reading
- Gospel Acclamation
The readings, psalm, and gospel can be found in the missal, a liturgical book containing all instructions and texts necessary to follow along during mass. Including page numbers in your wedding program gives guests the opportunity to join in the prayers and songs.
The Rite of Marriage
This part of the ceremony includes the exchange of vows, the blessing and exchange of rings, and prayers of the faithful, which is a list of intentions the priest asks the church guests to pray over.
Liturgy of the Eucharist
This part of the wedding ceremony includes:
- Presentation of the Gifts
- Eucharistic Prayer
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Nuptial Blessing
- Sign of Peace
This is the part of the ceremony that is the most similar to a traditional Sunday mass. For those new to the Catholic church, it would be helpful to include an explanation of the Eucharist in your wedding program.
“The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a brief explanation of the Eucharist for non-Christians and non-Catholics that you can include in your program,” says Langr. “You could invite your guests who aren’t receiving the Eucharist to come up and receive a blessing, or to stay in their pew and pray for your new marriage.”
After communion, the priest will end the mass with a final prayer, blessing the new union and all who were gathered to witness this couple experience the sacrament of holy matrimony.
The newlyweds will exit the altar back down the aisle, followed by their wedding party. A cocktail hour or reception usually follows, so we suggest including those details on the wedding program.
“The last page or section of your wedding program is the perfect place to share logistical details for the reception,” says Langr. “A simple line sharing the time and address of the venue is helpful for guests who may have left their wedding invite at home hanging on their fridge.”
Catholic Wedding Program Example/Template
Front of Program
Welcome to the wedding ceremony of [Name] and [Name].
[Name of Church]
Please stand as the bride enters.
GREETING AND OPENING PRAYER
LITURGY OF THE WORD
The First Reading Genesis 1:26-28, 31
Read by [Name, Relation]
Responsorial Psalm “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.”
Second Reading Hebrews 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8a
Read by [Name, Relation]
Gospel Acclamation “Alleluia”
THE RITE OF MARRIAGE
Exchange of Vows
Blessing and Exchange of Rings
Prayers of the Faithful
Read by [Name, Relation]
LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST
Presentation of the Gifts “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”
The Lord’s Prayer
Sign of Peace
Communion “On Eagle’s Wings”
“This is the Day (That the Lord Has Made)”
Back of Program
Parents of the Bride: [Names]
Parents of the Groom: [Names]
Maid of Honor: [Name]
Best Man: [Name]
Ring Bearer: [Name]
Flower Girl: [Name]
We are so blessed to celebrate our union in the presence of our closest family and friends. Thank you for being here with us today and every day.
How to Personalize Your Catholic Wedding Program
In addition to the ceremony order, you also want to include your names, the date of your wedding, and the name of the church that you’re getting married at on the front of the wedding program. If the church has some significance, like one of you was baptized in the same church or you attended mass here as a couple, you can share that story to help your guests get to know you better.
“You could include a personal touch like a prayer that you’ve prayed together, or a Scripture passage or quote from a saint that is important to your relationship,” says Langr. “You could also use the space to pay tribute to loved ones who have gone before you.”
Any stationery designer or printer can create Catholic wedding programs to match your wedding theme. Minted, Zola, Artifact Uprising, and Zazzle are also great options if you want to create your own custom program.
Many couples keep their wedding program as a keepsake and either frame it or tuck it away along with any other mementos of the day. Also, make sure your photographer gets a copy to include in some detail shots!