I know that some wedding ceremonies are very, very short, and that is fine. I have been to quite a few short ceremonies, and they have all been perfectly lovely. However, Mr. CA and I are practicing Catholics and we knew going into this that our wedding day was first and foremost about just that—our union before God and our closest friends and family. So we wanted the ceremony to be very meaningful and personalized. Well, as much as the Catholic mass can be personalized! We spent a lot of time choosing readings and songs, deciding who would do what, etc. I actually really enjoyed this part of wedding planning, because it was part of the actual “getting married” planning. The Catholic Nuptial Mass is, of course, fairly set in terms of what happens when, but you depending on your priest/church, you do get a large amount of flexibility on readings, etc. Fr. John even told us that if there was an excerpt from literature or something that was particularly meaningful to us, we could include that as a reading instead of a traditional Bible reading. We didn’t end up going that route, but I really appreciated that the option was there!
Anyway, enough of my blabbering. I really enjoyed our ceremony, so I will just let the images and the words speak for themselves. I loved Fr. John’s contributions to the mass, so I will be copying portions of the mass below. It’s a bit long, and for that I apologize but, well, the Catholic Nuptial Mass is long! You have been warned…
My brothers and sisters, on behalf of G and J, I am happy to welcome you to this blessed event. On this beautiful day, they have called us here to be with them, to stand with them as they offer themselves to one another.
My name is Fr. John Whitney, and I have the great joy of witnessing this marriage on behalf of the Church; but the truth is, all of us here are called to witness, called to celebrate, called to bless this union with our prayers and with our heartfelt support.
It is important to J and G that each one of you is here, because you are part of their community of love. And so—on their behalf—I invite you to be active in this celebration, and to feel yourself an important part of it.
Though we may come here from various traditions and diverse backgrounds, we are united by our love for G and J, so I invite you to feel at home here, today. Now, filled with the Spirit of love, let us pray…
He then said an opening prayer. I love the calm and serenity I feel when looking at the above picture. It is how I remember much of the mass—just me, Mr. CA, and the priest, but feeling the warmth and love surrounding us from our guests. It was really very powerful.
Since my dad walked me down the aisle, we wanted my mom, stepmom, and Mr. CA’s parents to be involved in the rest of the ceremony as readers. I loved that our families were part of the ceremony, and I hope they felt very included!
Our first reading was Song of Songs 8:6-7a (NRSV) “Set me as a seal upon your heart.” This was and still is my absolute favorite verse of all time. I asked my mom to read it when we were first getting our ceremony set. When my grandfather passed two weeks before the wedding, I think the reading took on a bit of a different meaning for her; she got a little choked up when she read it at the rehearsal. I did too. It was really tough, but I think it showed what a powerful reading it is. I felt bad, and was worried that it would be a bit too fresh still the day of the wedding. I did ask her if she wanted to switch readings, but she said no. And, of course, my mom rocked it out on the day of the wedding. I, however, did get slightly choked up again, wishing that my grandpa could be with us. Then I remembered that, of course, he was there with me. It was the closest I came to crying on my wedding day.
Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm. For love is as strong as death, passion fierce as the grave. Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love, neither can floods drown it!
Next up was my stepmom with our second reading, Colossians 3:12-17 (NRSV) “Clothe yourselves with love.” Mr. CA chose this reading, and while at first I wasn’t so sure (I really wanted 1 Corinthians 13, dang it!!), it actually grew on me and I am so glad we included this as a reading. I love the advice for relationships, and I do love the phrase “clothe yourselves with love.” I think we could all benefit from clothing ourselves in love.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved,clothe yourselves with compassion, with kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another; and if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another, in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Next, Fr. John read our Gospel reading, John 15:9-12 (NABR) “Remain in my love.”
Jesus said to his disciples,
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments,
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.”
He then said the homily, which, to be honest, I do not remember much. Whoops! According to the above picture, I was paying very close attention and was taking everything very seriously, while Mr. CA was grinning like a goober at one of our family members or friends. Typical.
As an aside, I loved that my dress allowed for my shoes to peep out! A few people told me at the reception that they loved how they could see my shoes sparkling during the ceremony. Win!
After the homily came the main event—the Rite of Marriage! Fr. John asked us to step forward so that we were in the middle of the altar, and our bridal party came up on each side of us. He introduced the Rite, and asked us to state our intentions.
Fr. John: G and J, have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?
Us: We have.
Fr. John: Will you love and honor each other as husband and wife for the rest of your lives?
Us: We will.
Fr. John: Will you accept children lovingly from God, and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church?
Us: We will.
Fr. John: Members of this community, on behalf of the whole Church, will we commit ourselves to love and support this couple so that they may live well the marriage into which they are entering?
Friends and Family: We will.
And so, J and G, you have heard the support of this community and feel the embrace of its love. Now, since it is your intention to enter into marriage, join your hands and declare your intent.
We had already started holding hands by that point, so we were good to go with our vows! We decided we wanted to keep the traditional Catholic vows, and I was so nervous that I would forget them when the time came. Thankfully, that did not happen! I know the vows aren’t incredibly personalized, but I loved the weight of the tradition behind them, and I feel like they were very personal when we said them. Does that make sense? I meant every word of them, and I plan on living that vow for the remainder of my days.
I, Jeffrey, take you, Galen, to be my wife. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
I, Galen, take you, Jeffrey, to be my husband. I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.
Fr. John: You have professed your vows before this community and the whole people of God. May the Lord strengthen your commitment and consecrate your life with many blessings.
What God joins together, no one may divide.
Next came the blessing and exchange of rings. We got the rings on, although I did have to shove Mr. CA’s on a bit, as his fingers were slightly bigger due to stress/heat/booze/whatever. Thankfully, it went on eventually.
And with that, we were officially married!! YAY!
Look at those happy faces!! Mr. CA’s parents lead us in the Prayers of the Faithful:
For G and J: May their lives be filled with laughter, their home be filled with peace, and their hearts be filled with love for all their lives.
For the family and friends of J and G who are gathered here: May the love we witness bring us to greater unity, to greater joy, and to deeper awareness of the many ways we are blessed.
For family and friends far away, who could not be with us today: May the joy of this day reach out to distant friends, as their love has reached out to us.
For those who have gone before us, yet whose love remains in our hearts, especially Paul Lorentz, Leland Smith, Mary Helen Heffernan, Frank Stafford, and Joe and Eleanor Burkhart. May our lives shine with the grace of the people who have loved us in this life and pray for us now.
For our world: May the love we celebrate today be a sign of hope and a gift of peace to all the world.
Next came the Liturgy of the Eucharist. During the Preparation of the Table and the Gifts, we asked my sister to sing “The Summons,” which is my all-time favorite mass song. Seriously, please listen—it is so good! And a very good wedding song, as well.
My dad and Mr. CA’s mom brought forward the gifts, and Fr. John prepared them. We stood up at the altar throughout the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
I am not sure why, but the above shot is one of my favorites from the day. It just gives me a huge sense of peace, and I love that you can just barely see that Mr. CA and I are holding hands. Plus, I think my dress looks gooooooood!
Everyone joined hands across the aisle for The Lord’s Prayer, and we all exchanged a sign of peace. Well, Mr. CA and I only went to the bridal party and our parents, because it would have taken an hour to get everyone in the church, but you get the idea.
Then, Fr. John invited everyone to come forward during communion regardless of their faith.
If you are not in the habit of receiving the Eucharist, you are invited to come forward and receive a blessing from the bride and groom.
I loved that, even with so many non-Catholics at the wedding, every single person came forward. And I loved that Mr. CA and I chose to give communion and blessings.
After that, it was almost time to go. The bridal party was invited back to the altar area, and Fr. John gave his final Nuptial Blessing.
My dear friends, we are surrounded by grace today, surrounded by gifts of music and prayer, and by the love of this couple, which brings us here.
Before we leave this holy and happy ceremony, let us take a moment to call down the Spirit upon J and G.
This solemn nuptial blessing allows us to give them our greatest gift: our prayers of support and hope.
And so, from whatever tradition you may come, whatever brings you to this place, however you know G and J, I ask you to stand and offer them your blessing, your good wishes, the love you have for them and their life together.
And, as I pray aloud, I invite you to pray along in your own hearts.
God, our life and our hope: by your design, married life has been created, that through the constancy of human love the earth may be renewed and the blessing of new life spread to all the world.
Look graciously upon your daughter, G, and your son, J, whom you have united in marriage. As you have clothed them in your love, let them live, united in the peace of your Son.
May they love each other with a passion strong as death, and shine with a fire that no flood can quench.
May they always trust each other, respect each other, hope in each other; may they be for one another the chosen partner for their journeys, the blessed companion of their prayers, the beloved friend, in whom they find harmony and abiding peace.
Generous God, give to J and G hearts able to forgive, and filled with Thanksgiving. May they offer kindness to all who seek their help, and generously give themselves to those in need.
If it is your will, O God, bless G and J with children, and help them to be good parents, passing on the gifts they have received, and offering an example of love to all those given to their care.
May they grow old together, and see their children’s children gathered around them in joy until they come, at last, to the fullness of life in you...
By the mercy of God, we have witnessed this sacred moment. May it deepen our faith, and our love for one another…
My brothers and sisters, allow me to introduce the newly married J and G CA!
Fr. John had asked us how we wanted to be introduced, and I told him that I would be taking Mr. CA’s last name, so he introduced us as J and G CandyApple. He also told us that this would be the time for “a big kiss!” so we knew what to do…
Bahahaha! KISS! I look like I have no face here. Horrible angle for me, but oh well.
So happy. Love that man. I think I said something like “hi husband!”
And that was it! Woohoo!!
We were married! And I was the happiest woman in the world at that moment.
Did you have a Catholic ceremony? A religious ceremony? Or a secular ceremony? Or did you just go down to City Hall and obtain a license? Did anyone else who had a Catholic ceremony have a priest that let them customize a lot of the ceremony? I know some people weren’t given the chance to have a “first kiss”—did your priest give you a time for that??
**All photography by Sarah Rhoads Photography unless otherwise noted**