From this point Mrs. Fenner gets into wedding etiquette. I just can’t do it. It would be like facing another presidential campaign. I don’t have the heart. Describing the engagement part alone seems to me as daunting as painting the hull of a battleship in my pajamas as it floats in a rough see in January near the Artic Circle. But there is one part that piqued my interest: How to make your wedding more Catholic.
Mrs. Fenner does not say it but we’ll rush right in and say first; don’t do things at your wedding service or Mass that are not Catholic and are not part of our Tradition or tradition or are not part of your cultural background. Having such things as the “jumping of the broom” and the “sand ceremony” and the terrible “unity candle” ceremony (with which there are so many problems I will not even write about it again but you can find more here) just add repetition, time stalling ceremonies, and conflicting or competitive symbols.
A wedding Mass may or may not be most appropriate. This is a time of unification. If one family is largely not Catholic it might be more wise not to have a Mass at which a large percentage of the people will be asked in one manner or another to not come forward during Communion. But if both families are Catholic, by all means have a Mass.
Bearing in mind that a couple is engaging in a sacrament when they marry, symbols of the sacrament may be used. The most common is the interlocking rings combined with a cross. These may be used on the program or even the invitation. This and other Catholic/Christian symbols may also be used on the wedding cake. “The foolish bide-and-groom dolls or orange blossoms which usually decorate a wedding cake are symbols,” writes Mrs. Fenner, “although we seldom think of them as such because too-frequent use has rendered them almost meaningless.”
A worship aid may also be used. It should not simply be a list of characters such as is found at the end of a movie, but of true use. What is going on? Who may go to Communion? What is done next? What does it mean? Where do I find the hymn?
Wedding rings might engraved on the inside of the band with a short Scripture passage. Flowers may take on significant meaning. For example, roses are the most common and are symbolic of Mary. Traditionally red is for the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary, yellow for the glorious, and white for the joyful.
There are some ceremonies that, while not part of the liturgy of the Church, are somewhat acceptable. One is the visit to the Mary altar by the bride (and groom) during the singing of the Ave Maria. Generally a rose is left at her altar as a token of that prayer. Since it is not a part of the actual ceremony it should almost seem as though it were a spontaneous act on the part of the couple overcome with joy and moved by the singing of this Marian hymn. Therefore it should not be announced, “NOW THE BRIDE WILL BE GOING OVER TO THE MARY STATUE TO . . .” Rather, when the hymn is sung (maybe as a reflection after Communion,) the bride simply stands, walks over to the chapel and prays, leaves a rose, and returns to her seat before the end of the song.