The Sacrament of the wedding will be celebrated during the mass, if both spouses are Roman Catholic. If one of the two is Protestant, it is preferred that they only celebrate the Rite of Marriage, without mass.
This, however, is decided also by the parish of the spouses, during the preparation of the documents and the prematrimonial course.
A couple who would like to have a Roman Catholic wedding can choose from two basic types of services: a ceremony without a mass; or a wedding ceremony incorporated into the mass.
The first option is approximately a twenty minute service. It is quite straightforward, including readings and hymns and similar to a Protestant service.
The second choice is with a mass and is about an hour long.
San Peter's Basilica
NECESSARY DOCUMENTATION FOR A CATHOLIC WEDDING
The preliminaries for this type of wedding must be done through one of the spouses' parishes. He/she must begin the process at least 6-8 months prior to the preferred wedding date. The documents that must be completed by each of the spouses are:
- pre marriage preparation certificate of attendance from your pre cana class
- baptism certificates that must be issued within 6 months of your wedding
- confirmation certificates
- mixed marriage application completed if one of the spouses is not Catholic
For foreigners marrying in Italy, it is also necessary to produce:
- A Pre-Nuptial Inquiry or Pre-Nuptial Investigation, since this contains the Nulla Osta (Nihil Obstat), which is the authorization given to the spouses by their Bishop. It will contain permission for marrying outside of their parish. It is signed by the diocese of the couple. The religious documents are valid for 6 months from the time they are issued by the country of origin of the spouses. These documents must be sent within 2 months of the wedding date, so that there is enough time to make sure they are all correct and that nothing is missing. If you have been divorced, you will not be allowed to marry again in a Catholic Church. The ceremony could be done only if you can acquire an annulment from your previous marriage and have it recognized by the Church. Regency will arrange a meeting with the priest, who is celebrating the wedding, soon after the couple's arrival in Italy. At that time, particulars of the celebration will be discussed. The couple must prepare a booklet with the text of the ceremony written in it. This should be done with the help of their home parish. The booklet must be available at least one month prior to the wedding. This allows time for any needed changes to be made. Regency can help you with the organisation and co-ordination of your Catholic wedding in St. Peter's Basilica providing you with all the information required and supervising every stage of the wedding and of the ceremony. In order to be able to celebrate your wedding in Rome in the sumptuous St. Peter's Basilica, precise rules and regulations must be followed.
If the couple has been married civilly prior to the Catholic ceremony, they must present a copy of their legal marriage certificate. If instead, the couple wishes to have their Catholic wedding legally recognized, the wedding coordination agency must make special arrangements, in order for the couple to obtain "No Impediment" certificates. The agency will work with the official from the town hall, to verify the time and date of the declaration.
The ceremony usually begins with a welcome greeting by the priest, followed by an opening prayer. The readings and prayers follow. The congregation will stand and kneel at times, while non-Catholic guests can just sit quietly, while the others kneel. During the Lord's Prayer, the congregation is invited to participate in the recitations. Roman Catholics omit the Protestant version's final few lines, "For Thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever."
Readings from the Old and New Testament take place during the Liturgy of the Word, as well as a responsive reading of a psalm, the "Hallelujah" before the Gospel, and a Gospel reading. The couple can choose whomever they like to read these sections, either the priest or honored members of the family or wedding party.
After the reading, the recitation of the vows occurs, followed by the exchanging of the rings. The best man usually holds both rings and gives them to the priest, who blesses them. The priest then gives them to the bride and the groom, who place them on each other’s fingers. Brides may choose to honor the role of the Virgin Mary as Christ's Mother, presenting flowers at a side altar dedicated to Mary. This is followed by the Prayer of the Faithful, when the couple usually chooses to have some personal prayers read aloud. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is said at this time, during a mass. Those who are chosen to bring gifts of wine and bread to the altar carry out their role at this point. The Nuptial Blessing follows. There will then be a "sign of peace". The priest will say at this time, "Let us offer each other a sign of peace," when each member of the congregation turns to their neighbors, shake their hands, and says, "Peace be with you," or some other friendly greeting. Communion follows. In the Roman Catholic Church, communion is technically reserved for baptized Catholics only. However, the local priest may decide if a couple can participate or not.
Communion, the commemoration of Christ's last supper, is the ceremony in which bread and wine are consecrated and taken as the body and blood of Christ. To take communion, people walk down the center aisle to take the bread, usually a thin wafer, and sometimes a sip of wine, then come back up to the sides to their seats. The signing of the register follows Communion. The Lord's Prayer and a concluding blessing end the wedding ceremony without mass. When there is mass, the service ends with a blessing and the dismissal.