Will you be attending one or more weddings this summer and fall?
Beyond basic etiquette and perception, attending or participating in a wedding—Catholic or otherwise—offers a unique opportunity to live out principles of our faith. Here, inspired by the saints’ famous encouragement to “preach the Gospel at all times; if necessary, use words,” our tips for incorporating the Catholic faith into your actions as a wedding guest or bridesmaid.
For Wedding Guests:
Pray for the bride and groom.
The gift of your intercession can only bear fruit in couples’ new lives together, even non-religious couples. Take time to contemplate a particular saint or prayer whose life or spirituality seems well-suited to the bride and groom, and consider beginning a novena in the nine days preceding the wedding. For the weddings of Catholic couples, you might share the prayer with them, invite friends to join you, or note in your card that you have invoked the prayers of our brothers and sisters in heaven.
Find suggested prayers and patrons for Catholic couples here.
Consider giving a religious gift.
The Church is alive and rich with craftsmen, artists, and distinctively Catholic items. Consider giving an off-registry wedding gift as a surprise for the couple, such as religious art, statues, or a family Bible in which they can inscribe their wedding date and--God willing--their future children’s sacramental milestones like Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation.
Looking for gift ideas? More here: How to Request a Papal Marriage Blessing | Gifts and Décor by Spoken Bride Vendors | Our team’s favorite Catholic gifts for the home | 5 Gift Ideas for Catholic Newlyweds
Find time for a meaningful moment with the couple.
The gift of encounter involves sincere face-to-face time with another, however brief. Reception table visits or receiving lines are a whirlwind for the bride and groom. Though it’s impossible for them to spend extended time with any one guest, strive to make your time with them meaningful: be genuine and honest in the conversation you share; ask them questions; be mindful of their need to make the rounds to as many guests as possible.
It’s also a considerate gesture to thank the parents of the couple at some point during the day, recognizing their financial, spiritual, and emotional contributions to the celebration.
Exemplify reverent dress and prayer.
Without speaking a word, appropriate dress and reverent participation in the Mass can be a powerful witness to non-Catholic or non-practicing guests.
Much as we might prefer to avoid them, thorny political or religious issues might come up in conversation at your reception table or during the cocktail hour. If you find yourself engaged in a debate, strive for respect and empathy above all. Someone who feels heard and understood is far less defensive than someone who feels attacked by argument: “[conversations like these are] rich with potential opportunities: occasions to truly listen to and see another and to defy stereotypes of what evangelization is all about.”
Cultivate a heart of service.
Standing by a bride at the altar involves so many tasks, major and minor, that lead to the moment of witnessing her say her vows. As you help her prepare for the big day, pray for a spirit of humility and service: anticipate her needs; willingly take on less fun and glamorous tasks like cleaning up after her bridal shower; pick up last-minute items and run errands for her.
Will you be the Maid of Honor? More on serving the bride with love.
Give a spiritual bouquet.
With the rest of the wedding party--and, if you like, any other friends and family you’d like to involve (perhaps by asking at her shower)--assemble a spiritual bouquet to present to the bride at the wedding rehearsal. A spiritual bouquet is a collection of prayers and intentions promised by cherished friends, and can be figurative or literal. Read more here about how to plan one.
Consider bringing a spiritual element to pre-wedding events.
If the bridal party is comprised of several Catholic women, consider incorporating elements of prayer, reflection, or worship into the bride’s bachelorette party, bridal shower, and rehearsal. If some bridesmaids are non-Catholic, be sure to extend the invitation to them, as well, and to identify ways they can still feel their presence is valued in these events if they choose to attend.
We love the uniqueness of every wedding, which reflects the personality and reality of every couple, and love hearing your stories. What are your own tips for Catholic wedding guests and wedding party members? Share in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.