Planning Your Catholic Wedding
Setting the date of your wedding
Most parishes will allow you to set your wedding date after your premarital interview with a priest or deacon (assuming there is nothing that would delay or prevent your marriage). Most dioceses require that the wedding occur at least six to eight months after this initial interview in order to allow enough time for marriage preparation. In some places, the wedding date is tentative until required marriage preparation activities have been completed. Here are a few factors to consider as you choose the date of your wedding.
You may schedule your wedding for any day or time you like except for Good Friday and Holy Saturday during Triduum. You may also want to avoid scheduling your wedding during Advent (the time from four Sundays before Christmas through Christmas Eve) or Lent (the penitential period of about forty days between Ash Wednesday and Easter); weddings held during these times should take into account the fact that the whole Church is observing a special period of penance. Your pastor may advise you to "tone down" your wedding if you choose to hold it during this period.
Be aware that your local parish may limit the times and days when you may celebrate your wedding, for practical reasons. (For instance, many parishes will not allow weddings to be scheduled late on Saturday afternoons. to avoid conflicting with the usual Saturday evening Mass.) You might want to consider avoiding weekends when the parish staff is already really busy (and stressed) preparing for other parish celebrations, such as Confirmation, First Communion, parish festivals, etc. You will earn bonus points with your parish staff if you ask which dates work best for them.
Finally, here are some dates to avoid in general:
- major civic holidays (e.g., Memorial Day weekend)
- major sporting events (e.g., the World Series)
- graduation weekends
- the weekend before April 15 (tax day)
You may also wish to consider avoiding the busiest wedding months—August, June, July, September, October, and May—in order to have a wider selection of vendors and reception sites, and to get off-season deals.
You may schedule your wedding for any day of the week, but be aware that you are required to use the readings of the day from the Lectionary for Mass if you choose to have a wedding Mass on a Saturday evening or Sunday; you will not be able to choose your own readings on those days. You must also use the readings provided for the day if your wedding coincides with certain solemnities or feast days.
On a more positive note, here are some times and days you might not have considered:
- • There is no rule that says you must hold your wedding on a Saturday. A Friday evening wedding could be followed by a simple dessert-and-wine reception, for instance.
- • Some parishes might be open to incorporating your wedding into one of the regular weekend Masses—an especially appropriate option if you grew up in the parish or are an active member. However, you will not be able to choose your own readings or music, and the whole ceremony will probably need to be toned down.
- • Consider celebrating your wedding during the festive Christmas or Easter seasons. Retail stores might be discounting decorations and candy the day after these holidays, but the Church is just getting started: most parishes are decorated festively for Christmas until the Feast of the Epiphany, and the Easter season lasts for fifty days (although the lilies might be on display for only eight). Parish staffs are typically less busy following these major holidays, too.
- • Split church decorating costs with another couple by holding your weddings on the same day—but at different times. Or, if you know the other couple really well (college friends, siblings, etc.), consider being married at the same ceremony. A double wedding has the potential to be a disaster if either couple is particularly uncompromising about the details; on the other hand, it also has the potential to "double the fun" while halving many of the major expenses.
- • If you still can't decide on a date, consider scheduling your wedding to coincide with the feast day of your favorite saint. Or, after you've chosen a date, look up saints whose feast days or memorials are celebrated on that day and incorporate an appropriate devotion to the saint into your wedding ceremony, printed program, or reception. You can link to a calendar of saints' feast days and memorials under the "For more information" section below.
Liturgical Year Calendar
Check this calendar for the dates of Advent and Lent as well as major feasts and holy days of obligation. Also find the lectionary readings for every day (useful if you plan to use the Scripture readings from the lectionary during your wedding rather than choosing your own).