Do You Know Catholic Wedding Etiquette?

By: Jennifer Post
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Where are Catholic weddings allowed to take place?
Anywhere
In a Catholic church
On the property of a Catholic church
B and C
A Catholic marrying another Catholic can marry nowhere other than the territory of a Catholic parish, usually the one in which they live. If the bride and groom belong to different parishes, the wedding usually takes place in the parish of the bride.

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What do non-Catholics do when it is time to receive Communion?
Wait in line with everyone else
Remain seated
Only those who have received the sacrament of the eucharist may receive communion during a Catholic wedding ceremony. The ushers will move row by row to allow guests to receive Communion, so those not receiving should remain seated.
Go to the back of the line
Leave

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What is the "Sign of Peace"?
Where you turn to the people near you, shake hands and say "peace be with you"
In this tradition, it is a time to appreciate those around you and wish them good fortune and peace in life. You shake the hand of the person next to you, or people around you, and wish them peace, and they do it back to you.
When all the guests give the bride and groom a thumbs up after they say "I Do"
A signal the priest gives to the guests, telling them to stand, kneel, or sit
Instead of a kiss, the bride and groom embrace in a sign of peace between them and God

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Should you wear a hat to a Catholic wedding?
Why not?
There is nothing wrong with it.
It is considered rude.
While there is so expressly written rule that you cannot wear a hat to a Catholic wedding, it is frowned upon and considered rude. Normally, the wedding invitation will specify what guests should wear.
The Bible forbids it.

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What should one do upon entering the Church?
Nothing
It depends on your religion
If you are Catholic, you will most likely dip your finger in the Holy Water and make the sign of the cross. Or, you could drop your right knee by the tabernacle. However, if you are not Catholic, you don't have to do any of these things.
Make the sign of the cross
Dip your finger in Holy Water

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What are the vows called in a Catholic ceremony?
Vows
Rites of Marriage
While the verbiage will change from parish to parish, the words exchanged between the bride and groom are called the Rite of Marriage. For this, the entire congregation will stand, and the couple will recite their vows, which are actually the traditional wedding vows you are used to.
Rites of Passage
An agreement

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Is a Mass required for a Catholic ceremony?
Yes, it is one of the requirements of having your ceremony in a Catholic church.
No, it is just an option.
Catholic ceremonies can take place with or without a Mass, and opting for the Mass will add about 15-30 minutes to the process. They are usually combined because of the Sacrament of the Eucharist representing the bond of love between the bride and groom.
No, the mass takes place at a separate time.
Yes, but all guests are not required to attend.

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Do you have to kneel to pray?
Yes, you do what the priest asks.
You do not have to.
While the priest will ask you to kneel to pray, if you are not comfortable with that, especially if you are not religious, then you do not have to. The Catholic church has modernized, especially for weddings, to realize that some of these traditions cannot be forced on people
Yes, it is just part of the ceremony.
No, you sit.

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What should you do for the Introductory Rite?
Stand
The Introductory Rite is when the priest leads the way down the aisle carrying the cross. "Gloria" is a common hymn sung during that time, followed by a prayer, in which you will stand for all of it.
Kneel
Sit
Walk

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What type of dress should you not wear?
Strapless
Short
Keep in mind, you are not at this wedding for yourself, you are there for the bride and groom who invited you, and you are in a holy house. It is important to be respectful in as many ways as possible, and not wearing short or revealing attire is one way to do that.
Long
Red

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What is proper attire for males?
Shirt and tie, possibly a jacket
Just like women, men should dress conservatively. Details about dress should be included in the invitation, but if not, it's better to err on the side of caution and go shirt, tie and jacket. You can always take off the jacket if needed.
Button down shirt
Jeans and a polo
Tuxedo

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What is different about Catholic wedding receptions?
They are way longer
They don't start for hours after the ceremony ends
Absolutely nothing
While some receptions do start hours after a Catholic ceremony, this comes down to the timing of the chosen venue of the bride and groom, and not the Catholic religion. There is still music, dancing, food and cake!
There is a prayer every hour

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Is it OK to be late for the wedding?
Yes, you can just stand in the back.
No, you should arrive at the time the invitation states.
No, you should arrive 15-30 minutes early.
Since there are so many processionals and traditions that take place at the very start of the ceremony, it is rude to interrupt them. It is suggested to arrive 15-30 minutes prior to the start time so you can figure out where you're seated and chat.
Yes, you can be quiet and take your seat.

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Can you bring children?
Unless otherwise stated by the couple, all, including children, are welcome.
It is commonplace in churches that everyone is welcome, and that includes children at weddings. However, the bride and groom can request that children not be present, so make sure you check with them before bringing the little ones.
No, children are not allowed.
Children can attend the ceremony, but not the reception.
Children can attend the reception, but not the ceremony.

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Is alcohol permitted at Catholic wedding receptions?
Yes, of course!
There really aren't many difference between Catholic receptions and non-religious receptions. There might be more prayers and blessings, but everything else, including alcohol, will be the same.
The church does not condone recreational drinking.
Beer and wine only, no liquor
Yes, but only until 9 p.m.

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Since the ceremonies are long, can you get up and leave throughout?
Yes, if you are discreet
No, that is considered highly rude.
In the grand scheme of things, the ceremonies are not that long. They traditionally last from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. Since you are witnessing the holy sacrament of marriage, it is highly frowned upon to leave during the ceremony.
Yes, but only during the break
No, unless you receive permission

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Are there any colors off-limits for guests to wear?
Black
Red
White
It is tradition in most weddings that guests shouldn't wear white to weddings, but most important at Catholic weddings because white is a symbolization of virginity, and in the Catholic religion, women are meant to remain virgins until marriage.
Neon colors

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What should guests do in between the ceremony ending and the reception starting?
Whatever they want
Since there are usually long gaps between the end of a Catholic ceremony and the reception time, guests may find themselves with time to kill. There are no rules as to what they can do, so if they want to grab a drink or a quick snack, they are free to do so.
Go where the bride and groom go
Go back home
Go to the reception spot to wait

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What kind of music cannot be played at a reception?
No rap music
Only church approved ballads
Preferably nothing with curse words in it
There are no limits on music.
That Catholic church does not preside over the reception, so there are no church limitations placed on the type of music that can be played. The only limitation would come down to what the bride and groom like.

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When can Catholic ceremonies not take place?
In the summer
During times of confession
Churches are a place of worship and are usually open at all time for people to come and go. However, the church will close to the public when there is a wedding, but there are limitations on when weddings can take place. If the church has regular confession hours, the wedding must be completely over before that starts, which is why many Catholic ceremonies take place in the early to mid-afternoon.
At night
On Tuesdays

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Can the bride and groom see each other before the ceremony?
It is deeply rooted in tradition not to do so.
The tradition of not seeing each other before the wedding came from the time of arranged marriages. It was thought that if the couple had time to see each other beforehand, they would have time to change their mind and escape.
Yes, times have changed.
It is bad luck!
Yes, that doesn't apply to Catholic weddings.

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Can children participate in ceremonies?
They usually act as flower girl and ring bearer.
Just as in non-religious weddings, kids can serve as the flower girl or ring bearer. There may be more specifics in a Catholic ceremonies, but the concept is the same.
No, they would be too disruptive.
Yes, if they are accompanied by the parents at all times
No, they don't understand what's happening.

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Can you go to the reception but not the ceremony?
If that's what you choose
It is not suggested.
The Catholic Church is all about sacraments, tradition, and respect. If you are invited to the ceremony with the reception following, you are expected to attend both, or neither.
Yes, only immediate family members are invited to the ceremony
You could go to the ceremony and not the reception, but not the other way around

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Can someone else officiate the wedding?
With permission from the church
Absolutely not
In a Catholic wedding, the couple must be married by a priest. If not, the marriage is not valid in the eyes, or law, of the church.
If it's an immediate relative
Only the parts that aren't prayers

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What happens if you don't kneel during prayer?
You will be asked to do so
Nothing
If you are not religious, or do not wish to kneel for prayer, no one will force you. Weddings bring together all sorts of people, and you get to retain your personal choices while attending one.
You will not be allowed to receive Communion
You will have to say 10 Hail Marys

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Where must a Catholic reception take place?
At a church-approved venue
At the house on the church property
It can take place anywhere
There are no guidelines for where receptions can take place after a Catholic ceremony. It can be in a garden, a barn or anywhere else that holds weddings.
At a nearby hotel

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What if you want to express your belief that the man and woman should not be married?
You say it when the priest asks
Come forward before the wedding
In Catholic ceremonies, the priest does not ask if anyone objects to the marriage. Instead, weddings are announced in newspapers ahead of the ceremony. If you object, you would come forward before the wedding day.
You keep it to yourself
Don't go to the wedding

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When should you clap at the end of the ceremony?
After the final prayer
After the kiss
You shouldn't
If the ceremony includes Mass, it will end with the sign of peace. If there is no mass, the ceremony will end with "Go in peace with Christ." There isn't usually a kiss at the end, and no clapping.
After the sign of peace

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Who gives the bride away?
Her father
God
No one
In Catholic tradition, no one gives the bride or groom away. They believe that the bride and groom give themselves to each other.
The mother

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What sacraments need to be completed in order to have a Catholic wedding?
Baptism
Confirmation
Communion
All of the above
In order to have a Catholic ceremony, both the bride and groom must be baptized, have received first communion and been confirmed. Finding these documents doesn't take much time, but if one or both parties is converting, that is a much longer process.

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Can Catholic weddings be sort of last minute?
Yes, as long as the church has nothing else going on
No, Catholic weddings must be booked a year in advance.
Catholic weddings need to be planned around the priest's schedule. You'll also need ample time leading up to the wedding for the classes and meetings.
It can be booked no shorter than three months in advance.
They can, but not held at the church

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Who walks the maid of honor down the aisle?
The best man
The ring bearer
She walks down by herself
Since the groom and best man enter the altar through a side door, the maid of honor is left to walk down the aisle alone. She is the last one to walk down the aisle before the bride.
The groom's parents

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Can other family members be included in the ceremony?
Yes, during the Old or New Testament reading
Having a loved one read a passage from the Old or New Testament is a good way to include a friend who couldn't be part of the wedding party, or a family member who has special meaning to you. This comes after the opening hymn
No, it's not proper.
Yes, but only siblings
No, only the official wedding party can participate.

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Can the bride and groom write their own vows?
No, they must use the traditional vows.
Yes, they can add personal vows to the traditional ones.
While the bride and groom must recite the traditional Rite or Marriage vows, they can add their own vows as well. They can either be read by the bride and groom themselves, or by the priest.
Yes, they can use fully original vows.
No, the priest must write them.

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When do guests give the offertory?
Prior to the processional
After the recessional
They don't, but the bride does
A and B
The guests can either do it before the processional or just after the recessional. The timing, though, will depend on the priest.

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