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How Long Is a Catholic Wedding?

a couple tying the knot in a catholic church

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According to Catholic doctrine, marriage is a sacrament—a holy symbol and means of expressing God’s love. The individuals required to carry out their lives together as Christ intended are given to married Catholics in a Catholic church. Based on Catholic teachings, marriage is a lifetime commitment involving two people becoming one body.

But how long do Catholic weddings last? One thing that determines the length of a Catholic wedding more than any other is whether there will be a mass. Without Mass, Catholic marriages typically last between 20 and 30 minutes. However, Catholic weddings that include Mass can go up to sixty minutes.

The main structural distinctions between Catholic wedding rituals with and without Mass determine their length. Whether or not you want a Mass to be held at your wedding ceremony depends on you and your significant other’s religious beliefs and preferences.

If you want to find more information on how a Catholic wedding will last, you may want to go through this article to its end.

A Traditional Catholic Wedding: How Long Does It Last?

A typical or conventional Catholic wedding ceremony lasts between twenty and thirty minutes and is a solemn sacrament. Such weddings can, however, easily run an hour or longer, especially if numerous readings or prayers are involved.

Note that several factors determine the duration of a traditional Catholic wedding ceremony. They include; the bride and groom’s choices, the wedding guest size, and the priest or deacon’s availability.

What Takes Place in a Catholic Wedding with Mass?

Catholic marriages celebrated with Mass differ from those celebrated outside of it in a few more minor ways, especially where there’s no Mass. The Liturgy of the Eucharist is one of the main variances here. These ceremonies last between forty-five and sixty minutes, shorter than weddings from other denominations.

Below is what happens during a Catholic wedding where Mass is involved:

1. Procession

In a Catholic wedding with Mass, the groom along with his best man will enter from the side of the church. The bridesmaids and groomsmen typically arrive in pairs, but the maid of honor enters by herself. The bride and her father, or any other male relative, are the last to walk down the aisle.

When the bride is escorted down the aisle, it is customary for guests sitting earlier in the ceremony to stand. The father or the person who accompanied the bride will give her to the groom at the symbolic “giving away” moment. Guests can take their seats when the bride reaches the altar, and they receive cues from the officiant when to sit or stand.

In these weddings, music is an integral part of the procession, primarily marking the beginning of the ceremony. With one song dedicated to the moment the bride walks down the aisle, you can expect the march to last 10-15 minutes.

2. Invocation

The invocation comes right after the procession. After the priest welcomes the guest, everyone will sing the Gloria during the invocation. Apart from this modification, the devotion remains unchanged except for the Penitential Act.

3. Liturgy of the Word

The portion of the Mass dedicated to the Word of God, known as the Liturgy of the Word, includes readings and lectures from both the Old and New Testaments. Of importance to note is that the Liturgy of the Word is divided into six sections, as highlighted below:

  • First Reading
  • Responsorial Psalm
  • Second Reading
  • Gospel Acclamation
  • Gospel
  • Homily

The Liturgy of the Word can last up to 20 minutes at the maximum. However, some Catholic churches tend to conduct this part slightly faster.

4. Liturgy of the Eucharist

The Liturgy of the Eucharist includes preparing and offering the bread and wine. It consists of two parts: the Eucharistic prayer and the offertory song. An offertory song is first sung at this point, with gifts presented by intimate friends or family members. Typically, the offerings consist of bread and wine, used during the communion, but they can also include anything else that holds special meaning for the couple.

During communion, the bread and wine — which stand for the body and blood of Christ — is dedicated. The couple offers them to God by placing them on the altar.

After the offertory song, the Eucharistic prayer follows. The congregation will then pray the Eucharist prayer, consisting of three acclamations made up of the Eucharistic prayer: Great Amen, Memorial Acclamation, and Sanctus (“Holy, Holy”).

5. The Communion Rite

The Communion Rite can take more than 20 minutes. Since it takes longer for every guest to receive Holy Communion when there are more of them, the communion rite lengthens Catholic weddings, especially those with Mass. The Communion Rite consists of the following five parts:

  • Lord’s Prayer
  • Nuptial blessing
  • Rite of peace
  • Lamb of God
  • Communion

Is it possible to have a Catholic wedding without Mass?

For Catholics, a wedding ceremony can occur without a liturgy or Mass. For couples who choose to have a smaller and more personal wedding ceremony, there is an option known as a nuptial mass. Even without Mass, a wedding can be elegant and meaningful, with all the customs of a Catholic wedding included.

In front of their loved ones, the bride and groom may exchange vows. The ceremony may also include music, readings, and prayers.

A non-Mass wedding is a fantastic alternative for couples who choose to design their special ceremony or cannot attend Mass because of travel or other obligations.

What Takes Place at a Catholic Wedding If There Is No Mass?

Just the Rite of Marriage portion of a Catholic wedding ceremony may take up to 45 minutes. The prelude music may be played while the remaining guests arrive before the start of the ceremony itself. In this case, the entire wedding ceremony could even be shorter.

Final Remarks

A Catholic wedding’s duration depends on two main factors: What type of wedding it is, i.e., whether there will be a mass or not, and the total number of attendees that can partake in communion. A wedding with Mass may go for at least 45 minutes, if not more. A marriage without Mass could last roughly 30 minutes.

A wedding without Mass would be your best option if you want the ceremony to last only a few minutes.

I am Megan Nova, a wedding planner and Author based in New York City. My vast exposure in the wedding planning trade and my passion for storytelling has inspired me to share expert advice and creativity on this blog.

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