Catholic Weddings

Tips for Integrating NonCatholics?

My wedding is exactly a month away (yay!!), and I'm working now on finalizing details about music and readings and the like. My fiance and I are both Catholic so will be having a full mass. Most of our family and friends, and even our wedding party who are mostly family, are not Catholic and range from happily tolerating our faith to open dislike for either religion or the Church. There has been a lot of grumbling that we've dealt with about how selfish and exclusive we're being by having a mass, but I can't imagine being married without the Eucharist so have stood firm!

Does anyone have tips to making a Catholic Mass tolerable to those who don't share the faith? I've selected joyful instrumental music in hopes of demonstrating through art the beauty of the faith, and am putting instructions in our program about what is going on so people can follow what is going on and choose to participate where they feel comfortable doing so, but is there anything else I missed that could make people happier? I love attending mass, and part of me is a little sad that guests may find this mass that I'm so much looking forward as something to suffer through...

Re: Tips for Integrating NonCatholics?

  • i cant help but lament how again we never see jewish people or muslim people or any other faith really, coming to sites to ask how to make their wedding "tolerable' or "comfortable" for guests.
    holyguacamole79[Deleted User]chocolateygabs
  • That seems a little unfair Calypso, one of my dear friends who will be in my wedding party is Jewish and although not yet engaged is already stressing out about the same issues since she is more active in her faith than her friends and family, just as I am more active in my faith than my friends and family. She's really looking forward to the music at my wedding. I wouldn't imagine this be issue being different for anyone of any faith whose social and kin networks were not religiously homogenous. 

    It isn't about trying to make my faith palatable or watering it down, it is about trying to be welcoming toward my guests, reflecting the love of Christ toward everyone, and trying to share the joy and home I find in the Church with those who usually choose not to engage with that aspect of my life or who have mostly negative perceptions of the faith due to past hurts and negative press or have no prior exposure to the church at all. 
    grassynowellKnottie1435405064
  • Do you have any family or friends who aren't Catholic but are used to attending Mass?  If you do, what I've been doing when people bring up concerns is to follow what they do.  This way they know that they're not alone and have a visual on what to do.  

    We've also asked that the Our Father be spoken, not sung.  We have non-Catholic Christian guests and I wanted them to feel able to participate in that if they want, even if they're not used to chant.

    As for people being openly hostile, if they're close enough to be invited they should be able to either keep their thoughts to themselves day of, or not attend.  I can't imagine someone snarking about anyone's choice of wedding ceremony while attending it.  It's definitely not selfish to get married in your faith!
    professorscience
  • Riss91Riss91
    Eighth Anniversary 1000 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    member
    I think you have already done your part. The best way for them to feel comfortable is seeing you and your future husband focused and "in the moment". We had our nuptial mass in Latin... 90% of our audience were barely tolerating a mass in English. We knew they wouldn't all love or appreciate it, but we didn't let that distract us. The mass was beautiful and we received compliments from many people (mostly non-Catholics) that felt honored to have witnessed it. I'm sure there were people rolling their eyes, or scoffing behind our back, but I wouldn't have done anything differently. I think seeing us so committed had an impact. Good luck! I hope no one is rude to you about your ceremony. I hope they are happy to see a loving couple be married in the faith that they love.
    professorscience
  • I would suggest having ONLY you and your husband receive Communion. That way the non-Catholics in the congregation don't feel "excluded," since it's just something that you and your husband are doing. If you really feel that all the Catholics should be given the option of receiving, then make sure your priest is aware that many are not Catholic, so he should either say something before Mass or before Communion explaining that only Catholics can receive, or maybe put a note in your program? 

    Some people also like to have programs that have every single response for the congregation so they can follow along, but that is a lot of work and you really have to know how the liturgy knows to make sure you get it all correct.
    Anniversary
  • I agree with PPs.  I feel like anyone who would be so anti-Catholic as to be THAT uncomfortable would probably just skip your ceremony.

    As for people who have actually complained to you about having a mass, good for you for staying resolved.  I can't believe that someone would actually complain to you about that, but dang.  If, at the end of the day, someone has the nerve to tell you they didn't like your ceremony, all you can do is smile and thank them for coming.
    Anniversary

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  • lalaith50 said:
    I would suggest having ONLY you and your husband receive Communion. That way the non-Catholics in the congregation don't feel "excluded," since it's just something that you and your husband are doing. If you really feel that all the Catholics should be given the option of receiving, then make sure your priest is aware that many are not Catholic, so he should either say something before Mass or before Communion explaining that only Catholics can receive, or maybe put a note in your program? 

    Some people also like to have programs that have every single response for the congregation so they can follow along, but that is a lot of work and you really have to know how the liturgy knows to make sure you get it all correct.


    *Stuck in darn box*

    I thought that wasn't allowed?  I thought private communion wasn't allowed, and communion during mass always has to be offered to all Catholics present.

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  • Thank you for all the advice! I'm probably over thinking it- it is just that the people who are being most grumpy about the whole thing are also those to whom I'm the closest outside of religion (like my mother, brothers, and aunts/uncles) so I really want to do everything I can to make them feel welcome. My mom in particular was hoping I would marry a nice agnositc boy and grow out of this whole Catholic phase- her side of the family are mostly either not religious or evangelical, and my dad knew many of the children and priests involved in the priest abuse scandals from his time as an alter boy. And then there are the other relatives who feel like the whole point of a wedding is the reception and no ceremony should be more than 15 minutes long. So there are a lot of feelings and it things get complicated fast, but probably not much I can do about it.

    I will ask my priest about the issue of private communion to see what his thoughts are on that if it is permitted, since that might be a good option!
  • Please please do not do "private communion" (doesn't really make sense when putting it that way). If I'm catholic and properly disposed to receive and attend mass, I would be mighty upset to discover that I was being denied communion with my God--- and the infinite graces that go along with it.
    professorsciencelizybeffholyguacamole79
  • muppet686muppet686
    Third Anniversary 5 Love Its First Comment
    member
    edited May 2014
    That makes a lot of sense, thanks for restating it that way, and now that I think about it denying others communion doesn't seem like a great way to start off our married lives. I should probably just go chat with my priest about my concerns and see what he thinks.
  • Hm, I've never thought about the "private communion" like that before; I've just heard it suggested elsewhere and I've heard of it being done. 
    Anniversary
  • I had the same feeling about the private communion as Agape -- I'd be really upset if I was denied.  Way more upset than if I went to a wedding of a different faith and couldn't participate in something.

    Also, I get the negative family thing.  In the end, you are not getting married for them -- you are getting married for YOU (and FI, of course).  Let them grumble and have the wedding you want, and maybe your staunch faith will be a witness to them and you might help turn a few hearts.

    Best of luck!
    Anniversary

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  • IrishPirate60IrishPirate60 Clare Island
    250 Love Its Third Anniversary 100 Comments Name Dropper
    member
    "Private communion" is not appropriate for a Catholic liturgy. A simple note of explanation in your program will help your guests. Use the explanation you find in on the American Bishops Conference website to help you if you don't have it handy. But there's more likely someone at the parish who can assist you with this.

    At the same time, I encourage you to talk with your priest about what he will say and how he will say it during your Mass. I have been appalled at weddings and funerals at the real ugliness that comes from the altar that smacks of "we're the true believers and you aren't worthy, don't even think of approaching the altar."

    I remember attending the wedding of two young non-denominational Christians over 25 years ago. It was very inclusive--right up until the time the wedding party went into the football huddle to share communion. Tight circle, backs to the congregation, no explanation to the assembled guests. So very unlike what their wedding had proclaimed up to that point.

    Shannon
  • Tami87Tami87
    Fourth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    member
    I also thought that "Private communion" was not allowed. I have heard of the bride and groom in other faiths doing this, but honestly always found it kind of odd and more exclusionary than knowing that you have to be a member of the church to receive communion.

    OP, I wanted to let you know I felt very much in the same boat as you with having lots of non-Catholic friends and family members who I was concerned with having a positive experience at the wedding. I did make a VERY detailed program with all the responses, so people who were not familiar with mass could follow along. (Also helped for the occasional church attenders in our families because it wasn't that long after the switch to the new translation). I also put a note about communion and informed my priest there would be many non-Catholics attending. Sure there may be a few grumbles about a long ceremony but I think you have done everything you can to make your guests feel comfortable and the ceremony should be about the bride and groom and their faith, not the guests.

    I still have my programs saved on my computer and am happy to send them to you if you want to PM me an e-mail address. I got a template from an another Catholic board knottie and it helped a ton. I also had the priest look them over before I got them printed and recommend you do the same if you go with a detailed program.
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  • I know exactly how you feel.  FI and I are both very active in the Church.  We're both former religious (I was a novice, he was a brother, studying to be a priest).  None of my family gets it, but it was never a question - we're having a Mass.  We were pleased that my priest never suggested a wedding outside of Mass to accommodate my family, even though my family will make up the majority of those attending.   I'm hoping they'll just roll with things for one day!  My family is predominantly Baptist and evangelical. We'll have worship aids printed for them to help them out, but it's still going to be interesting! 

    Wedding Countdown Ticker




  • Non-catholic here. I find the best way to enjoy a catholic ceremony for me is when everything is written down. That way I can participate in the parts of the ceremony I'm comfortable with and skip those I'm not. I've attended services with zero guidance too and it's very difficult to get anything out of it when you're trying to follow along but are always a step behind.

    And when I've sat next to atheist friends they've also liked having everything written down just because it's interesting.
  • Just wanted to give an update for anyone who was interested or for future brides to come in similar situations. We decided not to do anything about communion and let it happen as normal- in the words of my wonderful new husband communion is the point of doing a mass and an important part of who we are and what we believe so who cares what everyone else thinks. We ended up with maybe a third (probably not even that many) people receiving communion- the groomsmen decided to come up for a blessing and the bridesmaids decided to stay in their seats, everyone else did what they were comfortable with.  We had a detailed program that laid out what was going on, a very talented musician, and most importantly a spirit filled ceremony. Nobody made a big deal about being left out, even those who were critical in advance were swept up in the beauty of the mass and only mentioned how beautiful the ceremony was. Thank you all for being both supportive and frank through my period of uncertainty!
    professorsciencescrunchythief[Deleted User]
  • Glad everything went well!  Congratulations on your marriage!

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