Why I skipped a popular Catholic tradition at my sacramental wedding

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I didn’t break any rules — and it made my sacramental ceremony mean so much more.

If you’re planning your own wedding, or have been to a wedding of a Catholic family member or friend recently, you’ll realize that Catholic weddings are different. We don’t get married outside on a mountaintop. You won’t find Catholic nuptials at the beach. And we don’t walk down the aisle to country music. Weddings within a Mass can last upward of an hour, and the vows that we say are already written for us — and that’s just to name a few things.

But what you may also not know (and I didn’t know this when my now-husband and I were planning our wedding a year ago), is that the Catholic Church revised the official marriage rite not too long ago. Those revisions changed the way we planned our wedding. Since we got married right after the revisions were put into place, we were able to sit down with a priest and go over the changes in the liturgy.

Planning your wedding is a beautiful process, and when you get to the wedding Mass, you’ll find out that you get to make a lot of choices when it comes to the liturgy, from the entrance to the exit. One part of our wedding that Joseph and I spent a lot of time thinking about was how we would get to the altar during the entrance procession.

Most people think of this part of the wedding in a traditional way: the bride, preceded by the wedding party, is escorted by her father to the altar where she meets her groom. But I was surprised to see that the Catholic Rite of Marriage didn’t even mention this form. Instead, it recommends that the couple walk up to the altar together at the start of the ceremony.

When I first found out about this, I was excited. I’d never heard of this tradition at all, but I loved how much it shifted the focus to the couple’s decision to marry together. During Catholic Masses, the ministers of the sacrament proceed into the church last. In marriage, a bride and groom marry each other — the priest and gathered are witnesses to their new union.

One thing I loved about walking down the aisle with Joseph was that our guests looked at both of us. I was relieved that all eyes weren’t on me. After all, the wedding day isn’t just about the bride (even though our culture tells us that on every page of the bridal magazine). I didn’t want the focus to be on me, or how I looked, or the dress I was wearing. Instead, I wanted the focus to be on the fact that Joseph and I, two unique people, were making the decision together to become one.

Not only are the bride and groom the focus of the day because it’s their wedding day, but because they’re the minsters of the sacrament. They’re not the center of attention in a prideful way, but instead, walking in together calls to mind the reality of God and His gift of the sacraments.

Even though there wasn’t a precedent for this tradition in either of our families, both Joseph and I loved the idea that no one “gave anyone away.” We came into our wedding as equals, taking steps together.

Because we didn’t go the more well-known route of asking my dad to walk me up the aisle, we still wanted to honor my dad and the incredible job he did teaching me that I’m worthy of authentic love. So, we asked him to give a toast at our wedding reception. During his toast, he invited my mom up to recognize how their marriage gave me an example of what it looked like for a husband and wife to be on a team.

During my last few minutes as an unmarried woman, my stomach was in knots. But my nerves were calmed as soon as I saw Joseph waiting there for me at the top of the aisle. I couldn’t wait to walk beside him as his equal into our married life together!

*Note: All pictures are credited to Jen Huhs Photography, who has given permission for use*

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Courtesy: Jen Huhs Photography
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Courtesy Jen Huhs Photography
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Courtesy Jen Huhs Photography

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