by Angelica Brice, Columnist
A Catholic couple looking to be married would like to choose a date with significance for them, but are there any recommendations or restrictions on the timing of Catholic weddings? The timing of a wedding comes down to two factors: the season and the day.
The Church Year is divided into five seasons: Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter, and Ordinary Time. Each time has a particular mood as, for example, Christmas is a celebratory time while Lent is more solemn. The Church therefore has times of the year it recommends, discourages, or forbids celebratory sacraments, such as marriage, to take place to best coincide with the liturgical tone.
The two recommended seasons for marriage are Christmas and Easter, times of celebration and joy in the Church. Ordinary Time is also a very good time, especially since it usually spans most if not all the summer months, the most popular natural season to be married in.
The seasons in which the Church does not recommend weddings are those of Lent and Advent, owing to their more somber atmospheres of repentance and expectation. As per the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) paragraph 305, all liturgical decorations during Lent and Advent ought to be more reserved. Weddings celebrated during these seasons are expected to be less extravagant than at other times in the year. This may take the form of a smaller bridal party, fewer and smaller decorations, fewer guests, or all the above. The local pastor should be consulted on the best ways to balance the celebration of marriage and the tone of the liturgical season.
As to the day of a wedding, weekdays are recommended, Sundays and Holy Days discouraged, and only two days are not permitted. The Congregation for Divine Worship in Rome has issued a document which forbids the celebration of the sacraments including marriage (excluding Anointing of the Sick and Reconciliation) on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Additionally, most dioceses do not allow weddings on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation without special permission from the bishop (See GIRM 372).
In summary, marriages are recommended on weekdays in Christmas, Easter, and Ordinary Time, and permitted on weekdays during Advent and Lent which allows lots of selection for a marriage date. All couples should speak with their pastors to determine the best marriage date for their circumstances.
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Angelica Brice has written other articles on Marriage, such as: