When my husband and I were preparing for our wedding in 2017, I was definitely what you'd call a DIY bride. Everything I could make myself, I did. Centerpieces, place cards, invitations, even the ice cream sundae bar.
So when I got to our wedding programs, it wasn't going to be any different. I have a design background and love to write, so how hard could it be?
Then I got to the "who can receive Communion" part of the program. I felt it was important to address this, as we'd have some family members who were not Catholic in attendance, but I had also seen programs where this language seemed to go a bit far, to the point of being uninviting to those who were not practicing their faith. I wanted to strike a balance between preachy and reverent, and I was coming up blank.
As I was debating the language to use, however, I realized that the problem wasn't really saying the Communion procedure, but rather finding a succinct way to explain how much it means to us. It was at that point that I realized this may be the one opportunity I had to evangelize to our family and friends, especially those who would only ever enter a church for our wedding. Thus, I began to realize that it wasn't just the Eucharist that needed explaining, but the background of the entire Mass and the sacrament.
With that in mind, I took off writing, and created program inserts that talked about the entire Mass. I of course addressed the issue of receiving Communion, but I also took the time to explain why we picked the readings we did, why we got married in a church instead of outside, and the meaning behind our vows, in addition to explaining the reason behind the rules for reception of the Eucharist.
I tried to do it all in a fun, light tone, telling people it was something for them to read while they waited for the wedding to start and throwing in some inside jokes.
The response was epic.
People, even those who weren't Catholic, LOVED the programs. Our priest even incorporated them into the homily.
The best part was, I had been so afraid that people would be offended, and no one was. Even our guests who were not Catholic were complimenting me on them, and I think even appreciated the explanation (because let's be real, our Mass can seem pretty foreign if you don't know what's going on).
Are you getting married soon? Think about ways you can incorporate your faith into your wedding day. I promise - despite what our culture seems to tell us, no one's going to get offended.
Here's some ideas for how to evangelize with your wedding day:
Consider a religious favor or centerpiece. Prayer cards from each of your Confirmation saints or a saint you prayed to during your wedding preparations can make a lovely, evangelistic gift for your guests. Or you can theme each of your tables by dedicating them to a certain saint (and including facts about that saint on the table card!).
Use your wedding programs to talk about the parts of the Mass. But don't just list them - use it as an opportunity evangelize. If you're looking for more inspiration, check out Gloriam's Wedding and Sacramental programs, especially the Custom Catholic Wedding Inserts.
Include a section on your wedding website that talks about why you are getting married in a church and what your faith means to you.
Invite the wedding celebrant to attend your reception and ask him to say grace or offer a special blessing.
Print up local Sunday Mass times and include them in your welcome bags for overnight guests.
Offer adoration or confessions prior to the wedding rehearsal or Mass. (We did this and it was AWESOME.)
Using your wedding day to evangelize can be a great opportunity to share your faith with your family and friends. And at the end of the day, that's what marriage is all about - a sign to the world of Christ's love for the Church.
Prayers for you as you prepare for marriage!